Comic Art and Popular Culture


Cover of Zap Comix #1 ©1967, R. Crumb.

The Comic Art Collection has particular strength in underground comic books, graphic novels, and published reprints of classic comic strips and cartoons. Special Collections also maintains a core reference collection on comics, including price guides, encyclopedias, and scholarly publications.

The collection contains 1000 pieces of original art, 100+ syndicate proofs, over 30 cubic feet of manuscript materials, hundreds of clippings, and over 4,000 catalogued comic books, journals, and monographs.

How to Use the Collection

The collection is available to all users in the Special Collections Reading Room (room 401) during regular hours. Some of the materials can be checked out, but the majority do not circulate. Users are encouraged to contact staff regarding availability of the manuscript and art collections; however, no advance notice is required for use. Photocopies and scans are permitted subject to the condition of the material and copyright regulations.

search-graphicMany of the comic monographs and serials are in the MERLIN library catalog.  Finding aids for individual collections are linked on this website.  Advice on using MERLIN to search Special Collections can be found here.

History and Provenance of the Collection

Representatives from the Department of Art, the Journalism Library, and Ellis Library met in 1988-89 to discuss the creation of a comic art collection. The committee decided on the parameters of the collection, discussed gift strategies, and sought funding.

A collection of 257 underground comic books given by library staff member Alan Jones became the nucleus of the collection. The John Tinney McCutcheon Collection of original editorial cartoons from the Chicago Tribune and Cosmopolitan, given to the Libraries in 1955, also became a part of the collection.

Many significant materials received to date were donated by their creators, such as the V. T. Hamlin Papers Collection I and the Frank Stack Papers.  The Mort Walker Collection includes material originally donated by Mort and Betty Walker.  It has been added to with selected purchases and other donations. The Edgar E. Martin Papers Collection I was placed on deposit.

Special Collections staff have continued to add material to the collections, supplemented with private donations.

Finding Aids for Comic Art and Popular Culture