Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Remembering Stan Goldberg

Stan Goldberg died one year ago on August 31st.

Best known for his work on the flagship ARCHIE comic books, Stan was a friend and one of the legends in the cartoon biz. I was fortunate to know him, to work on a gallery show with him and to get to hang out with him in his studio. Here is a tribute to the many decades of art that Stan created. This played just before the National Cartoonists Society awarded him the Gold Key in 2012.

Thanks to Bennett Goldberg for this.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Arnold Roth Record Cover Art

Run over to Drew Friedman's great blog today to see many wonderful LP covers by the one and only Arnold Roth! 

Myfanwy Tristram: "How I experienced the life of a model, with Gudrun Sjoden"

Illustrator and cartoonist Myf Tristam scans her sketchbook diary about her experience being chosen as a "non-industry standard" fashion model:

"I haven’t exactly been blessed with the looks of a model, so no-one was more surprised than me to receive an offer to be photographed for a fashion catalogue. In fact, my first reaction may have been a snort. 
"But it all makes sense when you find out that the invitation came from Gudrun Sjoden. They regularly photograph their clothes on models who are “non-industry standard” — older, more characterful or larger than most brands would touch with a bargepole. (Makes perfect sense to me: their clothes are made for all ages and spread across a massive range of sizes, so why not reflect customers’ own looks?) 
"In this case, the shoot was to feature ‘friends of Gudrun’: bloggers, artists, novelists and other creative types. I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved with some events in Gudrun’s London store, and that’s what put me on the early plane to Stockholm for two of the most pleasurable days I’ve had in a long time!"
Hat tip to Nick Abadzis! Thanks, Nick!

Friday, August 28, 2015

A Gag Cartoon Batch Question and Answer Forum

(Above: some cartoons from this week's cartoon batch, drawn in ink with wash. I drew them with a Micron Pigma pen on good quality typing paper. )

I thought that I would talk about a magazine cartoon batch: what it is and where it goes. Essentially: how a gag cartoon goes from the drawing board to being inside a magazine for everyone to see.

A cartoon batch is usually about ten or 12 cartoons. This batch is shown to an editor. For a lot of editors, I email my submission. If not, I mail copies of the cartoons.

I just got this question this week:

"How do you get your gags, do you use a formula, just start drawing funny pictures or do you ever get any from God?"

My stock answer is that I sit and write. I try to think of popular phrases or new buzzwords and see if I can make those into a funny picture. Sometimes I just think of something in the news that makes me mad and see if I can turn that anger into something funny. Yes, sometimes I will just draw something because I feel like drawing something. But these methods are not formulas. To come up with an original, funny idea still takes me time. Do I get any ideas from God? If you mean, do I ever have a cartoon idea that falls into my lap? Sometimes. Most cartoonists I know are thinking about cartoons all their waking hours and so, in the back of their head, they are always on the lookout for something funny. Sometimes, because your brain is always addled in joke-writing, something can happen and you may have an "Eureka!" moment where it all comes together like magic. But that only happens to me once every 400 or 500 cartoons. So I cannot depend on it.

So ... let's say you are a cartoonist and you have had a productive week: a cartoon batch of yours is done.

Now is the time to send them out in the world.

"How do you decide where to send your cartoons?" was a question I got at a panel discussion in 2005 on making cartoons for a living.

I send them to the place where they pay the most money, and then they go to the place where they will make the second-most money and so on, down the money food chain so to speak.

"Will you send them to The New Yorker?"

Maybe, eventually. The New Yorker is not the highest paying national market for freelancers.

"Why can't we see the captions in that above photo, Mike?"

I sell first rights to my cartoons, so, in other words, these fresh cartoons are only for the eyes of the editors for now. If they want them, then they get cartoons that people have never seen before. So, I have to "Wite-Out" some of the gag lines for now.

"How many did you sell?"

Early days yet. Maybe we should come back to this in a while and see how this particular batch fared. Some of them are already on hold -- but that means nothing.

To be continued!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The First Cartoonist I Ever Met: Chuck Jones

Chuck Jones was the first cartoonist I ever met.

He was giving a presentation of some of his Roadrunner and Coyote shorts at a West Coast University Film Association conference in the 1960s. My Dad taught radio/TV/film production and was a member of the UFA (now renamed the University Film and Video Association). I remember being taken by the hand, lead down the aisle to the stage, and being introduced to Mr. Jones by my parents. He looked into my eyes. He was very tall. (I was very small.) He paused, smiled and shook my hand when he was told that, "Mike likes to draw."

