Local Artists Use Comic Art to Tackle Issues

D(C)MV exhibit is about more than just colorful pictures


Last semester, Mason opened its doors to the complex and exciting world of comic art. Mason University Libraries is currently hosting “Comics Art Community, Process, and Publishing’s D(C)MV Comics” in the Fenwick Gallery. The exhibition invites viewers into a discussion about the importance and the art of storytelling, expression and topics surrounding human existence through comic art. 

Walking into the exhibition, viewers are greeted by showcases of six successful cartoonists and comic artists from Washington, Maryland and Virginia. The showcases were organized by the artists, displaying a collection of not only completed works but also sketches, rough drafts and revisions that lead up to the final work. 

Each showcase included various displays and mediums, including stick-figure rough drafts, scribbles and doodles. However, what made the exhibition unique was how the individual showcases presented artwork centered around a particular theme, with each artist using their own unique style and techniques. 

According to their own commentary, the artists view themselves as visionary agents with the intention of illustrating their view of contemporary society and exploring what it truly means to be human. The significance of their work lies within their ability to entertain while simultaneously presenting thought-provoking commentary on society and life. These artists take pride in their ability to explore the deepest and most challenging aspects of the world in an ironic fashion, tackling themes of loneliness, mortality and identity through a colorful medium and inexpensive materials. 

Fourth Estate/Dominique Bernardino

“The images I complete are a mix of preconceived ideas and stream-of-conscious knowledge,” says artist Adam Griffiths, whose artwork seeks to question the nature of contemporary society. “Something about a beautiful drawing made with a cheap ballpoint pen allows viewers to elevate themselves over my art.”

Another artist, Malaka Gharib, builds onto Griffiths’ statement of the uniqueness of using a colorful, fun medium to pose tough questions and themes. “I like the irony of tackling large topics like mortality, love and bravery in eight-page mini-zines or mini-comics, made with found materials — receipts, scrap paper or napkins,” she said. 

Much like how Griffith’s work poses questions about society, Gharib’s work tackles the importance of identity and what it truly means to be American.

An excerpt of her piece “I Was Their American Dream” reads “I am an Egyptian-Fillipino, taco-eating, Talking-Heads-loving, boba-drinking wife of a Tennessean; listener of K-Pop, fan of Hello Kitty, zine-maker, illustrator, prom princess of Cerritos High Class of 2004; former drummer, skateboarder, maker of mixtapes; journalist, best friend, sister to five siblings in L.A. and Cairo, immigrant daughter, proud AMERICAN.” 

Freshman psychology major Ja’Corie Kinsey noted the overall significance of art as a medium for presenting questions on the nature of contemporary life and existence. “They ask the tough question,” Kinsey said. “Their work appears as a powerful medium for not only their personal artistic expression, but also questioning the bigger picture of life as a whole.”

Students can visit the exhibition in Fenwick Library near the information desk on the first floor until Feb. 14, 2020.