The Cartoon Museum is the only museum in Britain dedicated to collecting and displaying original British cartoons and comics. Over the last ten years, thanks mainly to the generosity of many artists and artists’ families, the Cartoon Museum’s collection of original comic artwork has grown. However there remains a number of significant gaps which are only bridged by loans from artists and private collectors. The Comic Creators project will enable the museum to purchase a large number original pieces of comic artwork for the Cartoon Museum collection and develop exhibitions, activities and events which will share Britain’s comic heritage with a wider public, not just in London but across the country.
Amongst the characters the museum is hoping to collect are Dennis the Menace, The Bash Street Kids, Desperate Dan, Ally Sloper, Belle of the Ballet, Dan Dare, Judge Dredd, Watchmen, The Four Marys, Lord Snooty, Roy of the Rovers, Captain Hurricane, The Fat Slags, Slaine, Gemma Bovery, Modesty Blaise, Doctor Who, Thunderbirds, Rupert, Marvelman, V for Vendetta and Tank Girl.
The success of the British Library’s recent comics exhibition Comics Unmasked highlighted the range and depth of Britain’s comic heritage. In recent years comic artwork has become increasingly collectable, not just in the UK but overseas. There are national campaigns to save Britain’s heritage in oil paintings, sculpture, ceramics and other media, meanwhile it is estimated that approximately 50% of comic artwork sold in the UK goes to overseas buyers perhaps never to return. This project attempts to preserve some of the most iconic characters from Britain’s comic heritage for present and future generations. The museum will be asking the public’s support to help raise £14,000 in match funding.
Though the Cartoon Museum is based in London it is working with partners across the UK including the Scottish Centre for Comic Studies in Dundee, D C Thomson & Co Ltd., Staffordshire University, the British Cartoon Archive – University of Kent, as well as the British Library and Victoria and Albert Museum. Every year there will be a number of comic-related exhibitions and displays and some of these will tour around the country. This has included the AHRC funded 2016 exhibition The British Graphic Novel.
The project will also provide funding for extra staff time to manage the project and help develop more family displays and activities. Another key aspect of the project will be local initiatives with local schools and charities such as Coram and Covent Garden Dragon Hall Trust who work with families, young people and intergenerational groups.
Fortunately, the Cartoon Museum has been awarded £164,300 for its Comic Creators project by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The project is part of HLF’s £5m funding package to a range of museums, libraries and archives across the UK. Under HLF’s Collecting Cultures programme, 23 organisations, from Glasgow down to Brighton, will be able to enhance the scope of their collections and the Cartoon Museum is one of them.
“This is excellent news for both the Cartoon Museum and the comics in general. Now that the medium is finally on its way to achieving widespread acceptance as a legitimate art form, this timely grant will help the museum play a much greater educational, artistic and cultural role as its ambassador, a role that is singularly lacking in the U.K., especially since the end of the British Library’s outstanding exhibition.”
Bryan Talbot, Comic Book Artist & Costa Award Winner
‘The Comic Creators project is a hugely exciting opportunity for the Cartoon Museum to work with comic artists, collectors, partners and most importantly comic lovers everywhere, to build a wonderful collection of original British comic artwork which will really put the museum on the map.’
Anita O’Brien, Curator of the Cartoon Museum
Check out the Comic Creators blog to keep up to date with the project - https://comiccreatorsuk.wordpress.com/