Current Exhibits

  • Eye of the Cartoonist: Daniel Clowes's Selections from Comics History Eye of the Cartoonist: Daniel Clowes's Selections from Comics History 05/17/2014 - 08/03/2014

    Image: Chester Gould, Dick Tracy, May 29, 1960. Chester Gould Collection.

    Take a look through cartoonist Daniel Clowes’s incredibly informed, sometimes surprising historical perspective. Ohio State’s Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum is the world’s largest repository of cartoon art. To complement his survey concurrently on view, we invited Clowes—who, like many cartoonists, is a great student of his field’s history—to collaborate with the museum’s curators in presenting an exhibition of work by past greats whom he admires or considers influences. In works such as the comic book anthology series Eightball (1989–2004) and the graphic novel Wilson (2010), Clowes illustrates in a wide spectrum of styles that often incorporate, adapt, and comment on touchstones from comics history. Drawing from the museum’s collection, the work on view in this exhibition at the Wex illuminates Clowes’s range, encompassing Chester Gould’s hard-boiled detective strip Dick Tracy, the minimal elegance of Otto Soglow’s The Little King, the Art Nouveau–inspired fantasias of Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo in Slumberland, the action-adventure stories of Terry and the Pirates (created by Ohio State’s own Milton Caniff), and even the ever-popular Peanuts by Charles Schulz.

    Organized by the Wexner Center for the Arts. Special thanks to Jenny Robb, Caitlin McGurk, and the staff at Ohio State’s Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum for their generous assistance with this exhibition.

    For gallery hours and more information visit, the Wexner Center for the Arts website.

  • Exploring Calvin and Hobbes Exploring Calvin and Hobbes 03/22/2014 - 08/03/2014

    Image © Bill Watterson.


    Exploring Calvin and Hobbes revisits the beloved comic strip created by Bill Watterson from 1985-1995. The exhibition will feature original Calvin and Hobbes dailies and Sundays as well as specialty pieces by Watterson from his collection of more than 3,000 originals housed at the BICLM. This is only the second exhibition devoted to Calvin and Hobbes, which appeared in 2,400 newspapers worldwide at the height of its popularity. Watterson won the National Cartoonists Society’s prestigious Reuben Award for “Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year” in both 1986 and 1988.

    Six-year-old Calvin, named after the 16th-century theologian John Calvin, has a vivid imagination; an aversion to homework, chores, and girls; and a penchant for discussing the meaning of life. Hobbes, named for the 17th-century British philosopher Thomas Hobbes, appears to most of the strips’ characters as a stuffed animal, but from Calvin’s perspective, he is a living, breathing—sometimes even dangerous—tiger. He’s also a best friend, a playmate, a co-conspirator, and occasionally the voice of reason. The strip follows the two as they navigate the bumpy ride of life, surrounded by a supporting cast that includes Calvin’s parents, his neighbor Susie, his babysitter Rosalyn, the school bully Moe, and his teacher, Mrs. Wormwood.

    The exhibition, curated by BICLM curator Jenny E. Robb, explores Watterson’s mastery of the comic strip art form through engaging characters, thoughtful writing, and creative layouts. It will also include original art by cartoonists who influenced Watterson, chosen by the artist from the BICLM’s collection, such as Charles Schulz, George Herriman, Jim Borgman, Berkeley Breathed, Garry Trudeau, and Ralph Steadman.

    Earlier this month, the press-shy Watterson accepted a request to talk about the state of cartoon art in an interview with Curator Jenny Robb.

  • The Irresistible Force Meets the Immovable Object: A Richard Thompson Retrospective The Irresistible Force Meets the Immovable Object: A Richard Thompson Retrospective 03/22/2014 - 08/03/2014

    Image © Richard Thompson.

    Richard Thompson, the 2011 winner of the Reuben Award for “Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year,” will be featured in the exhibition, The Irresistible Force Meets the Immovable Object: A Richard Thompson Retrospective. This exhibit, curated by Caitlin McGurk, will not only include gorgeously hand-watercolored Sunday originals and black-and-white dailies from Thompson’s popular comic strip Cul de Sac, but will celebrate his lesser-known abilities as a master of caricature, gags, and editorial cartoons— both as cartoonist and painter.

    The six-year run of Cul De Sac serves as an insightful, humorous, and at times sentimental illustration of suburban family life on the outskirts of the city, and therefore a meditation on the tiny and sacred universe we form with our family outside of the rest of the world.  The strip orbits around the activities of sibling child characters Alice and Petey Otterloop.  In an interview with Mike Rhode in 2008, Thompson explained, “Let’s have a comic strip with kids, because comic strips are only this big now, so if you can fit somebody into it, it better be a kid. I thought the kids should be the opposite—a small child who’s the unstoppable force and the brother who’s the immovable object and the way they collide would make some humor.”

    This sentiment has grown to have a double meaning, as Thompson had to discontinue the strip in September 2012 due to the advancement of his Parkinson’s disease. Thompson’s work continues to be celebrated in the upcoming release of The Complete Cul de Sac and The Art of Richard Thompson (both to be published by Andrews McMeel), the $100,000 that has been raised and donated to the Michael J. Fox Foundation in Richard’s name, and this exhibition, the most extensive display of his work to date.

    Engagement Coordinator Caitlin McGurk had an opportunity to interview Richard Thompson on libraries, comics and the creative process.

  • Treasures from the Collections of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum Treasures from the Collections of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum 11/15/2013 - 12/31/2024

    This permanent exhibit features a selection of exceptional artwork and artifacts highlighting the breadth and depth of our collections.