Wednesday, August 04, 2021

The Fire Island News Remembers Bill Seay


Bill Seay was a cartoonist and the chair of the Long Island chapter of the National Cartoonists Society when I joined in the early 2000s. When you are accepted to the NCS, you get a nice letter and an address book of its members. I found out that the Long Island chapter, also called the Berndt Toast Gang, met every month for lunch. This was unlike the then-NYC chapter and the Connecticut chapter, that met a few times a year.

I called and asked if I could come over. There were, in those days, two chairs: Bill Seay and "co-chair for life" Tom Gill. I called them alphabetically, and left a message for Tom Gill. Knowing me, I probably rambled. I knew that Tom was the longtime artist on Dell Comics' Lone Ranger title, as well as an early and busy instructor at the School of Visual Arts. Tom called back, leaving a message for me. "I couldn't quite make out what you said, but you said you were a cartoonist and, by God, that's OK with me," he said in a gravelly voice on my then-state-of-the-art Sony answering machine that used little micro-cassettes to record. (I wish I had saved that message.)

Anyway, kind words from Tom ... but no "Yes you can come to lunch" or "No, you can't."

"Of course, come to lunch," Bill Seay told me when I called him.  

Bill Seay and his wife Mimi were the only people that I knew when I arrived at the first Berndt Toast Gang lunch, then being held in a lovely catering hall in Centerport, Long Island. As the I attended, I got to meet and sit and chat with all of its members: Bunny Hoest, John Reiner, Howard Beckerman, Stan Goldberg, Al Scaduto, Joe Giella, Sandy Kossin, Al Baruch, Sy Barry, John Romita (and sometimes John Buscema), Mort Drucker, Joe Edwards, Emilio Squeglio, Adrian Sinnott, and more. They welcomed me, just like Bill. Just the nicest Gang. 

Bill and Mimi Seay were from Illinois, where Bill helped Hugh Hefner in the early years of Playboy Magazine, doing everything from paste up to cartoons. They moved to Long Island in the late 1950s/early1960s, where Bill commuted to NYC as the Art Director for the JCPenney catalog. Bill was, for a long time, also the cartoonist over at Fire Island News. He would create the covers and interior illustrations. 

Twenty years after the deaths of Bill and Mimi, writer Emma Boskovski was looking over back issues and loved Bill's drawings. She decided to delve into his life and art with this new piece in the Fire Island News, "Artist's Portrait: Early Fire Island News Cartoonist Bill Seay." 

I am so glad Bill and Mimi Seay are remembered. Bill asked me to run as chair of the Gang, which I did. The Gang let Bill have a break from years of running the group and devote even more time to his art. I had no idea that my time knowing him and Mimi would be so short. My wife and I had lunch at their home several times and I got to see Bill's amazing studio. There were, here and there in their two-story house, photos of Bill and Mimi -- as well as a painting or two of Mimi by Bill -- in the nude, on the beaches of Fire Island. All of these were from an earlier time and reminded me that are all young once. I wish I had known them longer. I miss them still.


NY Times: Cartoonists Gather to Celebrate Real Life June 10, 2001.

Tuesday, August 03, 2021

Kinetic Artist George Rhoads 1926 - 2021


Kinetic artist George Rhoads died on July 9th in Louden, France. He was 95.

He created “audio-kinetic ball machines," which, according to the New York Times:

"... evoked the workings of watches and roller coasters, were built of comically designed tracks and devices like loop-the-loops and helical ramps, and were usually six- to 10-feet high. Scores of the machines have been installed in children’s hospitals, malls, science museums and airports and elsewhere in a dozen countries, but mostly in the United States and Japan.

"'Each pathway that the ball takes is a different drama, as I call it, because the events happen in a certain sequence, analogous to drama,' he said in an interview in 2014 with Creative Machines, which makes ball machines based on and inspired by his designs. 'The ball gets into certain difficulties. It does a few things. Maybe there’s some conflict. They hit or they wander, whatever it is and then there’s some kind of dramatic conclusion.'"

They are great fun to watch, as you can see in the video above. And Mr. Rhoads' kinetic sculptures can be seen in New York's Port Authority, Pittsburgh's airport (That's where I see them.) and ... all over the place. 

I met George and his wife by mere happenstance, and, with my Dad, had dinner with them over twenty years ago. Here's the story from an interview published last year:


Which meetings have been the most important experiences for you? What is the best advice ever given you?

George Rhoads, an audiokinetic sculptor, bought my Dad's house in Ithaca, NY. This was a while ago when I was still working in a full-time “real job.” I had dinner with George, his wife and my Dad one day after George moved in in 1999. George is a working artist, best known for those sculptures with billiard balls that roll down tracks and make noises. His work is on display all over the world. He was a quiet fellow who seemed a bit gruff, but when I asked about his work, he showed me around their new home and was showing me how he works. He asked me about my plans and I told him that someday I would try to draw full-time. And he frowned at this and told me I would never be any good unless I did it full-time.

