OSU professor and curator of “Drawing Blood: Comics and Medicine” loves the Billy, the Ogre, Saraga and more

Jared Gardner is a professor at Ohio State, where he teaches comics, film, American literature and directs the popular culture studies program. He has been a part of CXC since its founding, and he is thrilled for the chance to share the exhibit he curated at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum with everyone at this year’s festival. “Drawing Blood: Comics and Medicine” will be on display through Oct. 20. Here are a few things Gardner loves.

The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum
When I moved back to Cbus in 1999 I was feeling a bit uncertain about my future. I was at sea as to what I wanted to focus on next and overwhelmed by the scale of OSU after having spent much of my life in small schools as both a student and a professor. And then I found what would later be named the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum, and my life changed forever. Working with and learning from the remarkable women who run the greatest institution of its kind dedicated to comics and cartoon arts has opened up worlds for me as a teacher and a researcher — and also introduced me to awesome people here in the city and around the world.

The Laughing Ogre
After discovering the Billy Ireland 20 years ago, I stumbled into the Ogre. I knew I had catching up to do, having fallen behind in my comics reading while in grad school and starting at my first job (no comics studies in those days). Gib Bickel saw the hungry desperation in my eyes and started loading me up with recommendations, and he continues to help guide me today. I have watched the Ogre evolve in amazing ways to showcase the increasing diversity of comics and to serve the new readers who are coming to comics from all over.

The Blood Draw Lab at Martha Morehouse (and all my docs)
The Ogre is one of the two places in town where everybody knows my name. The other is the phlebotomy lab at Martha Morehouse. I have had a lot of medical challenges in the past dozen or so years, and I am so grateful for the remarkable caregivers I have encountered along the way, starting with the patient and generous folks who have taken gallons of my blood over the years.

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My students
It is all too easy to start losing hope in the future of, well, everything — especially when you are 53 and sorely tempted to just become the cranky old man you were born to be. However, this generation of students at OSU will not let me go gentle into my “get off my lawn” period. My blood boils when I hear folks talk about this generation as lazy or spoiled. In my experience they are the opposite of the stereotypes in every way, despite being handed a burning planet, an unsustainable and increasingly inhumane economy, and a government so morally bankrupt and cynical it makes comic book super villains blush.

Saraga International Marketplace
Of the many ways in which Cbus has changed for the better since I was born here in the mid-'60s (and especially in the 20 years since I moved back), No. 1 is the growing immigrant and refugee communities in the city that have brought much-needed cultural diversity. Immigrants and refugees bring new perspectives and skills, they create business and jobs, and they help keep an aging state like Ohio young and vibrant. And of course, they bring with them their amazing food traditions, all of which can be explored at Saraga. A trip through the aisles of the store is like traveling around the world without leaving the 614, and the Nepalese dumplings and Latin bakery make for a perfect meal and dessert you can enjoy on the spot.