July 17, 2007

More on the Montclair exhibit

Apocalypse pow!  Exhibition unmasks America's comic book tradition"The Evolution of American Comic Book Superheroes" has brought together all the camp you want in a comic book exhibition, like "Superboy #36" (1954) with its cover art showing Superboy carving the family turkey at super-speed in a wan parody of Norman Rockwell's "Freedom from Want," or a "Special! Women's Lib Issue" from 1972 when Wonder Woman doffs the star-spangled hot pants to go undercover in the Grandee Department store and discover that shop girls are paid less than minimum wage.

There are samples of real history, too, like "The Amazing Spider-Man #96," written at the behest of the Nixon administration's war on drugs, in which Spidey saves an African-American "stoned right out of his mind" who thought he could fly off a tall building. (Published without the Comics Code seal because the rules prohibited any mention of drugs, this issue exploded the old censorship and opened the way for today's darker, deeper comics.)

There's even a section devoted to Native American superheroes, and superheroes helping out on Indian reservations, dear to the Montclair Museum's specialty in Native American artifacts.

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