Who could have anticipated (at least those of us old enough to recall) that 30 years ago World War 3 Illustrated would survive so many of the world’s regional wars and still be publishing as a graphic commentator of social-political turmoil? Some of you (and many of the artists) were not even a twinkle when this comics mag began. So here’s an opportunity to see a retrospective of an underground institution at EXIT ART in NYC opening on December 7. Some of the art is ham-fisted, yet all of it is done with passion for the respective messages. It’s a compelling document of the evolution of late 20th and early 21st-century comic criticism.
“Graphic Radicals is a 30th anniversary retrospective of World War 3 Illustrated, an independently published political comic magazine founded in 1980 by artists Seth Tobocman and Peter Kuper. Comprised of original comics drawings and paintings, posters, commissioned murals, documentary film, animation and a complete set of issues, Graphic Radicals will be the largest World War 3 Illustrated, exhibition to date and will highlight the history that the magazine has scrutinized, documented, and participated in for three decades. World War 3 Illustrated, was first established in response to the Iran hostage crisis and impending election of Ronald Reagan and since then has confronted social and political issues ignored by the mainstream press. The magazine is an annual publication produced by a collective of artists in response to a particular theme. World War 3 Illustrated, has covered topics as diverse as the Tompkins Square Riot, homelessness, first-person accounts of 9/11, the prison industrial complex, a teachers’ strike in Mexico, Hurricane Katrina rescue efforts and, in the upcoming issue, the food chain.”
EXIT ART was a pioneer in “giving art world recognition to comics” with its exhibition Comic Power (1993) and presented an exhibition of original art from World War 3 Illustrated’s 25th anniversary issue in 2005. Also, see some of the artists’ work here.