Comics Unmasked: Arts and Anarchy in UK – Review

Comics Unmasked: Arts and Anarchy in UK – Review

A fantastic exhibition currently running at the British Library is Comics Unmasked: Art And Anarchy In The UK. Opening Friday 2nd May and running until 19th August this is a striking exhibition that everyone with an interest in history, literature, culture and/or art should check out if they have the time.


Curated by Adrian Edwards, Paul Gravett and John Harris Dunning the show is the UK’s biggest comic exhibition of mainstream & underground comics and highlights the serious issues and entertainment that comics have brought throughout history. The challenge of changing the perception of comics being just for kids is taken on bravely with this exhibition and succeeds with what it’s trying to do.

When visiting the exhibition 3rd May –coincidentally free comic book day – the exhibition was packed. This made it slightly difficult to efficiently take in all that one wanted to be taken in but it showed just how interested people were and are in the subject matter.

The exhibition is split into 6 distinct sections:comiccon

  • Mischief and Mayhem

  • To See Ourselves

  • Politics: Power and the People

  • Let’s Talk About Sex

  • Hero with a Thousand Faces

  • Breakdowns: The Outer Limits of Comics

The comics on display and the subject matter in the exhibition ranges from; comic strips by the Guardian’s Steve Bell, to Mr Punch, to Judge Dredd. Covering a number of issues and times throughout history; the exhibition sheds light on facts even the most well read comic fan might not have been aware of.


Unsurprisingly the ‘Let’s Talk About Sex’ is a section that has facts like this but is not child friendly. However the curators have organized the exhibition in such a way so that this section is next to an area where kids can be left to draw. Alternatively the section can be skipped entirely if it’s not your cup of tea. However from my perspective it is handled quite tastefully considering what some might call perverse subject matter.


Open until 19th August 2014

Parental guidance required for visitors under 16 years.

You can advance book online or by phone +44 (0)1937 546546.


Tickets are issued with timed entry slots. During busy periods entrance may be staggered.

Adult Gift Aid* £10.50
Adult £9.50
Senior 60+ Gift Aid* £8.50
Senior 60+ £7.50
Student/Registered Unemployed/Disabled £5.00
Disabled Carer Free
16-18 years Free
Under 16, (accompanied by a paying adult) Free
Friend of the British Library, Patron Free
National Art Pass Adult £4.75
National Art Pass Senior 60+ £3.75

Exhibition opening hours

Mon – Fri: 10.00 – 18.00 (Tue: open until 20.00)
Sat: 10.00 – 17.00
Sun: 11.00 – 17.00


Overall the exhibition is an enlightening experience with a variety of sights and sounds. A visual treat it has to be said and one not to be missed.

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Trevor Price