COLUMBUS, Ohio In comic book terms, it might be on the scale of a merger of the X-Men and the Justice League of America: two collections combining to form what's believed to be the world's largest treasury of cartoon art.
Ohio State University's Cartoon Research Library said it's acquiring and plans to display the collection of the International Museum of Cartoon Art, about 200,000 works that have been in limbo since the museum's last physical location closed six years ago.
The museum's original drawings for comic books, comic strips and animated cartoons, as well as display figures, toys, collectibles and films, will double the size of the library's cartoon art collection, said Lucy Shelton Caswell, the library's curator.
"This huge collection was in storage, where no one could see it or enjoy it. It seemed to us that we could offer another option," Caswell said Friday.
"It just seemed like a natural wedding," said Mort Walker, creator of the "Beetle Bailey" and "Hi and Lois" comic strips, who founded the cartoon museum in 1973. He said the combination with the Ohio State library came about through the museum's long association with Caswell, once a member of its board.
Pieces bound for Ohio State's main campus in Columbus include comic books featuring the X-Men and the rival "Justice League" superheroes, including Superman; thousands of original "Dick Tracy" and "Prince Valiant" drawings; original 1890s-era artwork for the early comic strip "Hogan's Alley"; and a story board done by Walt Disney for one of his first Mickey Mouse cartoons, "Plane Crazy," Walker said Friday from his studio in Stamford, Conn.
The museum was originally located in a mansion in Greenwich, Conn., then moved to nearby Rye Brook, N.Y., and then on to a facility built in Boca Raton, Fla. That shut down in 2002 when two major financial backers went bankrupt, said Walker, 84. A plan to relocate to New York City fell through in 2006.
Ohio State expects the collection to arrive early this summer and is looking for a larger space for its Cartoon Research Library, Caswell said.
"Right now, our gallery is in the library reading room. That's really not adequate," she said.
A new, expanded cartoon library will have one gallery named in honor of Mort Walker. The university hopes to have an announcement by late summer about plans for the facility and a possible opening date.
"We believe that it will be an international attraction once we get it in place," Caswell said, while declining to discuss the cost of the facility or where the money would come from.