Man Saves Comics! Bill Blackbeard's Treasure of 20th Century Newspapers

Black and white photograph of Bill Blackbeard. Bald man with thick rimmed black glasses wearing a plaid shirt while smiling and holding a newspaper in his hands as he stands in front of a wall of bookshelves.
Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum
Sullivant Hall, Friends Gallery, Room 210B
1813 N. High Street
Columbus, OH 43210

November 12, 2022 - May 7, 2023
Exhibit Hours: 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM
CLOSED Mondays, OPEN Tuesday-Sunday 1:00-5:00pm
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Twenty-five years ago, six semi-trucks arrived at The Ohio State University. They contained the world’s most comprehensive collection of newspaper comic strips and cartoons, totaling 75 tons of material. Bill Blackbeard, a comics historian, and collector, had amassed this vast and unparalleled collection in his San Francisco home starting in 1967. Discarded by libraries in favor of microfilm, these invaluable historical documents provide a unique view of popular culture at the start of the 20th century, when illustrated newspaper pages and comic strips were at the heart of visual culture and communication. Blackbeard’s heroic efforts to rescue and preserve this material are celebrated in this exhibition, as well as an exploration of the process for printing turn-of-the-century newspapers. Alongside an immersive display of richly colorful Sunday pages are highlights from the sections of a newspaper itself, from Winsor McCay’s editorial cartoons to Nell Brinkley’s lush women’s pages, to Rube Goldberg’s cartoon coverage of sporting events. Obscure and forgotten cartoonists are celebrated alongside the canon works of comic strip culture. The exhibit also features subsets of Blackbeard’s collecting vision, including penny dreadfuls, science fiction fanzines, pulp magazines such as Weird Tales, dime novels, illustrated story papers, and more. 

Curated by Ann Lennon and Caitlin McGurk 

Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum Exhibits Exhibits

Photo of Caitlin McGurk Caitlin McGurk
Associate Professor

Photo of Ann Lennon Ann Lennon
SFACA Project Archives Associate