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The Friday Five: Kay Clopton


The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum recently acquired the Dan DeCarlo Collection, a group of works from the late Archie cartoonist. Kay Clopton, Mary P. Key Resident at University Libraries Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum, describes the collection and explains DeCarlo’s contributions to the world of Archie.

Tell me about the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum.

The Library & Museum is the world’s largest collection of cartoon- and comic-related materials. We have one permanent exhibit and space for two rotating exhibits. Our newest exhibits open April 20, 2019: Front Line: Editorial Cartoonists and the First Amendment and  Drawing Blood: Comics and Medicine. Our mission is to curate a comprehensive collection of American cartoon and cartoon art for academic and research purposes.

The Friday Five

The Museum recently announced the acquisition of the Dan DeCarlo Collection of Archie-related comics. Who was Dan DeCarlo and why is the collection significant?

Dan DeCarlo was an American comic artist who is credited with creating the arthouse style of Archie. Betty, Veronica, and the other Archie characters look the way they do because of DeCarlo. He was also instrumental in establishing the personalities of the characters. The works in our posession are comprised of materials from the 1980s and 1990s, with a couple of outliers. Items related to Betty & Veronica, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Josie and the Pussycats, and Cheryl Blossom are included in the collection. Some of the works represented are a collaboration between Dan DeCarlo and his twin sons, Dan Jr. and Jim. We’re fortunate that DeCarlo kept most of his work and his family took great care to preserve the items.

The Friday Five

Archie and his friends made their first comic book appearance in 1941. New generations are taking notice of Archie and creating new content based on the characters. What gives Archie a multi-generational appeal.

What helps with the appeal is that Archie is like a blank slate on which people can project themselves. New artists reinterpret the characters but their core personality and values remain and the love triangle continues. It’s something generations of people relate to.

The Friday Five

How can the public access the Dan DeCarlo Collection?

Come to our facility! We don’t circulate our collections to other museums, galleries, or libraries. The public is welcome to visit us to view our exhibits and take archive materials into our reading room. We hope to exhibit the Dan Decarlo Collection in the future but there are no plans at this time. 

The Friday Five

What other exhibits and collections are available at the Museum?

We have a significant Calvin and Hobbes collection that we currently hold for Bill Watterson. We also have the largest collection of manga outside of Japan and a number of items from Disney and The Simpsons. There’s a lot to view.

The Friday Five

Learn more about the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum on their website.

Five questions, one fascinating person (or team!) – look into the minds of movers and shakers in the nostalgia, game, play, or toy industry.