A lifetime of cuttings

It’s almost impossible to overstate the importance of Bill Blackbeard for the preservation of American newspaper comics. From a very early age until his death in 2011, Blackbeard devoted his life to curating full runs of daily and Sunday comics, amassing huge amounts of old newspapers from libraries and publishers to cut out the comics, and painstakingly arranging them in chronological order.

For specific seminal comics, his collection proved the only one to cover the complete run, and many of the reprint editions that have been published in the past decade were based on the strips he collected and later donated to Ohio State University, where they became part of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library.

In 2019 cartoonist (and Center for Cartoon Studies director) Alec Longstreth made a comic about Blackbeard, based on a paper by library curator Jenny E. Robb, documenting the gigantic life’s work of the man in a form that is only fitting. The comic is available in PDF form from the OSU Library’s website.

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