Sunday, August 03, 2008

An Evening with Joe Staton

As advertised, last night was the opening of "The Art of Joe Staton" exhibit here in Pittsfield. Curated by MoCCA's Lawrence Klein, the exhibit features nearly 50 pieces of art from Joe Staton's long career in comics. There's a large Batman section--featuring some of his Huntress work, some of his "Legends of the Dark Knight" work, some of his work for "Batman Adventures," and even a startlingly evocative page inked by Bill Sienkiewicz. The exhibit also features pages from Joe's "Scooby-Doo" work (with over 100 issues on that title, Joe seems to hold the record for longest "Scooby-Doo" run in history), and, of course, work from "E-Man" and his recent "Femme Noir" series, among other treasures.

Joe spent the whole night sketching away, helping to raise money for the Storefront Artist Project and MoCCA, and it was a treat to see the young fans (and old) interact with one of the greats of superhero comics. I don't know that Joe has ever achieved "legendary" status in the field, but he certainly deserves to. Here's a guy who has produced vibrant work for over three decades, and anyone who's seen his early "E-Man" work and his most recent "Femme Noir" pages can attest to his consistent quality. He's particularly good at exaggeration and mood, and I hope that this exhibit, and his "guest of honor" status in San Diego this year, will help draw more attention to his contributions to the field.

He's also one of the nicest people you'll ever meet, patiently explaining the nuts and bolts of drawing (or making a career in comics) to anyone who asked. He spend the whole afternoon on Sunday speaking with members of the community, who had gathered at the exhibit to hear what he had to say. With his typical sweetness and humility, he held their attention for hours, even teaching them a few drawing techniques along the way. (This photo on the left here is actually the section of the exhibit inspired by Joe--featuring silkscreen-style paintings based on his work, done by an up-and-coming local artist.)

Joe will be back in Pittsfield for a "Third Thursday" event on August 21st, and again on the 31st. The exhibit is scheduled to run through the middle of September, and if you get a chance to stop by, it's certainly worth your time. Even more so if Joe's around to draw you a really nice Huntress sketch.

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