In the waning days of February, Daniel Clowes stowed away in the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum to hand-assemble his forthcoming Eye of the Cartoonist exhibition. He spent hours eyeballing page after page of the classics that spur his creativity, like the inky, trippy “Dick Tracy” strips of the ’50s and ’60s. “I can just sit and hypnotically stare at a collection of old tearsheets from old papers—just get out a stack and stare at the patterns,” he says. “Nothing will get me more excited about splashing ink on paper. To see some of those in person was really quite something.”
Eye of the Cartoonist is a companion show to Clowes’ traveling career retrospective, Modern Cartoonist (also at the Wex May 17 to Aug. 3). The one-two punch was inspired by Jeff Smith’s 2008 Bone and Beyond exhibition, where visitors saw the artist’s work they knew and the influences they may not have. “It’s a totally different way to activate the Billy Ireland archives,” says Dave Filipi, curator and Wexner Center director of film/video.
Modern Cartoonist showcases nearly 100 pieces, spanning Clowes’ New Yorker covers to single-page ink and screentone sketches from “Wilson” and “Ghost World.” This rare glimpse at his signature aesthetic—a marriage of surreal illustration and purposeful narrative—is worth every penny of the $8 ticket price.
Finally, don’t miss Comic Future. (One ticket gets you into all three shows.) In covering more than 50 years of work across multiple media and artists, this show reminds us how contemporary art has depicted the future: dystopian, apocalyptic and, above all, abstract. wexarts.org