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

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
614-292-9101 Fax

Original Art by Underground and Alternative Female Cartoonists Donated to the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum


Panel of Cat Girl by Lynda Barry, 1997


COLUMBUS: The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum is pleased to announce the acquisition of 113 pieces of original artwork by fifteen influential underground and alternative female cartoonists, donated by friend and longtime donor Scott Jonas.

Included in this collection is work by Mary Fleener, Phoebe Gloeckner, Roberta Gregory, Dame Darcy, Nina Paley, Lynda Barry, Dori Seda, Shary Flenniken, Carol Lay, Leslie Sternbergh Alexander, Caryn Leschen, Nicole Hollander, Dot Bucher, Lee Binswanger, and Donna Barr. The collection consists of original drawings, cover art, multi-page stories, and comic strips, all created between 1975 and 2007.

“We are very thankful to Scott Jonas, a comic collector with a great eye,” said curator Jenny Robb. “There is so much variety in this collection, but also a common theme. Each piece is an important contribution to the documentation of contemporary women creators in our collections, and in the context of alternative and underground comics.”

Mary Fleener, Party Scene, 1992

Of this collection, Jonas says, “I fell for Wimmen’s Comix on the rebound. During the 80’s and 90’s I had a committed relationship with Bloom County, The Far Side, and Calvin and Hobbes. But one by one my companions moved on, so I hit the zines looking for someone new. There I met Story Minute, Nina’s Adventures, Twisted Sisters and Wimmen’s Comix.

“I bought my first originals from Carol Lay’s Way Lay store, about fifteen years ago. That got me hooked. Beyond online galleries, it did take a little sleuthing to locate available artwork, and I was lucky to be in the right place to acquire Dori Seda’s amazing story Ecstasy. Thank you, Leslie Sternbergh Alexander, for making this possible.”

Previous donations by Scott Jonas include 27 original Doonesbury comic strips by Garry Trudeau, 33 pieces of original art by Bill Griffith (Zippy the Pinhead), and 36 original Bloom County comic strips by Berkeley Breathed.

A few years ago, Jonas decided that his collection of artwork belonged in a museum. “After visiting the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum in 2014 for the Bill Watterson & Richard Thompson exhibition, I knew that I had found the right place,” he recalls. “I’m grateful to the BICLM for having the world class facility and staff to archive this artwork.”

Phoebe Gloeckner, panel detail, 1998.

Other recent acquisitions of underground and alternative comics include the Jay Lynch Collection and the Erwin and Alfred Bergdoll Collection (announcement coming soon!), both of which include a substantial amount of original art.

“Jonas’ donation complements our other collections of underground and alternative artists, further establishing BICLM as a hub for researching these eras of work,” said associate curator Caitlin McGurk. “Since its arrival last week, we have already been approached by scholars, publications, and cartoonists who are excited to dive into this collection. We look forward to seeing how these pieces continue to impact research and scholarship.”

All art is available to view in our Reading Room; contact for more information.

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