Attention Comic Fans: This Ohio Museum Is A Must-See Destination

A robust history of this unique art form is currently on display. Attention Comic Fans: This Ohio Museum Is A Must-See Destination Wikipedia/Maria Rimmel

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From the Sunday newspaper funnies to the pages of “Mad” magazine, generations of Americans had their senses of humor sharpened and artistic horizons broadened by following the work of their favorite cartoonists.

Since there are so many iconic names to include, it might seem impossible to curate a comprehensive exhibit — but that’s exactly what the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum has set out to do.

What’s in store for visitors

The institution, named after a local cartoonist whose work appeared in the Columbus Dispatch, is currently open on the campus of the Ohio State University. And the amount of original work on display is unmatched by any other museum in the world.

There are interactive exhibits as well as historically significant artifacts (like the editorial cartoons of the 1800s that led to the Republican Party being represented by an elephant). You’re almost guaranteed to find works from your favorite cartoonists and might even discover his or her complete collection on display.

So far, the museum includes:

  • About 300,000 original cartoons
  • Roughly 45,000 individual books
  • Another 67,000 serials and comic books
  • And 2.5 million comic strip clippings

But curator Caitlin McGurk made it clear that the institution is still actively engaged in creating an even more immersive experience for comic lovers everywhere.

The more things change…

According to McGurk, this labor of love is about much more than just compiling a huge display of cartoons. Much of the research being conducted by the museum’s team has focused on identifying how societal changes have been reflected in comics over the years.

But she also noted that the fundamental appeal of cartoons has remained largely unchanged.

“The comic format can convey stories and meanings that transcend language, using images to convey universal messages,” McGurk explained.

Chris Agee
Chris Agee January 3rd, 2024
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