Friday, November 15, 2019

Tom Spurgeon AKA "The Comics Reporter" 1968 - 2019

Photo of Tom Spurgeon by Meghan Ralston.

Tom Spurgeon, who was one of the co-counders of the Cartoon Crossroads convention in Columbus, Ohio, as well as the man behind the web site, passed away on Wednesday. He was 50 years old. No cause of death has been given.

The Columbus Dispatch has more:

Spurgeon served as managing editor and executive editor of the noted industry trade magazine The Comics Journal from 1994 to 1999. He co-wrote the 2004 biography, “Stan Lee and the Rise and Fall of the American Comic Book,” with Jordan Raphael. At the time of his death, he was managing his own website, The Comics Reporter.

A public memorial will be held at 5 p.m. Dec. 14 at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum, 1813 N. High Street in Columbus. There are no current plans for a funeral, his brother Whit said.

Spurgeon is survived by his mother, Sandra “Sunny” McFarren, and brothers, Dan and Whit Spurgeon.
When I heard that Tom had passed away, I couldn't believe it. It was just wrenching news. He was a force in comics. Everyone knew him or knew of him. Spurgeon was an enthusiastic comics omnivore and champion. This is a tremendous, unexpected loss. RIP, my friend.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

From the Dick Buchanan Files: Dog and Cat Cartoons 1949 - 1966

Dogs and cats. Living together. Mass hysteria!

Courtesy of gag cartoon collector extraordinaire Dick Buchanan, here are twenty magazine cartoons about cats and dogs from his vast Greenwich Village-based clip file. Thank you and take it away, Dick!


(1949 – 1966)

Dogs and cats play a big part of the lives of many Americans.  Some folks like cats while others like dogs.  Some like both.  For what it’s worth, the Cartoon Clip File’s office pet is our goldfish, Benchley.

We laugh at our pets.  We’re never quite sure whether or not they laugh at us.
This time it’s our turn to laugh at them.  Here are some cartoons about our animal friends, the dog and cat . . .


1.  HANK KETCHAM.  Collier’s, circa 1951.

2.  RAY HELLE.  The Saturday Evening Post  June 11, 1949.

3.  JACK TYRELL.  1000 Jokes Magazine  September – November, 1956.

4.  PHIL INTERANDI.  This Week Magazine  December 4, 1960.

5.  DICK SHAW.  Collier’s  May 20, 1950.

6.  BOB KRAUS.  1000 Jokes Magazine  Summer, 1951.

7.  JOHN GALLAGHER.  The Saturday Evening Post  March 30, 1957.

8.  VIRGIL PARTCH.  Collier’s  March 19, 1949.

9.  EDWIN LEPPER.  The Saturday Evening Post  November 2, 1963.

10.  VAHAN SHIRVANIAN.  The Saturday Evening Post  July 27, 1957.  


1.  TED KEY.  Collier’s  December 16, 1950.

2.  GEORGE WOLFE.  American Magazine  August, 1950.

3.  BO BROWN. American Magazine  September, 1950.

4.  THE BERENSTAINS, JAN AND  STAN.  American Magazine  July, 1953.

5.  LARRY REYNOLDS.  Look Magazine  January 17, 1957.

6.  JOHN NORMENT.  The Saturday Evening Post  July 20, 1957.

7.  MORT WALKER.  The Saturday Evening Post  July 30, 1949.

8.  TOM HENDERSON.  The Saturday Evening Post  September 27, 1958.

9.  HERB GREEN.  The Saturday Evening Post  May 4, 1957.

10.  BILL HOEST.  The Saturday Evening Post  May 21, 1966.


Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Cartoonists Exchange Correspondence Course: Lesson Correction Portfolio 1946

The Cartoonists Exchange of Pleasant Hill, OH used to be a busy cartoon correspondence course operation for a number of decades. "Learning how to cartoon by mail" was a real thing in the 20th century, with several schools all over the country. Famously, Charles Schulz and others paid for these kind of courses. Today we are looking at the Lesson Correction Portfolio and it is copyright 1946 by Cartoonists' [sic] Exchange.

