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.
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.