'Heroes Aren't Hard to Find: The Comic Art Collection of Shelton Drum' will feature classic comics, private commissions and original pages showcasing key artists from the 1950s and '60s as well as today. Courtesy of William King Museum.
Heroes aren’t hard to find.
Just ask Shelton Drum, owner of the Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find comic book store and founder of the renowned annual Heroes Convention in Charlotte, N.C., who will bring a vast array of original comic book art from his private collection to Abingdon’s William King Museum for an exhibit opening Jan. 24.
An opening reception will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Thursday,Feb. 6, and attendees are encouraged to dress up as their favorite comic book character or simply throw on a cape. Refreshments will be provided, and there will be an optional cash bar. The event is free and open to the public.
“Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find: The Comic Art Collection of Shelton Drum” — assembled with help from Neil Bramlette, founder of Bristol’s Out of Step Arts Collective — will feature classic comics, private commissions and original pages showcasing key artists from the 1950s and ‘60s as well as artists working today.
“I think to have a show like this at the museum is a phenomenal opportunity to showcase this type of work, especially having it in our World Fine Art gallery where artists like Warhol, Picasso and Dali have been displayed recently,” said Callie Hietala, Curator of Museum Programming for William King. “I think it really lets people know that this is an art form worth paying attention to.”
“Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find” will present a timeline of comic history as well as Shelton’s personal story using pieces from his extensive private collection, being shown in public for the first time.
“I’m apprehensive, but excited. I’m honored and pleased that I can share my collection but it wasn’t something that I thought was going to happen anytime soon,” Drum said.
Featuring comic arts past and present, this exhibit is full of recognizable characters that are sure to surprise and delight fans and newcomers alike.
“A lot of landmark artists are represented in ‘Heroes,’ and I’m excited to see all of them displayed together in one show so you can see how the art form has evolved,” Hietala said.
This exhibit will showcase key artists from the Golden and Silver Age of comics, several Steve Ditko pages, a Charles Vess Sandman cover, pieces by Frank Miller, original commissioned work, and classic and Eisner Award-winning comics.
“I think people may be surprised at the size and what the original page looks like without the color. And there are still things that it has to go through to become a comic,” Drum said. “It’s a very different experience than looking at the comic book. You can see all the lines and the brushwork and all the notes and guidelines that you don't see in the comic itself.”
Drum, of Charlotte, N.C., has been collecting comics since childhood. In his early 20s, he began selling comics at a local flea market and, in 1980 at the age of 26, he opened Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find. Over the years, Heroes has become one of the largest and most well-known comic book stores in the United States, even making its appearance in several comic books.
In 1982, Drum founded the Heroes Convention (or HeroesCon), an annual comic convention that draws thousands of comic creators, vendors and fans from across the nation to the Charlotte Convention Center every summer.
“Having Shelton’s collection is especially exciting for us because he’s well-known and respected in the world of comics. Not only is this Shelton’s first time displaying his collection, this exhibition is the first of its kind at the Museum,” Hietala said. “Neil Bramlette has been instrumental in organizing the exhibition. I was put into contact with Neil through a member of our Artistic Direction Committee and he was the bridge in forming a relationship with Shelton.”
Bramette owns and operates the Out of Step Arts Collective of Bristol, Tenn., which represents emerging and established artists working in comics and other alternative mediums.
Along with the costume party opening reception, other special events are planned for each month that “Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find” is on display. The exhibit will continue through June 29.
For more information on these special events, visit www.williamkingmuseum.org; call (276) 628-5005; or email Hietala at firstname.lastname@example.org .
William King Museum, located at 415 Academy Drive, off West Main Street or Russell Road, in Abingdon, is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Thursday; and from 1 to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sund a y.
Admission is $5 for adults; $3 for seniors 65 and older; and free for students, members and children.