Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Cartoon Research Library at Ohio State University

Here's a neat research goldmine for a dissertation or two: The Ohio State University Cartoon Research Library, the largest, most comprehensive academic research facility in the nation documenting American printed cartoon art (editorial cartoons, comic strips, comic books, graphic novels, sports cartoons, and magazine cartoons). A portion of the Library is searchable, in a well developed database though it isn't clear from the site what percentage of total holdings is represented. Nine methods of searching are available: Creator, Publication, Title, Date, Topic, Shown, Genre, Format, or a combination of criteria. Playing around with it I was less successful with topics (most I tried don't exist and there's no list to browse) than I was with "Shown" which is very cool. It provides a crude little content analysis of the visuals through a series of tags. I punched in "TV" and retrieved 239 records tagged "TV set." Here's the first record that came up:

Creator: Priggee, Milt, 1953-
Title: In the spring a young man's fancy..
Genre: editorial cartoon
Format: original art
Topic: USFL
Shown: Man, TV set, easy chair, beercan, cupid, bow, hearts, bee, flowers, butterflies, quiver, arrows, bird, grass, baseball cap
Publication: Dayton Journal Herald Date: 1983-03-07 Media1: ink Media2: white ink MediaSupport: paper
FindingNumber: MP 2 55
Size: 28x38cm
Notes: Numbered 62B
Credit: Milt Priggee Collection, The Ohio State University Cartoon Research Library.

Included in the Cartoon Research Library holdings is the San Francisco Academy of Comic Art, acquired by the CRL in 1998 and containing approximately 2.5 million items. It appears this part of the archive is separate, accessible through another finding, not the database.

Founded in 1977, the Library has just turned 30 and is getting some well-deserved press. "Under the direction of curator Lucy Shelton Caswell [the CRL] has amassed 2.5 million comic-strip clippings, about 250,000 original cartoons and 51,000 serial titles, including comic books. Its book titles number 34,000," describes Ann Fisher in a recent Columbus Dispatch article on the Library.

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