The exhibition traces the evolution of comics in Chicago, as cartoonists ventured beyond the pages of newspapers and into experimental territory including long-form storytelling, countercultural critique, and political activism. Chicago Comics examines styles, schools of thought, and modes of publication across six decades of cartooning, including works from artists who are changing the medium today. The exhibition seeks to bring to the fore artists of color who were previously under-recognized throughout their careers. In this pursuit, the exhibition features archival material previously not seen in museums and offers a revised history of the art form. Represented throughout this timeline are special sections that highlight key artists including Kerry James Marshall, Lynda Barry, and Chris Ware. Through deep research into the many communities of makers, Chicago Comics offers an unprecedented portrait of sixty years of cartooning and celebrates an artistic community that continues to thrive today—one that could have only been fostered here in Chicago. The exhibition is guest-curated by Dan Nadel; organized for the MCA with Michael Darling, former James W. Alsdorf Chief Curator, and Jack Schneider, Curatorial Assistant; and designed by Norman Kelley.


Norman Kelley's scope of work included curatorial consultation and the design of new partition walls for smaller gallery spaces, furniture, and display vitrines (floor and wall mounted).



Exhibition Design


Dan Nadel, Michael Darling


Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago


June 19, 2021 - October 3, 2021

Project Team

Thomas Kelley, Abigail Chang, Zhao Sheng


Jason Lewis


Nathan Keay