Almost 70 percent of U.S. comic-book readers are adults, according to the www.firstamendmentcenter.org
“There are legions of fans that want to see stuff evolve and grow” while comics in general is a “breeding ground for potential movie properties” and merchandising, Ross said.
But with an older audience, there is increasing sex and violence in comics. “Younger readers are used to a liberal amount of violence and edginess in the video games they play,” Ross said, noting that there are mature content warnings on comic books.
What he illustrates is “largely veering away from violence because it doesn’t work for me as an entertainment tool,” he said. Like anything else, “it can be run into the ground. If we develop a homogeny of excess, it loses its power.”
“Heroes & Villains” pays homage to Ross’ inspirations, including original work by his mother Lynette Ross, also a successful illustrator, Frank Bez, Andrew Loomis and Rockwell. Also featured in the exhibition are works by Andy Warhol, a comic book fan, including his “Myths” series, which mirrors many of the subjects depicted in Ross’ work.
“Norman Rockwell has been one of the greatest influences on my art, and it is an enormous honor to be featured in the museum dedicated to his work,” Ross has said. “I have always looked upon Rockwell’s style as the peak of what one could hope to achieve artistically. The artist’s realistic execution and eye for composition are things I aspire to, knowing that he performed a quality of work that isn’t easily achieved. It is a major career achievement for me to have my work in company with his.”
Asked what is on the horizon for him, Ross replied, “I’m yearning to stretch my legs into the area of an original graphic novel.”