In his 41 years of life, Sparkplug Comics publisher Dylan Williams worked tirelessly to bring more attention to independent cartoonists and pieces of comics history that, without him, would only have been minor footnotes.

So it's beyond fitting that Ohio State University's new collection of self-published and small-press comics at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum is named for him.Williams was a student of writer/editor Bill Blackbeard, whose San Francisco Academy of Comic Art Collection is also housed at the Ireland Library and Museum. A cartoonist himself, Williams' work included the titles Horse, Reporter and Crime Clinic. In 2002, he started Sparkplug to spotlight cartoonists whose work may not have been published elsewhere, such as Jason Shiga, Austin English, Tessa Brunton, Dave Kiersh, and Elijah Brubaker.

Williams was also a comics historian, and Sparkplug's output has reflected that interest, too. The publisher has released several volumes of the later works of Steve Ditko, and works from the likes of Alex Toth, Fred Guardineer, and Bernard Krigstein.

In the library's announcement of the new collection, OSU librarian Caitlin McGurk laid out nine guidelines intended to ensure the Dylan Williams Collection includes work that lives up to his name. Anything with a print run of more than 3,000 copies or printed before 1970 won't be eligible, and non-superhero works will take top priority. It'll mostly be self-published or small-press mini-comics, though graphic novels could be considered as well.

Williams died of complications from leukemia on September 10, 2011. A group of his family and friends is working to archive his work and some of the classic comics he loved at the Dylan Williams Reporter blog.

[Via Robot 6]

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