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Visiting the OSU Cartoon Research Library

Alan meeting with Jenny Robb at OSU Cartoon Library

While visiting the Buckeye state, I was able to visit the Ohio State University Cartoon Research Library in Columbus Ohio. Thanks to Craig Boldman who helped set things up, Jenny Robb, the library’s Associate Curator and Professor (what a cool job!) gave me a tour of the library and showed me their extensive collection. During the tour, we talked about the golden age of comics when a Sunday comic feature took up the full page. I’ve seen reproductions in books, but I had never seen a physical page, so I asked if I could see one. Jenny was quick to find a large box from the “stacks” and opened it up. The comic feature on the top was a feature we weren’t familiar with, but underneath it was a full page comic called “A Yankee Romance in Old Madrid” that was signed G. Herriman. Yeah – George Herriman of Krazy Kat fame. It was dated December 8, 1901 and ran in the Sunday Press (Philadelphia Press). What a find! Looking it up later, “A Yankee Romance” was a one time feature.

She also showed me some original Winsor McCay Little Nemo in Slumberland and Prince Valiant. The originals were amazing. To look at the original art – the white out (or whatever white paint they used back then), the pencil marks, and notations in the margins to the colorists is quite an experience. What a shame that as cartoonists are doing more and more work on the computer we’re losing those little gems found in the originals. It clearly reinforced my commitment to keep things old school.

Alan and Jenny Robb review the work of Jeff MacNelly

After the tour I was handed over the to able hands of Susan who was prepared with a large stack of originals that I had requested to see while I was there. My family had to drag me out of the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco back in ’05 when we visited, so having access to thousands of originals, I was not going to pass up this opportunity to see as many as possible. I looked at several cartoons from the Nick Anderson collection from when he was at the The Courier-Journal. Other cartoonists work included one from Pat Oliphant, several Jeff MacNelly’s (the photo of above is a “action shot” of me and Jenny admiring a Shoe original wherein Shoe and Uncle Cosmo were talking about dropping Doonesbury from their comics page.), a Berkley Breathed letter to a fan, three George Herriman’s Krazy Kat (priceless!), a few Walt Kelly’s, some early Wiley Miller editorial cartoons as well as his Non-Sequitur feature, four Garry Trudeaus, a couple Lynn Johnstons, Michael Ramirez, Mike Peters, Bill Amend, Bruce Tinsleys, and a Don Wright. And if that wasn’t enough, Jenny surprised me with four Calvin and Hobbes originals. Bill Watterson has deposited his originals in the care of library. There is a hope that the originals will become official gifts sometime in the future. One of the things I was surprised to see was the “Calvin and Hobbes” title in each of his Sunday’s is hand drawn. I’ve looked at it in his collections and they’re so exact, I assumed that they were pasted on – but no, each one was hand drawn. But, I guess that’s what you’d expect from Watterson knowing how “pure” he was in his approach to the art.

I would like to thank Jenny and Susan for their time. Visiting the library was easily one of the highlights of my trip to Ohio.

If you ever get a chance to visit the library – I highly recommend that you do. It truly is a national treasure.

Community Comments

#1 John Platt
March/26/2007
@ 7:49 am

Must not be jealous, must not be jealous, must not be jealous…

(Okay, I’m jealous.)

#2 brian
March/26/2007
@ 9:28 am

What John said.

#3 Rich
March/26/2007
@ 11:54 am

The museum is pretty cool. Academia continues to figure out how to get paid for having fun, of course, I guess that’s why we do cartooning (except for the getting paid part for some of us)! ;)

#4 Dominic
March/26/2007
@ 12:36 pm

Alan,

I don’t know if you mentioned you were presenting at the Symposium and judging the contest since that’s exactly what Jenny Robb did for us last year.

She’s a great resource.

– Dominic

#5 Alan Gardner
March/26/2007
@ 12:51 pm

I didn’t, but since you did – there you go.

#6 josh
July/6/2007
@ 10:14 am

I was recently able to visit the Library myself. I saw a few original Krazy Kat komics, some Pogo (early Pogo, from 1948) and two weeks’ worth of Calvin and Hobbes.

The value of being able to see these firsthand is priceless. Reproductions have been getting better and better, but the originals allow you to see the process of creating the art.

It was easily the best library I’ve ever been to, and that’s coming from a library geek.

#7 Aisa
July/31/2007
@ 10:51 am

I am looking for a cartooning job, or mangga drawing, I am very talented in this field.

#8 Schulz Challenge opens to raise money for cartoon library and Museum | The Daily Cartoonist
June/5/2009
@ 9:10 am

[…] was an incredible experience to see original artwork by Hal Foster, George Herriman, Milt Canniff (read more of my visit and impressions of the library here). When the Sullivant Hall is complete, it’s going to be the cartoon museum without rival. […]

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