HOWL: Exhibition and Storyboarding

At the Cartoon Art Museum, San Francisco, 2010, and the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, New York, 2011. The two pieces of featured artwork in the below gallery are by Eric Drooker.


I co-curated The Art of Howl, a multimedia exhibit featuring animation art from the film Howl (2010). From the exhibit’s press release:

“Translating Ginsberg’s incendiary, oracular, stream-of-consciousness language into moving images was a unique challenge. The animation, like the poem, conjures a world of outcasts, ‘deviants,’ outlaws, poets and prophets digging for scraps of connection and enlightenment under the shadow of ‘Moloch’ – the overpowering industrial cityscape that demands submission, conformity, and ultimately annihilation.

“This multimedia exhibit includes character design drawings, animation keyframes and concept art, photos by Allen Ginsberg, storyboards, animatics, and images from Drooker’s graphic novel version of the poem.”

Howl, Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s film about Allen Ginsberg’s seminal beat poem, was the opening feature film of the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. It features James Franco in the Ginsberg role, and takes an experimental approach to documenting the creation and performance of the poem – as well as the obscenity trial that followed when, after undercover policemen purchased copies of Howl and Other Poems from San Francisco’s City Lights Bookstore, the state tried to suppress its publication. The film blends glimpses of Ginsberg’s personal life, recreations of the obscenity trial, and animated sequences that accompany Franco’s performance of the poem, riffing on its ideas and images.



Graphic novelist and New Yorker cover artist Eric Drooker was the designer of the animation, and animation veteran John Hays was the animation director. I worked on storyboards for the third section of the poem, which is addressed directly to Carl Solomon, a fellow inmate with Ginsberg at the Columbia Psychiatric Institute (Ginsberg spent several months at the mental hospital). My storyboard animatic is below:

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