What: The Frank L. Melega Art Museum announces a new exhibition of artworks by Donald Simpson titled Megaton Man: Rebirth@Half-Life
Who: Donald Simpson, PhD, is an illustrator, educator, and creator of the comic book characters Megaton Man and Ms. Megaton Man. Dr. Simpson lives in Crafton, Pennsylvania.
When: An opening reception will be held Saturday, October 11, from 1:00 to 5:00 PM. Free to the public and free parking.
The museum is open weekdays from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM, Sundays 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM, and anytime by appointment.
Where: Frank L. Melega Art Museum
71 Market Street
Brownsville, PA 15417
Cartoonist Don Simpson burst on the scene in the Orwellian year of 1984, at the height of Reagan’s arms race, neutron bombs, “Minute-Man” missiles, and “dense-pack” multiple-warheads packing twenty megatons (millions of tons of TNT) of explosive force each. The American comic book was also in artistic decline, the superhero genre regurgitating tired clichés. Simpson’s Megaton Man, with a physique that made Arnold Schwarzenegger look like a 90-pound weakling, and a brain of limited functionality, became a good-natured vehicle to satirize both Cold-War culture and “Silver Age” comics. Simpson’s hilarious satire was an immediate hit for underground publisher Kitchen Sink Press, and was at the forefront of an Independent Cartooning Renaissance that included the Hernandez Brothers’ Love and Rockets, Scott McCloud’s Zot!, and Art Spiegelman’s Maus.
Simpson’s megaheroic creation has appeared in over 35 comic books and graphic novels since then. Following a decade off from comics that included illustrating Al Franken’s bestseller Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right, and earning his PhD in art and architectural history from the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Simpson is ready to retool his best-loved creation for the 21st Century. The post-9/11 “War on Terror” storyline sends America’s Nuclear Powered Hero on a more somber new chapter, complete with an African-American female version of himself: Ms. Megaton Man. The new adventures will still feature Simpson’s inimitable brand of humor, with old favorites like Yarn Man and X-Ray Boy, and new characters like The Doom Defiers.
Megaton Man’s “Rebirth at Half-Life” exhibition opens Saturday, October 11th, 1- 5 PM, at the Frank L. Melega Art Museum, Brownsville, Pennsylvania. Examples from Dr. Simpson’s 30 years of cartooning will be on display, including rarely-seen early original art plus works-in-progress from his forthcoming graphic novel, Megaton Man: Return to Megatropolis, slated for 2015. Preliminary sketches, figure studies, and more will be included. Some of the artist’s personal collection of original comic book artwork by his influences, including Jack Kirby, Wally Wood, and John Romita Sr., will be showcased.
Visitors will get a glimpse into Simpson’s creative process from initial conception to finished comic book art. Some of the art that made Megaton Man a cult sensation in the 1980s and 1990s will be on display, along with previews of the new, darker storyline. As Simpson explains, his characters may not have physically aged, but they have grown more psychologically complex. “Megaton Man now has baggage. His once-air-headed girlfriend is now a very competent and powerful leader of a new megahero team, and their son is developing nuclear powers of his own. Even a former sidekick has grown estranged from The Man of Molecules. The new material will still have a sense of humor, but in other respects it will reflect a more mature sensibility. That was a mix that superheroes in the sixties achieved, but lost over the years.”
Select publications, including vintage Megaton Man issues and other works by Don Simpson, will be available for purchase in limited quantities. The Oct 11 opening will feature the artist sketching upon request (available for purchase) and will autograph up to six items for free (bring your Don Simpson comics!).
The Melega Art Museum will also premier a signed and numbered limited edition for sale that the artist, upon request, will remarque (modify with hand-drawing) to create a one-of-a-kind work of art.
The opening reception will be held Saturday, October 11, from 1:00 to 5:00 PM. The public is invited, free admission, and free parking. The exhibition will run from Saturday, October 11 until Sunday, December 14. The Frank L. Melega Art Museum is open weekdays. Please call 724-785-9331 for the current hours of availability. Sunday hours are from 1:00 until 4:00 PM. The museum is also open anytime by appointment. Call 724-785-9331 to make arrangements.
Visitors of all ages will gain insight into how comics are created. Examples of the different stages an artwork goes through from the initial sketch to the finished inked drawing are part of the exhibition.
In addition, the Melega Art Museum has a very special event planned. “Portfolio Saturday” will be held 1 to 4 pm on Saturday, Dec. 6, marking the 30th Anniversary of the release of Megaton Man #1. Aspiring cartoonists may bring a sketchbook and/or up to 6 pieces of art for review by the artist. Don will also demonstrate cartooning technique, including penciling, inking and lettering. This event is free but attendees are advised to pre-register with the museum by calling 724-785-9331 or by emailing “firstname.lastname@example.org”, as time and number of portfolio reviews will be limited.
Contact: Patrick Daugherty, Frank L. Melega Art Museum Director
For more information about the Frank L. Melega Art Museum, upcoming events, hours of operation, or the Flatiron Heritage Center call 724-785-9331 or visit the website: http://melegaartmuseum.org.