JOHNSON CITY – “Four Color Culture: Comic Books and American History, 1938-2014” is a new exhibit opening this weekend at the Reece Museum on the campus of East Tennessee State University.
The opening is part of ETSUCon Weekend, which features the university’s second annual comic and anime convention. As part of the event, Guffey will present a free lecture, “50 Years of War: Sgt. Rock and American Memories of World War II,” in the museum at noon on Saturday, March 1.
In “Four Color Culture,” curator Ensley F. Guffey, a master’s degree candidate in the Department of History at ETSU, seeks to illuminate not only the history of mainstream American comic books, but also the ways in which comics have taken an active part in the political, social and cultural life of the United States for the past 76 years. From World War II, Korea and Vietnam to racism, the Civil Rights Movement and the campaigns for LGBT equality, to 9/11 and beyond, comics have always taken part in the national debate, he says. Questioning, educating, challenging and agitating, American comic books have never been “just kids’ stuff.”
Guffey is an author and historian of American popular culture. He received an associate’s degree from Cleveland Community College, a B.A. degree in history from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and is on course to earn an M.A. in American history from ETSU in May. He has presented papers at regional, national and international academic conferences on topics ranging from the American industrialist Samuel Colt to the television show “Breaking Bad,” and he has published peer-reviewed scholarly essays on “Babylon 5,” “Breaking Bad,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Farscape” and “Marvel’s The Avengers.” With his wife, K. Dale Koontz, Ensley is the co-author of “Wanna Cook? The Complete, Unofficial Companion to ‘Breaking Bad,’” due to be released May 1 and currently available for pre-order.
A reception for “Four Color Culture”will be held on Thursday, March 20, in the museum. On that same evening, students from the ETSU Master of Fine Arts Group Exhibition will hold their reception in the Reece Museum. Both receptions begin at 5 p.m. and end at 7 p.m., and are free and open to the public.
Regular Reece Museum hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Thursday; and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday.
Registration for ETSUCon begins at 10 a.m. on both Saturday and Sunday, March 1-2, and closes at 10 p.m. each night. The event features vendors and artists from around the region, as well as celebrity voice actors.
For more information about ETSUCon, call the Student Organization Resource Center at (423) 439-6633. For more information on the exhibit, call the Reece Museum at (423) 439-4392. For disability accommodations, call the ETSU Office of Disability Services at (423) 439-8346.