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Georgia O’Keeffe in comic form

My (seemingly endless) research on Georgia O’Keeffe leads me down a lot of unexpected paths, none more enchanting than the comic strip I recently discovered.

Lest we assume that O’Keeffe appeals mostly to women, and mostly older women, consider the case of Todd Webb, a cartoonist/illustrator and songwriter who has taken his inspiration from the modernist painter. (And whose name, coincidentally, is the same as the photographer/friend of O’Keeffe.)

When Webb writes that “I like to make art about quiet moments and little things,” it’s no surprise that he feels kinship with O’Keeffe.

Here is a teaser (the final page) of “a short biographical comic about Georgia O’Keeffe collecting material in the desert as inspiration for her paintings.” What I especially love is that all the images are based on photographs of O’Keeffe or her paintings and the text sourced from her own writings. Webb includes endnotes!
“Georgia in the Desert” by Todd Webb. Originally published in Illustoria.

I am particularly interested in this final page, because it shows us, in O’Keeffe’s own words, her philosophical wonder about nature, especially the stars. One of the things I want to get to with my book is that O’Keeffe was, contrary to her popular image, a deep thinker, based on deep reading. A classic autodidact. And the stars, as Webb suggests, brought out her curiosity about the philosophical connections among nature, existence, and perception.

Click here to view the complete “Georgia in the Desert” comic.

Webb’s initiation into O’Keeffe’s work was “The Lawrence Tree.” From there his research led to her letters and to his comic, which he describes as his “conversation” with the artist.

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“I think the things we encounter every day we often take for granted, so it’s fun to focus a work on something small and seemingly insignificant — we are surrounded by so much wonder and beauty and we often forget to pay it any mind — Georgia painting huge gorgeous abstractions based on the surface of a rock, or a bone, or a flower or a row of clouds is the perfect example of really appreciating your everyday surroundings, whatever they may be,” he told Illustoria.

BTW — An exhibit of photos by the other Todd Webb is currently on view at the Georgia O’Keeffe museum. More about “The Candid Camera”:

Ann Daly PhD is an essayist specializing in women and women's history. She is working on a book about Georgia O'Keeffe.

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