Monday, January 29, 2018

Cataloguing of International Museum of Cartoon Art Collection is complete

From the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum.

The International Museum of Cartoon Art (IMCA) was founded by Mort Walker, the creator of Beetle Bailey and many other comic strips, in 1974. 

Originally named the Museum of Cartoon Art (MCA) when it opened, it was the first museum dedicated to collecting and exhibiting cartoons. 

The museum organized many wonderful exhibitions and programs and pioneered the idea that cartoon art belonged in museums and should be enjoyed and appreciated just as other art forms are. The institution underwent several relocations before unfortunately closing in 2002.

In 2008, Mort and Catherine Walker, along with the IMCA board, made the generous decision to transfer the museum’s collection to the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum, so that we could carry forward the work they had done. 

“We have been processing, cataloguing and rehousing this impressive and extensive collection since 2008, and we are thrilled to announce that the project is finally complete,” said Assistant Curator Ann Lennon, who has been leading the project.

IMCA’s collection consists of approximately 200,000 items, including 83,214 original drawings from all genres of cartoon art (comic strips, comic books, animation, editorial, advertising, sport, caricature, greeting cards, graphic novels, and illustrations), display figures, toys and collectibles, and works on film and tape.

The collection includes roughly 500 animation cels and many more original animation drawings, including work by greats such as Disney and Hanna Barbera, backgrounds by Robert Little, and work by Russian animators. 

2,587 books and comic books are now in the OSU Libraries’ catalogue, and over 130 boxes of merchandise, including comic strip character memorabilia, are listed in a finding aid.

“Included in the IMCA Collection are an array of treasures, which we are honored to house and are excited to share in our exhibitions, in our digital collections, and in our teaching work at OSU,” said Curator and Associate Professor Jenny Robb. 

“Many pieces are included in our current exhibits and some you will have seen in our programming to date. All are available for research and study to anyone who visits our facility. 

We are so grateful to Mort Walker and the team of the International Museum of Cartoon Art for collecting and caring for these objects for so many years and making it possible for us to share them now with our researchers and visitors.”

The original art in the collection is numerous, varied, and represents iconic moments in comics history: Dick Tracy artwork from the 1930s to 1970s (5,744 strips!), Prince Valiant pages from the 1940s to the 1970s, New Yorker cartoonist Barbara Shermund’s cartoons from the 1920s, Toby Press romance comic book pages from the 1950s, and many more. 

The collection also includes Michael Berry travel drawings, work by A.B.Walker for Harper’s Bazaar, and of course, IMCA founder Mort Walker’s beloved strips Beetle Bailey and Hi and Lois.

Original art for Beetle Bailey by Mort Walker. June 10, 1962.
International Museum of Cartoon Art Collection.

In order to catalog the original art in the collection and make it discoverable online, BICLM staff first completed a physical reorganization and rehousing, then entered data for all original art items into our database. 

Every item was identified as completely as possible, with titles, artists, dates, and measurements. Each one was then assigned subject headings for ease of searching, and imaged so that thumbnails appear beside the records. 

The whole collection is interleaved with acid-free paper and housed in acid-free boxes in our temperature-controlled archive space. Custom-made mounts encase the animation cels.

Now we want to share the collection with you! Everything is available to search on the BICLM website. 

A finding aid is coming soon, but in the meantime follow the Art link to search original art and follow the Books link to find IMCA books, comic books and catalogues. 

Or visit the Reading Room to see any part of the collection in person. Contact for more information.

The BICLM is one of The Ohio State University Libraries’ special collections. Its primary mission is to develop a comprehensive research collection of materials documenting American printed cartoon art (editorial cartoons, comic strips, comic books, graphic novels, sports cartoons, and magazine cartoons) and to provide access to the collections. 

The BICLM is housed in a renovated 30,000 square foot space in Sullivant Hall that includes a museum with three exhibition galleries, a reading room for researchers and a state-of-the-art collections storage space. 

The library reading room is open Monday-Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 1 – 5 p.m. 
The museum is open Tuesday-Sunday from 1 – 5 p.m. 

See for further information.

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