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Art gallery of western australia           
AGWA media
14 March 2016
Exploring the inner lives of the great comic artists of today
Comic Tragics: the exploding language of contemporary comic art
On display at AGWA | 9 Apr – 25 Jul 2016 | FREE

Comic Tragics is an international exploration of the inner life of the contemporary comic artist and their incredibly intense, personal and affecting comic works that connect with audiences in unexpected and powerful ways.

This free exhibition features more than 150 examples of the most moving and compelling comic work being made in the world today from some of the medium’s most exciting practitioners: Gabrielle Bell (US), Stephen Collins (UK), Aisha Franz (Ger), Anders Nilsen (US), Tommi Parrish (AUS), John Porcellino (US), Dash Shaw (US), Emma Talbot (UK) and Ron Rege Jr (US). Many of whom have published works with major comic publishing houses such as Canada’s Drawn & Quarterly, Fantagraphics and Reprodukt.

Works are presented in various stages of completion from rough sketch to fully inked, through sketchbooks, finished comic pages, paintings and video, allowing an intimate understanding of the artists' processes.

Developed by AGWA Curator of Contemporary Design and International Art, Robert Cook, it is the first of two major shows for 2016 that the Gallery has exclusively curated for WA audiences.  

AGWA Director Stefano Carboni said, "In 2016 we are inviting our audiences to see things differently. One aspect of this new direction is to curate exhibitions that inspire visitors with their presentation of different directions that art forms are taking. With Comic Tragics, we have brought nine wildly exciting artists together with the aim of showing just how mature and fascinating this genre can be. The work on display is accessible, personal and truly affecting. And the themes traversed will resonate with many people." 

AGWA Curator, Robert Cook adds, “Through the merging of image and word, and the collision of self and society, Comic Tragics contains a range of personal, richly imaginative and sometimes quite fantastical stories. As disparate as they might appear, each artist's practice deals with the struggle of what it means to be human. Their artworks step beyond the superhero into the super personal, and sometimes the hyperreal as in German artist's Aisha Franz’s incredible work.

"The artists’ works are highly personal and reflect individual obsessions and introspection, underscored with the anxieties and paradoxes of modern life - it is darkly intriguing and wonderfully touching," he continued.

The range of artworks vary across the nine artists. From UK artist Emma Talbot's distinctive, melancholic large-scale paintings and drawings to her UK contemporary Stephen Collins' master work, The gigantic beard that was evil. The searching utopianism of Ron Rege Jr to the gentle musings of microzine hero John Porcellino, and the heartbreaking graphic memoir of Anders Nilsen, Don't go where I can't follow

As implied in the title, the tragic is balanced with the comic. To quote a fragment of one of Melbourne artist Tommi Parrish’s works in the show, they are mostly “funny as in funny ha ha”. But there is also genuine levity in Gabrielle’ Bell’s wryly amusing work and Stephen Collins’ comics for the Guardian newspaper. 

The exhibition opens on Saturday 9 April at the Art Gallery of WA with a weekend of artists talks and events. 


MEDIA PREVIEW | 10.30am-12.30pm, Thursday 7 April
AGWA Director Stefano Carboni and AGWA Curator Robert Cook, along with visiting artists Tommi Parrish (AUS), Ron Rege Jr (US) and Emma Talbot (UK) will be available in the exhibition space for media and filming opportunities.

AGWA will be celebrating the opening weekend with a suite of artists talks and events.

For further information please visit

For more information, interviews and imagery please contact Tanya Sticca on 9492 6692 or email
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Image credits - Stephen Collins The Gigantic Beard that was Evil 2014. Pencil on paper (20 drawings comprising 23 sheets), 42 x 60 cm. Collection of the artist. © Stephen Collins. Emma Talbot - Emma Talbot Sunset/sunrise 2015. Acrylic on canvas, 209 x 150 cm. Courtesy Domo Baal and Petra Rinck. © Emma Talbot. Anders Nilsen Don't go where I can't follow (page 79) 2006. Ink on Paper, 27.9 x 35.6 cm. © Anders Nilsen. Courtesy the artist.
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