Friday, January 23, 2015

Who Was Billy Ireland?

You may have heard of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum in Columbus, OH -- but who was Billy Ireland?

Lucy Caswell talks about Billy Ireland's art and impact while drawing "The Passing Parade" for the Columbus Post Dispatch. There are lots of great shots of Ireland's cartoons. Bob Hunter, the Sports Cartoonist for the Post Dispatch, talks as well. It runs about 4 minutes and was produced by Woodland Park Films. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Ted Rall: "The Gutting of Dayton: Why My City Is Gone"

Ted Rall tells a chilling, true story of his hometown, Dayton, in this terrific piece of graphic journalism called "The Gutting of Dayton: Why My City Is Gone" for A New Domain.


George DuPre was, for a time, famous. Then he was infamous.

Dupre came had an amazing story after WW II. He served in the Canadian-American Secret Service and

"performed great deeds of derring-do in Paris for the underground. He had been captured by the Nazis, but never talked although they tortured him for weeks. Finally he escaped and went back to Canada, where he was hailed as a great hero and raised fortunes for various Canadian funds by speaking in churches and government buildings and schools." -- from AT RANDOM, THE REMINISCENCES OF BENNETT CERF by Bennett Cerf

Wartime writer Quentin Reynolds went up to Canada, to write about this amazing young man for the Reader's Digest. He liked the guy a lot. He phoned his editor Bennett Cerf, telling him he thought there was enough material there for a book in addition to the Digest article. Bennett gave Reynolds the green light to write Dupre's story.

The book was called THE MAN WHO WOULDN'T TALK.

Here's Cerf again:

"The book got good reviews and was a substantial success.

"Then one night when we were having dinner up at Mount Kisco, I had a long-distance call. The editor of the Calgary Herald was on the phone. I said to Phyllis [Cerf's wife], 'What the dickens does the editor of the Calgary Herald want in my young life?' I soon found out! He said, 'I'm afraid I have some bad news for you, Mr. Cerf. Your Mr. DuPre has just collapsed and confessed that his entire story is a hoax. There isn't a word of truth in it. His adventures are things he read in various news stories and spy magazines. He spent the entire war in England and then in Canada and never got to France at all. The business of his being captured and tortured and the underground stuff was just his imagination. He couldn't stand the strain any longer, his conscience was bothering him. He is a nice little man and he didn't realize his deception was going to be blown up to these dimensions. He was just romancing a bit and suddenly found himself a national hero! We're printing the whole story tomorrow morning, and I thought I'd give you a little advance notice.'"

I was thinking about this situation when I heard about Alex Malarky. You know Alex Malarky, or at least you heard about him: he's the 6 year old boy who was in a coma for two months after a car crash and who then, fortunately, woke up. He was a quadriplegic, but he was alive. And Alex told his parents that he had just come back from heaven. Alex and his dad, Kevin Malarky, cowrote a best seller about it called THE BOY WHO CAME BACK FROM HEAVEN.

Tyndale House Publishers, a Christian book publisher was in the news this past week when it decided to pull the all copies of THE BOY WHO CAME BACK FROM HEAVEN from the stands when it was revealed that the book was a lie. (The Christian Post, among other sources, claim the family and publisher have known this was all made up for over a year.)

As young Alex, now a teenager, wrote on a blog:

"I did not die. I did not go to Heaven. I said I went to heaven because I thought it would get me attention. When I made the claims that I did, I had never read the Bible. People have profited from lies, and continue to. They should read the Bible, which is enough. The Bible is the only source of truth. Anything written by man cannot be infallible."

So, what does a publisher do when their nonfiction book suddenly becomes fiction?

Like all people who know history, we know that there is nothing new in the world. These things have happened before. In the case of that "nice little man" DuPre, who had lied and inadvertently showed up  the Reader's Digest and Quentin Reynolds and Bennett Cerf as total dupes, it was the same situation: what do you do?

Tyndale House and Random House handled it differently.

