Friday, April 12, 2024

Mid Century Cartoon Art from the Metropolitan Cook Book (1964)


Mid century modern cartoon art is alive and well in this 1964 edition of the Metropolitan Cook Book, which is copyright that year by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. Their home office in New York, NY had been there since 1868 and they had over 1,000 offices in the USA and Canada. This 66 page booklet was, I assume, a giveaway. 

It's worth noting that when the call went out for illustrations, it was met by an uncredited artist who was obliged to anthropomorphize all of the drawings of meat and vegetables in the darn thing. Salads, coffee, fish, vegetables, etc. are all very, very happy to be eaten. Ecstatic, even. Take a look below at most all of the drawings which I have laboriously scanned for your enjoyment. Do you like those three happy pieces of toast on the cover up there (middle, left)? Then you'll love the rest of these drawings. Are the yeast breads suggestive? How can those three mean little fish in their fishbowl laugh so heartily at the big fish on the platter? I don't know. I'm too busy smiling at these.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Trina Robbins 1938 - 2024


Pioneering cartoonist and comics historian Trina Robbins passed away in San Francisco on Wednesday. She was 84.

From the NY Times:

"Her death, in a hospital, was confirmed by her longtime partner, the superhero comics inker Steve Leialoha, who said she had recently suffered a stroke.

"In 1970, Ms. Robbins was one of the creators of It Ain’t Me Babe Comix, the first comic book made exclusively by women. In 1985, she was the first woman to draw Wonder Woman in her own comic after four decades of male hegemony. In 1994, she was a founder of Friends of Lulu, an advocacy group for female comic-book creators and readers.

"In the 1960s, before she devoted her life to comics and to the women who make them, Ms. Robbins was an accomplished clothes designer and seamstress who outfitted rock stars like Donovan and David Crosby. She became a notable figure in the hippie communities of New York City and San Francisco, and in Los Angeles caught the eye of Joni Mitchell.

"The first verse of Ms. Mitchell’s song 'Ladies of the Canyon' featured on her 1970 album of the same name, is a portrait of Ms. Robbins:

"Trina wears her wampum beads
"She fills her drawing book with line
"Sewing lace on widow’s weeds
"And filigree on leaf and vine."



She had a long career in comics, from The East Village Other to underground comix to DC Comics' Wonder Woman. She was an outspoken critic of the medium, and a respected historian.

Via Wikipedia:

"In addition to her comics work, Robbins was an author of nonfiction books on the history of women in cartooning. Her first book, co-written with Catherine Yronwode, was Women and the Comics, a history of female comic-strip and comic-book creators. Subsequent Robbins volumes on women in the comics industry include A Century of Women Cartoonists (Kitchen Sink, 1993), The Great Women Superheroes (Kitchen Sink, 1997), From Girls to Grrrlz: A History of Women’s Comics from Teens to Zines (Chronicle, 1999), and The Great Women Cartoonists (Watson-Guptill, 2001). More recent work includes Pretty In Ink, published by Fantagraphics in 2013, which covers the history of North American women in comics from Rose O'Neill's 1896 strip The Old Subscriber Calls to the present[when?]. Robbins was a co-founder of Friends of Lulu,[12] a nonprofit formed in 1994 to promote readership of comic books by women and the participation of women in the comic book industry. Robbins is featured in the feminist history film She's Beautiful When She's Angry.[13]"


She touched so many lives.


The Washington Post's Michael Cavna writes:


"Thinking about the pioneering spirit of the comics/comix trailblazer Trina Robbins, 85, who has just passed, according to her daughter on social media. 
"It was so special to help host Trina at the 2015 National Book Festival — and get some of her great insights beforehand (video here and article here). Once cited in song by Joni Mitchell, Trina did everything from drawing groundbreaking representation to spreading scholarship about women creators. What an amazing life and legacy. 💙"


I met her once, at a New York Big Apple Convention. Stan Goldberg introduced us and she asked me a number of questions about who I was and what I did. She was intense and interested. I found out that she was always this way. She contacted me in 2019 to criticize a book that I was requiring the college students in my History of Comics course. It was the Smithsonian Book of Comic Book Comics. "That Smithsonian book is no good. No female cartoonists are represented, Mike," she told me. I said that we would cover cartoonists from Tarpe Mills to Claire Bretécher to Shary Fleniken in the class. Trina was wary. I stopped using the book after that. I didn't want to be on her bad side. 



Trina Robbins meets Wonder Woman, illustrated by Ramona Fradon.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

I Want This 1955 Czech Caricature Book: "Sto let české karikatury" by A. Hoffmeister


If anyone ever wants to get me this 1955 book of Czech caricature drawings "STO LET CESKE KARICATURY" by A. Hoffmeister and published by Praha Statni nakladatelstvi krasne literatury -- I would be OK with that. 

Photos from an expired eBay auction.