December 17th, 2014
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…
Exhibit 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.
“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)
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.
After 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)
And of course, there was some bar hopping… we’re cartoonists after all…
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