Indigenous comics are in the spotlight in this exhibition at Melbourne Museum's Bunjilaka Aboriginal Culture Centre
Indigenous superheroes burst onto the small screen last year with the premiere of ABC’s Sci-fi TV series Cleverman. But they’ve been living on the pages of comic books for several decades, since American comic book artists started drawing Aboriginal characters in the 1980s, and the late celebrated Yorta Yorta artist Lin Onus created Kaptn Koori. (Although arguably the evolution of Aboriginal superheroes stretches back tens of thousands of years through the Dreaming.)
Now the work of Onus is being celebrated as part of Melbourne Museum’s new exhibition called Marramb-ik, a Kulin phrase meaning “I am”. The exhibition incorporates the work of a broad range of Indigenous artists, from Aboriginal cosplayers Cienan Muir and Heidi Brooks, through to contemporary comic artist Jade Kennedy.
Although Kaptn Koori never quite made it into his own comic book, he became an enduring image that helped to inspire the creation of a whole range of Aboriginal comics in the future. The character was created by Onus for his young son Tiriki, who has been involved in bringing his father’s work back for the exhibition.