Cartoonist David Rand collected students' submissions, and then, sold the drawings back to them. You just have to shake your head and admire Mr. Rand's monetization of the medium!

So many of these corrections are serious drawing comments:
  • indicate grain in wood,
  • upper torso should be longer,
  • nose on pretty girl's face should be less noticeable,
  • hand detail should be more carefully worked out,
  • glorify the girl's legs.

Okay, maybe not that last one.

Lots of good, basic advice here, 73+ years on. I love pages like this, with lots of pen noodling. Even if you've gone all digital, then this still applies!

Evidently, a student was given a lesson. I don't own the lesson books, so I'm in the dark here. Maybe something like the old lady commits violence against the old man. Something like that. Or, guy finds jar of mystery spirits in the cellar; hilarity commences.

There is some good advice here, but I find that instead of looking at the folds in the clothes, I am wincing at the story telling.

Below is a photo of Mr. Rand, realizing his ambition of drawing comic strip ads for some consumer item called "Peppets."

 Edited from an original blog entry of March 18, 2009.

Monday, November 11, 2019

"Like Getting My Father Back:" WWII POW's Art Returned To His Family

Howard Weistling was thinking about becoming a comic book artist when he was a young man. Then, Pearl Harbor was bombed and he enlisted in the army.

NPR has the story written by Laurel Morales:

"Mike Weistling, Howard's grandson, loved to hear his grandfather's war stories.
"'He probably told me a lot of stories that were not appropriate for a child to hear,' Mike Weistling says.

"After flight engineer training, Howard was shipped off to Europe. On his maiden flight, his plane was shot down over Austria. Mike has the actual rip cord hung on his wall in Flagstaff, Ariz.

"The entire crew of eight men landed safely. But a farmer found Howard hiding in his barn and turned him over to a prisoner of war camp in Barth, Germany. Howard's son Morgan Weistling says it was freezing and the men almost starved to death eating the guards' garbage.

"'German soldiers would open the door and after they had their food would throw their plates on the floor,' says Morgan Weistling.

"Hungry and homesick Howard coped the only way he knew how. He drew a comic strip. The book, made of cigarette wrappers bound together with scrap metal, was sent around camp.

"'Every couple of days he would add a new panel,' says Morgan. 'One panel at a time would be passed around the whole camp. And they'd have something to look forward to.'

"After an entire year of this, they woke one morning to find their guards gone. They fled before the Russians arrived to liberate the camp. Howard finally got to go home. Just lucky to get out alive, he left the book behind."

Howard came home, married and raised a family. He left the idea of being a cartoonist behind. He became a gardener.

He did get to see his son, Morgan, become a successful illustrator and painter. 

"'And he just got tears in his eyes 'like you're doing what I always had hoped I would do,'' says Morgan. 'And he was literally — I could just feel it — living through the moment like that's his way of living that dream out.'"

Howard Weistling passed away in 2002.

Just this year, Morgan got an email. Someone had bought a bunch of Nazi relics, including three of Hitler's watercolors, as well as a small comic book, bound in scrap metal with the name "Weistling" on it.

"'I get an email from an older gentleman and he says, 'I think I may have some drawings that your father did when he was a POW in World War II,'' Morgan recalls. ''Would you like them?' And I just stared at that email and started crying.'"

"'I want to know all the hands it's passed through,' Morgan says. 'What happened right when the Russians came in? And how did it end up with Hitler's watercolors? It just doesn't make any sense. It's like I wish there was a Go-Pro attached to it so we could've seen the journey these drawings have gone through.'

"A couple of days later when it arrived by FedEx in California, he couldn't believe it.

"'It was like getting my father back,' Morgan Weistling says. 'It was like him being able to tell me the story over again only this time it was real in my hands.'"

The whole story is at the NPR site. 

Thanks to my pal Adrian Sinnott for telling me about this story.

Friday, November 08, 2019

Video: Paul Conrad Interview on "The World of Cartooning with Mike Peters"

Editorial cartoonist Paul Conrad is interviewed in this segment of the 1980s 14-part PBS interview series, "The World of Cartooning with Mike Peters."