Past Exhibits

  • Let the Games Begin: A Century of Sports Cartoons Let the Games Begin: A Century of Sports Cartoons January 15, 2011 - April 9, 2011

    The Reading Room Gallery
    January 15, 2011 – April 9, 2011

    More than 50 sports cartoons will be on display as part of the exhibition Let the Games Begin:  A Century of Sports Cartoons, on view at The Ohio State University’s Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum from January 15 – April 9. 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.



  • Scenes of My Infint-hood: Celebrating the Birth of Krazy Kat Scenes of My Infint-hood: Celebrating the Birth of Krazy Kat September 7, 2010 - December 31, 2010

    The Reading Room Gallery
    September 7, 2010 – December 31, 2010

    Exactly one hundred years ago, George Herriman drew a little mouse “beaning” a black cat at the bottom of his comic strip, The Dingbat Family.   This simple little comic-within-a-comic marks the birth of Krazy Kat, considered one of the greatest newspaper comic strips ever created. In honor of Krazy’s centennial, The Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum will feature the exhibition Scenes of My Infint-hood: Celebrating the Birth of Krazy Kat from September 7- December 31, 2010 in its Reading Room Gallery.

    The exhibition will explore the world of newspaper comics at the time of Krazy’s birth and “infint-hood,” including examples of the Herriman’s early cartoons and those of his friends and colleagues. It will also document the evolution of Krazy, from a fixture at the bottom of The Dingbat Family to a vertical daily comic strip to a full-page Sunday masterpiece. Examples of Herriman’s original art will be featured, along with historical newspaper pages and clippings from the San Francisco Academy of Comic Art Collection that show Herriman’s work. Viewers will be able to see the comics in their original format and context, as they were actually consumed by their contemporary audience.

  • Ireland of the Dispatch Ireland of the Dispatch September 7, 2010 - February 27, 2011

    The Ohio State University Thompson Library Gallery
    September 7, 2010 – February 27, 2011

    During the first three decades of the twentieth century, cartoonist Billy Ireland enjoyed a national readership from his home base at the Columbus Dispatch. He was known both for his editorial cartoons and for “The Passing Show,” an illustrated full-page color Sunday commentary on current events. Ireland supported environmental concerns before being “green” was in vogue and he was influential in the development of what is now Civic Center Drive in Columbus. Another major contribution was his generous mentoring of young cartoonists such as Milton Caniff. This exhibit documents Ireland’s career through original cartoon art, photographs, correspondence and related materials.

    In 2009 the Elizabeth Ireland Graves Foundation gave $7 million to The Ohio State University in honor of Billy Ireland. In recognition of this generous gift, the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum was established, expanding the mission of the facility that was created when Milton Caniff donated his papers to create a research library devoted to cartoon art. With this exhibition we celebrate the life and work of Billy Ireland, one of the nation’s most creative and productive cartoonists.

    This exhibit is free and open to the public.Thompson Library Gallery hours are Monday-Wednesday 10 am – 6 pm, Thursday 10 am – 8 pm, Friday 10 am – 6 pm, Saturday-Sunday noon – 5 pm. Public parking for Thompson Library is available in the Neil Avenue Garage or the Ohio Union Garage. Additional information about Billy Ireland may be found at 

  • Drawn On Stone: Political Prints from the 1830s and 1840s Drawn On Stone: Political Prints from the 1830s and 1840s March 19, 2010 - December 19, 2010

    Philip Sills Gallery
    March 19, 2010 – December 19, 2010

    Drawn on Stoneexplores American political cartooning during the tumultuous Jacksonian era. The exhibition features thirty rare satirical lithographs recently acquired by the Cartoon Research Library with help from the William J. Studer endowment. This extraordinary collection illustrates the surge in the creation and distribution of political cartoon broadsides made possible by the relative ease and speed of the new print-making process of lithography. Several cartoons not found in other major print collections are included.

    Like their contemporary counterparts, early nineteenth-century cartoonists used satire, symbols, metaphors and references to popular literature and theater to comment on domestic policy and world events, to expose greed and corruption in the government, to sway voters during an election, and to criticize the administration for conducting a costly and unpopular war.

    Drawn on Stone is curated by Jenny E. Robb, Visiting Assistant Curator at the Cartoon Research Library.

  • Winsor McCay: Legendary Cartoonist Winsor McCay: Legendary Cartoonist September 15, 2009 - December 31, 2009

    The Reading Room Gallery
    September 15, 2009 – December 31, 2009

    Winsor McCay was an unusually prolific cartoonist. More than thirty comic strip titles and ten animated films are credited to him. The decade between 1903 and 1913 was his most creative period. His biographer, John Canemaker, states, “…when the American comic strip was in its infancy, McCay became the first master of the form with two unsurpassed works of genius, Dream of the Rarebit Fiend…and Little Nemo in Slumberland.” In addition, McCay was an important pioneer animator and a popular vaudeville performer.

    The date and place of McCay’s birth are unknown. He grew up in Michigan and was self-taught. He created his first comic strip, A Tale of the Jungle Imps by Felix Fiddle, for the Cincinnati Enquirer in 1903. McCay soon left for New York City where he worked for James Gordon Bennett and later for William Randolph Hearst. Although his comic strips were formulaic, the sureness of his hand and the beauty of his drawings continue to delight. McCay’s interest in depicting movement is apparent throughout his comic strips, so it is not surprising that he found the new medium of animation intriguing.

    In 1913, William Randolph Hearst ordered McCay to draw nothing but editorial illustrations. This constraint leaves contemporary students of McCay’s work puzzled. What might he have accomplished if he had devoted the last twenty years of his life to animation or comic strips? Winsor McCay:  Legendary Cartoonist invites visitors to consider this question as they enjoy superb examples of McCay’s work that span his career.

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