Some of the Best Comic Art in the World, from the Library of CongressS

Want to see some great comic book art for free? Want a cheap date? If you are in the Washington, D.C. area between now and March, the Library of Congress will be holding an exhibition of comic book art entitled Timely and Timeless, showing off some of the best of the library's 128,000 pieces of comic artwork.

Check out a preview of the exhibition right here!

The Library of Congress' Vast Comic Art and Animation Art Collection
The Library of Congress has an extensive comic book art collection, including Steve Ditko's original art from Amazing Fantasy #15, the first appearance of Spider-Man, with a page from this story being a key part of the exhibition. The 11 pages that make up the origin story of one of the classic characters of the 20th Century and beyond were recently donated by an anonymous donor to the Library of Congress. Rumors of the anonymous donor's identity have run the gamut from Steve Ditko himself, known for his disregard for his own original art (one urban legend has Ditko using a piece of vintage art as a cutting board) to Marie Severin, one of Marvel's only female artists for over twenty years. Comic art aficionados have speculated that should this art have come on the market, it would have sold for several million dollars. Regardless of the identity of the donor, the art is now in the holdings of the Library of Congress, and secure for generations to come.

Come See Your Art!
The Library of Congress is not just there to serve Congress – it is your library, funded by tax-payer dollars. If you're ever in town and would like to see something not on exhibition, you can make an appointment and receive a private showing in the archives. You also get a pretty cool Library of Congress ID card for free too. The gallery that follows shows a sample of the cartoon and comic book art on display during the Library of Congress' Timely and Timeless exhibit, which will run through March 10, 2012 at the Graphic Arts Galleries in addition to other art in the collection of the Library of Congress.

Images courtesy of Marvel Comics, Disney, King Features Syndicate, the Estate of Charles Schulz, and their respective artists.

Some of the Best Comic Art in the World, from the Library of CongressS

The opening splash to part two of Amazing Fantasy #15, with pen and ink art by Steve Ditko in this page from the first appearance of Spider-Man. This piece is on display in the Timely and Timeless exhibition.

Some of the Best Comic Art in the World, from the Library of CongressS

One of the many comic strips in the exhibition, this Zippy the Pinhead strip by Bill Griffith shows that highs and lows that can come with discovering a stash of old comics.

Some of the Best Comic Art in the World, from the Library of CongressS

A piece of Pulitzer Prize winning political cartoonist Ann Telnae's 2003 work that is displayed in the Timely and Timeless exhibition.

Some of the Best Comic Art in the World, from the Library of CongressS

A double page spread from Flood! A Novel in Pictures by Eric Drooker.

Some of the Best Comic Art in the World, from the Library of CongressS

A Boondocks strip by Aaron MacGruder, with other strips by MacGruder featured in the exhibition.

Some of the Best Comic Art in the World, from the Library of CongressS

Will Eisner, comic book artist and New York native best known for the creation of The Spirit, depicting his view of the aftermath of 9/11.

Some of the Best Comic Art in the World, from the Library of CongressS

The printed cover to Dynamic Comics #9, by Mac Raboy, with the pen and ink original being on display during the Timely and Timeless exhibition.

Some of the Best Comic Art in the World, from the Library of CongressS

One of the oldest pieces in the exhibition, Emotions Parisiennes. L'or est une chimère-pour ceux qui n'ont pas le sou, by French painter Honoré Daumier was created in 1839.

Some of the Best Comic Art in the World, from the Library of CongressS

A 1963 Peanuts Sunday strip by Charles Schulz and held by the library, showing a typical lunch hour for Charlie Brown.

Some of the Best Comic Art in the World, from the Library of CongressS

A Milton Caniff Terry and the Pirates strip from 1943 that is within the holdings of the Library of Congress and previously shown in the Laughs! Tears! Thrills!: Comic Strips exhibition.

Some of the Best Comic Art in the World, from the Library of CongressS

A 1906 Dream of the Rarebit Fiend strip by Winsor McCay that was donated to the Library of Congress.

Some of the Best Comic Art in the World, from the Library of CongressS

A Windsor McCay line drawing from the cartoon Gertie the Dinosaur in the library's holdings.

Some of the Best Comic Art in the World, from the Library of CongressS

A watercolor from 1940 created for Disney's Dumbo the Elephant, on the premises at the Library of Congress.

Some of the Best Comic Art in the World, from the Library of CongressS

Gustaf Tenggren's depicting of the Seven Dwarfs, made for Disney in 1937.

Some of the Best Comic Art in the World, from the Library of CongressS

A pastel drawing by Tyrus Wong created in 1942 for Disney and held by the library depicting the appearance of The Great Prince, Bambi's father, after the death of Bambi's mother.

Some of the Best Comic Art in the World, from the Library of CongressS

The opening page of Amazing Fantasy #15 by Steve Ditko, giving the world the first glimpse of Peter Parker. In the Library of Congress holdings.

Some of the Best Comic Art in the World, from the Library of CongressS

Peter Parker in bit by a radioactive spider on this, Ditko's third page from Amazing Fantasy #15, held at the Library of Congress. On the middle right margin of the page is an erased note (more than likely from Stan Lee) that says, in regards to the bottom right panel, "Steve, don't make this a sedan. Do not imply wild, reckless driving." This would have been against the comics code authority guidelines at the time.

Some of the Best Comic Art in the World, from the Library of CongressS

Peter Parker creates his web-shooters in this page from Amazing Fantasy #15 in the Library of Congress' holdings.

Some of the Best Comic Art in the World, from the Library of CongressS

Spider-Man makes the fatal mistake that ends the life of Uncle Ben in this page from Amazing Fantasy #15. In the middle left margin of the page, the indentation of a note is present, but the pencils are erased. The indentation reads, "Steve - omit crook, show door slamming". Ditko obviously didn't follow editorial, as one can clearly see the crook smiling while the elevator doors close in panel three. Additionally, several facial features in panel four are not inked, and there is a penciled drawing of a policeman's face above the elevator keys in panel four that was not inked, suggesting the panel was heavily re-worked.

Some of the Best Comic Art in the World, from the Library of CongressS

Spider-Man tracks down Uncle Ben's killer in this page from the Library of Congress' holdings. Panel four distinctly shows pupils in Spider-man's eyes, an addition not present in the printed version. Also, at the bottom of the page in the blurb about the continuation of the story, Amazing Fantasy is written on top of white-out, possibly suggesting an alternate title (maybe Amazing Spider-Man?) was being mulled over at the time. Additionally, the notation, "have Steve lift it up" is present in the margin next to he bottom left panel, with pencil markings revealing that the bottom three panels were altered so that the next issue blurb could be constructed.