Category Archives: Comics and Cartoons

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