Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Last year the Cartoon Research Library & Museum at OSU changed its name to the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum after a $7 million gift from a foundation run by Ireland's granddaughter. It is fitting, then, and timely, that they put on an exhibit of his work. To comic strip fans, he is known as the mentor of two of the great adventure strip artists, Noel Sickles and Milton Caniff. In Columbus, he was a beloved icon, best remembered for his full-page Sunday feature, "The Passing Show." Ireland was a cartoonist at the Columbus Dispatch from 1898 until 1935. When he died, it was the banner headline of the newspaper (also on display). The exhibit includes a generous helping (twenty or so) of "Passing Show" pages, as well as editorial cartoons and other artwork. Below are some panels that stood out for me:

Each week, "The Passing Show" was a multi-panel smorgasbord of Ireland's musings on life and the news of the day.

I just liked this old guys face. It reminds me of that type of turn-of-the-century (ca. 1900, not 2000) illustration popularized by Flagg and Gibson, or something you would see in Punch.

I like the way Ireland took the Great Seal of the State of Ohio and created a three-dimensional, active tableau, modified for the needs of the War.

Buckeye fans should appreciate this, the horseshoe-shaped Ohio Stadium being forged by a blacksmith. Ireland was an obvious booster for funding the stadium construction in the early '20s.

Ireland gives us some comics history by depicting the origin of the word balloon. Scott McCloud take note!

According to the placard displayed next to this page, Ireland's continual ridiculing of the KKK weakened them in Columbus.

To anyone who thinks cartoons cannot be works of art, I give you this panel as a rebuttal.

I've only scratched the surface here, so check it out for yourself! "Ireland of the Dispatch" runs until January 2, 2011. It is a free exhibit in the Thompson Library Gallery on the OSU campus. The library does have weekend hours. Read more about the exhibit here. See these guys below? Maybe let them into your art exhibit, but don't let them into your house!

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