The webcomics blog about webcomics

This Woman Wants To Bring Webcomics Into The Rarified World Of Museums

Last night, the Museum of Comics and Cartoon Art in New York City opened its latest exhibit, and for the first time webcomics made it into the world of culture and connoisseurs. I don’t get to too many museum exhibition openings, but I do know one thing — when the room is packed wall-to-wall and the air conditioning is insufficient to cool the air from all the people, it’s not because of the snacks or the booze. It’s because people want to see the pretty stuff on the walls. By that criterion alone, the opening of Infinite Canvas: The Art of Webcomics would have to be judged an enormous success.

The show was put together by a MoCCA volunteer/Art History & Archeology grad student (Egyptology, I believe) named Jennifer Babcock; this was her first show as curator, and it featured a wide variety of genres and implementations of webcomics. Per the show’s title, the centerpiece was a vertical-hanging, mounted-on-paper-towel-rollers print of Scott McCloud’s My Obsession With Chess; in the days before the laptop, McCloud would unfurl the full 23 foot piece at the conclusion of talks, but here the height of the gallery space limited Chess to about the first 12 feet.

Gathered around Chess were pieces from webcomics with originals displayed next to final renderings (Goats, Scary Go Round, Wigu, PhD, Penny Arcade) to all-digital creations without preliminary work (Diesel Sweeties, Get Your War On). The displayed pieces ranged in age from a nine year old Sluggy strip to the very first Something*Positive to a Questionable Content from four days ago.

Reinforcing the theme of “Infinite Canvas”, large screen LCD monitors displayed comics that spread beyond the traditional panel boundaries or existed in purely digital form: oft-referenced examples like When I Am King, Pup Ponders the Heat Death of the Universe, and Delta Thrives being joined by the likes of a particularly tall Order of the Stick. Nearby, a Narbonic strip that was drawn in four panels but assembled in a twisty, non-rectangular layout reinforced the theme.

While Babcock didn’t get contributions from all the creators that she wanted (specifically mentioning Kazu Kibuishi’s Copper), she did have more work than could fit on the walls. Those pieces that were gifted to the museum will become part of the permanent collection, she said, and will end up on display in rotation with the general collection, and as long as interest persists, she’d like to mount future webcomics shows.

She particularly mentioned a desire to explore the economic side of webcomics (how can a creator make a living by giving away the product?) and to see more female creators included in the next show (only Narbonic’s Shaenon Garrity and Finder’s Carla Speed MacNeil are to be found in Infinite Canvas). Intriguingly, Babcock would also like to include demonstrations of webcomics tools like Wacom Cintiq tablets.

Noted in attendance were Jon Rosenberg, Chris Hastings, Carly Monardo, David McGuire, Dean Haspiel, Wizard webcomic interviewer Brian Warmoth, surprise attendee (he realized he would be in New York the day before) Scott McCloud, and about a zillion other people. More photos of the event on Monday, after I have a chance to go through them.

Infinite Canvas runs until January 14, 2008. MoCCA is at 594 Broadway (just below Houston), 4th floor; admission is $5 (free for members) and the museum is open Friday through Monday, noon to 5pm.

Almost made it there last night. I’m glad that pup comic is there. It can change your life!

Hi Gary,

Thanks for the write-up! We’re all very happy with how the show came together. One correction, however: regular admission to MoCCA is only $5, and is free for members (the $10 admission was for the opening reception only).

-Bill Roundy, MoCCA Curator

Fixed! Thank you, Bill.

Uhh… what was that about boobs?

It’s nice to see how far attitudes towards women in comics have come since the 1970s. As William G demonstrates: a very, very short distance indeed.

[...] to actually be Owen Dunne’s handiwork. Appears to be. In fact, careful examination of the MoCCA webcomics exhibit opening photos (which will now run tomorrow) show the presence of an individual who may be Ryan Estrada, [...]

John, at no point did I imply anything except she’s a very attractive woman in a revealing outfit. This does not deny her skills at curate a museum show nor does it deny her value as a human.

And that definitely doesn’t mean she’s a delicate princess that needs some British faux-feminist white knight riding in to protect her from lascivious sorts who express their impure thoughts about her on the internet. And I’d be willing to say that this goes for any other woman involved in comics, from the 1970s all the way to today.

I hope this clears up any misunderstanding of the intent of my comment you may have had, and I hope the next time something like this comes up you won’t hesitate to shove it up your ass.

Yes Will. A full article about her work as a curator, and you chose to respond by pretending the fact that she has breasts made you ignore the entire thing. Nothing disrespectful about that!

How dare someone criticize you for such behavior… especially someone who is, as you very deliberately pointed out, British!
Another tell-it-like-it-is commentator, persecuted by the nefarious arms of the United Kingdom. You’re a national fucking hero!

William G, I take your point now and get what you were trying to say. I understand. You said something nice, but you said it without the benefit of any social skills whatsoever. Mea culpa, my bad.

The best way to spot a misogynist is the intensity to which they defend their remark as being “misunderstood,” and the rudeness at which they show toward anyone who calls them out on it. Shameful.

Boys.

If she was offended, she can tell me so. Then I’ll aplogise to her for my caddish comments.

Your opportunistic grandstanding is not of any value.

Yes, yes, that’s why we did it. For the glory.

No, for the opportunity to show “the world” how down you clowns are with feminism without realizing that by acting like some woman needs YOUR defense, you’re shitting all over the ideas of equality.

To put it another way: You’re posturing for public show. And a very lazy form of it since Jeff so casually tosses around hot-button terms like “mysogynist” simply as a retort for his pal getting insulted.

