Friday, April 5, 2013

Blam by Roy Lichtenstein

       I am 100% honest when I'm saying this: I love comic books. This post will focus on a brief introductory biography of  Roy Lichtenstein before discussing his featured work, Blam, which is an oil painting reminiscent of a comic book. In addition, I will discuss briefly the history of comic books which, like many styles of art, originated in Europe.
       Roy Lichtenstein's artistic career began after his three years of service in World War II, starting in Cubism before going on to Abstract Expressionism. His most famous works, however, were made in the period spanning 1961-1965. This was the period when Lichtenstein worked within the pop art movement. Pop art also boasted other artists like Andy Warhol and Robert Roschenberg. Regardless, Lichtenstein produced many works inspired by comic books during this period, which included Blam.

Roy Lichtenstein, Blam, oil and magna on canvas. 68" x 80". 1962.

       The work is like a comic book panel, with bright colors and exaggerated gestures for the purpose of conveying character actions and movements throughout the comic. Featured in this work is the titular "Blam" and a pilot ejecting from an exploding plane. Other than the color, however, this work is almost a perfect copy of a panel from the comic All-American Men of War (Issue #89). Lichtenstein also borrowed another scene from the same comic, which he titled Whaam!

Roy Lichtenstein, Whaam! Oil and magna on canvas. 1963.
       The world's first comic book originated in Switzerland, written by German-born artist Roldphe Topffer  in 1833. It was titled Histoire de M. Vleuxbois. The comic was published in America in 1842, translated as The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck. It was 40 pages long, and featured pictures with a row of text at the bottom of each page. The first comic strip that used the now-familiar text balloons was Yellow Kid, written by Richard Outcault.

The Yellow Kid, by R. F. Outcault 1908
A snippet of Yellow Kid.

      The term "comic" was coined in America in the 1900s, when the strips of pictures that appeared in newspapers had a light, comical tone. Since then, the comic style has branched out in innumerable directions; I could spend pages of content going into detail about each style of comic. In conclusion, and for simplicity's sake, I will say that no two comics are identical, unless they are done by the same artist.

      For more on Lichtenstein's style, visit

      For more on the life of Richard Outcault, visit

      To read more about the comics that Lichtenstein borrowed from, visit

       To read more on the history of comics in America, visit

       Since comics fall into such a diverse category, feel free to do your own research on comics, such as manga.       

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