Gallery Showcases Art, History of Comic Books

By Angie Mitchell

Bif! Krackaboom! KaPow!

Bam! Do not miss the new exhibit at the Rountree Gallery in Platteville! The exhibit showcases the artistic and rare comics in the massive collection of Bob Hundhausen, a local southwestern Wisconsin collector of comic books, toys and media. Bob has been collecting since 1976 and he has some gems of history, which guarantee that this exhibit has a little bit of everything for everyone — rare art and illustration, intrigue, scandal and the history and workings of good ol’ American censorship.

In the 1930s, the comic book was the most popular form of entertainment in the United States. Comic books sold 80 to 100 million copies weekly and employed tens of thousands of artists, creators, publishers and distributors.

In this extraordinary glimpse into the art and history of the comic book, Bob’s exhibit will explore the origins of the sequential art form — and the artists and creators behind it.  Gallery visitors will see the history of the scandal and the social scare of comic books that caused public outcry and led to public comic book burnings and congressional and state legislations — and ultimately censure of the comic book across the entire country. Comic books were accused of causing juvenile delinquency and promoting gay culture. And gallery visitors will see how the industry fought back against a real-life supervillain, Dr. Fredric Wertham.

Be sure to experience this unique exhibit of American comic book art and its secret history of pop culture, mythology and censorship. And maybe Bob will be able to answer the burning question that so many of us still have: What was the true relationship of Batman and Robin?

“Secret Origin: A Brief History of Comics” opens at Rountree Gallery on Dec. 10 and runs through Feb. 6.  A reception and exhibit talk is scheduled for 5-8 p.m. Dec. 11 with a talk by Bob Hundhausen at 6 p.m.

Angie Mitchell

Rountree Gallery is located at 120 W. Main St. is open in December 4-8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays. Gallery hours in January and February will be 4-7 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays. For more information, see Rountreegallery.org.

Angie Mitchell is a garlic farmer, Rountree Gallery member and volunteer and an Iowa-Grant Wisconsin Farmer’s Union member who lives and farms at 3 Flat Acres in Lancaster.