MARVEL: Universe of Super Heroes

MoPop's Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes (banner)

Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes, at MoPop. Art by Nick Bradshaw.

This weekend my wife Michele and I will be traveling to Seattle to take in the opening of MARVEL: Universe of Super Heroes, the new, and reportedly very large and spectacular, exhibition at the Museum of Popular Culture (MoPop). Call this a belated birthday gift to self. The exhibition opens with a VIP Reception and Opening Party this Friday evening, April 20, and runs until January 6 of 2019.

The show—MoPop’s largest ever, and, I believe, the largest exhibition of Marvel artifacts ever—has been curated by my colleague Ben Saunders, founder of Comics and Cartoon Studies at the University of Oregon. Ben was a consultant, vital contributor, and catalog co-editor for our 2015 Jack Kirby exhibition at the CSUN Art Galleries, and has curated several other excellent comics exhibitions. Co-curating with Ben are my colleagues Matt Smith (Radford University) and Randy Duncan (Henderson State University). The project has also involved MoPOP curators Brooks Peck and Jacob McMurray, comics writer-editors Ann Nocenti and Danny Fingeroth, and another colleague of mine, Andréa Gilroy, also of the UO’s Comics Studies community (and Comics Crash Course). MARVEL: Universe of Super Heroes is jointly produced by German exhibitions company SC Exhibitions, MoPop, and Marvel Entertainment. It sounds as if it’s well worth the trip!

I understand that the exhibition has a theme park-like, immersive quality, with complex installations, statues, paintings, and film props and costumes, as well as original comic art, rare comic books, and other memorabilia. The Seattle Times‘s Paul Constant offered a mouth-watering sneak peek today (and last fall Forbes‘s Rob Salkowitz, also in Seattle, gave a useful heads-up).

I will be anxious to see how the exhibition tells the story of Marvel’s founding and early days, and of course what sort of presence Kirby’s work and career story have in the show (Constant’s article, I note, does not mention Kirby at all, which is a shame). Obviously, I’ve talked to Ben Saunders about this show (we began chatting about it long before it took its final form), and I’ve learned a great deal about curating from Ben’s insightful and committed work in that area—so I’m eager to see how it has all turned out. My sense is that it became a truly collaborative juggernaut and is going to be a bit eye-boggling. Can’t wait!

I look forward to meeting with colleague José Alaniz and hopefully other members of the Seattle comics community this weekend. I’ll be back with a report—with pictures, I hope!

Spider-Man statue at MoPop

Spider-Man at MoPop. Photo by exhibition designer Tobias Kunz, courtesy of Christoph Scholz of SC Exhibitions and Andréa Gilroy, via Facebook.

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