Comicology: The New Magical Real

An exhibit of original comic book art in a magical realist vein


Fields of Knowledge
  • Aesthetics / Media
  • Curatorial practice
  • Public culture

Organizing Institutions



Gabriel Greenberg, Joseph Hu, Judith Stein

Opens to public



4017 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19148


25% Formal - 75% Informal

Slought is pleased to announce the opening of "Comicology: The New Magical Real" (September 10 - October 22, 2005), an exhibit of original comic book art in a magical realist vein. Independent curators Judith Stein and Gabriel Greenberg organized the show with the assistance of Joseph Hu. The opening reception is September 24th, 2005 from 6:30-8:30 pm, and is free and open to the public.

Comicology features work by artists who represent an emerging wave of underground comics creators whose fictions are an alchemy of reality and fantasy. Populated with talking animals, impossible deformities, and cosmological surprises, their stories are a shocking reminder of the strangeness behind comic books' accepted conventions. Drawing in part from superhero serials, Sunday morning cartoons, horror comics, and Newspaper strips-- as well as sources as diverse as Victorian nursery rhymes and Christian iconography-- this is a magical realism that defies genre or convention.

At once disturbing and surreal, funny and mundane, wildly metaphysical and obsessively detailed, these stories refuse to be explained away. They are among the most ambitious and visually inventive-- not to mention creepy and hilarious-- achievements in comics today.

The work of the artists of Comicology reveals an impressive range of styles and themes. Kim Deitch, the longest established creator in the exhibit, began his career in the underground comix movement of the late 60s, but has continued to produce groundbreaking work ever since. Charles Burns first achieved prominence in the pages of Art Spiegelman's alternative comics magazine RAW in the 80s. Equally inspired by 60s artists and the punk aesthetic, Burns was part of a new wave of alternative comic artists that reinvigorated the medium. All inheritors of this liberated mood, Dame Darcy, Marc Bell, Anders Nilsen, and Ron Regé, Jr. began their comics careers over the course of the 90s, each defining their own highly individualistic style while refusing to settle for conventional means of expression.

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Judith E. Stein is a Philadelphia-based independent curator and critic. A recipient of a Pew Fellowship for her writings on art, she is a former curator at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

Gabriel Greenberg is a graduate student in philosophy at Rutgers, as well as a comic artist. He is the curator of Comic Art in the Green Mountains, which runs through February 5, 2006 at Vermont's Brattleboro Museum, and creator of the Vera Hall Project and Mutatis Mutandis.

Read the curatorial essay by Judith E. Stein and Gabriel Greenberg