Walking a block east from Ghirardelli Square on Beach Street in San Francisco, you’ll see the Pacific stretching to the horizon on your left — but don’t forget to look to your right. There, you’ll find a brick building with a gateway to imagination.
The Cartoon Art Museum celebrates comics and animation with exhibitions of established and emerging creators’ work and opportunities for future talents to practice their hand.
The museum, previously housed in the city’s Yerba Buena Gardens, closed in 2015 before reopening last October in the Fisherman’s Wharf area.
On a recent Saturday visit, one gallery’s walls were decked with “The Infinite Universe of Jim Starlin” (closes Sept. 4). This show features original cosmic comic art from the 1970s to the 21st century by the artist-writer who heavily influenced this year’s blockbuster film “Avengers: Infinity War.”
A back wall featured charming hand-drawn pages from Los Angeles-based graphic novelist Jen Wang’s 2018 book “The Prince and the Dressmaker.”
In the second gallery, “A Treasury of Animation” detailed the medium’s technological history, screened cartoons, and exhibited concept drawings, storyboards and cels from films and shows such as “Fantasia” and “The Simpsons.”
For budding artists, there were tables and supplies for drawing and coloring. At 11:30 a.m. on the first Saturday of each month, there is a cartooning session for children 7 to 12; at 2:30 p.m., there is a session for aspiring artists 13 to 17 years old.
The reading room, which was decorated with permanent collection pieces by Bill Watterson (“Calvin and Hobbes”), Lynn Johnston (“For Better or Worse”) and others, offered a stack of graphic novels to peruse.
In the gift shop, there was a smartly curated selection of books and art supplies.
Expect to spend about 75 minutes here; more, if drawing or reading.