For Immediate Release: July 10, 2017

Erwin and Alfred Bergdoll Collection of Underground Comics and Original Art Donated to the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum

Details from left: Aline Kominsky, Mr. Bunch, 1976; Manuel “Spain” Rodriguez, Trashman, Agent of the 6th Internat’n’l, 196-?, Rory Hayes, Untitled, 197-?

COLUMBUS: The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum (BICLM) is pleased to announce the acquisition of the Alfred and Erwin Bergdoll Collection–approximately 1,370 underground comics, zines, and publications and over 1,000 pieces of original art, as well as correspondence, photographs, sketchbooks and other materials.

Alfred Bergdoll (192-?-1990) and Erwin Bergdoll (1934-2015) were brothers whose German-American family made their  fortune in the beer business. The brothers were skillful stock market investors who shared an interest in comics and art, and began their collection in the 1960s.

Included in this collection is original art by Aline Kominsky, Art Spiegelman, Justin Green, Kim Deitch, Rory Hayes, Jay Lynch and many others. Deitch first began selling his work to Erwin Bergdoll in 1972, after Erwin saw his work in an exhibit and contacted him.

The Fantastic Sancho of the Pampas, by Barbara “Willy” Mendes, 1969. Published by Gothic Blimp Works n.6, this original art includes three color separations for printing (each color is a separate sheet; the sheets are attached in layers).

“I didn’t meet Erwin right away but started selling him art work through the mail,” Deitch recalls. “At a certain point Alfred…got involved and I probably sold a lot more art to him over the years.”

In the introduction to his book Shadowland, Deitch describes Erwin as “a man who had the foresight to begin assembling a collection of underground comic original art almost from the earliest inception of that outlaw art form. Beyond that, he has always been on the lookout for other overlooked aspects of emerging contemporary art.”

With the help of the Bergdolls’ nephew, Craig Scott Taylor, Erwin and Alfred’s collections were transported to the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum after Erwin’s death.

“This is an underground collection beyond compare, and we are very honored to take over as its caretakers and promoters from the Bergdoll family,” said BICLM Curator Jenny Robb. “When added to our other underground-related collections, including those donated by Jay Lynch, Jay Kennedy and Scott Jonas, we believe we have gathered one of the most comprehensive collections of materials documenting the underground comics movement, from the 1960s on.”

Student Assistant Nick DaLonzo was especially drawn to a box of Kim Deitch’s sketches, in which the artist experiments with dozens of styles and layouts before creating a finished page.

Student Assistant Nick DaLonzo helped to catalog the Bergdoll Collection, and described the experience as “a journey through the ages of underground comics.” DaLonzo was especially drawn to a box of Deitch’s sketches, in which Deitch experiments with dozens of styles and layouts before creating a finished page.

“It was fascinating to see his process in these sketches,” DaLonzo said.

We are still in the process of cataloging the collection, but you can explore the art we’ve cataloged so far here. We will continue to add more records. NOTE: Some work in this collection contains explicit content.

Gregory Irons, Raw War Comics, 1970

About the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum:  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 these collections.  The BICLM recently moved into its newly-renovated 30,000 sq. ft. facility 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 p.m. to 5 p.m. The Museum is open Tuesday-Sunday from 1 – 5 p.m.  See for further information.

The Ohio State University Libraries

Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum
Contact: Amy Chalmers
Sullivant Hall
1813 N. High St
Columbus, OH 43210

614-292-0538 Phone
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