Richard A. Williams. Cover art for Cartoon America (Mount Rushmore with cartoon characters Charlie Brown, Ignatz Mouse, Zippy the Pinhead, and Popeye), 2006.  Acrylic on canvas.

James Arthur Wood, Jr., began collecting original cartoon art as a childhood hobby. In his teens, Wood honed his drawing skills by copying the styles and characters of his favorite cartoonists. He began writing letters to cartoonists requesting original artwork and in these letters included his own sketches inspired by their work. For many decades, cartoonists rewarded Wood with original drawings and became his lifelong friends.

During his professional life as an editorial cartoonist, Wood worked diligently to establish a museum or gallery to preserve and showcase his collection. He achieved his goal from 1995 to 1997 with the National Gallery of Caricature and Cartoon Art in downtown Washington, D.C. After it closed, he turned to the Library of Congress to preserve and present his collection to the American people and the world.

The Art Wood Collection of Cartoon and Caricature contains more than 36,000 original cartoon drawings and is a jewel among the Library's special collections, illuminating his astounding lifetime legacy of American creativity. The 102 drawings selected for the exhibition are stellar examples from this remarkable collection. These selections reflect Wood's primary collecting interests and strengths and the vitality of an innovative and evolving art form that includes political illustrations, gag cartoons, comic strips, illustrations, animation, and caricature.

Sara W. Duke and Martha H. Kennedy, Exhibition Co-Curators