Mr. Jones proffered a deal: I mail a letter to his MGM offices and he would mail back a drawing for me and my baby sister. After a couple weeks of my Mom badgering me, I finally sent him a letter. I didn't know what to say and I don't remember what I finally wrote. Anyway, Mr. Jones, a man of his word, replied with this:

-- From a March 24, 2009 blog entry.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

How to Graduate from Art School (Animation)

I like people who cartoon, but I don't like people who put on airs about drawing.

Here's a short animation of an art student talking "artspeak" for about a minute. Such gobbledygook. Such balderdash. So true.

Maybe talking like this is encouraged in art school, but it ain't gonna help you find a job.

Please just shut up and draw.

Thanks to ProbCauseTV:

Hat tip to Anthony Owsley

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

THE GIRLS by Franklin Folger

Franklin Folger (1919-1977) was born, lived and worked in Cincinnati, Ohio. Except for five year stint in the US Army beginning in 1942, he was a mainstay, devoting his time to the Cincinnati Art Academy, where he initially went to school after graduating Withrow High School. He studied commercial art, painting and cartooning. Cartooning won out. His comic panel THE GIRLS originally appeared in the Cincinnati Enquirer, and then was syndicated nationally by the Sun-Times—Daily News Syndicate (later, Field Syndicate). 

THE GIRLS were well-to-do, active middle aged women of an upper middle class background. It's solidly in the tradition of Helen Hokinson's women. These are ladies who lunch, ladies who form committees, ladies who put on amateur theatricals and so on.

According to the Branches and Rain blog, there were seven collection of THE GIRLS published by Doubleday in the 1960s. Here are a handful of cartoons from what I believe is the first collection. 

My sincere thanks to Randy Michaels who found this book, with its first 16 pages ripped out, at a recycle center in Rangeley, Maine last month. He figured I would like it and he figured right! Thanks, Randy! I am guessing it's copyright Field Enterprises or Mr. Folger. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Vintage Sam Norkin Record Album Covers

Newspaper caricaturist and illustrator Sam Norkin's rare album cover art is showcased over at the Drew Friedman blog. 

Sam was a career newspaper illustrator. Drew points out that he had 4000 published drawings of NYC performers to his credit during his seven decade career.

Here's Drew:

Norkin was also the most well-known of the various imitators of the legendary theatrical caricaturist, the great Al Hirschfeld. The good natured Hirschfeld even laughingly refers to Norkin in the documentary "The Line King" as his imitator. 
From 1940 to 1956, Norkin's Hirschfeld-esque illustrations were featured in the New York Herald Tribune and then from 1956-1982 his work was featured weekly in the New York Daily News.

Sam was a member of the Berndt Toast Gang, and would regularly drive out to Huntington, Long Island from his West Side apartment. He began taking the train in 2004 when he was in his 80s. He didn't want to take the train, but his wife and doctor insisted.

So, the last Wednesday night of the month, my phone would ring. "Mike? This is Sam. Are you going to the lunch tomorrow?" Of course I was. "Would you mind if we met and could go in together?" He wasn't happy about not driving, but he wasn't going to let that stop him from going to the monthly lunches with cartoonist colleagues.

So we would meet at Penn Station and take the train to Long Island.

So, a couple of stories, and then I have to get going:

I remember one time he told me about a description in THE GREAT GATSBY of the giant piles of old ash; remains from millions of Manhattan coal stoves and fireplaces. I didn't know the passage, having last read the book in ninth grade. Well, they used to be right there. He pointed out the window of the LIRR train. He remembered actually seeing them in real life when he was younger. They were huge, just like Fitzgerald described them. Hard to believe, he added, that they were gone.

He was a gracious fellow, always interested and curious. I remember having coffee with him and another cartoonist. We were waiting for the train back to the city. We were, of course, talking about drawing for a living. I guess that's the number one topic at these lunches. Sam said, "I can't do what Mike does." And then he went back to his coffee. We asked him what he meant. And he said that he  could draw, but he "couldn't do gags like Mike and other gag cartoonists do."

Maybe it was an offhand remark, but, regardless, it was a very kind thing to say. Sam was frank and did not say things he didn't mean.

I miss the those days, and I miss traveling with Sam Norkin.