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.
After consideration of the totality of comic art, the curriculum needs of the campus, the strengths of other U.S. libraries and the overall availability of comic art materials, it was decided the MU Libraries would endeavor to collect underground comic books, graphic novels, and published reprints of classic comic strips and cartoons. A core reference collection would be developed. Gifts of other types of comic art would be accepted based on their usefulness to library users.
Many significant materials received to date were donated by their creators, such as the V. T. Hamlin Papers Collection I featuring Alley Oop; and the Frank Stack Papers featuring Dorman's Doggie, The Adventures of Jesus, and Amazons (some of which were published under the pseudonym of Foolbert Sturgeon). The Mort Walker Collection featuring Beetle Bailey, Hi and Lois, etc. includes material originally donated by Mort and Betty Walker and has been added to with selected purchases and other donations.
The Comic Art Collection also holds donations from private collectors, such as the Allen C. Bluedorn Collection of Comic Books. The Edgar E. Martin Papers Collection I which includes the continuities Thomas Harris wrote for Edgar Martin's Boots and Her Buddies as well as other Boots materials were placed on deposit.
Special Collections' staff have continued to add material supplemented with private donations, creating the V. T. Hamlin Papers Collection II with additional Hamlin and Alley Oop material, and the Edgar E. Martin Papers Collection II expanding on the existing Boots and Her Buddies material.
The collection contains 926 pieces of original art, 108 syndicate proofs, 983 cataloged books and journals, and 2131 comic books (approximately half on microfilm). The manuscript materials in the collections are being arranged. Ask in Special Collections for more details.
All printed material in the collection is cataloged and available through MERLIN, the University's online catalog, with the collection level heading Comic Collection (University of Missouri--Columbia. Libraries). There a few comic books that do not have this heading. Inquire regarding exact availability of original art, comic books, photographs, sydicate proofs and manuscript material that accompanied the art collections. Photocopying is permitted subject to the condition of the material and copyright regulations.
Comic Art materials must be used in Special Collections' reading room during service hours or by appointment.