Environmentally-Scaled Comics


Environmentally-scaled comics create a walk-through information space, delivering all the impact of the enveloping painted space of murals, with the easily-read economy of visual depiction that's found in a comic plus its narrative text.

I was commissioned to illustrate a museum exhibit called LIGHTNING! at the California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, on exhibition through the first half of 1987.

Exhibit Designer Madeleine Graham was looking for comic illustration in the style of the old Captain Marvel comics, with big yellow lightning bolts and primary colors. My 8" x 10" ink drawings were turned into 6-foot serigraphs, colored and hand-lettered by museum staff then mounted on the walls. I also painted murals of storm clouds and thunderbolts, plus signage.

The exhibit filled a narrow corridor with a mix of large cartoons of simplified pictures and text, collaged photography and scientific apparatus, while a video screen played instructional videos and great scenes of lightning from Hollywood movies. In other words, a grand immersive multi-media information space which prefigured virtual versions to come.

The LIGHTNING! show and memorable experience of working with a museum exhibits crew inspired me to my own fine arts installation in the form of a science or natural history museum.

"The Self-Referenteum" was an installation at the Southern Exposure Gallery, San Francisco, May, 1988, my part of the SFSU Conceptual Design Program MFA candidates' show. Objects affixed to the wall in my "Hall of Extended Adolescence" on exhibit included a spring-bobbing Mike-fetus, a squeeze-bottle containing smelly cigar breath, and the 1974 Ladytar designed with Jim Rees .

In late Fall of 1993, "The Biotechnology Zone" was another example of an installation of mural-sized wall comics.



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