Past Exhibits

  • Kate Salley Palmer: Born to Cartoon Kate Salley Palmer: Born to Cartoon January 25, 2006 - April 14, 2006

    The Reading Room Gallery
    January 25, 2006 – April 14, 2006


    Kate Salley Palmer: Born to Cartoon is an exhibition of Palmer’s editorial cartoons about national and international issues. She claims that cartoonists are born, not made–and her passion for her art is reflected in her work. On Tuesday, February 21, 2006, Kate Salley Palmer will speak at 4:30 p.m. in the seminar room adjacent to the Cartoon Research Library. A reception honoring her will begin at 3:30 p.m.

    An Orangeburg, South Carolina, native, Kate Salley Palmer graduated from the University of South Carolina with a major in elementary education. She began freelance cartooning with the Greenville News in 1975 and in 1978 she became their first full-time editorial cartoonist. She was syndicated by Field (later News America Syndicate) in 1980. She left the newspaper in 1984 and moved to Associated Features in 1986. Her syndication ended in 1989, after which she has devoted her efforts to writing and illustrating children’s books.

    A collection of her political cartoons titled Growing Up Cartoonist in the Baby-Boom South will be published in late 2005 by Clemson University Digital Press.

    This exhibition is cosponsored by the Department of Women’s Studies and the Cartoon Research Library. The exhibition, reception, and lecture are free and open to the public.

  • The Yellow Kid: Hero of Hogan's Alley The Yellow Kid: Hero of Hogan's Alley September 15, 2005 - January 13, 2006

    The Reading Room Gallery
    September 15, 2005 – January 13, 2006


    The Yellow Kid has been described as the first comic strip superstar. His popularity was so enormous that the great rival newspapers in New York City, Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World and William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal, at one time ran competing versions of the Yellow Kid drawn by two cartoonists. The Kid was successfully merchandised by a wide range of products from cigarettes and game cards to dolls and sheet music.

    Richard Felton Outcault (1863-1928) created the comic strip Hogan’s Alley, which is considered to be the first significant comic strip in American newspapers. It debuted in 1895 and featured Mickey Dugan, who is better known as the Yellow Kid.

    This exhibition features rare examples of original full-color newspaper pages featuring the Yellow Kid from the San Francisco Academy of Comic Art Collection

  • Sting of the Wasp Sting of the Wasp February 1, 2005 - April 15, 2005

    The Reading Room Gallery
    February 01, 2005 – April 15, 2005


    For most of the 19th century, American magazines were vast monochromatic fields of black on white. Beginning in the 1830s, a few magazines featured small hand-colored plates, but they were meager exceptions. Then, in the 1870s, thanks to the perfection of the chromolithographic process, a new breed of magazine exploding with color came to the fore. In short order, chromolithographic weeklies began popping up all over America. Outside of the famous New York weeklies,Puck and Judge, though, none lasted more than a year or two, except for one–The San Francisco Wasp.

    That The Wasp endured was most improbable. Founded during the worst financial depression of the 19th century, it was expensive to produce. Published in an under-populated region of the country, it was guaranteed never to have a significant circulation. Often out of step with majority opinion, it never became the political power broker it aspired to be. Yet The Wasp was a success. It was for many years the most widely read magazine west of the Rockies. Its best cartoons compared favorably with those being published in New York. And the work of one of its editors, Ambrose Bierce, is read by more people today than are the writings of any of the editors of its more widely celebrated rivals.

    During its first twenty years, the period of time when cartoons dominated its contents, The Wasp was, by turns, a staunch partisan of the Democratic Party, then politically independent, and finally a Republican Party booster of various stripes. It was owned by a series of men intent on advancing one political agenda or another. Twelve different men edited the magazine, while five served at different times as its chief cartoonist.

    The Wasp was the colorful chronicler of one of the most exciting periods in the history of San Francisco. This show presents some of The Wasp‘s most powerful and representative cartoons from the private collection of guest curator Richard Samuel West. The exhibit is supported in part by the Mark Cohen and Rose Marie McDaniel Endowment and Milton Caniff Endowment of the Cartoon Research Library.

    Richard Samuel West is an independent scholar and historian of American political cartooning. He edited two periodicals, The Puck Papers and Target, and is the author of the outstanding biography of Joseph Keppler, Satire on Stone. He currently is the owner of Periodyssey, the largest company in New England specializing in rare and out-of-print magazines. West’s most recent book is The San Francisco Wasp: An Illustrated History.  Mr. West will speak at 6 30 pm, Thursday, March 3, 2005 at the Cartoon Research Library. A reception honoring Mr. West will begin at 5:30 p.m. This event is free and open to the public and is co-sponsored by the Aldus Society.


