I was thrilled to be selected for a show at the Edwardsville Arts Center from February 9 - March 16, 2018. There were three segments to the exhibition. First was an homage to our deceased mentor and friend, Dr. John Adkins Richardson, Professor Emeritus of Art and Design at SIUE. John was the very successful author of Modern Art and Scientific Thought, Art: The Way It Is and The Complete Book of Cartooning. He was also an underground comic artist who published 'Fever Dreams' at Kitchen Sink Press, worked on 'The Hunting of the Snark' for Wally Wood’s Witzend and 'Maxor' for the fanzine, Fantastic Exploits. I exhibited a broad selection of his work from my personal collection, spotlighting a project we were unable to complete together, due to his untimely death, for the revised edition of the Complete Book of Cartooning.
The centerpiece of the show was my 1950s horror and crime comic book inspired designs on canvases, tiles and prints, “The Delinquent Comic Art of Wascally Wee Willy Harroff.” I began this body of work more than a decade ago, recognizing the direction of the current American culture wars. My comic art is a stinging indictment of the self-appointed culture wars critic of the era, psychologist Dr. Fredric Wertham. Wertham, author of the bestseller, Seduction of the Innocent, claimed comics caused youth to go on delinquent, crime-filled and/or sexual sprees. I take Wertham's quasi-scientific arguments to the extreme by applying his bogus “scientific” method of removing micro-sections of 1950s comics, then transforming them into kaleidoscopic patterns for today’s audiences.
Lastly, I included a retelling of this little known period of American history that creatively shaped my work entitled, Who Knows What Evil Lurks in the Hearts of Men (and Women)? I Do! I Do! This section consists of large panels in comic form to explain the complex 1950s history, how it shaped my work and the parallels with censorship efforts now. Comic book burnings literally swept the nation in the fifties, including the St. Louis metropolitan area. Today, comic books remain the most banned type of publication in America.