Episode 172: John Jennings and Damian Duffy

December 14, 2008 · Print This Article

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Mark Staff Brandl, the Central European Bureau and EuroShark, is in Central Illinois this time, interviewing Prof. John Jennings and Damian Duffy, curators of the traveling exhibition “Out of Sequence: Underrepresented Voices in American Comics,” which originated at Krannert Art Museum in Champaign. Jennings and Duffy discuss their curation of several shows, their own art and writing such as the graphic novel The Hole, their teaching, the extension of sequential art beyond the “Masters of American Comics” notion, theory, the socio-political, African-American culture, impurity, art history and more. Hey Kids, Comics, Fine Art and Filosofizing! Big fun for one and all

John Jennings
Damian Duffy
Out of Sequence: Underrepresented Voices in American Comics
Krannert Art Museum
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Eyetrauma (Jennings and Duffy Comics)
Barack Obama
Masters of American Comics Exhibition
Milwaukee Art Museum
Jack Kirby
Scott McCloud
Dale Messick
Matt Baker
George Herriman
Winsor McCay
Art Spiegelman
Chris Ware
John Perrault
Art History as a braided rope
Design History
Masheka Wood
C Hill
Gallery Comics / Installation Comics
Gary Panter
Jimbo in Purgatory
Belmar Laboratory of Art and Ideas
Library of Congress
Ohio State University
Flint Institute of Arts
“Other Heroes”
Gus Arriola
Nell Brinkley
Kris Dresen
Keith Knight
Phil Jimenez
Ashley A. Woods
Dann Tincher
Mshindo Kuumba
Drew Weing
Brian Wood
Ryan Kelly,
Colleen Doran
C. Spike Trotman
Richard Santiago
Larry Yang
UIUC Graduate School of Library Science and Education
School of Visual Arts
The Hole: Consumer Culture, Vol. 1
UIUC College of Fine and Applied Arts
Doctor Who
Front Forty Press
University of Chicago Press
Diamond Distributors
Forbidden Planet
literary genre
Independence Day
The Day After Tomorrow
Vilém Flusser
Gunther Kress
Will Eisner
50 Cent
Sam Gilliam
Jackson Pollock
Anja Meulenbelt
Morgan Usadel
David Carrier
Comic Impurity
Clement Greenberg’s “purism,”
Olly Harrington
Inks : Cartoon and Comic Art Studies
Andrei Molotiu
Sequenz Verein
Fort Thunder
Gene Colan
Adrienne Colan
Ray Billingsley
Feeble Painting
Gil Kane
Pulp genres
bell hooks
Underground Comix
Leslie Fiedler
Giotto’s Fresco in Padua
Jacob Lawrence
The Great Migration
Jackson State University
Lulu.com (print on demand)
Sequential Art
Doshisha University
Fanon Che Wilkins, historian and DJ
African-American Comics, Onli Comics Chicago
Chris Benson
Friedrich Glauser
Walter Mosley
Mosley’s Life out of Context
The Wire
The Met
Guggenheim Bilbao
Proximity, (Edmar and Mairead Case)
Visual Arts journal
Elizabeth M. Delacruz
Scan, Australian Journal of Media Arts Culture
James Madison University
James Baldwin
Eshu Legba

12 thoughts on “Episode 172: John Jennings and Damian Duffy”

  1. Here’s a cool, brand new super short TV news clip video of the exhibition (2 min. 33 sec.), so you can see a bit of what they are talking about:

  2. Gene Colan says:

    I have always thought that minorities were underserved in comics.
    I’ve made a concious effort to include and create them in my stories : Brother Voodoo, The Falcon and Blade come to mind.

    In the past twenty years or so, I’ve been mindful that the disabled need that very same attention. I still feel they are not prominent enough but there has been progress.
    Of course, going way back, one of the interesting aspects for me portraying DareDevil for Marvel Comics was he was blind. It was a challenging and gratifying experience to meet.

    Your exibition “Out of Sequence:Under Represented Voices in American Comics” is inspired!

    Best Wishes,
    Gene Colan

  3. The comment above is WONDERFUL, coming from one of the greatest and most famous adventure comic artists of all time. Thanks Gene!

  4. stevehamann says:

    I think it’s awesome Gene Colan reads BAS. He is an amazing artist.

    As commented on the video MSB provided, America is Waaay behind Japan in representing different cultures/groups into comics.

    I also like his thoughts about the inclusion of persons with special needs in comics. My blurry mind is trying to think of examples besides Daredevil.

    Professor X?

  5. ODB says:

    Dave Sim, Rob Liefeld and Todd McFarlane all have special needs. So do most people who read comics.

  6. Yeah right ODB — and you are such an intellectual. Although, those three you name certainly do have some “edges.” And all of them have nothing whatsoever to do with the shows Jennings and Duffy do. Try listening to the podcast.