If John had come in and simply stated, “I thought that was disrespectful” then maybe I’d have given his view more consideration. But he didn’t. He walked in with a theatrical condemnation of me and a stream of crocodile tears for the struggle of women. Okay, I realize that most of Jeff and John’s well-constructed public images are of acting as the male faces of fan feminism and I should have expected it.

But your knee-jerk reactions, and the unloadng of the “M”-Bomb do not help in anything except your self-images. You’re treating her as a lesser that needs protection… not to mention your implications that she needs to be patted on the head for doing something any woman is capapble of.

All I did was express lust. He capabilities were never questioned.

As I said, if and when she demands an apology for my cadishness, I’ll give it to her. But you white knights can fuck off and continue to do so for as long as possible.

William,

I don’t agree with John on many of things but this is one time I do. And, believe it or not, sometimes people are going to disagree with and condemn you publically because they actually feel the need to, not as an attention getting device.

The world is not out to get and supress you, William. It’s time to get over this “Woe is me” bullshit. You’re not nearly as interesting as you seem to think you are.

After reading all this all I can think about are William’s nipples and testicles.

Does William HAVE testicles? I’d be “curious” to see!

Wow, did Will just call US theatrical?

Ladies, Gentlemen and Those Not So Gentle,

The fact that this discussion has degenerated into a conversation about the life and opinions of a disgruntled poster and his genitalia is just as much of an insult to Ms. Babcock, her work and that of the museum, as William G’s initial post.

As a personal friend of Ms. Babcock’s and as the Executive Director of the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, I appreciate the fact members of this community have condemned William’s comment. However, I think that overall you’ve lost sight of what should be the topic of this discussion – the fact that this young woman (lovely as she may be) worked for months on an exhibit with the intention to legitimize and shed light on the internet comics community. Furthermore, she did so on a volunteer basis, with no financial recompense for her time and troubles.

Is all this what her work was for? If so, I’m personally disappointed.

As an arts organization MoCCA has enough problems moving past and dispelling the general perception of comic and cartoon fans as emotionally and socially stunted cellar dwellers, without having to answer to and for posts and discussion threads like this one – which is essentially documented proof that the naysayers right.

Again, on behalf of my organization and it’s volunteers (including Ms. Babcock) I thank you for your support and defense, but generally I think its time that we all move on from the William G subject. It’s embarrasing to us all.

Many Thanks,
Matthew C. Murray
President and Execuitve Director, MoCCA

The photos of the show look amazing. Thanks very much to Babcock and the MoCCA people for including me.

William, this time you were wrong. Sorry.

Thanks to everyone- I hope those that couldn’t make it to the opening will be able to visit the museum while the show is still up.

And yes, Gary, I’m an Egyptologist- at least that’s what NYU says.

Ah, good.

Jenifer, I apologize for my base and piggish comments towards you. I hope you can accept my apology with the honesty in which I offer it.

I stand by my other comments.

Not only did you not spell her name right, she didn’t even acknowledge you, which is what the rest of us should have done.

I apologize for my part in this piece of irrefutable evidence of the nasty stuff that truly puts the “web” in webcomics.

That mob action sure is sexy, isn’t it, Jeffery? You get all of them base urges to fight out of you, without the risk of being questioned for your part in making things worse. And oh, that adrenaline high you get from it… No wonder you want it to continue.

It’s too bad I left New York slightly before this exhibit began. I’ll definitely take a look next time I visit. Thanks for putting it together, Jennifer!

Willam G is a giant toolbag. Full of tools.

Gary, how about thread lock, delete all comments and pretend this never happened? It’s embarrassing to even keep as a public record.

As a fleen reader, and co-volunteer of this exhibit, I sadly and respectfully second Kris’s suggestion

Thirded.

Galleries and museums that might consider Jennifer for new installations, and subsequently Google her name, should find only praise for this exhibition. No one would blink if these comments were removed, I imagine, and the original post to stand on its own.

Yes please just make this go away.

I think William G is just jealous that his crappy webcomics weren’t used. Boo hoo.

[...] not overlooked, the crap-fight in the comments section: it’s been suggested that the comments be locked, deleted, and that we all agree to never [...]

if we lock and delete history we will be doomed to repeat it.

The opening was fantastic, I highly suggest anyone with the ability to visit the exhibition do so.

This is the most entertaining comments thread I’ve read in quite a while! Go internets go!

[...] has a dust-up in the [...]

[...] As promised earlier: photos from the MoCCA reception. [...]

[...] seen around the con: Brian Warmoth, Scott McCloud, Jennifer Babcock (who did a terrific job with the How to Make Webcomics panel on Kids Day), DJ Coffman, Brad [...]

[...] that banner behind her is like a perfect (if square) halo: Jennifer Babcock, enjoying the show before teaching kids about [...]

[...] one comics. The Guest Strip Project finishes up the August donationaramathon with a beauty from curator extraordinaire Jen Babcock. If there’s ever a commissioner of webcomics that’s got to wrangle all of [...]

[...] bumped into two of the most generous people in all of comicdom — Jennifer Babcock and Matt Murray had previously been associated with the running of the Museum of Comics and Cartoon [...]

[...] of Matts, Jen Babcock pointed me to the doings of Matt. Murray, one-time President and Executive Director of MoCCA, [...]

[...] the far reaches of time, Jennifer Babcock (cf here, do yourself a favor and ignore the comment thread) has made a fortunate habit of working far ahead [...]

paginas web…

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