80 years of marvel
Yasunari Ramon Suarez Taguchi (The Freeman) - September 12, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Like all forms of art, comic illustration styles have gone through various shuffling over the decades. Yet the art form consistently holds its share of public admiration, critical acclaim, transformations, conceptual explorations, creative declines and riveting revivals.

This aspect to comics sits at the heart and center of an ongoing exhibit at the Mountain Wing Atrium of SM Seaside City, one which documents comics’ ascension as a dime-store novelty to a now-critically and commercially respected storytelling medium.

Titled “Marvel 80 Years at SM” and running until yesterday, September 11, the exhibit was mainlined by reproductions of some of the iconic issue covers of Marvel Comics since the publishing firm’s inception in 1939.

More than a cut-and-dried presentation of illustrations by some of comicdom’s legendary creators, the exhibit parts the veil to styles that’re indicative of the different “ages” in comics – the “Golden Age” (1938-1950), the “Silver Age” (1950-1971), the “Bronze Age” (1971-1980), the “Dark Age” (1980-1993) and the “Ageless Age” (1993-present).

From the 1939-published “Marvel Comics #1” cover illustrated by Frank Paul to the 1991-published “X-Men Vol 2, #1” cover illustrated by Jim Lee and Scott Williams (which holds the Gunnies World Record of best-selling comic book of all time), the exhibit dips viewers into the immersive world of sequential art storytelling.

Structured to form either by linear crosshatching, feathering, strippling, parallel line rendering or combinations of various illustration techniques, the exhibit’s showcased covers document how bold and dynamic comics styles have and still is evolving – with styles dipping into narrative illustration modes to those that venture into art deco and Bauhaus art motifs.

Amping-up the exhibit’s opening on September 1 was a ceremonial “homecoming” event for Marvel’s first pinay superhero – Pearl Pangan, AKA “Wave”.

First unveiled in the first issue of Marvel’s “War of the Realms: New Agents of Atlas” series released in May, the character’s co-creator – Cebu-born illustrator Leinil Francis Yu – was present during the event, wherein he talked about the character’s Cebuana roots and the creative process that was involved in the creation of her costume. The fan-favorite pinoy illustrator also helmed a live sketching session of the character.

Also present at the event was Marvel Games’ senior producer for Asia Danny Koo, who helmed the introduction of new characters to the hit “Future Fight” game.

All-in-all, the exhibit and its opening day highlights proved to one and all that comics has a long and vibrant history – far too long to be fully encapsulated in just one event.

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