Category Archives: Comics and Cartoons

New from RBML’s Archivists | August 2019

rows of archival boxes in a white room

Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

Head Archivist Kevin Schlottmann shares collections newly opened or updated by RBML’s Archivists.

New finding aids

Yehudah Joffe papers, 1893-1966, bulk 1920-1945
“The collection consists of Joffe’s correspondence, manuscripts/notes, and newspaper clippings. Joffe’s correspondence in Yiddish in English is both personal and professional, covering communication with institutions he was working at or hoping to work at. Joffe’s manuscripts contain drafts for lectures and notes on university seminars and lectures he attended under Prof. Roman Jakobson and others. Joffe’s newspaper clippings contain a selection of clippings relating to Prof. Peck, his undergraduate advisor, and miscellaneous clippings.

Agudath Israel Records, 1933-2008, bulk 1940-1947
” This collection consists of autograph signed letters, typed signed letters, postcards, telegrams, printed material, programs, newspaper clippings, and written public announcements pertaining to the Agudath Israel movement in America, Eretz Israel/Palestine, and Lithuania. Most materials are dated during the 1940s (wake of WWII). Most letters are addressed to Rabbi Aaron Ben Zion Shurin. The materials are mainly in Hebrew and English with some in Yiddish. Most materials concern the role of Orthodox Jewry in the wake of the Holocaust.”

Andrew Alpern Collection of Edward Gorey Materials
“A collection of original artwork, published books, printed ephemera, and branded merchandise by the writer and artist Edward Gorey (1925-2000), assembled by Andrew Alpern.”
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A Rare Hatless Herriman, with Scotties

George Herriman, creator of the newspaper strip “Krazy Kat,” is generally acknowledged as one of the true geniuses of the comics medium. The endless invention of his strip’s setting, Coconino County, combined with Krazy’s philosophical musings conveyed in a playfully creative language, led cultural critic Gilbert Seldes to devote a chapter to the strip in his book, The Seven Lively Arts, describing it as “the most amusing and fantastic and satisfactory work of art produced in America today.”

Yesterday, Jens Robinson presented us with this remarkable undated Herriman artifact, from the personal art collection of his father, Jerry Robinson:

Herriman sketch Continue reading

An oddity in the comics collections

A true treasure trove of a gift has been coming over the past few years from Jens Robinson, the son of illustrator and Golden Age comics artist Jerry Robinson. In addition to all of Jerry’s Playbill art, his strips, his book illustration, and other materials, Jens has been giving us Jerry’s library.

In preparation for his book The comics: an illustrated history of comic strip art, 1895-2010, Jerry collected a lot of comic strip history. One oddity is this long, slender, staple-bound publication (32 cm/13 in):

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A Classic Cartoonist, Hiding in Plain Sight

Sometimes, despite the best efforts of an impressive team of catalogers and processing archivists, an error can cause a work to become nearly invisible. Such was the case when a curator happened across a folder in our Art Collections flat-files, labeled “Eebster, H T.”:

An unusual name indeed! Closer inspection revealed a beautiful piece of original cartoon art by cartoonist H.T. Webster. The “W” in his signature, at lower right, is sideways, looking almost as if it were added by another hand, caused the cataloger to believe the signature read “Eebster.” Comics historian Rick Marschall, however, notes that that tilted capital was a Webster hallmark from his earliest days. Continue reading

What is this place? A short intro to RBML

That is the question we hear a lot at the beginning of the new academic year as students explore Butler Library and end up here, in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library, aka “The Pink Palace.”

pink castle design and acronym rbml

Is there difference between a “castle” and a “palace?”

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library (RBML) is Columbia’s principal repository for primary source collections.  The range of collections in the RBML spans more than 4,000 years and includes rare printed works, cylinder seals, cuneiform tablets, papyri, and Coptic ostraca; medieval and renaissance manuscripts; posters; art; comics & cartoons, and oral histories.

Forming the core of the collections: 500,000 printed books, 14 miles of manuscripts, personal papers, archives and records, and 10,000 (and counting) oral histories.

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RBML Acquires Underground Comix Artist S. Clay Wilson’s Archives

Columbia University’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library (RBML) has acquired the papers of artist S. Clay Wilson, a transgressive pioneer of underground comix, whose mark on creative movements extended from the Beats to punk.

Born and raised in Nebraska, Wilson lived briefly in New York in 1965, where he worked for the East Village Other. Fellow artist Robert Gustafson convinced him to head to San Francisco in 1968, where he drew for a number of underground publications before becoming known for his posters and comics. He would go on to become an icon of the counterculture, and a profound influence on his fellow underground artists, with R. Crumb going so far as to describe Wilson as the strongest and most original artist of their generation.

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A Companion to Rackham

illustration of a spriteOur current exhibition “Enchanted Vision” showcases some of the works from the Arthur Rackham Collection held here at the RBML. Rackham, a British illustrator, illustrated 50 major works beginning with Rip Van Winkle in 1905, Alice in Wonderland, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Winnie the Pooh, and other English and American classics. As a companion to this exhibition, the University Archives has put together some materials to highlight the Collection’s origin and history at Columbia. Continue reading