I could see the truth in his eyes. I felt it the moment he said it. Having an artist of his stature tell me this impacted me. I quit my job as acting head of graphics for Deloitte and Touche later that year. It was a hard choice, to leave the security – but one that I needed to do to prove to myself that I could cartoon full-time. Plus: Rhoads was right: I got better once I started cartooning more.


Thank you, Mr. Rhoads, for the encouragement. It meant a lot. And thanks for giving me a tour of where you work. So kind and generous. And your words gave me the kick in my butt I needed. My condolences to Mr. Rhoads' family.

Monday, August 02, 2021

The Garden As of Early August 2021

Too much rain is what's going on this summer. So, while things are green, things that should be blooming and giving us vegetables are slow about it. We need the sun! We will get it this week and hopefully there will be a yield this year. Here are the five beds. In the foreground: zinnias and (soon) runner beans, which are taking their sweet time growing up those sticks and blooming. The small, tall box immediately behind it has nothing in it, having just been made from cedar recently. Behind that, three beds of vegetables. 

I'm rather fond of my stick work here. There are more flower seeds planted in the lower left, that bare patch, but I don't know if they'll be coming up unless the sun shines this week.

Peppers and, behind them, cucumbers, which are just getting started. They were planted after I took out the lettuce, so they are late.

The tomatoes need more sun. Scraggly and bushy. Ugh. 


Three tomatoes so far. 

The squash needs weeding. The plants are OK, but have only produced maybe 3-4 squash out of the whole bed. Not good.


And now, some flowers ....

Friday, July 30, 2021

From the Dick Buchanan Files: Boris Drucker Gag Cartoons 1946 - 1955

Above: wartime drawings from Boris Drucker's WWII sketchbook. Part of a gallery show at Syracuse University (More images are reproduced in Johanna Drucker's book about her father. Link below.)


Boris Drucker (1920 - 2009) was one of those post-war cartoonists whose work you saw pretty much every week, maybe a couple of times a week, in all of the major magazines of the day. But it was almost a fluke that he became a cartoonist. That wasn't what he went to art school for. Dick Buchanan has the story and twenty great Boris Drucker gag cartoons for your edification. Thanks, and take it away, Dick!


Gag Cartoons 1946 – 1955

Boris Drucker was a cartoonist who also enjoyed an illustrious career as an advertising artist and instructor. He was born and lived most of his life in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After he graduated West Philadelphia High School in 1938, Drucker attended the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art, now the University of the Arts. 

During World War II, he served in the Army in the China-Burma-India Theater. He completed meteorological reports for U.S. pilots flying over the Himalayas, and found time to sketch villagers and his fellow soldiers during his tour.

Drucker got his start in magazine cartooning in 1946, when he came back from overseas and was interviewing for an advertising job. There, an executive advised him that he was a cartoonist, not an advertising artist, and suggested he try the Saturday Evening Post. So, Drucker took the next month to draw 100 cartoons, and, with the help from his family, friends and neighborhood postman, chose 10 to submit to the Post. The cartoon editor bought one of them and Drucker quickly became a frequent contributor to the Post, Collier’s and many other national magazines.

At art school Drucker had been on the advertising art track and he continued to pursue work in that field. From the late 1940s until the middle of the 1960s, he was a commercial artist for corporate clients in advertising and industry, winning awards for his Bell Telephone’s “Call By Number” campaign in the 1950s.

In 1966, after a brief stint of teaching advertising and commercial art, Drucker moved to New York to open a studio and at the age of forty-six was accepted as a New Yorker cartoonist. He continued as a contributor for the next 30 years.

Boris Drucker’s daughter, Johanna Drucker, complied a fine collection of Drucker’s work, including his wartime drawings, "Don't Pay Any Attention To Him, He's 90% Water: The Cartooning Career of Boris Drucker" published by the University of Syracuse Press, 2005.

