Tag Archives: Biggest Cartoon archive in the world

Columbus, OH has the World’s Largest Cartoon Archive at OSU

Inside the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum. Photo by Richard Varr

By Richard Varr

“Calling all cars, calling all cars!”

Photo by Richard Varr

You’ll surely remember that line if you’re a comic strips buff or watched the old “Dick Tracy” cartoons on TV years ago. What about the round-faced caricatures of Charlie Brown, Lucy and Linus, and of course their canine companion Snoopy in the comic strip “Peanuts?” Batman and Superman also come to mind, as do the many other superheroes in comic books that have filled the shelves of corner candy stores and hobby shops for decades.

Inside the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum. Photo by Richard Varr

Photo by Richard Varr

These are just a few of the characters that jump back to life in the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum at Ohio State University in Columbus. “Getting to see original ‘Peanuts’ artwork, original ‘Calvin and Hobbes” artwork, and discovering new titles that people have never heard of before is always exciting,” says Caitlin McGurk, the museum’s Associate Curator for Outreach and Assistant Professor. “And if you’re into political cartoons, we always have some of them on display.”

Photo by Richard Varr

Photo by Richard Varr

Comic library archives. Photo by Richard Varr

Founded in 1977, the museum is actually a research library as well housing both original and printed American cartoon art, with some international pieces. “This is the largest collection of comics and cartoon art in the world,” notes McGurk. And yes, the collection is incredible, with editorial cartoons, comic strips, comic books, graphic novels, magazine cartoons and sports cartoons. Breaking it down, she adds, holdings include 350,000 original art cartoons, 30,000 comic books, 75,000 graphic novels, over 6,000 boxes of manuscript materials, and 2.5 million comic strip clippings and newspaper pages.

Inside the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum. Photo by Richard Varr

Photo by Richard Varr

Photo by Richard Varr

Named after an early 20th century cartoonist for the Columbus Dispatch, the museum has one room as a permanent collection and two others which rotate artworks and comic strip clippings from its archives. Walking into the main gallery, I first notice the drawing table belonging to the comic artist Chester Gould, the creator of “Dick Tracy.” “This is where every ‘Dick Tracy’ comic strip was ever drawn,” says McGurk.

Chester Gould’s drawing board for ‘Dick Tracy’ comics. Photo by Richard Varr

There are also original art and clippings of “Calvin and Hobbes,” the six-year old with his stuffed tiger by artist Bill Watterson; the “Beetle Bailey” military series by Mort Walker, whose entire collection was acquired by the museum; and others including “Gasoline Alley,” “Shoe,” “Spiderman,” “Pogo” and of course, “Peanuts” by Charles Schulz. Older historic artworks include 19th century Harper’s Weekly magazine covers and 18th century British prints, to name just a few.

Photo by Richard Varr

Recent political cartoon. Photo by Richard Varr

“The fact that the museum has been here for more than 40 years means we were one of the first institutions in the world to actually start collecting this kind of material which has historically been stigmatized as not real artwork and not real literature,” McGurk emphasizes, “meaning it was not taken seriously and not worth preserving. This is a very important place, thus saving this whole part of cultural history that was kind of overlooked and disregarded.”

Inside the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum. Photo by Richard Varr

For more information:  https://cartoons.osu.edu/

 

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