On June 21st, The New York Transit Museum unveiled a new exhibit, Underground Heroes: New York Transit in Comics, that highlights the role of New York’s transportation system in comics from the 19th-21st centuries. Untapped Cities visited the NY Transit Museum to learn more about this unique exhibit.
Described by the museum as “a raucous ride through New York’s transit system from a range of visual storytellers”, Underground Heroes showcases collections of cartoons, comic strips, and graphic novels that have featured the New York public transportation system.
A page from the 1985 Spider-Man comic, “The Commuter Cometh”, in which Peter Parker takes the Metro-North to chase a villain.
From 19th century cartoons that offer a glimpse into New York life in the 1800’s, to contemporary comics featuring a familiar array of superheroes, this exhibit visually demonstrates the parallel progress of comics and public transportation over the last 200 years.
Located at the museum’s decommissioned Court Street subway station in Downtown Brooklyn, the exhibit also includes works by famous cartoonists such as Winsor McCay, Bill Griffith, Roz Chast, Will Eisner, and more.
Winsor McCay’s comic strip, “It Was Only A Dream” (1911), set in the NY Subway system.
Museum Director Concetta Bencivenga calls the exhibit “an incredible journey,” and believes that it shows both the history and progress of public transportation in New York City, as well as the evolution of comic books over the last two centuries.
Before underground subways, New Yorkers rode 10-people omnibuses, as seen in Frederick Burr Opper’s cartoon “Our Omnibuses” (1881)
The exhibit also features contemporary cartoonists, as seen here in Roz Chast’s 2017 unnamed cartoon about the subway.
The exhibit will run until January 6th, 2019, and is accompanied by gallery talks, sketch nights, and panel discussions in the museum.