The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum at the Ohio State University kicked off its triennial festival of cartoon arts Friday with a ribbon cutting at the new facility which should be on any cartoon fan's travel plans. Columbus isn't a place you're likely to end up by happenstance, but it's handy to a lot of other places that you might, and it's worth the trip in any case.
The venue was, as you see, packed, and I have to admit I didn't hear much of what was said at the ribbon cutting itself because I was fighting upstream just to get into a position to take that photo, but I'm pretty sure they were grateful to some people. If not, they ought to be, because this place is pretty well appointed.
Over the next couple of days, I'll show some more stuff, but here's the sort of thing you might encounter as you wander through the galleries:
Yeah, it's not just a Pogo original, which would be pretty cool to start with. Pogo is one of maybe three or four strips that are mentioned by nearly every cartoonist in their answer to the "what inspired you?" question.
But it's that Pogo, the 1971 Earth Day strip that launched a thousand quotes.
And not far away ...
... is this original "For Better or For Worse," in which Lynn Johnston solved a knotty problem, which is that, since the strip moved forward in real time, there came a point at which Farley the dog (named for Canadian icon Farley Mowat, by the way) was too old to logically still be around.
Here's the thing: I don't want to blow this out of proportion. It's not the same as seeing the Mona Lisa in person or the original Declaration of Independence.
On the other hand, if it isn't the same, it's still kind of the same thing, and certainly it is in this respect: I'm more into stories than art, and, while I can generally tell good art from bad art and have some knowledge of how the pictures get on the paper, or whatever they get on ...
... which reminds me that, on the shuttle bus from the hotel to the museum, I asked Dylan Meconis if it's pronounced "Way-Kom" or "Whack-kom," to which she responded that the company intended Whack-kom but accepts Way-kom and then said they have a building not too far from her studio in Portland, so they brought some of the new gear up there for her to test-drive and make suggestions. Eat your hearts out, technically adept artists ...
... anyway, what I was starting to say is that I'm more into the storytelling, but I was very much aware of the art here. Part of it is that being in the presence of such a concentration of terrific work is, indeed, reminiscent of when I visited the Art Institute of Chicago and just walked around with my jaw agape.
It's not like going to a specific show. It's the totality of the collection. When I say it's "awesome," I mean that it inspires awe.
Even the silly stuff, like this self-portrait R. Crumb did in response to a request, and then added a word or two. I'm leaving this larger than usual so you can click on it and read it all, although it is, after all, R.Crumb and so if you're easily offended, when, then you won't be much of a challenge for him.
But besides the richness of the collection, things are set up in such a way that even a non-artist like myself can see what is making the artist-visitors stare and drool and go all fan-boy. There is enough intelligent grouping of objects and sparse but perfectly adequate signage that you don't have to work very hard to learn quite a bit.
Now then, it would be a lot easier to take all this in over the next three days and then go home, decide what it all means and balance it out in my mind and then do a series of blogs with rising action and falling action and unity of time and pity and terror and all that good Aristotilian business, but that's not how we do things in the blogosphere, bucko, so there's your report on where I am and more or less what's going on here and you can come back for more over the next few days.
Meanwhile, here's Dan Thompson of Brevity and Rip Haywire, with Jeff Knurek of the Jumble, who is making a point to which Norm Feuti of Retail and Gil is giving some serious thought. Or not, because I had stopped listening and taken out the camera instead.
They might have been talking about the fact that the Jumble just did a week of guest artists, which was a lot of fun. Here's the contribution by Friend-of-the-Blog Hilary Price, and you can poke around back and forth to see the others as well. It was a fun little cross-promotion.
And I've seen several other friends of the blog, whose names I will drop along with photos as we go through the weekend, but I'm also hoping to have some thought-provoking insights, in addition to all the deep background I'm gathering which will become underpinnings for future posts.
For example, I showed Terri Libensen of Pajama Diaries the menurkey and she declared that she had to have one, and her husband declared that he didn't. Tune in tomorrow and see what other marriages I can destroy while I'm in town.