The Cartoon Art Museum presents The Teen Age: Youth Culture in Comics, a look at the depiction of teenagers in comic strips and comic books from Carl Ed’s Harold Teen—which debuted one hundred years ago—to the modern adventures of BOOM! Studios’ Lumberjanes.
The Teen Age chronicles the life of the typical American teenager through more than 60 pieces of original artwork depicting trends in fashion, music, fads, dating, and friendships throughout the past century. This retrospective looks at just how much youth culture has changed since the early twentieth century—and how it hasn’t. “The American teenager didn’t exist as we know them in the early 20th century,” notes cartoonist and historian Trina Robbins. “But the end of World War I ushered in a new period of prosperity that suddenly gave teens the leisure to be teens—to wear school sweaters, go dancing at the hop, obsess over the opposite sex, and hang out at soda shoppes, and all of that led to a whole new publishing genre—the teen comic.”
The Teen Age celebrates many of the most popular and beloved teen comics of all time, including Archie by Harry Lucey and Dan DeCarlo, whose style defined the Riverdale kids for generations of fans; The Teen Titans by fan favorite artist George Pérez; Emmy Lou by San Francisco legend Marty Links; Luann by Reuben Award-winning cartoonist Greg Evans; and a selection of modern teen comics published by BOOM! Studios.
The exhibition also includes the lost classic Buttons an’ Beaux by Sharon Smith, who was teenager herself when she created the nationally-syndicated feature in 1950. She continued to produce the strip as a college student 1953, after which she commenced a successful career as a children’s book illustrator under her married name, Sharon Smith Kane. Ms. Kane generously donated an archive of more than 250 original Buttons an’ Beaux comics to the Cartoon Art Museum’s archives in 2018, and a selection of this work will be on public display for the first time as part of The Teen Age.
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