Well if 2006 wasn’t already the Year of the Comics, a big show is opening today at the Library of Congress: “Cartoon America”:

“Cartoon America: Highlights from the Art Wood Collection of Cartoon and Caricatureâ€? will open at the Library of Congress on Thursday, Nov. 2, in the Great Hall of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. On view through Jan. 27, 2007, the exhibition is free and open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Saturday.

The exhibition will feature 100 masterworks of such celebrated artists as political cartoonists Thomas Nast, Rube Goldberg, Bill Mauldin and Patrick Oliphant; comic strip creators Winsor McCay, George Herriman, Chic Young, Milt Caniff, Charles Schulz and Lynn Johnston; humorous gag cartoonists Peter Arno and William Steig; caricaturists Al Hirschfeld and David Levine; animation drawings and cels from Walt Disney Productions and Hanna-Barbera; and illustrations by Edwin A. Abbey, John Held and Michael Hague.

Drawings selected for the exhibition reflect the primary collecting interests of J. Arthur Wood Jr., a connoisseur of popular graphic art. Wood’s collection of more than 36,000 original cartoon drawings * the Art Wood Collection of Cartoon and Caricature * is now housed in the Library’s Prints and Photographs Division. The collection came to the Library in 2003 through a gift-purchase agreement made possible in part by a generous contribution from H. Fred Krimendahl II, a member of the Library’s Madison Council, and the generosity of Wood himself.

The collection, spanning three centuries, is distinctive and unparalleled because of the depth of holdings in political cartoons and comic strips and the specific landmark pieces in all major genres. It stands out as a jewel among the Library’s special collections, illuminating the history of American cartoon art forms and greatly enhancing the Library’s extensive holdings of cartoon art.

More info, including a listing of some of the items on display, in the link. Abrams has put out the catalog of the exhibit–something else well wroth checking out.