Works of renowned comic book artist Alex Ross coming to Dunn Museum

The work of superstar comic book artist Alex Ross will be on exhibit beginning March 9 at the Bess Bower Dunn Museum of Lake County in Libertyville.

Renown for his depiction of Marvel Comics' superheroes, including Spider-Man and Captain America, Ross has been referred to as "the Norman Rockwell of comics" according to his biography.

The exhibition of Ross' works, which runs through Sept. 9, is his first at a museum in the Chicago metropolitan area. The Dunn Museum is operated by the Lake County Forest Preserve District at its headquarters, 1899 W. Winchester Road.

The exhibition will include a variety of programs and events, including book signings by Ross and a comic book giveaway day May 4 in cooperation with Dreamland Comics in Libertyville.

"It's a big deal and we're super excited," said Steve Furnett, exhibitions and collections manager. Furnett, like Ross, attended the American Academy of Art in Chicago, and has been a comic book fan since his youth.

The museum has had several influential exhibitions over the years and has been considering one involving comics. Given the popularity of Marvel and recent release of "Marvelocity," a collection of Ross' best works, he was a logical choice, museum officials say.

"I just kind of took a chance. I tracked down his manager and that led to the next thing," Furnett said.

Ross revolutionized comic book art by applying illustration techniques to bring dimension to characters in a realistic style. He does not use a computer but utilizes paper, pencils and gouache paint, a mix between watercolor and acrylic, to create his pieces.

"He made these 2D (dimensional) flat characters come to life," Furnett said.

More than 50 art pieces featuring some of Marvels greatest heroes and villains will be on exhibition as well as some 3-D works, including a life-size model of Captain America.

A mini-documentary focusing on Ross' work during all stages of his life, including crayon images made when Ross was a child, through art school, to becoming the creator of some of the genre's most iconic images, will be part of the exhibition.

"Some of this artwork has never been on public display before, which is really exciting," said Nan Buckardt, the forest district's director of education.

"It's stunning artwork - the detail, the technique," she added.

Ross was born in Portland, Oregon and raised in Lubbock, Texas. He made his artistic debut at age 3, drawing the contents of a TV commercial he had seen moments before.

By 13, he scripting and drawing comic books. Ten years later, in 1994, he was hired by Marvel Comics to illustrate its central characters in "Marvels", a groundbreaking comic book.

Buckardt said the exhibit will appeal to all ages.

"Superheroes cross all boundaries," she said.

Spider-Man image by comic book artist Alex Ross Courtesy of Alex Ross
Comic book artist Alex Ross drew Captain America Courtesy of Alex Ross
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