Mike Mignola Exhibit at Society of Illustrators… and Some Other Comics-Centric Stuff in NYC


So, I recently had the good fortune to find myself in New York… and by “good fortune,” I mean: I set some travel alerts on Hopper and wound up getting a ridiculously low price on a one day to-and-from flight to NYC. While there, I checked out a few things likely of interest to comics folk, culminating with the the exhibit, The Art of Mike Mignola: Hellboy and Other Curious Objects, on display at the Society of Illustrators.

I started my visit, though, with a stop at Kinokuniya, the great Japanese book store off Bryant Park in Manhattan. This is a three-story book store that’s full of amazing stuff. The bottom floor is mostly Japanese stationary, toys, and tchotchkes; the ground floor is all Japanese language prose books; and the glorious top floor is all manga and art books–some in English, some in Japanese. In order to get to the top floor, though, you have to walk past a display of whatever these horrifying things are <shudder>.

Once there, you’ll be amongst the most manga you’ll likely ever see in one place. The shelving is divided into two sections: Japanese language manga, and translated stuff. They also have a selection of American comics that’s as good as most small book stores, as well as a ton of art/coffee table books.

I could easily have spent a mint in this place, but fortunately(?) I didn’t have that option. I did, though, buy this neat little Taschen book that’s an alphabetical run-down of important figures in manga:

Since I was already in Foreign Language Bookstore Mode, I next hit Albertine, the French-language bookstore that’s located in the French consulate building off Central Park. In what’s maybe a positive sign of the increasing amount of French-language comics being translated into English these days, I didn’t find much of interest to buy here. I wound up purchasing only this French edition of a Jiro Taniguchi book, one of many of his works that are as-of-yet unavailable in English:

On my way out of the city, though, I visited my main comics-related NYC objective: The Art of Mike Mignola: Hellboy and Other Curious Objects, the big show of original Mike Mignola originals up at the Society of Illustrators.

Before I begin gushing about the show, let me get the one negative thing I have to say out of the way: this show was in a terrible space. The Society of illustrators has three floors dedicated to gallery space (and a fourth floor that’s a restaurant with art displayed on the walls). The lower two of these three floors are fantastic gallery spaces–big, open, white walls, well-lit. The Mignola show was not on these floors. This third floor–where the show was–is basically a long, narrow hallway with poor lighting, no windows, and bright red walls. There was a huge exhibit of March originals (a pretty spectacular thing to see in and of itself) that had just opened on the first two floors and I’d guess that maybe the Mignola show was originally down there, but then got bumped up to the third floor? Whatever the case, I’m not gonna complain about getting to see a ton of Mignola originals, but it was an odd, cramped space. Maybe they just need a bigger building? Real estate in Manhattan is pretty cheap, right? 

Anyway, before I do a big image dump of original Mignola art, a few quick observations:

  • Mignola’s most recent work has been paintings and the ones on display here were gorgeous. I hope these wind up being published in something sometime soon. 
  • There’re almost no corrections on Mignola’s originals and–more stunningly–the white detailing isn’t done with opaque white; he’s inked around(!) even the smallest parts he wants to remain white.
  • I noticed that he uses a really washy, gray-ish ink that I immediately pegged for Higgins Black Magic (the “black” should be in quotes). He verified via Twitter that this is correct. 
  • There was a ton of stuff from The Amazing Screw-On Head on display. I think he’s cited this as one of his favorite things he’s done, so that makes sense. 


Addendum: In the gallery/restaurant on the fourth floor, there was a display of art by Argentinian cartoonist Ricardo “Liniers” Siri, including a some art from his comic strip, Macanudo.  Not too long after I got back from the show, I noticed the strip had been picked up by King Features for syndication in US newspapers. See here

Bonus: There’s an original Ian Falconer portrait of Olivia the pig at the top of the stairs.


  1. Margaret Trauth says:

    Huh. Thanks for sharing these, I feel like looking closely at Mike’s inks taught me some important things about how he’s approaching an image! All those little white spots in the blacks that he just trusts to vanish in the whole printing process…

  2. Ben says:

    @Margaret – Yeah, I’m not sure how he scans those and manages to get solid blacks. I never use Higgins Black Magic for this exact reason. He’s a wizard!

  3. Mark Sullivan says:

    Great stuff! Another good reason to visit NYC, in addition to the musical ones I have.

  4. Ben says:

    Unfortunately I think it was only up through April.

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