My lady friend and I visited San Francisco earlier this month. I was excited to visit to Cartoon Museum to assist in some comic research I’m doing on the origins of underground Comix, which have deep roots in San Francisco.
Here’s text taken directly from their website:
Founded in 1984, the Cartoon Art Museum has something for everyone—from comic strips, comic books and anime to political cartoons, graphic novels and underground comix. People of all ages can view original cartoon art at exhibitions and screenings, produce their own comics and animation at classes and workshops, research deeply into our collection and library, and mix and mingle with professional and aspiring cartoonists. This unique institution houses approximately 7,000 original pieces in our permanent collection and attracts more than 30,000 visitors annually.https://www.cartoonart.org/about
I wrote to them about a week ahead of time, asking if there was an optimal day to visit, and if there is a docent or someone from their collections that could help.
I never received a response.
What I found when I visited is not a museum at all, but a medium sized gallery. There is no collection on site, and no one with any knowledge of comix history. It was disappointing, as I had hoped to “research deeply into [the] collection and library, and mix and mingle with professional and aspiring cartoonists,” as indicated by their site.
The gallery had a collection of cartoony distorted portraits by John Kascht and some panels from EC Comics’ horror books. That’s it. After reading through the information panels EC comics, there is no scholarly insight about EC’s books or artists. All the information is already available on WikiPedia.
Below, on the comic rack, are printer copied covers of some EC titles, but not a real comic in sight. It’s a pretty appropriate metaphor for the “museum,” too. Looks good from a distance, but there’s no substance up close.
Friends, it’s not worth the $10 entrance fee.
Over a month after I emailed the cartoon museum, I received a response indicating that “We might have some people we can put you in contact with.” Ah well.