Creating Comics Poetry in Vienna

Last spring Boston-based artist Franklin Einspruch 90 IL completed a two-month stay in Vienna as an artist-in-residence in the MuseumsQuartier, the largest arts district in the world. After being selected as the 2019 Fulbright-Q21/MuseumsQuartier Artist-in-Residence—which is awarded by the Fulbright US Scholar program in conjunction with Fulbright Austria—he became the first Fulbright artist in the 13-year history of the award to execute a comics project at the MuseumsQuartier.

Residents work at the invitation of one of the 50-plus organizations in the Q21, a cultural initiative to support a wide variety of creative projects. Einspruch is

Einspruch works in comics poetry, a hybrid creative form that uses comics to create poetic experiences. "In the way that traditional poetry uses words, comics poetry draws upon all the devices that go into comics: words, pictures, panels, speech and thought balloons, and more," he explains.

The product of the residency is a cycle of comics poems titled "Regarding" He published it online, at ".at" is the top-level domain for Austria.

"This extraordinary residency allowed me to move into new creative territory," says Einspruch. "The international nature of the appointment prompted me to publish digitally, so it could be read from anywhere. I converted brush-and-ink drawings into two-layer Scalable Vector Graphics images, adjusted so they would appear to have a woodblock-like overprinting effect. Because of the nature of SVGs, they ought to hold up whether displayed on a phone or a billboard."

Einspruch was able to explore new themes as well. "Regarding contains four poems. The first is fairly typical for me, an appreciation of light and weather inspired by Asian nature poetry. The second describes a walk taken through the old Jewish section of the main cemetery on the Eastern side of Vienna. The third is a piece of ekphrasis based on a sculpture of a maenad by Fritz Klimsch, inspired by my involvement in a project by a fellow Q21 artist who was doing fascinating work on the Cult of Dionysus.

"The last poem, 'Anschluss (Connection),' is an attempt to deal with the lingering history of Nazism in Vienna. Anti-Semitism has never been entirely eradicated from the Austrian psyche, but there are reasons to be optimistic about its defeat, even defiantly so."

Einspruch was among the early practitioners of comics poetry when the genre emerged in the mid-2000s. He has posted his work at The Moon Fell On Me ( since 2006. Einspruch published the first anthology of comics poetry, titled /Comics as Poetry/ (ISBN: 978-0-9883933-1-8), in 2012. His work has also appeared in anthologies published by the Boston Comics Roundtable, as well as Ink Brick, a journal of comics poetry.

In 2018, his book of comics poems /Cloud on a Mountain/ (ISBN: 978-0-9883933-5-6) was praised in the Boston Globe as "meditative, with a sly humor and a wisdom that's both deeply engaged and transcendentally detached."

In addition to his work in comics poetry, Einspruch is an exhibiting painter with a studio in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Boston. He is also active as an art critic, contributing regularly to The New Criterion and producing an online journal, Delicious Line.