Inspired by the latest limited edition release from Sir Peter Blake ‘A Convention of Comic Book Characters’ we take a brief look at the genre of ‘comic book’ in contemporary and urban art.
Coupled with the prominent rise of street art into mainstream culture over the last decade has been the re-emergence of comic book art and design as both subject and inspiration to the cutting-edge art scene. An aspect that has provoked something of a trickle-up effect in contemporary art with the likes of Peter Blake now releasing work centred on his own playful take on the subject.
In essence the primary link between the genres of comic book and cutting-edge art is that the basis in both is a narrative centred on social, political or economic events, fed of course by daily news.
American comics were first printed in the colour supplements of Sunday newspapers more than 100 years ago. The people who created them became immensely successful and reached a larger audience than any other medium at the time something true of the modern day limited edition.
Even from the earliest days, their images were sophisticated and often multilayered in meaning - able to entertain child and adult alike. This is a key similarity between comic books and cutting-edge art – the ability to cross cultures and age groups to reach a much wider audience.
Contemporary art and street art has naturally adapted its position from that of 100 years ago, now often referring to overt shock tactics and imagery that must grab attention, instantly.
Ultimately, it was street art‘s emergence within galleries where the relationship between the comic book strip and the mainstream art world have combined so well. The huge popularity and culture of comics and graphic novels has naturally spawned into limited editions.
The current generation of artists and collectors is one whose childhood was fuelled in part by the heroes and villains that originally starred in comic books, so as a subject it has a resonance with current society.
For the commercial artist the comic book must now be seen as more a source of inspiration and subject matter rather than that of the street artist who arguably still adopts a similar ethos as that of the original comic artists: reflecting upon and telling their momentary version of the current news.
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(images featured by artists D*Face, Pure Evil, David Spiller, Miss Bugs and Peter Blake)
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