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Ohio State museum gets "Dick Tracy" collection

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 5, 2014

The official word: The family of the late Dick Tracy cartoonist Chester Gould has donated a substantial collection of originalDick Tracy comic strips and related materials to The Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum (BICLM). Gould wrote and drew Dick Tracy, one of the most popular and successful newspaper comic strips of all time, from 1931 until his retirement in 1977.

Chester Gould’s daughter, Jean Gould O’Connell, along with her son Tracy O’Connell and daughter Sue Sanders, made the decision to gift the Chester Gould Collection to Ohio State. The collection consists of more than 850 original Dick Tracy comic strips along with 64 original Sunday strips. Highlights include the original art for the first 30 days of the strip and Gould’s drawing board on which Dick Tracy was created, written and drawn for 46 years.

“As I got older, the time had come for me to make a decision about where to place my father’s work,” said Jean Gould O’Connell. “After traveling to Ohio State, my family and I were extremely impressed with the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum. I know my father would have been very proud to have his work in such a prestigious place.”

Added Tracy O’Connell, “The material left our family with emotion, but with the knowledge my grandfather’s work will be accessible to the public as he originally intended.” The Chester Gould Collection will be housed in BICLM’s secure, climate-controlled storage space, which is part of the new library and museum facility. The materials will be catalogued and made available to researchers in the coming months.

“We are truly honored that Mrs. O’Connell has entrusted the Gould family’s collection to us,” said BICLM’s Curator and Associate Professor Jenny E. Robb. “These works of art and unique historical materials will delight researchers, fans, and visitors, and will be preserved for future generations to enjoy.”

Ohio State Vice Provost and Director of Libraries Carol Pitts Diedrichs said the enormously popular strip is a welcome addition to the BICLM collection. “It is wonderful that such a noteworthy donation as this is being added to the largest collection of cartoon art and comics material in the world,” said Diedrichs. “As one of the treasures of the BICLM, the Gould Collection can be viewed and studied by students and scholars from around the world.”

The Comic Art Price Guide author Jerry Weist wrote about the significance of the Dick Tracy comic strip, saying, “Anchored by some of the strongest inking in the history of comic strip art, Gould created a timeless black and white world of good versus evil that still captivates the art-lover’s eye today – and his story pacing is impeccable, with some of the most suspenseful and gruesome sequences of any comic strip.”

“To think that my grandfather’s creation, Dick Tracy, will be enjoyed and shared by generations to come is most exciting,” said Sue Sanders. “It gives us comfort in knowing his work will be respected, treasured and beautifully cared for at the museum.”

The collection is currently being catalogued and will be on display in the near future. Visit our website at for updates.

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