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Using the British Library’s “Comics Unmasked” exhibition as a springboard, the Department of History and Classics delves deep into history for a selection of medieval manuscripts that could certainly be considered as early comic strips.
The library’s Medieval and Early Manuscripts Blog gives a shoutout to the 11th-century Bayeux Tapestry, characterized by Bryan Talbot and others as “the first known British comic strip,” but the curators don’t stop there. For instance, there’s the Holkham Bible Picture Book (1327-1335), with its beautifully colored sequences from both the Old and New Testament, which is “sometimes described as England’s first graphic novel.” Julian Harrison, the library’s curator of early modern manuscripts, points out that it even employs banners for dialogue, much like word balloons in modern comics.
The British Library has debuted a trailer — a “Curators’ Introduction” — to promote “Comics Unmasked: Art and Anarchy in the U.K.,” the largest comics exhibition to date in the United Kingdom.
Opening Friday to the public, “Comics Unmasked” spans the history of British comic books, from the 19th century to the present, exploring how they’ve addressed such subjects as violence, sexuality and drugs while breaking boundaries. The exhibition kicks off with a screening of the documentary Graphic Novel Man: The Comics of Bryan Talbot, followed by a conversation with Bryan Talbot, Mary Talbot and Kate Charlesworth.
Running from May 2 to Aug. 14, “Comics Unmasked” traces the history of British comic books, from the 19th century to the present, exploring how they’ve addressed such subjects as violence, sexuality and drugs while breaking boundaries.
Events | The British Library is staging a “long overdue” exhibit on comics, called “Comics Unmasked: Art and Anarchy in the U.K.,” which will feature comics in a variety of genres from the 19th century to the present. Featured items include The Trials of Nasty Tales, which chronicles the 1972 obscenity trial of the editorial staff of Nasty Tales. “I went to a very traditional school where they would raid desks and take comics off to the orchard to burn them,” said Dave Gibbons, one of the contributors to The Trials of Nasty Tales. “Fast forward 40 years and they now invite me to the school to lecture on graphic novels.” The exhibition runs May 2-Aug. 14. [The Guardian]