Regular readers of The Jade Sphinx are well aware of our love of both illustrated books and comics, one of the few, great indigenous American art forms. So, we are eagerly anticipating a symposium slated for tonight, March 18 -- the 79th meeting of the NY Comics and Picture-Story Symposium at Parsons, the New School. The presentation is Picture Stories/Stories with Pictures, and it will be hosted by scholar Patricia Mainardi.
Few fans of the comics medium seem to be aware of Rodolphe Töpffer (1799 – 1846). Töpffer was a Swiss-born teacher, author, painter and cartoonist. He illustrated many books which are considered to be among the earliest examples of the comic form.
However, while Töpffer was creating his first comic books in the 1830s, book illustration was also undergoing a transformation. Where books once had a few, sparse illustrations, new printing techniques encouraged hundreds of illustrations. Artists were now faced with new questions: What to draw? How to draw? How to integrate text and image? The lecture will survey the parallel history of illustrated books and comic books, mirror images of each other in their first flower of development.
Patricia Mainardi is an art historian, professor emerita in the doctoral program in art history at the City University of New York. A specialist in 19th Century art, she has published numerous books and articles on topics from painting to comics and is currently completing a book on nineteenth-century illustrated print culture, including comics, caricature, and illustrated books and periodicals.
The above illustration is by French illustrator, engraver and painter Tony Johannot (1803-1852), and reads: And so, in the guise of friendship, the villain managed to steal my brain, which he took for himself, for, as my head shrunk in volume, his grew larger, published in Travel Where You Will, Book Written with Pen and Crayon, with Vignettes, Legends, Episodes, Commentaries, Incidents, Notes and Poetry, 1843.
The lecture will take place at 7:00 p.m. at Parsons The New School, 2 West 13th Street, in the Bark Room (off the lobby). It is free and open to the public.