To go with the exhibition of Superhero collages that starts today at Hand Bar, Falmouth, I’ve written a short piece of writing about my work:
My first experience with American comic books was when I was very young, growing up in Northampton. I found a box of mixed DC and Marvel comics in a charity shop in Kingsthorpe that were 10p each and so I bought a few Superman comics. I was immediately hooked. I read the small handful I had one after the other and reread my favourites the next day. Aliens, mad scientists, robots, mutants and monsters were all welcome amongst the pages of these comics and it seemed story lines were only limited by the writer’s imagination and at the centre of each of these mini chaotic universes was a superhero. These comics may now live in a dusty box back in Northampton but my passion for comics and the enjoyment I get from them is still alive and kicking. It was the memory of that first encounter with the man of steel that made me decide to collage Superman first.
I had no preconceived idea as to what the outcome of these collages would be. I simply decided to start cutting, reassemble the pieces of different body parts back together and see what the result was. I had not expected to feel so guilty cutting up the comics as I did. I had to keep reminding myself that the outcome would be worth it and that somehow by recycling the images I had cut up I would be paying homage to the artists who originally drew them. I also hadn’t expected the result to be so monstrous.
In creating these collages the superheroes are transformed from the mighty pillars of strength, courage and justice into something else entirely. Superman, rather than being a strapping example of fitness and perfection is mutated into a screaming freak, at odds with himself perhaps in a personal battle, bent out of shape whilst wrestling with his alter ego, Clark Kent. It seemed in creating these collages I could get a glimpse of an alternative to the Superhero we already know and introduce a hero from an alternate reality with his own different characteristics and mythology.
Batman was next, reimagined as a merman, his cape becoming flippers as he contemplates his own underwater existence.
The Spiderman collage was difficult due to the fact that Spiderman’s masked face lacks any real facial features to work with and so he becomes more animalistic, like an insect clutching at its eggs.
Captain America, the true American patriot, is given a Jekyll and Hyde make over. Perhaps a grafting of dual personalities, that of the fighting face of crime prevention and the timid secret identity.
Ironman, with multiple limbs and trophy heads, is reminiscent of a Hindu deity, worshipped for his super human abilities.
I really enjoyed producing this body of work and I plan to create some more superhero collages in the future and maybe a follow up exhibition of super villains (that is if I can bring myself to cut up any more of my Comics!)
-Sam Bradbury 2012