The Bay Area has a rich love for cartoons, graphic novels, and comic books; there is the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, the Cartoon Art Museum, and many comic stores in San Francisco. American comics began in the 19th century during the era of sensationalist journalism. Comics served as entertainment for mass readership, and in the 20th century, comics became an autonomous art. It was during what’s referred to as the Golden Age of Comic Books from 1938-1956 when the superhero archetype was created, introducing many well-known fictional characters such as Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. The popularity of these characters helped make comic books a significant branch of publishing. 

The existence of comics later developed into graphic novels as long-form versions of the works, although the origins of the term are contested and open to interpretation. Around the same time, and with the development of newer technologies, zines grew alongside comics and graphic novels as its art form, which relies on self-publishing original or appropriated text and images reproduced with photocopiers. It was popularized particularly within the science fiction fandom in the mid-20th century. Comics, graphic novels, and zines are integral to American culture and beyond. 

In line with 836M’s mission to bring the multidisciplinary art-making process directly to the bystander’s consciousness, 836M proudly presents Cartoonists@836Man exhibition offering a unique opportunity to witness a process that the viewer rarely sees. Visual storytelling ignites imaginations and provides colorful and accessible ways to provide insight and interpretation on current events and distill news and opinions through characters or caricatures.

During this four-month exhibition and residency, four authors and artists, Rina Ayuyang (co-curator), Tyler CohenJanelle Hessig, and Thien Pham, will be creating new work on the theme of the history of San Francisco’s neighborhoods, past, present, and future. 

The residency and adjacent programming will offer insight into the process of making a comic, zine, or graphic novel, the challenges artists face, and topics related to technology and techniques and the future of comic making. 

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