1. BORIS DRUCKER. The Saturday Evening Post, December 14, 1946.

 2. BORIS DRUCKER. The Saturday Evening Post July 17, 1948.

3. BORIS DRUCKER. The Saturday Evening Post October 23, 1948.

4. BORIS DRUCKER. The Saturday Evening Post January 8, 1949.

5. BORIS DRUCKER. The Saturday Evening Post June, 1949.

6. BORIS DRUCKER. This Week Magazine. May 9, 1949.

7. BORIS DRUCKER. The Saturday Evening Post May 14, 1949.

8. BORIS DRUCKER. The Saturday Evening Post May 28, 1949.

9. BORIS DRUCKER. The Saturday Evening Post June 11, 1949.

10. BORIS DRUCKER. The Saturday Evening Post November 29, 1949.

11. BORIS DRUCKER. The Saturday Evening Post December 17, 1949.

12. BORIS DRUCKER. Collier’s June 17, 1950.

13. BORIS DRUCKER. The Saturday Evening Post July 1, 1950.

14. BORIS DRUCKER. Collier’s May 26, 1951.

15. BORIS DRUCKER. The Saturday Evening Post December 8, 1951.

16. BORIS DRUCKER. Collier’s April 4, 1953.

17. BORIS DRUCKER. The Saturday Evening Post. December 5, 1953.

18. BORIS DRUCKER. The Saturday Evening Post July 10, 1954.

19. BORIS DRUCKER. Collier’s January 7, 1955.


20. BORIS DRUCKER. Collier’s May 27, 1955.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

CartoonBrew: The Kyoto Animation Arson Attack Haunts New Manga ‘Look Back’


It's been two years this month since the arson attack on Studio One of Kyoto Animation that killed 36 people.

Manga creator Tatsuki Fujimoto created a 140 page tribute story titled "Look Back" as a memorial to the tragic event. CartoonBrew has more:

"Look Back features an incident that recalls what happened at the studio. It is also a story about the comfort art can bring to those in distress, and so serves as a tribute to all artists, including those who have suffered and died for their work.

"The 140-page one-shot manga instantly made waves, racking up 2.5 million views in one day on Shonen Jump Plus (the online magazine that released the Japanese version). It can (officially) be read in English for free in Viz Media’s Shonen Jump online library — check it out here."


Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Cartoon and Ads from Farm Journal September 1947


I would have had this up before now but when I updated my IOS, my Photoshop needed a newer version of Java, which I downloaded but it still didn't work. So I figured out another way to get scans done.

Honestly, anyone reading Farm Journal (or doing anything else) in 1947 would read that above paragraph as utter gobbledygook. But a lot has changed since then, huh?

Here are some illustrated ads and cartoons from the September 1947 issue of Farm Journal, the "World's Largest Rural Magazine." The circulation was 2,650,000. The magazine was published monthly out of Farm Journal, Inc., in Philadelphia. It's copyright by Farm Journal, Inc. as well. It began publication in 1877 "for farmers in bountiful agricultural regions within a day's ride of the publication's office in Philadelphia." The magazine is still published today. I bought this at a small secondhand shop on the Maine/New Brunswick border, just south of Calais.

Robert C. Dell, who signed his cartoons "R.C. Dell." He lived in the Chicago area, and cartooned for pulp magazines (drawing some risque cartoons sometimes) and was also selling to major markets, including Esquire Magazine, The Saturday Evening Post and Collier's.

Below is a cartoon by "Max." I don't know who a lot of these cartoonists are. A lot of them tended to specialize in these niche markets and never or rarely appeared in the major magazines. 

Cartoons make ads better.

Roy Carling: 

Some good movies are out!

W. Walter “Cal” Calvert was a Bucks County (PA) artist and illustrator. “Cal” Illustrated and created hundreds of covers for the magazines Saturday Evening Post, Bucks County Traveler, Country Gentleman, Sports Afield, Bell Telephone News, Pennsylvania Railroad, and others.

I can't see the artist's signature at all here.  Maybe it's Dwig? [Edit: It IS Dwig. Thanks to D.D. Degg for the information.]

The one and only Reamer Keller:

More R.C. Dell, who had a great signature, huh? 

Not from this issue of Farm Journal: here's a fun self portrait of R.C. Dell, drawn using the letters of his name:

Graham Hunter, a journeyman cartoonist whose clients included The Saturday Evening Post, Argosy and other markets:

Big pharma hates this idea I'm sure! 

Glueck (?) is a name I see in the smaller markets, but no other information is out there that I can find. 

[Edit: "Glueck" is Bob Glueckstein. Thanks for the ID Larry Rippee! Glueck was "a minor market whiz, was one of those capable knocking out a batch of 10 to 15 cartoons in a couple hours for an obscure trade journal and sell most of them," says Dick Buchanan. Dick shares scans of Glueck's "How I Create Humor?" column from The Information Guide, the trade journal for cartoonists published George Hartman in the late 1950’s and 1960’s at this link here. Thanks, Dick!]

A Steig ad:

Uncredited except for the "M:"

Looks like Billy Mumy from that Twilight Zone episode! 

A cartoonist named Dobbs, no other information:

It took me a couple seconds to "get" this R.C. Dell cartoon:

Sometimes cartoons are inadvertently scary looking:

-- Edited from a July 27 2018 blog entry.