Three Knoxville exhibits focus on cartooning


Starting this week, three exhibits — two on the UT campus and one downtown — will focus on the art of comics. 

The Ewing Gallery at 1715 Volunteer Boulevard on campus opens A Serious Look at the Funnies on Monday. It examines 100 years of comics and comic history in America, including political cartoons, underground comics, graphic novels, and daily strips. The exhibit runs through February. 

At the same time, an exhibit of cartoons by artists who attended UT will be shown at the UT Student Union Gallery. It is entitled Encore: Comics Beyond UT. It will be on display through Feb. 21. 

And at the UT Downtown Gallery, 106 S. Gay, work from regional artists we know and love will be displayed from Jan. 26 to Feb. 26. Point of View: Regional Editorial Cartoons will include the work of freelance cartoonist Dan Proctor, whose work appears in Cityview, and retired News Sentinel cartoonist Charlie Daniel, among others.

We asked Proctor, who also formerly worked for the News Sentinel, about cartooning:

What led you to cartooning?  

It wasn’t so much that I was led to cartooning as I was not attracted to anything remotely academic. In class, I’d take a few notes and then my pencil would wander into the margins where things made much more sense. 

Is there a cartoonist who influenced your work? 

There were more than I could name: Every cartoonist in the opinion and funny pages, Mad magazine, Saturday morning cartoons – and later, my fellow cartoonists in college. 

Which matters more: an acerbic wit or a strong opinion? 

The wit comes first. Opinions take time, local history, and experience to nurture them along. 

How many versions of a cartoon do you normally create before you get to your final one? 

If I’m lucky, I can draw and redraw a cartoon in my head before I actually sketch it out, usually at 1/4-1/2 scale, then put it to paper, full size. But sometimes I’ll go through several sketches before I get one I like. 

Many years ago I framed a little handwritten note that came to me at the newspaper. It read, “If not for you and Sam Venable, the News Sentinel would not be worth a dam.” It reminded me every day just who I worked for – the readers. I got paid by the publisher, but I worked for the readers. 

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