Today the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum announced its next exhibition, and it is a big get for YA fans as the work of bestselling cartoonist Raina Telgemeier will be given the spotlight in a retrospective beginning next month.

Entitled Facing Feelings: The Art of Raina Telgemeier, the exhibition curated by Anne Drozd will run from May 24 to November 5, 2023. Telgemeier herself will make a special appearance for a free public event and reception taking place Saturday, June 17. 

Telgemeier exhibition

The exhibition will act as a full retrospective of Telgemeier’s 20 year career, including items behind the scenes of her graphic novels, as well as earlier material. In addition it will showcase work by artists who influenced Telgemeier’s own work and style (some of the names listed by Billy Ireland include Keiji Nakazawa, Lynn Johnston, Bill Watterson, Lynda Barry, Jeff Smith, Charles Schulz, Ernie Bushmiller, Robb Armstrong, and Will Eisner). The exhibition will be comprised of a mix of material from the museum’s regular collection and from Telgemeier’s own archives.

In a press release, the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum outlined the theme of the exhibition:

“Emotions are complicated, nuanced and messy. In comics and cartoon art, the link between emotion and expression has become an important visual language, as facial expressions can give us a clue into a character’s internal world. Facing Feelings explores how Telgemeier’s comics combine impeccable pacing and an approachable cartoon style with real-life experiences to carefully balance challenging emotional journeys with warmth and affirmation. Her work focuses on feelings, and relationships to drive the plot forward, resonating strongly with readers of all ages.”

Raina Telgemeier is best known for her autobio YA graphic novel Smile (published by Scholastic’s Graphix imprint in 2010) – which began life as a webcomic – about a period in her childhood when she was forced to wear braces following an accident. It struck a chord with kids and adults and has remained a bestselling title. Many of her other original graphic novels, and Baby-Sitters Club adaptations have been major bestsellers. She has won multiple awards and is regarded by many as the queen of the kids market.

Raina Telgemeier says:

Facing Feelings offers exhibition visitors the chance to see what shapes a life in comics. Sharing art from my childhood, my early attempts at short story comics, and the thought process behind some of my favorite graphic novel pages, the exhibit connects the ‘Raina’ on the page with me, Raina: the cartoonist!”

The exhibition’s curator Anne Drozd adds:

“We’re thrilled to share the first major retrospective of Raina Telgemeier’s work with our communities by telling stories from her own youth — in an accessible manner, and with brave vulnerability —Telgemeier changed what comics for young audiences could be. Her graphic novels like Smile (2010) were read by adolescents who are now Ohio State students, and they remain beloved bestsellers for young people around the globe.”

The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum in Columbus, Ohio is the world’s largest repository of comics and cartoon art. It holds regular temporary exhibitions and it’s two current ones, The Art of the News – Comics Journalism and MAN SAVES COMICS! Bill Blackbeard’s Treasure of 20th Century Newspapers, close May 7.