Hypercomics: The Shape of Comics to Come

Currently showing at the Pump House Gallery in London is an exhibition curated by Paul Gravett that celebrates the work of four artists known for their experiments with comic book art: Dave McKean, Warren Pleece, Daniel Merlin Goodbrey, and Adam Dant…

Currently showing at the Pump House Gallery in London is an exhibition curated by Paul Gravett that celebrates the work of four artists known for their experiments with comic book art: Dave McKean, Warren Pleece, Daniel Merlin Goodbrey, and Adam Dant…

 

Daniel Merlin Goodbrey describes a hypercomic as “a webcomic with a multi-cursal narrative structure. In a hypercomic the choices made by the reader may influence the sequence of events, the outcome of events or the point of view through which events are seen.” Gravett has attempted to bring this proposition to life in a gallery context at the Pump House by introducing interactive elements to the work, and playing with the way visitors navigate through the space.

 

The show opens with a work by Warren Pleece, which illustrates the lives of four dysfunctional tenants in an apartment block, Montague Terrace. The wall display in the installation follows a conventional comic book style (shown above, with detail top), but the piece also includes a series of animated films of the characters, which visitors can activate by pressing different door buzzers on the wall of the space.

 

One floor up is a display of works by Daniel Merlin Goodbrey, which form “an alternative history for the gallery as an archive for infamous glam-rock dictator Hieronymus Pop and charts a day in the life of its lone archivist”. Three large works are shown – illustrating the archivist’s ‘work’, ‘play’ and ‘dreams’ – and their comic strips can be read in a number of different ways, depending on the viewer’s choice. Goodbrey is also exhibiting scenes from an imaginary Hieronymus Pop concert in the boating shelter next to the Pump House, and new elements to the work will be added online throughout August and September, at e-merl.com/archivist.

 

Dave McKean combines narrative illustration and sculpture in his installation for the Pump House (details shown above). Titled The Rut, the work describes a disturbing childhood event through a series of drawings and large sculptural works. McKean’s work blends into Adam Dant’s work for the show, due to the architecture of the Pump House, which has a mezzanine floor in the top space. On the top floor, Dant also exhibits a narrative piece, which takes the audience on an anatomical  journey across the city via the library works of the fictitious Doctor London. The piece consists of a number of wooden bookcases that house a series of unusual tomes, painted in oil on canvas (detail from the work shown below).

 

With Hypercomics, Gravett has managed to successfully take comic book art out of its traditional book setting and expand it into the gallery space, without losing its core narrative themes. The show will be on at Pump House (which is located in Battersea Park, perfect for a late summer stroll) until September 26, and is accompanied by a number of talks, events and screenings throughout its run. For more details, visit pumphousegallery.org.uk.

 

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