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Review: Toon time -- exhibit displays work done by or collected by local artists

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 12, 2009 -  Calling all cartoon nerds! (Of which I am one!) At the Edwardsville Arts Center, cartoonist-illustrator R.J. Shay has put together a dynamite exhibition of works by, and in the collections of, well-known local cartoonists.

Memorabilia from Shay's personal collection include Mad Magazine layouts and posters, plus original drawings by artists connected with Mad and Sick Magazine in the 1960s, including Jack Davis, Lank Leonard, and Don Martin.

The exhibition also features original works by locals Glenn McCoy, Gary McCoy, R.J. Matson (one of the Post-Dispatch's treasures), and Dan Martin, the current Post-Dispatch Weatherbird artist.

The massive collection allows for some serious study of stylistic developments and connections; it's particularly clear how much the contemporary artists have been influenced by that frenetic and inimitable 1960s drawing style characteristic of many Mad Magazine cartoons.

It's also great fun to see what else is in these artists' personal collections: drawings and signed cartoon strips by other famous cartoonists, and -- in Dan Martin's case -- vintage newspaper clippings, like the copy of "Jinx and the Weather Bird Family" from the Feb. 25, 1912, issue of the Post-Dispatch.

Also on view are original illustrations and books by children's illustrators Mary Engelbreit and Chris Sharp.

Ivy Cooper is an artist and professor of art history at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

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