Shame of the City: Deconstructing and Reconstructing Comic Book Narratives

Curator's Statement
I am interested in how writers and artists communicate through comics. Comic books rely on a symbiotic relationship of text and image to make a storyline move along. In my work, I eliminate or reorganize aspects of both characteristics in order to deconstruct the design and narrative of a comic. In essence, I hope to examine the ways in which presentation can affect meaning.

Since 2005, my source material has been “The Invincible Iron Man” comic book, Volume 01, Issue 178, published in 1984. It is a different kind of superhero issue for a few reasons. For one, never in this story does the superhero Iron Man ever directly appear. Also, this issue is split into two different story lines. The first is about a group of neighborhood kids who dress up like their favorite superheroes and protect the streets from bullies. The second story is about Tony Stark, the original Iron Man, who recently gave up his superhero life to deal with his failing multibillion-dollar business and his alcoholism.

Using this comic as source material, I invited 23 nationally recognized artists to create new work inspired by the original comic. Each artist was assigned one page and was given a hi-resolution digital copy. The artists in this exhibition have a wide range of working methods. Some make comics for a living, some make comic inspired artwork, and some are interested in collage. There was essentially one stipulation regarding the creation of the work. Although the artists were free to interpret this challenge however they best saw fit, the final image needed to include the “spirit or essence” of the original imagery.

The results created a traditional two-dimensional exhibition of 23 unique works of art hung in the sequence of the page numbers each artist was given. It is my hope that this exhibition can continue to generate questions about the relationship between narrative, presentation, and meaning.

-Joseph Lupo


Artists in this exhibition:

Adam Leestma, Amze Emmons, Andrew Kozlowski, Daniel Maw, Dylan Collins, Erika Adams, Geo Sipp, Jasen Lex, Jason Urban, Jennifer Anderson, Jim Rugg, Joseph Galbreath, Joseph Lupo, Luke Novel, Matt DiClemente, Michael Krueger, Nathan Meltz, Peter Bugg, Randy Bolton, Ryan Miller, Sam Boehm, Tate Foley, Tim Dooley