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Superpowered exhibit
Historical Museum showcases comic book lore
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The evolution of comic books is featured in an interactive exhibit at the Dunedin Historical Museum. Shown by a display case is museum Director Vinnie Luisi.
DUNEDIN – As Clark Kent prepares to leave his home in Kansas for Metropolis, Batman is making use of high-tech equipment in the Batcave. Spider-Man and Wonder Woman are nearby, waiting for their next adventures.

These and other comic book heroes take center stage at an exhibit that runs through Sept. 15 at the Dunedin Historical Museum.

In recent weeks, visitors to the museum have learned about the evolution of comic books as well as donning the costumes of super heroes.

“It’s definitely been an attraction to all families,” said museum Director Vinnie Luisi. “We have a little bit of everything. We have the interactive area, where mom and dad will dress up with the kids. We have Superwoman, Superman, Batman and we even have the criminal costume.”

Visitors can dress up as a robber, but if they get caught Gotham City police will arrest them.

Comic books, sketches, costumes, collectible figures, and other comic memorabilia are on display, including the work of acclaimed artists, Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner, seasonal residents of the area, who have done work for Marvel Comics and similar companies.

“This is some of their artwork. Quite rare. You don’t find these everywhere. We wanted to show that your next door neighbor – who you don’t know – is a well-known artist. They go over to these conventions, the comic cons. People stand in line for hours just waiting for their autographs,” Luisi said.

Tarzan, Nancy, Little Orphan Annie, Dick Tracy, Green Lantern, the Avengers and other icons of the eras of comics fill display cases in the exhibit, which includes “something for everybody,” Luisi said.

During World War II, comic book series were published that catered to the soldiers.

“Even in war there was a purpose for comics, to keep morale up,” Luisi said.

“Comics: the Superpowered History” is also designed to show how comics have risen to a dominant position in mainstream media. The exhibit takes in comics early origins in the 15th century to their influence on pop culture. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $2; children 7 and under are admitted free. Call 736-1176.

The staff and friends have had fun promoting the exhibit, such as arranging the first Dunedin Museum Superheroes Pub Crawl.

“You should have seen it as the 40 of us going from one pub to the next pub through town,” Luisi said. “The stares we got as everybody is walking from bar to the next bar with 40 super heroes lined up.”

In establishing the exhibit, the staff was looking at something to bring in during the summer that would attract a younger audience and family members, Luisi said.

“So we started contacting some of the local artists and we thought what a great combination of comic book history. We know that they go to the comic cons all over the United States. There really hasn’t been a collection of this magnitude put together anywhere in Pinellas County.
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