Let the Games Begin: A Century of Sports Cartoons


January 15, 2011 - April 9, 2011


Reading Room Gallery
27 W. 17th Avenue Mall
Columbus Ohio

More than 50 sports cartoons will be on display as part of the exhibition Let the Games Begin:  A Century of Sports Cartoons.  The exhibition features original drawings by some of the most prolific and influential cartoon artists of the past century and includes likenesses of a wide variety of sports figures including Jack Dempsey, Dizzy Dean, Ted Williams, Willie Shoemaker, as well Ohio State athletics.

Editorial cartoons have a long history but the sports cartoon, as we know it now, evolved as a fixture on the sports page as athletic endeavors became more and more of a ubiquitous form of popular entertainment.  Before television and higher-speed photography, sports cartoons were an important way for a commentator to communicate to the public the personalities on the field or to sum up an achievement or brewing controversy.

The cartoons featured in Let the Games Begin:  A Century of Sports Cartoons span the twentieth century from a time when boxing and horse racing captured the nation’s undivided attention to the end of the century and beyond, long after any remaining shreds of purity and innocence had been stripped from the public’s collective perception of the athletes it followed and admired. Drawn from several of the Cartoon Library’s collections, the works featured in this exhibit were published in newspapers from all over the United States. Artists featured in the exhibition include Willard Mullin, Arnold Roth, William Summers, Karl Hubenthal, the Columbus Dispatch’s Jeff Stahler, and more.

“Historic sports cartoon provide a wonderful window into the past. We are fortunate to have such rich holdings of these works in the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum,” stated Lucy Shelton Caswell, Professor and Curator of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum.

Let the Games Begin:  A Century of Sports Cartoons was co-curated by Caswell and David Filipi, Curator of Film/Video, at the Wexner Center for the Arts. The exhibition was funded in part by the operating endowment of The Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum. A free exhibit brochure featuring an essay by David Filipi is available upon request. Caswell and Filipi co-curated the exhibition Jeff Smith:  Bone and Beyond at the Wexner Center for the Arts in 2008.

Let the Games Begin :  A Century of Sports Cartoons is in conjunction with Hard Targets, an exhibition at the Wexner Center for the Arts from January 30 through April 11, 2010.