COLUMBUS, Ohio – In a 1970 Beetle Bailey comic, the character known as Sarge berates his uniformed dog, Otto, for a paperwork error.
“Think, Otto, think !!” said Serge.
“We can’t all be Snoopy,” replies a dejected Otto.
This confluence of two iconic comic book dogs is on display along with dozens of other images in the world’s largest comic book museum as part of a new presentation of the history of dogs in the world of comics. drawn.
“The Dog Show: Two Centuries of Canine Cartoons” at Ohio State University’s Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum runs through October.
The genesis of the exhibition came when the late Brad Anderson, the creator of Marmaduke, donated his collection in 2018, including 16,000 original Marmaduke cartoons from 1954 to 2010, other original works of art, business correspondence, fan mail and books. It started a conversation about probing the depths of the museum’s vast collection for dog-related images, according to museum coordinator Anne Drozd.
“There were so many comics, magazine cartoons and comics, and so many different examples that contained dogs,” Drozd said. “It seemed like a no-brainer to put it all together into a theme that so many people can relate to and love.”
There are plenty of scene-stealing cats in the cartoons, including Jim Davis’ Garfield and the stuffed tiger that comes to life in Bill Watterson’s “Calvin and Hobbes”.
But the dogs’ personalities make them a perfect fit for the comic book form, said exhibit curator Brian Walker.
“Dogs have this eagerness, they aim to please, so they make really good cartoon characters,” said Walker, cartoonist and comic book historian and son of Mort Walker, the creator of Beetle Bailey.
Although Otto first appeared in Beetle Bailey in 1956, he was a regular four-legged dog until around 1970, when Mort Walker anthropomorphized him, providing Otto with his own uniform and office, probably thanks to Snoopy’s influence in Charles Schutz’s Peanuts gang, Brian says Walker.
The oldest image in the exhibition is a reprint of British artist George Cruikshank’s illustration of the weather so bad it ‘rains cats and dogs’.
Over the years, the show includes well-known dogs like “Sandy” from Little Orphan Annie, “Daisy” from Blondie and “Dogbert” from Dilbert Strip by Scott Adams. The scruffy cartoon dogs from George Booth’s New Yorker magazine appear, along with images of alternative newspaper designer Lynda Barry, and Shary Flenniken’s “Trots and Bonnie” about a girl and her talking dog which appeared in “National Lampoon” from 1972 to 1990.
There are well-known characters like “Dog Man” from cartoonist Dave Pilkey’s book series, but also lesser-known pooches, including six tapes from a 1940s Dick Tracy series featuring the appearance of a boxer named “Mugg” that the famous sleuth has temporarily takes possession of.
The exhibit also includes a video featuring animated dogs such as Scooby-Doo, Huckleberry Hound, Underdog, Disney’s Pluto and Goofy, Slinky the Dog from the “Toy Story” movies and even Santa’s Little Helper from “The Simpsons”.
Brian Walker said his favorite image in the exhibit came from the classic Disney film “Lady and the Tramp,” showing the scene where dogs eat at an Italian restaurant.
“They both eat the same piece of spaghetti and their lips come together and they fall in love,” Walker said. “It doesn’t get any better than that.”