Kevin Cooley

2020 winner, the lucy shelton caswell research award at osu

My current research project, Queer Beyond Here: Animated Sex and How to Get Used to It, won the 2020 Lucy Shelton Caswell Research Award from the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library at Ohio State University for its first chapter, "Bugs and Solly Say Hello." My work dives deep into the life and comic art of the nearly forgotten cartoonist, George O. Frink, who died in obscurity in a mental institution in Chicago, and who, as my work builds a wealth of evidence toward,  may have not only been the first gay American cartoonist, but a massive influence on cartooning to come. 


For more information about this project, check out Ohio State University's official announcement here. 

My research funded by the Lucy Shelton Caswell Award will see me spending two weeks over the summer of 2020 in the Billy Ireland Library, reading deep into Frink's comic strips, as well as those of his contemporaries in the early Chicago Newspaper Cartoon scene.


My investigation into Frink, however, hits the road as well as the books. During a January 2020 investigative trip to Chicago and Elgin, IL, my colleague, Alyssa Dewees, and I visited the Elgin State Hospital (the site of Frink's death), the remnants of his residences across the Chicago area, and the site of Frink's burial, which had been lost altogether before our investigation.