Canadian cartoonist Ho Che Anderson has donated his original art for his graphic novel King to Ohio State University’s Billy Ireland Cartoon Library. While Canadian universities also have comic special collections, since this graphic novel covers American Civil Rights Icon Martin Luthor King Jr’s story then it is fitting to be donated to an American collection. The preservation of original comic art is just as important as preserving other art forms and it is great to see creators supporting this while they are still around. House fire or flooding could destroy important art if still being stored by the creator so institutions are safer in the long term. But creators may still need originals for re-publishing needs or may decide to sell them so it is a difficult decision for creators on how to part with their work.

You can read our feature interview with Ho Che in issue 7 of Sequential Magazine

Here is the announcement by the library:

COLUMBUS – Cartoonist Ho Che Anderson has donated all of the original art, paintings and manuscript material from his graphic novel King: A Comics Biography Of Martin Luther King, Jr. to The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum.

King is a raw, energetic and compelling graphic narrative that chronicles the complex life and tragic death of the celebrated Civil Rights leader and icon. Anderson spent more than 10 years researching and producing King, which was originally published by Fantagraphics in three volumes released in 1993, 2002 and 2003. This donation contains the script drafts, notebooks, preliminary sketches, press clippings and publisher correspondence that culminated in this renowned work.

Anderson was born in London, and resides in Toronto, Canada. About the donation he said, “King being an American story, I liked the idea of donating to an American archive, even though I’m a Canadian. I reached out to Billy Ireland and was relieved when they expressed enthusiasm for taking the collection off my hands. Later, I got the opportunity to visit the museum in person and knew immediately I’d made the right choice.” Anderson was a special guest at the annual Cartoon Crossroads Columbus (CXC) festival in 2019.

Other works by Ho Che Anderson include GodheadWise Son and the White WolfScream QueenI Want to Be Your Dog and Sand and Fury. His publisher at Fantagraphics, Gary Groth, said, “Working with and publishing Ho Che Anderson has been one of the most rewarding associations of my life in comics, personally and professionally. Ho has always tackled his creative work with a ferocious passion and integrity and a restless formal and stylistic experimentation. I reflect with great pride on publishing Ho throughout his career from his earliest work, such as King and Black Dogs through his current project Godhead.”

“Works like King,” Jenny Robb, curator of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum said, “give us a fresh and vivid perspective on historic events, bringing them to life in a way that is both powerful and challenging for the reader. Anderson’s work shows how comics could be successfully utilized to present a complex, critical, yet compassionate biography of a major cultural figure. We are so honored to be entrusted with preserving this essential work. The inclusion of Anderson’s manuscript materials is a gift to researchers that will surely be utilized for years to come.”

Anderson added “I’m thrilled by the idea […] that a cartoonist’s work can be preserved until the sun goes supernova and offer the succeeding generations a means of education, inspiration and the thrill of viewing original comic book art.”

To learn more about the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum and view the collections, visit cartoons.osu.edu.