Hero, Villain, Yeti

    December 9, 2011 - June 11, 2012

    Characters as diverse as Mickey Mouse, the historical Buddha, Tomb Raider Lara Croft, and the Green Lama have something in common: Tibet. For more than sixty years Tibet has figured in comic books from around the world, at times creating and at times perpetuating notions of an otherworldly land roamed by the yeti, inhabited by wise and powerful lamas, or full of dark magic.

    Hero, Villain, Yeti features the most complete collection of comics related to Tibet ever assembled, with examples ranging from the 1940s to the present. More than fifty comic books from the Belgium, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, and the United States reflect on the depiction of Tibet, tracing the historical roots of prevailing perceptions and stereotypes and their visual and narrative evolution over time.

    Tibet—both real and imagined—appears across comic book genres, including fantasy comics about superheroes and villains, mythical creatures, and the search for mysterious lands, people, and objects; biographies of holy figures like the Dalai Lama and the Buddha; political comics; and educational comics.

    Visitors are invited to read dozens of original comic books—a number of which have been translated into English for the first time—at a reading station in the exhibition.

    This exhibition was funded, in part, by The Achelis Foundation

    Curated by Martin Brauen


    Hero, Villain, Yeti: Related Talks and Programs

    Members-only Preview and Keytalk with Curator Martin Brauen
    Thursday, December 8 at 6 p.m.

    Please join us for an exclusive members-only preview of the exhibition, Hero, Villain, Yeti: Tibet in Comics, featuring a Keytalk with the exhibition curator Martin Brauen. This event will also celebrate the new exhibition, Modernist Art from India: The Body Unbound. Members will receive an invitation for two.

    The Making of Frank Capra's Lost Horizon
    Wednesday, January 4 at 1 p.m. 

    A fascinating documentary detailing the technical hurdles Frank Capra had to surmount to bring his utopian vision of Shangri-La to the screen, and the story of the film's disintegration after its first public presentation. Post-screening discussion with Film Society of Lincoln Center's Richard Peña. Learn More

    One Ring Zero: The Green Lama
    Friday, January 13 at 7 p.m.

    One Ring Zero premieres an original score to accompany the sequential projection a Green Lama comic book, panel by exciting panel! Learn More

    Tibet and the Occult:
    The Secret Doctrine of Madame Blavatsky and how it changed America

    Wednesday, January 18 at 7 p.m.

    A source of both inspiration and scandal, Madame Blavatsky's interpretation of Asian philosophies provided to be a fundamental turning point in the West's approach to the 'mysteries' of the East. Here contemporary writers discuss Blavatsky's influence and the origins of the occult in America. Learn More

    Members-only Exhibition Tour of Hero, Villain, Yeti: Tibet in Comics
    Wednesday, January 25 at 6 p.m.

    This special members-only tour will provide an in-depth look at Tibet in Comics. Rubin Museum Guides Lyndsey Anderson and Megan Holland will offer detailed presentations of a selection of objects. Learn More

    Tibet and the Occult:
    Red Shambhala

    Wednesday, January 25 at 7 p.m.

    Red Shambhala takes us on a thrilling journey into the underground occult agenda of the 1920's Soviet Secret Police. Andrei Znamenski reveals the strange accounts of the Bolsheviks' clandestine quest for ultimate power. Learn More

    Sympho + MAYA Ensemble
    Sunday, January 29 at 4:00 p.m.

    The visionary composer Paul Haas has created a synchronized work to accompany the panels of the 1940s cult comic book hero The Green Lama, in which the wealthy Jethro Dumont returns to take on the ills of a great American metropolis with the magic powers acquired during his ten year absence in Tibet. Learn More

    Tibet and the Occult:
    The Nazi Expedition: To the Ends of the World 

    Wednesday, February 1 at 1:00 p.m.

    This German television (ZDF) documentary explores the 1938 expedition to Tibet led by Ernst Schäfer, with the support of Heinrich Himmler. The expedition sought proof for some of the more far-fetched mythic theories about Aryan origins. Post-screening discussion by History Professor at Columbia University Volker R. BerghahnLearn More

    Cabaret Cinema: Silver Screen Shangri-La
    Fridays in January at 9:30 p.m.

    Our Friday night feature film series focusses on films where Shangri-La is a central theme: Lost Horizon (1937), The Abominable Snowman (of the Himalayas), Lost Horizon (1973). Learn More


    Exhibition Resources

    Audio Tour Audio Tour

    Listen to an interview with curator Martin Brauen, discussing his current exhibition Hero, Villain, Yeti: Tibet in Comics.

    Download from iTunes U Now

    Comics Microsite ThumbnailExhibition Microsite

    This website provides visitors activities related to Tibet in Comics exhibition. Designed for primary use in the galleries, visitors can play the Hero, Villain, Yeti Personality Quiz, enter their own witty comments in our Caption Contest, keep up-to-date with exhibition related events. Launch Interactive

    Comics Installation PhotographyInstallation Photography

    Click here to see the exhibition installation of Hero, Villain, Yeti: Tibet in Comics.