Here's how Bennett Cerf handled it when THE MAN WHO WOULDN'T TALK turned out to be a fake. He called the Digest publisher DeWitt Wallace on the phone later that same night:

"I said, 'Well, I've had a little time to think about it, and there's only one thing to do. Imagine this little Canadian country boy fooling the entire Canadian government, not to mention Reader's Digest, Quentin Reynolds and Random House! The only way we can get out of this is to laugh it off. I'm going to call a press conference tomorrow. I'm going to tell them exactly what happened, and I'm gong to say, 'Imagine this little man fooling all of us. Isn't it hilarious? We're gong to announce that this book isn't nonfiction, but fiction, and we're gong to change the name of it immediately from THE MAN WHO WOULDN'T TALK to THE MAN WHO WOULDN'T TALKED TOO MUCH.'' Wally [DeWit Wallace] was still worried, but he said, 'Let's see what happens.'

It worked like a charm. The press was delighted with the whole story and played it up, as I had hoped, as a harmless deception. Nobody was really hurt. The interesting thing is that the book sold about five times as well after the exposure and it did before.

"... It's another example of how you can laugh things off. If we had gone into a frenzy, we'd have made fools of ourselves. This way, everyone laughed with us. Quent laughed right along with us too, but he continued to say, 'He's a great guy, despite everything.'"

AT RANDOM, THE REMINISCENCES OF BENNETT CERF by Bennett Cerf is copyright 1977 Random House.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

BATMAN EVOLUTION Music Video by The Piano Guys

Today's must watch! This spans about 50 years of BATMAN TV and movie soundtrack music. Plus: you get three batmobiles. What's not to LOVE?!?!?!

Batman Evolution from ThePianoGuys on Vimeo.

MORE BOBBY SOX by Marty Links

Above: Marty Links circa 1954 from her bio page at Lambiek.

This is the second blog post about Ms. Links. The first one is here.

Some background:

Bobby Sox (later retitled Emmy Lou, after the bobby socks craze was moribund) was the creation of a female cartoonist, Marty Links, who passed away on June 1, 2008. The strip ran from 1944 to 1979.

"By the way, if you happen to be confused by the the given name of the cartoonist, you're not alone. So, apparently, was The National Cartoonists' Society, of which she was one of the first female members. Correspondence from the Society was addressed to 'Mr. Marty Links' even after she'd given birth to her first child. She offered to send them her bust size."

- from Don Markstein's Toonpedia

Here's a complete interview from CUNY TV's "Day at Night" series, dated May 8, 1974. She draws for us, as well as talks about her process of getting ideas. She also talks about "Sparky" Schulz, who she was close with.


Animator John Kricfalusi has posted a number of Bobby Sox single panel newspaper cartoons at his blog. Go and see!

Shaenon K. Garrity has a tribute to Bobby Sox's creator Marty Links here.

Hat tip to Journalista!

Photo of Marty Links at left from the Heritage Series site.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

BOBBY SOX by Marty Links

Marty Links drew the panel BOBBY SOX in a specific and graceful way from 1944 to 1979. In 1951, the strip changed its name to EMMY LOU, since the bobby sox fashion had gone the way of the previous generation's fur coat, straw hat and ukulele.

Here are a few samples of BOBBY SOX (subtitled THE LIFE AND TIMES OF EMMY LOU) from the Popular Library paperback collection. It's copyright 1954 and 1955 by Marty Links. She dedicates it, "To my own future teenagers: Alex, Elizabeth, Victoria."

Most of the gags are about concern Emmy Lou's obsessions for boys and shopping. Her boyfriend is Alvin, which is an on again, off again relationship.

Above: Link's simple use of black spotting draws our eye to look at Alvin, who has committed the sin of omission to poor gullible Emmy Lou.

Here's Don Markstein on Marty Links (born Martha Arguello in 1917):

"By the way, if you happen to be confused by the the given name of the cartoonist, you're not alone. So, apparently, was The National Cartoonists' Society, of which she was one of the first female members. Correspondence from the Society was addressed to 'Mr. Marty Links' even after she'd given birth to her first child. She offered to send them her bust size."

The thing to watch for, over and over, is the specificity of the clothes, the locations and the people. Just look at the awning in the above panel cartoon. It helps frame the picture, it tells us where we are, and Ms. Links adds that unique fringe to it. This all adds to the value of this unique world.

All of the kids in BOBBY SOX are lanky and energetic. Again: black spotting draws us to the speaker in the cartoon.

Another one of the cliches is the gulf of understanding between child and parent.

