December 17th, 2014

Cartoonists At “The Billy”

by Steve Kelley and Jeff Parker

As some of you know, last weekend I attended the exhibit opening and celebration of King Features’ 100th birthday at The Ohio State University’s Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum in Columbus, Ohio. Sadly, Steve couldn’t join in on the fun, but I had a terrific time hanging with a few dozen visiting cartoonist pals, gawking at the original cartoons on display, and receiving a backstage tour of “The Billy.”


Here are some inklings and a few photos from the weekend…


10712443_10205353633429712_4535684427550296984_oExhibit Curator Brian Walker (white hair at right) leads patrons on a tour of the “King of The Comics” display, recounting William Randolph Hearst’s role in creating the modern comics page. King Features Syndicate is a part of The Hearst Corporation.


10868298_10205358856480285_626476783225967332_nOur boy Dustin can be found taking up a little “sofa space” in the exhibition… (here I am, a proud co-creator.)


10869779_788052484564047_6699536053087905399_o“Beetle Bailey” creator and pagan god, 91-year-old Mort Walker chats with me and my friend Michael Fraley. Interesting fun fact, Beetle Bailey was the last comic strip approved by William Randolph Hearst himself, in 195o. (photo courtesy The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum)


10847583_788052531230709_1067561838346796075_o-2Look! It’s Hilary Price of “Rhymes With Orange” fame! (photo courtesy The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum)


10865956_10205353633349710_7662628480650190621_oKing Features Prez, Rocky Shepard kicks off the ceremonies.


10854369_10205353633389711_1148964093901237405_oThe “Backstage at King Features” panel with Hilary Price (“Rhymes With Orange”), Patrick McDonnell (“Mutts”), and King Features editor, Brendan Burford.


10750320_10205353633469713_8633730011554987069_oModerator Tom Gammill leaves panelists Jim Borgman, Rick Kirkman, and Jerry Scott speechless during the “Making of ‘Zits’ and ‘Baby Blues'”session.



The National Cartoonists Society Great Lakes Chapter hosted a lavish invitation-only after-party and dinner for the visiting cartoonists and dignitaries. Here’s my buddy, table-mate and drop-dead funny fellow cartoonist Dan Collins. (Photo courtesy of Dan)


On Sunday, my friend Michael and I were treated to a tour of the library’s 40,000 sq. ft. secret bunker by Billy librarian/archivist, Caitlin McGurk… Caitlin showed us where 300,000 original cartoons, 45,000 books, 67,000 serials (including comic books), 3,000 linear feet of manuscript materials, 2.5 million comic strip clippings and newspaper pages are preserved, stored and catalogued. The Billy is the largest and most comprehensive academic research facility documenting printed cartoon art in the world… It was like a day in the Louvre’s basement for Michael and me.


10405305_10205358853840219_724615320194360905_nHere Caitlin explains the super high security system, which employs sharks with frickin lasers. (Photo courtesy Michael Fraley)


1610827_10205358854880245_8077332645473805268_nMichael delights over a flat-file drawerful of Winsor McCay’s masterful “Little Nemo In Slumberland” originals, from like, 1916 or something. (Photo courtesy Michael Fraley)


10407877_10205358855120251_4658665470630844122_nAfter putting on a new pair of socks (the first had been blown off by now), Caitlin and I gawked over some beauty Japanese cartoon art from early last century… The Billy houses the largest collection of Japanese Manga art outside of Japan. (Photo courtesy Michael Fraley)


1013851_10205358855440259_8860977826176280532_nA boxful of animation awesomeness. Here’s an early Animator pencil drawing of Mickey Mouse. (Photo courtesy Michael Fraley)


And of course, there was some bar hopping… we’re cartoonists after all…


10866113_10205346764497993_1399085114393726855_oSusie MacNelly (“Shoe”), Mike Peters (“Mother Goose & Grimm”), and Greg Walker (“Beetle Bailey” and “Hi & Lois”)


258392_10205346764537994_2181288771488045780_oJeff Stahler (“Moderately Confused”) and Gary Brookins (“Shoe” and “Pluggers”)




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