Comics Unmasked: Art And Anarchy in the UK at The British Library

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The Trials of Nasty Tales, 1973. Dave Gibbons


Comics Unmasked: Art and Anarchy in the UK opens at the British Library. The exhibition is described as being the biggest of its kind in the UK, with a large number of unseen comics, original artwork and bizarre objects going on display.

Telling the story of the riotous history of UK comic art, the show covers everything from Victorian comics to iconic recent efforts such as V for Vendetta. The works on display are used to explore the political and social issues that British comics have raised over the years, featuring everything from violence and drugs to class and sexuality.

Highlights include some rare items from the archives of the library, with the little known The Trials of Nasty Tales being of particular interest: An early example of an underground work by Dave Gibbons, of Watchmen fame, it tells the story of the censorship and trial of Nasty Tales, a work said to be too obscene due to its graphic content. A fine example of subversion and dissent, this is one of many rare works that sum up the anarchic spirit of the British comic.

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