Behind the Scenes of The Story of British Comics So Far

We are in the final stages of setting up our new exhibition entitled ‘The Story of British Comics So Far: Cor! By Gum! Zarjaz!’ which opens Saturday 6 August. We spoke to our two guest curators for the show, Paul Gravett and Hamish MacGillivray, to see how things are shaping up.

What was the inspiration for this exhibition?

We were working on an exhibition entitled ‘Alien Invasion’ back in 2013 which involved some comic work and the Director, Marilyn Scott, suggested that we make a show about comics. The next year Paul worked on an exhibition entitled ‘Comics Unmasked’ for the British Library which was a source of inspiration for the show.

How long has the planning taken to get an exhibition of this scale ready for the public?

We took about a year to get the three topics cemented: Cor! By Gum! And Zarjaz! We spent about nine months working with Graham Bower-Wood planning the construction of the walls and cabinets for the exhibition. Quite a bit of time was spent sourcing loans and creating a layout. The plan of the design was done on a print out of the gallery space using post-it notes. We then created a model roughly to scale to figure out the flow and routes of the exhibition.

What stages do you go through when mounting an exhibition?

The initial planning stages involved discussing the themes and topics, size of the gallery, and the sizes of the work from the biggest to the smallest. A lot of it is serendipitous such as friends and family suggesting new ideas. While the entire time keeping in mind that it’s a family show.

We have two characters, Alan and Zara, who guide you through the exhibition. We did some testing with local school groups and used the local library to see what the reactions would be to the characters and to the comics.

What is your favourite part about the exhibition?

Paul: My favourite would have to be seeing the original art work a lot of which is from Peter Hansen who has the biggest collection of comics in the UK.

Hamish: My favourite part is seeing the people’s reactions. Seeing if it hits any of the nostalgia buttons.

Thank you to Paul and Hamish for chatting with us about behind the scenes of our upcoming comic themed exhibition.

The Story of British Comics So Far: Cor! By Gum! Zarjaz! will run from 6 August - 31 December.

Entrance with a £5 Annual Pass, under 18s go free.