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COLUMBUS — There is a place where Snoopy frolics carefree with the scandalous Yellow Kid, where Pogo the possum philosophizes alongside Calvin and Hobbes.
That doesn’t even begin to describe everything that’s going on behind the walls of the new Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum on the Ohio State University campus, opening to the public Saturday.
“This is the stuff that makes me drool,” said Jim Borgman, the Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist who now draws the “Zits” newspaper comic strip.
The whole thing started with Milton Caniff, the influential comic artist whose beloved “Terry and the Pirates” and “Steve Canyon” adventure strips lived in the nation’s funny papers for a half-century.
Mr. Caniff graduated from Ohio State and loved the place so much he wanted his original art and other papers to be kept there forever. He handed it all over to the university in 1977.
Along with library curator Lucy Shelton Caswell, Mr. Caniff then began urging his cartoonist friends to do the same.
Today, the museum collection includes more than 300,000 original strips from everybody who’s anybody in the newspaper comics world, plus 45,000 books, 29,000 comic books, and 2,400 boxes of manuscript material, fan mail, and other personal papers from artists. The university says it’s the largest collection of cartoon art and artifacts in the world.
The museum has originals from everyone from Richard Outcault — whose “Yellow Kid” in a 19th century comic strip spawned the term “yellow journalism” — to Charles Schulz (“Peanuts”), classic “Pogo” story lines from Walt Kelly, Garry Trudeau’s “Doonesbury,” Chester Gould’s “Dick Tracy,” early “Blondie” strips from Chic Young, and the entire collection of Jeff Smith, an Ohio State graduate who created the hugely popular “Bone” series of comic books.
It’s all been moved to a new 30,000-square-foot home in a high-profile corridor of the sprawling Columbus campus, into a space renamed for Mr. Ireland, the former editorial cartoonist for the Columbus Dispatch who was one of the pioneers of the art form.