Friday, October 02, 2015

You're 65, Charlie Brown!

The syndicate sales pitch for PEANUTS was that the strip was simple-looking (able to withstand shrinking and still be legible). It was also stackable. In other words, the layout person at the newspaper could run it as a strip, a tall column, or stack it, like the above.

Form aside, today it's the 65th anniversary of PEANUTS newspaper debut. The first strip is above. A strip that is perhaps the most famous comic strip ever. It's all due to its creator, Charles Schulz, and his ability to draw warmth and humor from life. But you don't need me to say that. You already know.

Happy birthday, Charlie Brown!

Thursday, October 01, 2015

"Who reads cartoons in newspapers these days?" NESCAFÉ Cartoonist Fired

In this Nescafe India commercial, a young cartoonist is fired from the newspaper where he works because, "Who reads cartoons in newspapers these days?"

So, the cartoonist loses his job and goes home. When he gets there, he drinks his instant coffee and gets ideas for more cartoons.

This is a fairy tale of a commercial, telling us that ideas can come from Nescafe and that putting your work out there for free can result in lots of "views" and "likes."

Does Nescafe understand that the Internet does not pay?


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

THIS IS THE LIFE! by Walt McDougall

Above: "Old Mr. Profanity Makes a New Year's Resolution" by Walt McDougall (1903), nicked from the Billy Ireland blog. 

Cartoonist Walt McDougall (1858 - 1938) "practically invented [comic strips] in the 1890s" according to comic strip historian Allan Holtz. He worked at the magazines like Puck and Harper's Weekly, as well as the New York Graphic and then he New York World. When the very first comic strip was ever published in color, it was drawn by McDougall. There was a time when he was drawing six comis strips a week. He may be best known for a newspaper comic strip of L. Frank Baum's "Queer Visitors from the Marvelous Land of Oz" which was reprinted by Sunday Press Books. 

Here's Mr. Holtz:

"It has long been my belief that the most important and interesting cartoonist memoir ever published is that of Walt McDougall. Titled 'THIS IS THE LIFE,' it was published in 1926 by Knopf, at a time when McDougall was struggling to find work in a profession that he had practically invented in the 1890s. Though the occasional touch of bitterness shows through in the book, as is to be expected, McDougall in the main does a wonderful job of giving readers an exciting and insightful look at the early years of the newspaper cartooning profession -- a profession in which he had a key role over and over again.

Allan has found THIS IS THE LIFE! online and is now indexing it, chapter by chapter, at his Stripper's Guide blog. So far, he has the preamble and part one of Chapter One. There are 330 pages, so it's a slow process. He is doing all of us a public service by showcasing this book on the seminal years of newspaper comics and the people who drew them. 

Above: “Familiar Sights of a Great City—No. 1 The Cop is Coming!” by Walt McDougall, New York Journal, Sunday, January 9, 1898.

My thanks to Mr. Holtz for this undertaking!

Video: Ben Katchor July 21, 2015

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Video: Jim Henson's Muppets in Wilkins Coffee Commercials 1957-1961

Early Muppet Commercials by Jim Henson

Stephan Pastis: 2015 National Book Festival

Michael Cavna interviews "Pearls Before Swine" cartoonist Stephan Pastis at the 2015 Library of Congress National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. This runs an hour and 11 minutes.

Monday, September 28, 2015


Here are some CARTOON CLASSICS FROM MEDICAL ECONOMICS. This is a hardcover collection of gag cartoons from the Medical Economics magazine, copyright 1963 by the Medical Economics Book Division, Inc. of Oradell, NJ.

Above: Jack Markow is the cartoonist and this is one of my favorite cartoons of his. This may be one of his most reprinted cartoons. Mr. Markow was a prolific gag cartoonist who wrote a series of "how to cartoon" books throughout the 1960s and 70s. Every cartoonist I know had one of Mr. Markow's books!

You know it's coming, but the gag is classic.

Look at that. An office without a computer. Or any files.

Joe Farris, the one and only. Those sly looks on the kids' and moms' faces have me feeling a little uncomfortable.

Above: Al Kaufman, one of the greats. This made me laugh out loud. What a gleeful look on that kid's face!

Sid Hoff using his dry brush on pebble board technique. A creaky gag, but an idea I still see published from time to time.

Tom Hudson with a sorry little kid.

I can't make out the signature, but I think maybe, probably it's Shirvanian. This is fun and probably a true life event!

KAZ, who is alive and well and living in Connecticut, with a racy one.

And the last one for now is this wordless gag by the late, great Charlie Rodriguez. It took me a couple of seconds to see what's going on ....

-- Edited from a blog entry that originally appeared March 11, 2009.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Saturday Evening Post, January 3, 1959

The first Saturday Evening Post of 1959 gives us an ice skating gag. "Artist Alajalov, who depicts the Wollman Rink in New York's Central Park (give or take a few details), could never make ice skates behave, but he was a whiz on roller skates," reveals an interior blurb.

So nice to see an actual gag on the cover; especially a racy Moms-I'd-Like-to-Double-Lutz sorta gag. Let's take a look at the interior gag cartoons.
Ted Key gives us a great gag. Bounce! Bounce! Bounce! Big Brother Boss is watching you!

Vahan Shirvanian sold to top markets like Reader's Digest all his productive life. This same year, 1959, he won the National Cartoonists Society Gag Cartoon Division Award.

It's New Year's and it's 1959. Drunks were fodder for humor back then. This was, after all, the era of Thirsty Thurston!

Al Johns gives us an Inuit (they used to be called "Eskimo") gag that is becoming less funny what with the ol' globe warming up and all.

Above: some things change, some don't.

Above: a wordless cartoon that still works. Although in-line skates are the way most go today, the design of the sleigh is unchanged.

Barney Tobey is a master of the inky wash. Look at those breezy lines!

Dahl shows, without using any words, that the only thing that you should not resist is temptation.

Are there still hurdy gurdy monkeys?

Around here, in the frozen Northern New England area, a lot of the pasty white teenagers go to tanning booths so as to look a Hollywoody, trendy toasty brown. I found the above cartoon by Gene Carr pretty relevant.

Chon Day gives us a great gag expertly depicted in simple line and wash.

And, of course, Ted Key's Hazel panel ends this issue.

-- Edited from a January 6, 2008 blog entry.

Thursday, September 24, 2015