Fanboy Mecca: The Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco. OK, so, I’m a giant geek.

I got my ass up at 7am and drove out to Fremont BART to get up to MacWorld for the day’s opening. Using my free pass, I did a couple of laps, ogled a couple of Booth Bunnies and walked away, my pride and checking account intact. And, leaving the Moscone Center and heading out into the Windows Dominated world, I came across a beacon: The Cartoon Art Museum. I’ve seen it before, had met with a couple of their volunteers at WonderCon last year and am currently working with a former CAM employee. Even though I had known the name, even knew roughly where it was, I had never made plans to visit. And so, as I wandered lost trying to get from the Moscone Center to the Swiss Consulate, I stumbled upon it. It’s a small building, hardly recognizable from the other offices that line Mission Street. They have a couple of simple sandwich board signs out front, which tipped me off. As always, Luck was on my side. The Cartoon Art Museum is a place where every fanboy should make a pilgrimage once in their life, or even better, every time they change their exhibits. The museum is dedicated to the medium of cartoon art, from comic strips to editorial cartooning, animation to comic books. The museum is a warehouse of the beloved artform. Almost every square inch of wall is covered with various pieces of comic art, in all the various stages from sketch to proof to final product. It’s amazing to see earlier version of strips that I recognized and the early sketches where you could see the erasures from paths not taken. The Permanent Display (if such a thing can be said to exist in museums) featured examples of every style with an Eighteenth Century editorial cartoon being the highlight for me. They also displayed a great selection of Disney animation, which included drawings from Steamboat Willy. This alone made the visit worth it. But the rotating exhibits made it a must see. The largest of the rotating exhibits dealt with turning comics into movies titled Lights, Camera, ACTION!: From Printed Page to Silver Screen.. X-Men, The Hulk, Spawn, Blade, Spiderman, Hellboy, Daredevil, and Batman all got mentions, as I expected, but they go far beyond. They mention L’il Abner, Blondie, Bringing Up Father, the early Dick Tracy serials, and even Conan. They also don’t shy away from the true turkeys, as they feature Howard the Duck, Punisher, Popeye. The Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles and Brenda Star as if they were just as significant as From Hell and Superman. They feature the drawings, some stills from the films, and a few artifacts, including a life-sized Spawn, toys from the 1930s to the 1990s, and an awesome BatPlane prop. For me it was the American Splendor section, where they had a panel from Harvey Pekar’s comic and a few sketches. I was most impressed that they went that far with it. The other rotating exhibit was on outgoing San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown called Don’t Parade on My Reign. They had a couple of dozen editorial cartoons about the Frisco Fashionplate, some of which were brutal. I’ve always been a big fan of the Mayor,

but even the biting ones were great to see. The one that got me was called The Clothes Have No Emperor, which is a very Willie Brown sentiment. The Cartoon Art Museum also puts a spotlight on some Small Press Creators and Derek Kirk Kim, and artist who I had only heard of in a conversation at a con once, provided a few fantastic example of his wonderful work (which can also be seen at
www.smallstoriesonline.com.).

The other was an editorial cartoon exhibit called Too Hot To Handle: Creating Controversy Through Political , which was controversial editorial cartoons of the recent past. The section devoted to 9-11 was touching, hilarious, and hard-edged. Great stuff through and through. Make the trip. They are open Tuesday through Sunday, 11 to 5pm. Admission is 6 bucks for adults, 4 for students and old folks, 2 for six to twelve year olds. Anyone younger than that is free. It’s at 655 Mission Street, across from the California Historical Society. You can contact them at 415-CAR-TOON or at www.cartoonart.org.