Category: New Acquisitions (page 1 of 12)

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:


New Acquisition: Collection of Jackie Ormes and Black Press Materials Acquired

Torchy in Heartbeats by Jackie Ormes, Pittsburgh Courier, April 12,1952

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 27, 2023

Collection of Jackie Ormes and Black Press
Materials Acquired by Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum

COLUMBUS – The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum has acquired a collection of materials documenting the life of pioneering Black cartoonist Zelda “Jackie” Ormes as well as sections of Black press newspapers amassed by collector and biographer Nancy Goldstein. Ormes was the first Black woman cartoonist with a nationally-distributed comic strip in the United States.

The collection includes rare eight-page color comic sections from the Pittsburgh Courier that include Jackie Ormes’s adventure strip Torchy in Heartbeats, as well as other strips centered around Black life and characters. Of major significance in the collection is an original Patty-Jo doll produced by the Terri Lee Company in the late 1940s, based on Jackie Ormes’s single panel cartoon Patty-Jo ‘n’ Ginger which ran from 1945-1956. The Patty-Jo doll became the first African-American doll to have an extensive upscale wardrobe, in contrast to prior creations that adhered to racist stereotypes.

Goldstein collected these materials while conducting research for her seminal book, Jackie Ormes: The First African American Woman Cartoonist (University of Michigan Press, 2008). Goldstein noted: “the collection is significant because it brings hard-to-find materials relating to Jackie Ormes’s life and work together in one place.” Other materials include Ormes’s FBI file and dozens of folders of Goldstein’s research materials, documents, interviews, and ephemera relating to Ormes’s life and work. “Some of the items could suggest new avenues for researchers, teachers, students, writers, and cartoonists. For instance, details about Ormes’s work in fundraising for the Urban League, housing, or the March of Dimes could inspire more exploration into Black women’s social activism of the era. Other information found in these materials could be a jumping off point for an in-depth history—or historical fiction or even a stage play—based on the fashionable mixed-race Sutherland Hotel where the Ormeses lived.”

Jenny Robb, Head Curator of Comics and Cartoon art said of the collection, “We are so excited to acquire this essential collection of materials related to comics trailblazer Zelda “Jackie” Ormes. There is so much interest in the work of Ormes, and we know this material will be in high-demand by researchers, educators, publishers, students and fans. This collection compliments our substantial holdings of work by Sam Milai, Ollie Harrington, and other cartoonists of the Black Press newspapers.”

To learn more about the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum and view the collections, visit For press inquiries, contact

Pittsburgh Courier, August 4, 1951

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