The Dark Knight turns 75 this year, and fans are celebrating all over the country in various ways, including through creating their own art to celebrate the Caped Crusader’s birthday. Some of that art will be in view because the Fulton Street Collective in Chicago is presenting a group showing of new work from local comic creators and artists to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Batman– which is appropriately called Holy 75th Anniversary, Batman!
Batman is arguably the most popular fictional character, and his influence and legacy are felt in diverse areas of pop culture and arts. The exhibit is set to coincide with the Chicago Comics and Entertainment Exposition (C2E2) and will be open to limited viewings via scheduled appointment. This event is produced with the support of Chicago comic book stores Challengers Comics and Conversation, First Aid Comics, Third Coast Comics, and Vigilante Press. The show will present over thirty artists, including former Detective Comics artist Tony Daniel, as well as Tiny Titans artist Art Baltazar. I got the chance to talk to exhibit curator Gavin Rehfeldt, ask him how the exhibit came together, and receive a preview of some of the amazing artwork that’s to be featured.
Nerdist: So just how did this exhibition come about?
Rehfeldt: I had met the creative director in January, we talked about what their organization might be missing, and he thought that comics was a good venue to explore. We initially talked about a local comics creator survey of work as an exhibit, and maybe a panel discussion, but we decided to narrow in on Batman, because it was the anniversary year, and we missed the window on Superman’s big anniversary year last year. And then we thought of opening it up to local artists and comic creators, so we put out an open call to artists and anyone who wanted to express themselves through this iconic figure, we put together this nice line-up aiming for fifteen to twenty artists, and ended up getting thirty through various channels.
N: How did you pick the artists for the exhibit? Did you reach out to them, or was it the other way around?
Rehfeldt: There’s a group of artists I reached out to specifically, whose work I wanted to see more of, a local comics creator group called Drink n’ Draw, as well as artists I encountered through 24 Hour Comics Day, and the one I met at 24 Hour was an artist named Heidi Foland, who has an exceptional piece in the show. And I’d been a long time fan of artist Britton Walters. And another artist I reached out to specifically was Jacob Crose, who did an exceptional piece that ended up being the signature piece of the show, kind of the mission statement of the show. And I definitely wanted some big heavy hitter comic book artists, I was so happy to get Art Baltazar and Tony Daniel, who contributed a piece and saw to it that the proceeds should go to keeping this collective going, and he donated an original piece of art from Battle for the Cowl. When I saw that, I was pretty stunned.
I have the support of four wonderful comic book stores in the city, four wonderful independent comics stores: Challengers Comics and Conversation, First Aid Comics, Third Coast Comics, and Vigilante Press, and I so appreciate their support and their effort to promote the show, and I wanted to make sure their efforts were acknowledged. And the Fulton Street Collective is a wonderful place to foster the kind of visions that one discovers at great comic book stores like that.
An opening reception will take place today, Saturday, April 26th from 7-11 PM at the Fulton Street Collective, 2000 West Fulton Street, 2nd & 3rd Floors, Chicago, IL, 60612. For more information, visit the official Facebook event page,