Billy Ireland Cartoon Museum: More than Just Laughs
When I think about cartoons, I think about the Sunday paper.
That was the day the comics page ran in color, and before I was old enough to read, my dad would read me Family Circus and maybe Garfield.
As I got older, the “funnies,” as we called them, became a vital part of my morning routine. I never thought about the process these frames went through before they appeared on our kitchen table: the great thought and time; the character development, sketches, refinement and liberal use of correction fluid; or the soul-searching the cartoonist endured while pondering the perfect words or illustration to convey a point that would evoke a reaction stronger than a smile.
At the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum, I was allowed a glimpse into that process, and it was remarkable.
More than just a collection of Garfields and Beetle Baileys, the museum, located on the campus of Ohio State University, displays pieces from numerous stages of the editorial process, from a typed profile of the characters of Mother Goose and Grimm, for example (one of the featured exhibits, “What a Hoot! A Mike Peters Retrospective,” running through March 12) to original completed works.
The most evocative exhibit was “Windows on Death Row,” a striking collection of artwork by political cartoonists and inmates “designed to expand the conversation on capital punishment in the U.S.” (Note: Signage at the museum clearly states that the exhibit contains content that may be inappropriate for children; my husband and I perused it in shifts.)
(Above: 'Slammed [Woman on Death Row]' by Kevin Cooper, San Quentin State Prison)
To say it was thought-provoking would be an understatement, and I left in a much more contemplative state than I’d have thought possible after visiting a cartoon museum. Given the price of admission (free), it's an enriching way to spend an afternoon.