  • Gillray's Legacy Gillray's Legacy September 15, 2004 - December 10, 2004

    The Reading Room Gallery
    September 15, 2004 – December 10, 2004


    Gillray’s Legacy coincides with the 2004 Festival of Cartoon Art. Celebrating Georgian England’s greatest caricaturist as part of a twenty-first century conference focusing on censorship, self-censorship and editorial control may seem far-fetched. During an election year at a time of heightened national and international concerns, it is, however, most appropriate to remember that James Gillray was neither restrained nor genteel with his art. Some of the works in this exhibit would not be printed in a newspaper, and several others would draw angry letters to the editor.

    In eighteenth century Britain , as Diana Donald notes, “No licensing of presses nor prior censorship impeded the circulation of these frequently abusive, scurrilous and volatile productions [graphic satires]. They were gestural, functioning as an assertion of defiant independence and protest against government which would have been unthinkable in most other European countries…” She continues by noting that “Foreign observers…were stunned by the apparently reckless way in which caricaturists ridiculed and vilified the nation’s leaders, and took this as indicative of the political freedoms enjoyed by the British people.”

    The political and social prints that were popular in Georgian England sometimes served as samples for printers in the Colonies who also wanted to criticize George III and politicians on this side of the Atlantic. On occasion, they became more than an inspiration when a Colonial engraver “adapted” a design from England without crediting the source. The British legacy of unfettered graphic commentary provided the roots of cartooning in the New World.

    Designs by Gillray from the collections of The Ohio State University Cartoon Research Library in this exhibition are supplemented by reproductions of his work courtesy of the Library of Congress, Art Institute of Chicago, and Draper Hill. They represent two decades of his social and political satire. In addition, the Hale Scrapbook is displayed as an example of how one family used engravings for amusement. Items in the Hale Scrapbook were originally fixed in place with red sealing wax and they were moved from page to page as different people rearranged the book’s contents to suit themselves. Scrapbooking was a common practice: William Makepeace Thackeray remembered that in his grandfather’s generation, “…there would be in the old gentleman’s library two or three old mottled portofolios, or great swollen scrap-books of blue paper, full of the comic prints of grandpapa’s time…How savage the satire was — how fierce the assault — what garbage hurled at opponents — what foul blows were hit… Fancy a party in a country-house now [1854] looking over Wooward’s facetiae, or some of the Gilray [sic] comicalities, or the slatternly Saturnalia of Rowlandson!”

    The idea that engravings were a form of entertainment is important in our understanding of the works in this exhibition. Just like today, people in Georgian England enjoyed a good joke at the expense of politicians.

  • Hoo-Boy! Morrie Brickman's The Small Society Hoo-Boy! Morrie Brickman's The Small Society November 2, 2003 - February 27, 2004

    The Reading Room Gallery
    November 2, 2003 – February 27, 2004


    In 1966 Morrie Brickman created something different. The writer of a news story about the debut of the feature was undecided about whether it should be described as an “editorial comic strip” or a “political satire.” It was “both and neither,” according to cartoon historian Richard Samuel West, who continues by stating, “Even to this day, The Small Society defies neat categorization… Unlike all comic strips that preceded it, The Small Society was driven primarily by its topic for the day, not by its characters (who were generally Everyman and Everywoman), nor by a race to the punchline. Unlike the political cartoons of the period, The Small Society eschewed politicians and headlines in the particular to find the universal in public debate.”

    The comic strip’s title provides a window into the cartoonist’s intent: “The Great Society,” Lyndon Johnson’s high-flown vision for the future of the United States, was making headlines. By titling his new comic strip The Small Society, Brickman made his perspective clear. His worldview is the everyday, and quirks of his characters belong to all of us. This is the comic strip’s greatest strength. Between1966 and 1985, from Vietnam to Reaganomics, current events and American life are satirized in The Small Society. Grocery prices, inflation, taxes, family-the stuff of life for everyone-are covered in Brickman’s comic strip, often accompanied by a resounding “hoo-boy” that reflected his amazement at the world around him.

    This exhibition and related events are cosponsored by The Ohio State University Cartoon Research Library, its Milton Caniff Endowment, the Victor Herbert Foundation and Herbert P. Jacoby in memory of Marge Devine, the Mark J. Cohen and Rose Marie McDaniel Endowment, the Department of Theatre, and the Melton Center for Jewish Studies.

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