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Salicrup Days - Part Two

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In a lengthy, three-part interview, Jim Salicrup talks to Broken Frontier about his early days at Marvel Comics in the role of editor on the Marvel bullpen, the beginnings of the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art and his latest projects at Papercutz.

Salicrup Days - Part I

MoCCA

BROKEN FRONTIER: One of your latest ventures is the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art in New York. How did the idea for the museum come about?

JIM SALICRUP: Lawrence Klein, MoCCA’s chairman is also the founder of the museum and he deserves all the credit for turning his idea into reality. 

My reasons for becoming a part of MoCCA are entirely selfish — I wanted New York City to have a comic art museum just so that I could go there whenever I wanted to. 

I’m there almost every Monday night enjoying the MoCCA Monday programs. Of course, the current Todd McFarlane Retrospective is a particularly special treat for me. Todd really came through in a big way for MoCCA and put together one of our best exhibits yet! Rather than just throwing some of his great artwork up on the walls, he came up with a great story and structure for the exhibit that’s very exciting, and very inspiring to would-be comic book artists. He’s included some of his earliest art samples, and hundreds of his rejection letters. Not only that, I never imagined that a letters page that I edited would one day be hanging in an art museum. Lo and behold — that’s the case right now.

I’m very flattered and almost embarrassed that Todd chose to include the text page from Spider-Man # 1, still the best-selling Spider-Man comic ever, as part of the show.

BF: What are the goals of the museum?

JS: The goals seem to keep expanding all the time. Originally MoCCA was created to preserve great comic and cartoon art. But with the annual MoCCA Art Festivals, education programs, and library, MoCCA continues to promote the art of comics and cartoons in new and fascinating ways. 

MoCCA’s entirely run by volunteers, and needs the support of everyone who loves comics and cartoon art if it’s going to continue to grow. Go to www.moccany.org and find out how to volunteer, become a member, or make a donation. MoCCA needs you!

BF: To paraphrase Will Eisner, the piece of art in comics is the printed book, which can be read as a whole and carried. Museum and gallery art is usually meant to be enjoyed in a different way. How does the MoCCA reconcile this conflict?

JS: Well, I’m sure Eisner would’ve also agreed that conflict is the essence of all drama, and therefore the conflict you’re citing could also lead to very dramatic exhibits, such as MoCCA’s Will Eisner Retrospective last year, or the American Masters of Comic Art at Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art, which of course also features Eisner. Ironically, my first exposure to Will Eisner’s incredible work was at a slide show at one of Phil Seuling’s New York Comic Art Conventions back in the early 70s. Seeing so many stunning Spirit splash pages, projected onto a screen in color, I would argue was a more powerful experience, for me at least, than seeing the actual printed comic books.

BF: What has been the most exciting moment of being involved in the museum?

JS: There have been way too many to choose just one. In general though, I appreciate that the museum provides such thought-provoking programming on a regular basis. Every week I’m exposed to something new and exciting, or I’m learning something new about favorite old material. Of course, being there when Todd McFarlane gave a live tour of his exhibit two nights in a row, or when Irwin Hasen gave a live tour of his exhibit were recent highlights. Where else can I hang out with Carmine Infantino and talk about Detective Chimp? The guests, the parties, the MoCCA staff and volunteers – they’re all great!

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