Comics Scene: Portland Art Exhibit – “Faster Than A Speeding Bullet”

From time to time, we’d like to take you around the world of comics to see what interesting and exciting events are occurring.  Today we have a loyal member of the iFanbase, Brian Huberd, with a report from Portland, OR where he attended the opening of the comic book art exhibit, Faster Than A Speeding Bullet. 

One of the things I like to do when I attend a conventions is to check out any original art on display or for sale. Who doesn’t want to take some time to look at and appreciate something completely unique? Sure, we can see a smaller reproduction of the art in the comics we own, but to check out the detail work on the one and only original art used to create the comic? What a great opportunity!

The only problem is that when you’re at a comic book convention it’s usually too crowded with the hustle and bustle of the crowds to really take the time and look at the artwork. Either that, or the clock is ticking for you to get over to the one panel you’ve been waiting for so you can ask Mike Mignola about returning to Marvel and working on the rumored MAX Rocket Raccoon series (It’s your convention experience, not mine…who am I to crush your hopes and dreams?). Pretty much unless you’re looking to buy art at a con, there may not be enough time to really take the opportunity to look at and appreciate the artwork there that is for sale, or be able to come back and look over it multiple times at the convention…because once you walk away, that may be the last time you see it as when you go back, it may be gone with its new owner most likely never to be seen in public again. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to check out some great pieces of original comic art leisurely and to revisit a collection multiple times if you want?

Luckily, for people in Oregon, or traveling to Oregon before the end of the year, there’s a fantastic opportunity for those who want to take the time to review and appreciate some fine original comic book art – and a couple other cool bonuses. Faster Than A Speeding Bullet is an exhibit of original comic book art from the Golden Age of comics to the modern era at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art on the University of Oregon campus in Eugene and runs through January 3rd, 2010.

The opening preview night was a few weeks ago on the 25th of September and it drew in a record number of attendees who were all having a fantastic time with the party atmosphere and live music from a band in Marvel and DC-based costumes. Since opening, the show has continued to bring in a high numbers of people to look at and appreciate the fantastic original art that the curator, Ben Saunders, has managed to acquire for the show. Saunders is an associate professor of English at the University of Oregon and has been a lifelong and enthusiastic comics fan. The museum even has Spider-Man over the main entrance to let you know that this isn’t just any old museum exhibit. When you come inside, the comic-friendly ambiance continues in the foyer and into the upstairs where the majority of the artwork is on display and a reading room on the first floor where the exhibit continues.

Ben goes to my local comic shop, so when I first heard of this project and got to speak with him while the show was still in the planning stages I could tell that he was very excited about putting the show together and his amazement with the generosity of those who were willing to loan their original art from private collections to share with visitors to the museum. Through his efforts, Ben was able to obtain some amazing artwork from Fawcett Captain Marvel, Gil Kane’s work on the Silver Age Green Lantern, a dynamic fistful of Jack Kirby’s work at Marvel, the mixed media art for a Bill Sienkiewicz New Mutants poster from the 1980s, original Alex Ross artwork, the final pages from The Killing Joke, and so much more including a complete 1949 Wil Eisner Spirit story and the complete 18 page Stan Lee/Steve Ditko story from The Amazing Spider-Man #26.   That, my friends is just the tip of the artwork iceberg. If you still need more reasons to walk, run, fly or use a latent mutant ability to teleport to the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, as a very special bonus Ben has even managed to secure some of the nicest copies of Action Comics #1 and Superman #1 that you’ll probably ever see in your lifetime if you get the opportunity to visit Eugene and attend the show.

What’s great about the show is that it’s more than just a static exhibit. From now until the end of the show in January, there is a whole schedule of special events tied to the exhibition planned, from special film screenings, a Halloween costume party and talks and symposiums with creators and experts on writing, creating and understanding superhero themed comics. Guests at these talks and panels include Mike Allred, Kurt Busiek, Andy Mangels, Gail Simone and more. This truly is a special exhibit and that understands, appreciates and celebrates our favorite entertainment medium, and this whole collection was put together with love and respect for the comics medium and superhero comics in particular. If you’re going to be in Oregon this fall and are at all interested in seeing one of the best collections of original comic art gathered together under one roof, you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to make your way to the University of Oregon and checking out the exhibit.

Faster Than A Speeding Bullet runs until January 3, 2010 at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, 1430 Johnson Lane, Eugene, Oregon. The museum is open Tuesday, 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Wednesday, 11:00 AM to 8:00 PM and Thursday through Sunday 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM, closed on Mondays and major holidays. More information and information on the currently schedule events can be found at

Enjoy these photos from the event:

Thanks Brian for the great report and if you live in the Portland area, be sure to check out this great exhibit!


  1. Thank you for the report.  This looks like a fun event.  I’m glad to see comics being recognized and respected.

    (A few of these slides/pictures are blank during the slideshow.  I am using Chrome, so the problem may be on my end.  Just letting you know.) 

  2. I know where I’m going in Portland.

  3. Holy Cow! The original art for the cover of Giant Sized X-Men! Cuh-razy.

  4. Thanks for the broner Ron.

  5. Ug, I never get cool stuff like this in my area.

  6. Hi guys, glad you like the article. The show was a blast to go to and I went again this past weekend witha friend and it’s just as good the second time around to visit. This time I was able to check out a HUGE Hal Foster Prince Valiant page and some other very nice pieces like and page of Rorschach’s interrogation of Moloch and the page with Nite Owl and Silk Spectre’s rescue of the people in the burning building from Watchmen. One minor correction, it’s actually down in Eugene, Oregon – a couple hours south of Portland – but worth the drive.

  7. wow. that’s pretty cool

  8. Thanks for the report, looks like a cool exhibit. I’ve always wanted to try to make it to that Comic Art museum in North Hampton that Alan Moore, Steve Bissettes, & the TMNT guys, had put together. (I guess it’s still open?), among other such like-minded musuems, like perhaps, Frank Frazetta’s small museum.  It would be nice to start making a list for future reference and trips. 

    But yes, this recent exhibit is promising. I don’t know if art teachers give enough respect for comic art.  I was talking to an art professor recently (and in due respect to him, I understand where he was coming from–speaking about the state of disposable movies) but he was poo pooing the recent rash of super hero movies and other such movies–lets face it they’re not all great.  While he spoke I could agree somewhat about the current state of movies, as he was addressing them in general,  I thought, I hope you don’t think all comic art is mush/by and large disposable.  If so I had someone I could teach a few things too ;P

  9. One more quick addendum to the article – It looks like the Action #1 was only contracted to be there for the first month of the show and was removed from display on Monday morning. However, the Superman #1 and for the serious comics historian, Famous Funnies #1 will remain through the rest of the exhibit.

  10. It is also in Eugene, Oregon, not Portland. About two hours south of Portland.