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In Coral Springs, an artist who has the Beatles to thank for Batman

Coral Springs Museum of Art celebrates 'The Art of Pop and Comics'

Before he inked "Batman," "Superman," "Green Arrow" and "Wonder Woman" for DC Comics, artist Jose Delbo drew another dynamic quartet: John, Paul, George and Ringo.

Delbo's painting "Beatles Yellow Sub" finds the Fab Four garbed in Day-Glo "Sgt. Pepper's" uniforms, in full panic mode as their dead yellow submarine sputters to the bottom of the sea. The three-panel page, part of a Gold Key Comics tie-in with the 1968 animated Beatles film "Yellow Submarine," led to high-profile gigs for Delbo drawing superheroes, "The Transformers," "Thundercats" and other comic-book royalty.

"[The 'Yellow Submarine'] producers sent me a bunch of pictures from the set of the movie," Delbo, 83, says. "I had to interpret them. Doing a comic book is like making a movie, but the only difference is the artist is the producer, the director, the lighting guy, everything. The 'Yellow Submarine' is very cute, very simple, very flat and funny."

Delbo's re-creation of "Beatles Yellow Sub," four times bigger than its comic counterpart, is the first acrylic painting to greet visitors in the Coral Springs Museum of Art's new "Art of Pop and Comics" exhibit. Seven more action scenes are nearby, depicting the Joker grabbing Batman by the scruff of his cape; Batgirl flying over a traveling carnival and a circus barker; and Wonder Woman crashing through the window of a villain's hideout in Houston. Encouraged by his daughter, Silvana, Delbo began transferring his strips to canvas three years ago and joined the comic-book convention circuit to bring his Silver Age illustrations to younger generations.

"The people here in the U.S., most of them remember me from 'Transformers' and 'Wonder Woman,'" Delbo says. "Sometimes, a person brings me a book I did 20 years ago to sign. I can't even remember I did it. Then, he shows me my own signature."

The museum's collision of pop-art and comic-book ephemera also features 30 works by New York's Charles Fazzino, Sanibel Island painter Marvin Gralnick, Los Angeles pop-art satirist Nelson De La Nuez and Coral Springs' Al Razza. The show will coincide with the inaugural Comics Fest Coral Springs, a new convention featuring Delbo and other guests, set for May 9 at Coral Springs Center for the Arts.

Razza says his eight paintings pay tribute to American pinup magazines and Hollywood film noir. His work "Cry Danger," depicting a man in a Bogart-esque white tuxedo as a redhead points her gun at him, references "Casablanca." (The model is his daughter, Alicia.) Razza gets serious with "Showdown," which juxtaposes pictures of John Wayne and other male movie heroes with newspaper headlines about the Aurora, Colo., theater shooting.

"There are heroes everywhere," Razza says. "In this case, the heroes were the people in the theater audience, not the characters in the 'Batman' movie they happened to be watching. The heroes are the people are around us."

Elsewhere in the museum's main gallery is "Rainer Lagemann: Shaping the Square," a showcase of 36 human sculptures that dance, climb and dive off the walls. Lagemann's figures are built from hundreds of individual stainless-steel squares welded together. Sharing the main gallery is "James Verbicky: Iconicity," 19 pop-collage paintings consisting of clippings from fashion magazine advertisements, vintage graphics and branding materials.

The Art of Pop and Comics

When: Through May 23; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Saturday

Where: Coral Springs Museum of Art, 2855 Coral Springs Drive

Cost: $3-$6; free for children 5 and younger

Contact: 954-346-4424 or CoralSpringsMuseum.org

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