By John Hart, Jr., Director
For several generations comic books have been enjoyed by boys, girls, women, and men, only growing in popularity since their debut in the 1930s. Comic books have spawned countless television shows, movies, action figures, graphic novels, a vibrant cosplay culture, and hugely popular conventions. So what do comic books and chess have in common?
Well, at the forefront one might think not much, but chess is a lot like battling the forces of good and evil. You must outwit your opponent (either a hero or a villain depending on your own position) to come out on top and just like The Avengers battling Thanos or the Justice League taking on Darkseid. It takes determination, skill, and smarts to claim checkmate. As history has it, chess was developed to be a tactical game, which is no surprise given the number of moves any one player can make in a game. As a game of tactics and strategy, its place in a military college is clear as it forces players to think several moves ahead, predicting what their opponent will do as well as come up with alternative moves as quickly as possible, just as on a battlefield during wars.
In 2013, students in the School of Architecture + Art were challenged to create unique chess sets for a major project. In true Norwich fashion, the students create remarkable pieces of functional art and two were purchased by the museum for the permanent collection. The Comic Battle chess set, made by Courtney Bador ’13, shows the Justice League joining forces with The Avengers to battle foes like The Joker, Doc Ock, and others. Courtney even incorporated scenes from comic books into the playing surface of the board. Comic Battle is one of the newest acquisitions in the museum’s current exhibit, 200 Years—200 Objects, and always draws visitors with its vibrant colors and unique design and layout. And besides, who doesn’t like to give villains a chance to win a battle once in a while?