Saturday, July 9, 2011

Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art: Broadway btwn Houston and Prince

You could pass by this museum a hundred times and never notice it; I have.  In the heart of a great shopping area in SoHo, the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art (MoCCA; hours of operation are limited so check out the website for current details) is located on the 4th floor of an office building.  If you didn't know it was there, you'd never be able to just accidentally discover it--what a shame.

The current exhibit (through August 14, 2011) of over 100 pieces is called "William Eisner's New York: From the Spirit to the Modern Graphic Novel" (a form Eisner was key in popularizing). 

It highlights the creation of Eisner's legendary superhero "The Spirit" (see above), displays Eisner's portrayal of his beloved NYC (with all of its ups, downs, diversity, unique cycles in development and deterioration, etcetera) (see "Empty Street" and "Angry Street" at right, which both include self-portraits of the artist), and also shows examples of his graphic novels, including "A Contract with God" that puts a critical eye on Jewish-American life in early 20th century America.  Eisner, raised in a Bronx tenement during the Depression, depicts a NYC full of drama, desolation, and humor (there was a funny/ironic piece poking fun at the lack of privacy in NYC and another that reflected the quality of housing in tenements as compared to prison).

The exhibit also includes a small area of graphic art created by artists influenced by Eisner (see left) like Art Spiegelman and Harvey Kurtzman.  Finally, there is a looped video about William Eisner, his life and work.

This is a tiny, one room museum, but it is well-worth the $6 admission if you are interested in animation, cartoons or graphic art.  Take a look at this hidden gem if you are in the hood and have an interest.

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