17 October 2006

Australian Comics

Heroes & Villains: Australian Comics and their Creators
20 October 2006-25 February 2007
State Library of Victoria

Who was the Lone Avenger? What magic word gave Captain Atom his powers? Where did Molo the Mighty come from? And which masked crime-fighter was banned by the Queensland Government?

Heroes & Villains: Australian comics and their creators is a free exhibition at the State Library of Victoria that explores the colourful, and sometimes controversial, history of Australian comic books, from their wartime origins in the 1940s to the present day.

Heroes & Villains showcases hundreds of Australian comic books and rare examples of original artwork, plus toys and merchandise such as Phantom skull rings and Ginger Meggs statuettes. It will appeal to comic-book fans, nostalgia buffs and families alike.

Visitors to the exhibition will discover colourful characters that have entertained generations of Australians - costumed heroes like Captain Power and Dark Nebula, western gunslingers such as the Phantom Ranger and the Hooded Rider, and cheeky misfits like Da 'n' Dill and Fatty Finn.

The exhibition documents a wide range of comic-book genres, including crime, war and horror stories, tales of fantasy and science fiction. It highlights how Australian comics moved beyond the printed page to form the basis for radio serials, toys and merchandise, and even computer games.

The exhibition examines factors that influenced the development of Australian comics, such as competition from imported comic books, censorship, popular literature and the electronic media. It shows how Australian comic fans have expressed their passion and fostered a local comic-book culture through fanzines, comics conventions and online forums.

Heroes & Villains is curated by Kevin Patrick, an Australian comics expert, collector and devoted fan. Many of the items on display are drawn from Kevin’s own former collection, which he recently gifted to the State Library, and which includes nearly every Australian comic published from 1975 to 2005. Other exhibits are from the Library’s pre-existing collection and on loan from private collectors.

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