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Cartoon Museum?  Yes!

This past Thursday on a cold, windy day, my family and I decided to get out of town and take a trip east to Columbus, Ohio. It’s only about an hour away from our home in Dayton, so it’s a nice little getaway.

Though it’s always nice to take random road trips, on this one we had a mission: Go to the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum at Ohio State University.

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I get irritated at myself on the little things I miss out on. Here is a museum for cartoonists – and I NEVER went to it until this visit. I mean, a museum dedicated to my industry in my own backyard and – for some reason or another – it’s my first time going there. SMH

Anyway…

Going to this museum is a must for any cartoonist. And I made it there. Despite the fact it took me awhile, I was very happy I went and I forgave myself for taking so long.

I’ve recently made a conscious change in my life to do more things in my industry that I haven’t yet. I’ve missed out on meeting fellow artists, going to events, etc. because I’ve been so glued to my studio and – I guess you can call it – lack of motivation. And if there’s one area in my career I want to change, that’s being more “in” with individuals in my profession and be more involved.  Making new friends that do what I do.  Up until this point, it’s been just my studio and me. I’ve met a few fellow cartoonists throughout my life (especially during my internship at MAD) but really, I don’t know a lot of them in person (I have a lot of them on social media though). All of this being said, I’m happy to say I’ve changed and I will be much more involved. I’m excited about that.

So, back to the museum…

The Ireland museum is small, but my god, some of the originals you can see there; everything from Shulz to Watterson. And original artifacts there as well, such as the drawing table that Chester Gould (of Dick Tracy fame) drew on (see below).

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I love looking at original art. All the imperfections, rough pencil marks and so-forth. The process is what I actually enjoy viewing more than the final version – which is usually all dolled-up in Photoshop (like my work).


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Above:  An original Bill Watterson Calvin & Hobbes watercolor.  I wanted to take this home, but the museum wouldn’t let me.

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Above:  This was always one of my favorite Sunday C&H strips.  And hey – it’s the original!

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Above:  My daughter and I enjoying the art.  She wanted to take one of these home, too.

Some of the classic cartoons, especially Little Nemo, are so exquisitely detailed (which I totally forgot to get a picture of). They are truly pieces of art.

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Above:  An original Krazy Kat by George Herriman.  Another MASSIVE cartoon.  This sucker was gigantic.

You get a nice glimpse of the Golden Years of cartooning when the Sunday funnies were the highlight of the week, cartoonists were rock stars and the industry was a major contributor to the newspapers.

When I was growing up, I was lucky to be around when the newspaper comics were very relevant. I would grab the comics after dad read the paper. I especially looked forward to Sunday’s. They had the massive Calvin & Hobbes in them, amongst others. I remember some Sunday newspapers had 6-7 pages of full-color, large cartoons!  Anyhow, I would devour them.  I’d often then try to draw a lot of them – especially Garfield.  I’d say Jim Davis had more of an influence over my actual art than anyone else when I was a kid.

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Above:  In the library of the museum, they had some Reuban awards!  I want to win one of these.  Someday…  

Of course, times have changed. You now view most cartoons online and on devices. Yes, they’re still in newspapers, but not quite the same. I still know cartoons are as relevant as ever – just not in the papers. And that’s unfortunate. I still believe that if print wanted to attract readers, the more illustrations/cartoons used – you know, a unique perspective of the news – would boost sales and be a medium people would respond to. But, what do I know…

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Above:  They had a special exhibit for cartoonist, Mike Peters.  Peters is also the Dayton Daily News editorial cartoonist.  He doesn’t live here, but as a fellow Daytonian – he has some ties to my city.

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Above:  Some of Mike Peters sketchbooks.  These are SO nice looking compared to mine.  Mine are illegible and make no sense.  His do.

I have some more getaways planned in the VERY near future, and I’ll be posting them on here. All cartooning related.  And the Billy Ireland Museum was a good one.  Small, but very worthwhile.  Get the family together and head to Ohio State to check it out.  (And while on campus, check out everything else around there.  There is some killer food and beverages in the numerous student hangouts.)

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Above:  Ella is overwhelmed by all of the cartoons.  Or contemplating if SHE ever wants to become a cartoonist….

Boy, it’s nice to get out of the studio sometimes and get some fresh air. I should have started doing this sooner