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February 20, 2017

Publisher Annie Koyama Makes Significant Contemporary Original Art Donation To The Billy Ireland


The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum announced earlier today that they have accepted Annie Koyama's donation of more than 250 pages of original artwork featuring contemporary American cartoonists. Koyama is the founder, owner and publisher of Koyama Press.

Koyama founded the alternative comics company in 2007 and quickly became home to an under-published, emerging generation of cartoonists that had spent their entire creative lifetime in the milieu of unfettered expression and mutable styles that had become a growing force in the medium following the 1960s underground generation.

In addition to her publishing slate, Koyama became known as a general patron of the cartoon arts, supporting and looking after both her cartoonists and those that worked the same general landscape. One way of doing this was buying original art.

As the press release puts it, from Koyama: "I started purchasing work from some of my favorite American cartoonist as a way to support and offer patronage to predominately up-and-coming artists. Over time, I built a collection of art that is as unique and diverse as the cartooning community from which it is derived. I am excited to see these artists finding recognition and representation in what I consider a vital resource: the BICLM." This resulted in her beginning to more actively curate this collection in 2013 for eventual donation.

Not only does Koyama's donation reflect a stellar line-up of artists like Eleanor Davis, Hellen Jo, Katie Skelly, Noah Van Sciver and Lisa Hanawalt (you can see a rare and beautiful-looking Tim Hensley page below), but the collection provides a snapshot of a generation that might be otherwise difficult to nail down through original art because of that art's value to the artist as a commodity. Many modern cartoonist during their long gestation period in mini-comics and the small press will sell a significant number of their original pages these days, into collections of three, four, a dozen original art pieces held by a variety of purchasers. Koyama's decision to first help out, then collect in focused fashion, represents a gift to present and future scholars hoping for one place to find a bunch of this material.

This also makes that art eligible for exhibitions at the museum. An exhibition featuring the Koyama Collection itself will run from May 6 to October 21 in 2018, and will be a major focus of that year's Cartoon Crossroads Columbus comics festival.

Everyone likes Annie Koyama, and this is yet another reason to join them. I wish for everyone that loves comics some sort of purposeful giving relationship to the art form. Comics has run for decades on almost hyper-intense individual experiences like collecting that it might be a little difficult for us to think in other ways. Once again, Annie Koyama gets there a little bit ahead of the rest of us. We should all follow her example.

posted 10:05 pm PST | Permalink

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