    I brought Gene’s attention to the show. He’s rather busy right now, 80+ years old and just had a museum show in California, so it is great that he even took the time.

  7. Anna Busch says:

    Jared Gardner concerning Jennings and Duffy’s _The Hole_.

    To say that The Hole is ambitious is the understatement of the year. It strives to be nothing less than a Waste Land for the graphic novel renaissance, and it shares with Eliot’s modernist manifesto a decidedly bleak (but by no means entirely hopeless) view of the world we have inherited. It also shares with The Waste Land a serious level of difficulty, and most readers looking for a quick skim are going to be frustrated by what they find here: a narrative that plays with time like an accordion, an unresolved conclusion that is simultaneously hopeful and apocalyptic, allusions and references to religious and mythological figures that are at times opaque and even willfully obscure, and a deep disdain (one worthy of Eliot himself) for modern consumer culture that is likely to leave few readers feeling completely smug or innocent.

  8. I found some of the comments about the Masters show coming from a group of people who have just curated their own sequential art show makes you sound somehow slighted, and taking it into your own hands to create something a bit more specialized makes Masters as well as you’re endeavor more relevant. It’s working to create discussions and exposure to the many different sides of the “comics as art” dice and it’s important that as part of “the choir” (and believe me I am part of this choir too) not to think that this masters show is the “be all end all” roster of comics artists, or that they are purposely leaving out certain people. In the forward of the first page of the MOAC catalog it states that “narrowing the selection from the wide range of artists was a challenging process” and that they “Hope that this exhibition will open the doors for future museum presentations that reflect the diversity of the medium”. Hell, the title specifies that it is just “American” comics. I had my own criticisms of the show, as did others (see Why Have There Been No Great Women Comic Book Artists? ) But couldn’t help feeling astounded by the Original McCay’s, Segar’s, Gould’s, Panter’s, etc. all in one place and I felt really lucky to see the actual size of the panels and where the white-out was, and all the human aspects of the work that are really removed from the printing process, and it was in a MUSEUM! How strange! Some of the comments in the show, though somewhat flippant, make me think your group thinks otherwise, and I applaud your efforts to present in your own way what you think is going on here.

    As there were around 1000 drawings in the show and that the drawings are only 1/2 of the equation of what makes comics great, you gotta understand how hard it would be to fit in entire stories, many of the stories in their entirety were presented for people to sit and read in books, and purchase a copy to take home in the gift shop. There has always been a problem presenting art in sequence in museums, take the tapestries show that’s up at the Art Institute right now. Many of the Hangings are just one piece from a larger narrative series, one of which is presented in it’s entirety which is just massive. I think the ICA in Philly did a fine job of this for the recent Crumb show, most of the stories were presented in their entirety but with a solo show I think that the space is going to be more affordable, but unfortunately the space is usually offered to the “Masters” first and not that Crumb is undeserving, I feel like theres just room for more.

    Comics, for a really young medium in terms of art history and presentation by larger art institutions (and I know you know about your art history based on the discussions within this podcast) I think presenting these “out of sequence” artists expands the critical view of comics contemporary or in history. I don’t feel like the view of comics presented in the show was “narrow” of course presenting comics into a gallery space is a difficult task, and am wondering how you have addressed this in your own show. That and the idea of comics made specifically for gallery walls I think there’s a couple bugs, that can be worked out (See Jim Woodring’s “World’s Largest Minicomic” complete with neon spinning illusion device that I feel was comparable to a Flavin or Turrell that was in the Raw, Boiled, and Cooked show.) or take the Comic Abstraction show which I felt was an attempt to shoehorn comics onto the Contemporary art scene, further confusing those unfamiliar with the medium. I love Herrera’s stuff as well as Mehretu but just diddnt see the necessary connection that this show was based on, some how trying to do comics a favor. Thanks. But, no Thanks.

    Well anyway, I think the show sounds great and will try to get there to check it out. I love Dale Messick and Had Illustration class with Melody Shickley in College and think she is great!



  9. Andrei says:

    Hi folks! Forgive the totally self-centered comment (I do have a longer, more theoretical one too, which I’ll try to write up when I have more time)–but it looks like the links above are in the order in which the figures/things they are connected to appear in the interview, yet between the mentions of “Inks” and of “Sequenz Verein” I couldn’t hear my name anywhere… I’m not being vain, just really curious to see what you guys had to say about my work, but it sounds (based on some of the audible edits) like that bit was left on the cutting-room floor. Anyway I can get a copy of it?

  10. Hi Andre,
    I did those namedrops from the raw recording — which was very raw, as Richard can attest who had to fix it up a bit. Both John and Damian spoke very softly and turned away from the mic a lot. Thus several things came across as almost mumbled. Therefore, I believe I may have cut that part out. It was just about 2 sentences about us “gallery comic” or exhibition comic artists — wherein C Hill was mentioned, and then I said something quickly about the CAA presentation we did and your artwork.

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