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The Evolution of the Chicago Comics into an Art Form


February 8 to April 19, 2018

Chicago Literacy Alliance

641 W. Lake Street, Suite #200

Chicago, IL 60661


Newspaper comics started as a hook to attract readers—a quick laugh on the way to becoming fish or gift wrap, something to catch the coffee grinds. But over the past century, the throw-away funnies have evolved into a major art form. Chicago has been at the center of the movement. When Clare Briggs created A. Piker Clerk for the Chicago American in 1903, Chicago planted its flag as a pioneer in comic arts. Since then, comic artists have created an uninterrupted chain of memorable and important characters, and, in so doing, transformed comics into a form that deftly explores subjects as nuanced as love, personal tragedy, and politics. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Punch Line takes a peek at Chicago’s role in comic book history, including some of the major creators, characters, and movements associated with our city.

This modest exhibit includes comics, artwork, merchandise, and other fun artifacts representing Chicago’s comic book history. It covers a range of comics, including

Gasoline Alley, Moon Mullins, Little Orphan Annie, Dick Tracy, Brenda Starr, Binky Brown, Sylvia, and Jimmy Corrigan. It tells the story of the various movements from the Chicago Tribune’s comic empire, to the Underground Comics, to the Black Age of Comics, to the present-day revolution.

The opening reception is free and open to the public. The Chicago Literacy Alliance is co-sponsoring and hosting the exhibit and reception. Partners include the Chicago Review of Books. CLA is one of Chicago’s finest non-profit organizations, a home and enabler of many fine groups working in the literary and literacy communities; CRB serves the entire Chicago literary community with exceptional online coverage of books, authors, relevant themes, and topical conversation.

Special thanks to Paul Hamer and Frame Warehouse, the best frame shop in Oak Park and Evanston. Thanks, too, to Dominic Loise and Open Books, an absolute treasure in our literacy community.

The Chicago Literary Hall of Fame’s mission is to honor and preserve Chicago’s great literary heritage.
The Chicago Literary Hall of Fame is a federally registered 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. Donations are tax deductible. © 2024 Chicago Literary Hall of Fame

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