Category: Library News (page 1 of 44)

New exhibit! Depicting Mexico and Modernism: Gordo by Gus Arriola

(Columbus, OH) – The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum presents Depicting Mexico and Modernism, the first retrospective on the comic strip Gordo. On view Dec. 13, 2023–May 5, 2024, the exhibit celebrates the dazzling artistry of Mexican-American cartoonist Gustavo ‘Gus’ Arriola.

The syndicated strip ran from 1941 to 1985 and featured Gordo Salazar Lopez, a bean farmer turned tour guide, who introduced readers to Spanish words and Mexican culture. At first, the title character, Gordo Salazar Lopez, a bean farmer, was portrayed through Hollywood’s regrettable stereotype as a lazy Mexican. When Arriola realized he was perpetuating negative stereotypes, he shifted the character’s story, reimagining Gordo as a tour guide navigating a Mexican ‘colectivo’ (bus) called Halley’s Comet and focused instead on accurately portraying Mexican life and folklore. Arriola’s development as a modernist artist was influenced by his first trip to Mexico in the 1960s where he immersed himself in Mexican culture and modernist art. The exhibition invites visitors to trace his journey as an artist who used the comics page to celebrate and share his Mexican heritage with American readers.

Gordo was a successful newspaper comic strip during its run, but few people today are familiar with it,” said Jenny Robb, Head Curator of Comics and Cartoon Art at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum. “The strip is remarkable not only for the way it introduced American audiences to Mexican culture, but also because of Arriola’s inventive storytelling and design that was unlike anything else on the comics page. With this exhibition, we hope to introduce Arriola’s amazing work to new audiences while providing an in-depth retrospective that will also appeal to his many fans.”

Curated by Nhora Lucía Serrano, the exhibition consists of animation made by Bret Olsen and works on loan from Mark Burstein, Jim Guida, Lalo Alcaraz, Hector D. Cantú and from the collections of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum at The Ohio State University.

“Hailed as a virtuoso comic strip artist by Charles Schulz, Hank Ketchum, Mort Walker and Eldon Dedini, Gus Arriola was a gifted visual storyteller whose Gordo is a masterclass on how modernism and Mexican ‘artesanía’ influenced the comics medium,” said Nhora Lucía Serrano, exhibition curator. “Originally intended to be the Mexican Li’l AbnerGordo is also an early example of how the cartoonist and his character’s ethnic identity evolved and emerged in comic strips. Long overdue, this exhibition is the first retrospective on Gordo—a celebration and a testament to the impact that Gus Arriola has had on today’s Latinx’s cartoonists.”

This exhibit will be presented with labels in both English and Spanish languages.

Save the Date! Join us on Saturday, January 20 for a reception to celebrate the opening of this exhibition and a program featuring Lalo Alcaraz, Hector D. Cantú, Carlos Castellanos and Frederick Luis Aldama.


Gordo, by Gus Arriola, Sunday, June 18, 1950. Part of the San Francisco Academy of Comic Art Collection at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum. © Scripps Licensing, Inc.

Gordo, by Gus Arriola, Sunday, September 27, 1959. Part of the San Francisco Academy of Comic Art Collection at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum. © Scripps Licensing, Inc.

New Acquisition! Basil Wolverton Collection


Basil Wolverton Collection donated to
The Ohio State University
Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum

Photobooth images of young Basil Wolverton

COLUMBUS – Monte Wolverton has donated a significant collection of his cartoonist father Basil Wolverton’s archives, ephemera, and some original art to the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum.

Basil Wolverton (1909-1978) was best known for his contributions to Mad magazine and Timely Comics (the pre-cursor to Marvel Comics), and his characters Powerhouse Pepper and Spacehawk. Self-described as a “Producer of Preposterous Pictures of Peculiar People who Prowl this Perplexing Planet”, Wolverton’s idiosyncratic and frequently-grotesque style stood out among his peers, and gained him cult following among future generations of cartoonists. In 1946, Wolverton’s work was introduced to a national newspaper reading audience when he won a contest to depict “Lena The Hyena, the World’s Ugliest Woman” for Al Capp’s Li’l Abner comic strip (read more).

Cover of Mad Magazine no. 11 by Basil Wolverton, 1954

This collection, meticulously organized, preserved and donated by his family, contains roughs and page layouts for his comics, fan mail, personal and business correspondence, photographs, juvenilia, ephemera, newspaper articles and other publicity, and high-resolution negatives and copies of various pieces. Of particular note are Wolverton’s personal daily journals from 1923 to 1925 and 1941 to 1974, as well as a notebook containing short stories and sketches he created between ages nine and eleven.

“This collection offers a fascinating window into the comic book business in the 1930s through the early ‘50s,” said his son, Monte Wolverton, “with correspondence from editors (including Stan Lee) who were offering direction and advice. Such specifics may be less documented for other comic artists who were not working remotely as my father was on the West Coast.” Also among the correspondence are “rejection slips from nearly every major magazine in the United States from the 1940s and ‘50s”.

Wolverton’s unique sense of humor, hobbies, and perspective on the world are reflected in the collection. “It’s a rare delight to get this level of insight into the development, daily musings, and professional journey of a cartoonist,” said Caitlin McGurk, Curator of Comics and Cartoon Art, “Wolverton’s work is frequently requested by our patrons and researchers, and we’re so grateful to his family for entrusting us with the preservation of his legacy.”

“I consider the Billy Ireland to be to be the number one institution in the United States for the history of comic artists and cartoonists—designed to be accessible to scholars and researchers” said Monte Wolverton. “I have great confidence in head curator Jenny Robb and the highly professional staff!”

Patrons can access this collection by visiting the Lucy Shelton Caswell Reading Room. Please contact to set up an appointment. To learn more about the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum visit

Click to enlarge images below for a sampling of items from this collection:


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