Museum of Wisconsin Art
Press Release

Museum of Wisconsin Art Announces Wisconsin Funnies: Fifty Years of Comics

More than 200 works by thirty-one artists illustrate the history of comics in Wisconsin

By - Jul 31st, 2020 03:42 pm

Image courtesy of Museum of Wisconsin Art.

WEST BEND, WISCONSIN – The Museum of Wisconsin Art (MOWA) announces the opening of Wisconsin Funnies: Fifty Years of Comics, its first major exhibition following a three-month closure due to COVID-19. This exhibition presents the rich history of comics in Wisconsin as it explores the major themes, innovations, and publications that characterize the state’s contributions to comic culture. The exhibition opens on August 8 with opening weekend activities including food trucks and artist commentary and remains on view through November 22, 2020.

“This exhibition introduces some much-needed laughs into 2020,” said Associate Curator of Contemporary Art J. Tyler Friedman. “But the works also show the serious side of comics as a medium for political protest and a platform for marginalized voices.”

Wisconsin Funnies is MOWA’s first exhibition on view in multiple museum locations. The West Bend flagship museum presents a comprehensive overview of comics in Wisconsin including underground comics (a.k.a. “comix”) and the lively Madison scene including artwork by 2019 MacArthur “Genius” Grant recipient Lynda Barry, Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Creativity at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. The museum’s downtown Milwaukee outpost, MOWA | DTN, located within Saint Kate-The Arts Hotel highlights politically-themed comics. The exhibited works include graphic novels, alternative newspapers from the 1970s, a comic book commissioned by the Wisconsin Department of Justice for high school students, and multi-page stories by Milwaukee Journal-Sentinels longtime (1967-1991) editorial cartoonist Bill Sanders.

In connection with the exhibition, a fully illustrated 244-page catalogue aptly titled Wisconsin Funnies: Fifty Years of Comics articulates the national role of Wisconsin comics. The catalogue features essays by historian and culture critic James P. Danky and Madison-based graphic novel author and editor Paul Buhle. The catalogue features more than 150 comic illustrations by thirty-one renowned comic artists including Ernie Bushmiller, Al Capp, Will Eisner, Harvey Kurtzman, Peter Poplaski, Steve Rude, and Bill Sanders. The Wisconsin Funnies exhibition catalogue will be available for purchase at both exhibition locations.

MOWA in West Bend, Wisconsin is open Wednesday through Sunday, 9:30 – 5:00 with the first hour reserved for seniors (60+) and vulnerable members. Admission as low as $15 allows for unlimited visits for one full year. MOWA | DTN located within Saint Kate–The Arts Hotel in downtown Milwaukee is free and open to the public during normal lobby hours.

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