I liked seeing all that pen noodling to make the Christmas tree. Emmy Lou's parents do look a bit like her, but with a doughy addition of a few pounds.

The graceful folds in the drapery, the small candle on the table, with its specific holder -- all of these delicate touches add to the authenticity of place.

Above: another example of Links' mastery of composition and perspective. As you can see in the blow up of the above cartoon, there's a thin line around the left side of the picket fence and a thick line around the other. A subtle touch to get a feeling of depth that adds to the perspective.

In the MERCHANT OF DENNIS book, Hank Ketcham shows us his behind the scenes reference drawings of the interiors of the Mitchell and Wilson homes. These are specific of what the Mitchell doors look like, the Wilson's living room chairs, the kitchen, etc. I can't help but think that Marty Links must have done the same thing for BOBBY SOX.

When I bought this paperback collection, I didn't know what to expect. Sure, the jokes have not aged well, but the art is the opposite of the time-worn gags. There's a lot of skilled, knowledgeable drawing to admire in Ms. Links' cartoons.

-- Edited from an original blog entry of July 25, 2008

Monday, January 19, 2015

"Bungle Island" by Ed Nofziger

Above: the unsigned cover of DENNIS THE MENACE #119 drawn by one of Ketcham's assistants.

Smack dab in the middle of DENNIS THE MENACE #119 (March 1972 issue) is a 4 page feature titled "Bungle Island" by veteran cartoonist Ed Nofziger. If you ever wanted a cartoonist to draw an animal, it would be Nofziger.

Ed Nofziger worked in animation (UPA, Disney, Hanna Barbera) and gag cartoons (The New Yorker, Saturday Evening Post, among many others) and comic strips during his long career. He wrote scripts for Disney comics, but I had never heard of Bungle Island until I had purchased this Dennis the Menace some 39 years later from a long box at Jetpack Comics.

All I can find out about "Bungle" is that it was a sometime-feature in Fawcett comics from 1969 to 1975.

You can see the easy, breezy way that Nofziger draws all of these animals. It's so fun to look at. The animals are are presided over by King Bungle, a lion, complete with red cape and gold crown, and he has a green ape-like wizard advisor.

-- Above is an edited blog entry from May 18, 2011.

Friday, January 16, 2015

What Jacob Bronowski Said Fifty Years Ago

The Disney "Beachbot"

Conceived by Disney Research and working in partnership with a student team at ETH Z├╝rich, the Beachbot is a mobile robot that can turn an ordinary beach into an artist's canvas. Thanks to innovative balloon wheels, the robot is able to traverse sandy beaches without leaving any noticeable tracks. Drawing is achieved using a controllable rake at the rear of the robot, with individually controllable pins that can be raised.

Hat tip to Dave Russell.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

James Van Otto: "I Still Can't Believe It"

There are a lot of news articles about the terrorist attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices and even more op ed pieces and criticism and, of course, cartoons.

Here is French cartoonist James Van Otto with one of the more touching and personal true life comics, "I Still Can't Believe It." 

He talks about growing up with the influence of Cabu. on the cartoonists shot last week, and Charlie Hebdo's editorial slant.

True, unsparing and full of heart.

Documentary INSIDE STAR TREK (1988)

I never knew this existed.

Here are all of the corporate guys -- Herbert F. Solow, Robert Justman, Grant Ticker. All of the guys who either worked on the 1960s STAR TREK series or were there, somewhere at the network, Desilu or Paramount, when the show was being produced.

This is all based on STAR TREK: THE REAL STORY by Justman and Solow. Solow is the host. He was the executive in charge of production. He tells us that the actors have all had their say, but now here the REAL behind the scenes story.

Justman is the one to watch here. He was there for it all: the story conferences, the shooting, etc. He even chose the music for the shows. Some of this hour long documentary is fascinating, and some of it sounds very defensive.  For instance, they say that NBC supported the show but there's no mention of the reduced budget for Season Three and the last minute switch to a bad time slot. Both of these affected the demise of the series. Solow and Tinker don't mention it, and don't mention why Roddenberry left the series because of broken promises from the network. Well, I could go on.

If you can get past the wall to wall tinkly music, then this is some interesting stuff. I have never seen Grant Tinker talk about his time at NBC. Subtitles are throughout.