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New Zealand Cartoon and Comics Archive

July 24th, 2019 By Hannah Benbow
Ian and Diane Grant.
Ian and Diane Grant, with a caricature by Jeff Bell, commissioned to mark the occasion. Photo: Hannah Benbow

On 17 July the Library held an event acknowledging the hard work and contribution of the Guardians of the New Zealand Cartoon Archive, ably chaired by Archive founder Ian F Grant. Thanks to all of you who came along to help us celebrate and thank them.

At the celebration we announced that the Guardians are stepping down, after supporting the work of the Archive for the last 27 years.

Group portrait standing on the National Library Ground Floor.
Guardians of the New Zealand Cartoon Archive with staff of the Alexander Turnbull Library. L-R Margaret Calder, Rachel Macfarlane, Pauline Hannah, Dr Bob Brockie (seated), Curator Drawings Paintings and Prints, Dr Oliver Stead, Archive founder Ian F Grant, Research Librarian Cartoons and Comics, Hannah Benbow and Chief Librarian Chris Szekely. Photo: Mark Beatty

With this announcement, the Library has taken the opportunity to reconsider the scope of the collection in order to sustain and support future research into the art and the world of cartooning.

The Archive has been expanded to create a new New Zealand Cartoon and Comics Archive.

The scope of the new, expanded Archive will include:

  • Cartoons and comics addressing a wide range of social, cultural, and political perspectives. We will retain our commitment to editorial cartoons.
  • Cartoons and comics reflecting a wide range of art forms and styles.
  • Published comics in print, as ephemera, in zines, and online (using the web archiving capabilities we have in the Library).
  • Original artwork, both digital and analogue.
  • Manuscript material created by or relating to cartoon and comic artists.
Photo taken from the back of the audience with Paul Diamond standing behind a lecturn at the front of the room.
Curator Māori Paul Diamond opens proceedings. Photo: Mark Beatty

Alongside collecting, the Library intends to use the Archive to enable continued research support, professional development opportunities for artists, and public programming.

The Library is also considering establishing an advisory group of cartoonists and comics artists to support the initial phases of the Archive’s new direction.

This new scope enables the Library to build on the existing Archive, and the significant contribution that the Guardians of the Cartoon Archive, and the cartoonists, have made to the Library, the collection, and to scholarship in this area.

We believe we are well-positioned to expand the Archive. Indeed, comics are already a meaningful part of our published and unpublished collections. In expanding the scope of the Archive, we hope to further develop and promote these collections, and to provide a home for New Zealand’s rich comics history.

Shows Wal running down the rugby field with the ball tucked under his arm. The dog is sitting in his shorts and has stopped a member of the opposing team from tackling Wal.
Ball, Murray, Wal escaping a rugby tackle assisted by the Dog, published in The Evening Post. Ref: H-450-002
Jack Marshall, Minister of Justice and Attorney-General.
Jack Marshall, Minister of Justice and Attorney-General, with display of comics which allegedly corrupted youth, 1957. The Evening Post. Ref: EP/1957/2948-F
A comic strip of 10 cartoons, showing the alarming experiences of women migrants from Great Britain and Ireland to Sydney
W Newman, Female emigration! London, Oct 1 1834. A comic strip of 10 cartoons, showing the alarming experiences of women migrants from Great Britain and Ireland to Sydney. Ref: A-096-049
Six panel comic from Avis Acres.
Avis Acres, Adventures of Twink and Wink, the Star Babies – No.7. Auckland Star, 3 August 1945. Available on Papers Past
Scenes of children playing indoors and reading a comic at the Mataira family home in Stokes Valley, Lower Hutt, taken in 1964 by Ans Westra.
Ans Westra, (Children reading a comic), from photographs taken in the Mataira family home in Stokes Valley, 1964. Ref: AWM-0853-F
Collage of different comic covers all laid together on a table top.
A selection of comics by New Zealand artists. Clockwise from top left: Extra Ordinary comics volume one, Li Chen (2012); Three Words: An anthology of Aotearoa / NZ women’s comics, edited by Rae Joyce, Sarah Laing and Indira Neville (2016); 3 short comics, Giselle Clarkson; The droid you’re looking for, Toby Morris (1999); Modesty Blaise: the scarlet maiden, Peter O’Donnell and Neville Colvin (2009).

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