As Quinn O’Callaghan has documented in depth in his Almanac Weekly story titled “Many comic book heroes have Hudson Valley roots,” our region is an epicenter for both superheroic and supervillainous activity. In the Marvel universe, X-Woman Jean Grey is the daughter of a Bard College professor and Charles Xavier, a Bard alumnus, trains budding X-Men at his School for Gifted Youngsters in Salem Center in Westchester. Strong Guy and Scarecrow are Rhinebeck natives. And DC Comics’ Nightwing made Bannerman’s Castle on Pollepel Island a hideout for Talia al Ghul and her evil gang.
These are only a few among many Hudson Valley shout-outs in the comic-book world, so it should not surprise anyone that our region is also a veritable crucible of comic creation. Probably best-known are New Yorker cartoonists Danny Shanahan, Liza Donnelly and Michael Maslin, who all reside in Rhinebeck. But there are lots of others who contribute concept, color and line to the panels of comic strips, periodicals and the booming genre of heavily illustrated books known as graphic novels. Half a dozen of them will be on hand this Friday evening, February 13, as Arts Mid-Hudson kicks off its new exhibition at the organization’s gallery in Poughkeepsie, titled “Komic Kreators of the Mid-Hudson Valley.”
The show features works by Donnelly; Terry Austin, inker of X-Men: Days of Future Past, upon which the 2014 movie is based; Herb Trimpe, inker for Hulk and Wolverine; current Dick Tracy artist Joe Staton; Ramona Fradon, best-known for her work on Brenda Starr; inker Charles Barnett III, who has worked on Thor, The Avengers and other comics; Eliot R. Brown, penciler for The Avengers and Captain America, among other Marvel titles; Fred Hembeck, a parodist of comic book characters; and Joe Sinnott, longtime inker of The Amazing Spider-Man Sunday comic strip.
Mark Sinnott will be representing his father at Friday’s opening reception; the other artists scheduled to attend in person and autograph their works are Donnelly, Staton, Fradon, Brown and Hembeck. Touted by Arts Mid-Hudson as “our own mini-ComiCon,” the show preview party is a fundraiser for the not-for-profit arts services organization, and attendees are encouraged to wear costumes (or “cosplay,” to use the current lingo). Tickets cost $15 each, $25 for a pair. The party runs from 6 to 8 p.m.
Some of the artists will also be on hand the following day, Saturday, February 14 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., at the free Grand Opening of “Komic Kreators.” Gallery admission will be free for the rest of the exhibition’s run, through March 7. The Gallery is open to the public from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.
Several related special events are also scheduled during the run of “Komic Kreators.” Charles Barnett III will give a presentation on the genesis of a comic image and strip from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, February 21. The following Saturday, February 28 from 2 to 4 p.m., a panel discussion with Liza Donnelly and Ramona Fradon, titled “Women in Komics,” will cover the changing role of women featured in comics and comic-book-based movies, as well as the women who create the comics. Tickets for each event cost $10. All will take place at Arts Mid-Hudson’s new home, located at 696 Dutchess Turnpike (Route 44) in Poughkeepsie.
“Komic Kreators of the Mid-Hudson Valley” launch party, Friday, February 13, 6-8 p.m., $15, Arts Mid-Hudson Gallery, 696 Dutchess Turnpike, Poughkeepsie; (845) 454-3222, www.artsmidhudson.org.