The Will and Ann Eisner Family Foundation has pledged $250,000 over five years to support the new Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum facility, part of the Sullivant Hall renovation at The Ohio State University. In recognition of this gift, the library’s seminar room will be named in honor of Will Eisner. The Eisner Family Foundation gift will be matched dollar for dollar by Jean Schulz, widow of Peanuts’ creator Charles M. Schulz, giving it a $500,000 impact on the project. Ms. Schulz has promised to match donations to the new facility up to $2.5 million.
Creator of The Spirit, Will Eisner (1917-2005) is noted as the father of the graphic novel for his ground-breaking book, A Contract with God. He was also an early and influential analyst of sequential graphic narrative with his book Comics and Sequential Art. In addition to his eight decade career as a cartoonist, Eisner taught for many years at the School of Visual Arts.
“We are very grateful for the support of the Will and Ann Eisner Family Foundation. Their generous gift brings us much closer to meeting the total Schulz Challenge of $2.5 million,” said Lucy Shelton Caswell, professor and curator of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum. “It is particularly appropriate to name the seminar room in honor of Will Eisner because he was a gifted teacher who genuinely cared about his students.”
The Sullivant Hall renovation is estimated to cost $24.4 million and is scheduled to be completed in 2013, at which time Sullivant Hall will house the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum as well as The Ohio State University Department of Dance and the Department of Art Education. Upon completion of the Schulz Challenge, the Sullivant Hall renovation will be completely funded.
Established in 1977 with a founding gift of the Milton Caniff Collection, the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum was housed originally in two converted classrooms in Ohio State’s Journalism Building. Donors have contributed to the collection, with gifts ranging from one item to tens of thousands. The Will Eisner Collection was established in 1984 and additions were received following his death. With the 2008 addition of the International Museum of Cartoon Art’s extensive permanent collection, the Cartoon Library and Museum now houses more than 450,000 works of original cartoon art, 50,000 books, 61,000 serial titles, 3,000 linear feet of manuscript materials, and 2.5 million comic strip clippings and newspaper pages.
Now the world’s largest collection of cartoon art and comics material, the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum is currently located in the lower level of the Wexner Center for the Arts complex. Its new, permanent home in Sullivant Hall will expand its space from its current 6,808 square feet to more than 40,000 gross square feet, providing much-needed additional storage and new exhibition galleries that will allow more of the collection to be displayed and accessible to the public. For more information, see http://cartoons.osu.edu.