Comic Craze

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Lost Dogs (excerpt), 2005 © Jeff Lemire
Comic Craze
Curated by: Sylvie Gilbert

Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity
107 Tunnel Mountain Drive
Banff, AB T1L1H5
May 4th, 2006 - September 6th, 2006

Wednesday through Sunday, 12:30 to 5 p.m.


Comic Craze explores the rich and vibrant intersection of contemporary art and narrative expressions found in comics. This large scale exhibition demonstrates the importance and specific characteristics found in Canadian independent comic books, mini-comics, ‘zines and graphic novels. Visitors to the exhibition will discover the best of French and English publications from across Canada. Capturing the different graphic and narrative styles that have made comic culture one of the most absorbing and experimental forms of expression today, the exhibition features over four hundred books from more than one hundred artists.

With distilled words and images comic artists often share intimate details about their lives and their struggles with lovers, politics, friends, and family. Marc Bell, Rupert Bottenberg, Shary Boyle, Chester Brown, Geneviève Castrée, David Collier, Rebecca Dart, Jeff Lemire, Billy Mavreas, Marc Ngui, Joe Ollman, Michel Rabagliati, Seth, Rick Trembles, and Maurice Vellekoop are among the many artists that are creating some of the most significant and engrossing narratives in comic literature today. Their works are testimonies to social inequalities we experience, and our pathetic inability to resolve most of them. Contrary to mainstream superheroes, their colourful casts of characters hold no powers, with the exception, maybe, of being part of a community, often an eccentric and hilarious one that holds an unrivalled attraction for readers as they carry out our fantasies of meandering into parallel worlds of being.

The collection of publications gathered for this exhibition brings to light the different narrative strategies found in Canadian comics. From an autobiographic account of a childhood memory of driving in the back seat of your mom’s car, an imagined evocation of your week at camp Conquest, the dense lines and ink accounting the recurrent dream of an Amazon girl, the curvy drawing of an interaction between a man who patented potatoes and a land owner, or the realistic depiction of the life of the Canadian scientist who invented insulin, this exhibition provides access to a wide choice of chronicles, anecdotes, fairy-tales, tales, and documentary accounts.

A large number of the books included in Comic Craze are self-published. Many are produced by small presses, such as L’Oie de Cravan, conundrum press, and La Pastèque, and elegant, tactile, and colourful books produced by renowned publishers such as Drawn + Quarterly complete the collection.

For this exhibition, the Gallery is being transformed into a reading space. A black and white woodland forest, filled with luminous snails and hundreds of comic books, ‘zines, and mini-comics accessible for on-site reading, is the stage for a unique experience in appreciating the visual and literary pleasure of reading comics.