Friday, December 09, 2022

Lee Lorenz 1932 - 2022

Lee Lorenz, Cartoon Editor at The New Yorker for over twenty years beginning in 1973, passed away yesterday. No cause of death given. There are plans for a memorial in the new year. 



Terribly sad news. A master with the swooshing, vibrant brush line and a grand sense of humor who helped the careers of so many wonderful cartoonists. Please take a look at some of his great comic art.


Lee Lorenz TCJ Interview from 2011

From the Dick Buchanan Files: More Wiggly Rea Cartoons 1938 - 1953

Here's more cartoons by the prolific "wiggly line" master 20th century gag cartoonist Gardner Rea courtesy of Dick Buchanan's Cartoon Clip File. This complements the Gardner Rea "Wiggly Gardner" piece that Dick shared before. Go and take a look. Rea wrote about forty gags a week and sold most of them. He was there at the beginning at The New Yorker, and a mainstay of the general magazine market. Thanks and take it away, Dick!


(1938 -1953)

Not long after the Cartoon Clip File unearthed Wiggly Gardner by Gurney Williams from Collier’s magazine, it occurred to us that we quite likely have some more Gardner Rea cartoons lying around somewhere. That is an understatement. We found them lying everywhere. So, we’ve chosen a few to share . . .

1. GARDNER REA. Collier’s May 28, 1938.


2. GARDNER REA. Collier’s April 13, 1940.


3. GARDNER REA. Collier’s March 22, 1941.


4. GARDNER REA. American Magazine October, 1942.


5. GARDNER REA. Collier’s July 31, 1943.


6. GARDNER REA. Collier’s October 19, 1946.


7. GARDNER REA. Collier’s September 20, 1947.


8. GARDNER REA. This Week Magazine May 23, 1948.

9. GARDNER REA. True Magazine January 1948.


10. GARDNER REA. Collier’s December 17, 1949.


11. GARDNER REA. Collier’s June 10, 1950.

12. GARDNER REA. The Saturday Evening Post July 22, 1950

13. GARDNER REA. The Saturday Evening Post July 5, 1952.

14. GARDNER REA. True September 1952.


15. GARDNER REA. Colliers August 7, 1953.


From the Dick Buchanan Files: "Wiggly Gardner" A Gardner Rea Profile by Gurney Williams

Gardner Rea's Sideshow


Thursday, December 08, 2022

Sketches from CARTOONING FOR EVERYBODY by Lawrence Lariar

Here are some sketches from CARTOONING FOR EVERYBODY by Lawrence Lariar, copyright 1941 by Crown Publishing.

Above: Lawrence Lariar self portrait.

Lawrence Lariar was a cartoonist, a cartoon editor for PARADE and LIBERTY, as well as a novelist and one of the most prolific authors of "How to Cartoon" books. He edited the long-running BEST CARTOONS OF series of books from 1942 to 1971. He died in 1981.

If you are building a shelf of books about cartooning, it's inevitable you'll run into a Lariar book. Thanks to him, we have many gag cartoonists' work between hardcovers that may have otherwise turned into dust after being published in the throwaway magazine medium. (I should add a public THANK YOU to our own Dick Buchanan for being the 21st century Lariar and sharing his great collection of gag cartoon clippings. Thank you, Dick!)

Here are some sketches by Lariar and a couple of colleagues. Unlike his other, later books, Lariar emphasizes the value of sketching and doodling for a number of pages. The nice thing about these sketches is that they look as vibrant and full of life as ever. He's right: sketching from life helps you cartoon.

Above: a page from illustrator and cartoonist Greg D'Allessio's sketchbook. (He was married to cartoonist Hilda Terry for 55 years.)

Above: spots by John Groth (1902-88). I love how loose he works. Loose and confident.

"John Groth made a career as a painter and illustrator by focusing on sports and war. He captured the action-packed scenes by witnessing the events first-hand and sketching his experiences. Groth used a style technique called “speed line,” in which he sketched his subjects using rough, unperfected lines and filled the lines in with watercolors. Upon describing his technique, Ernest Hemingway, whom Groth spent time with during World War II, wrote, “None of us understood the sort of shorthand he sketched in. the men would look at the sketches and see just a lot of lines. It was a great pleasure to find what fine drawings they were when we got to see them.”

"He also was a artist-correspondent during the Korean and Vietnam wars. Groth was also the art Director for Esquire magazine."

 Above two pages again by John Groth "with no preliminary pencil understructure."

Above: cartoonist Jack Kabat with some freehand fanciful doodles.

Above: a sketch from Lariar's sketchbook that he sold to the New Yorker as a spot drawing.

Above and below: some more finished sketches of middle-aged women and kids. "Study these doodles and originate a few."

My thanks to my friend, the one and only Don Orehek, for passing along this great book. This was the book that helped him learn about cartooning, he told me. (Not that Don needed help!)

-- Edited from an original blog entry of August 22, 2011.

Wednesday, December 07, 2022

Don Orehek 1928-2022

I got the email late last night that Don had passed. He had been in hospice these past months, just a few miles away from his home and Suzy, his wife, who visited every day. The email was from Adrian Sinnott, chair of the Berndt Toast Gang.

"Very sad news indeed. I just heard from Suzy that Don passed away this morning. 

"Don was an incorrigible cartoonist. He was incredibly prolific with thousands of gag cartoons working their way from his pen to the pages of all the major magazines. He was also a lightning quick and amazingly talented caricaturist.

"Wherever Don was there were sure to be smiling faces and occasionally blushing ones. 

"His work spanned a special time in this industry that we will not see the likes of again. We were very lucky to have Don share that with the Berndt Toast Gang!"

Don was a vital part of the Gang for many years, until they moved to Washington state to be closer to their daughter. Adrian described Don as “incorrigible,” and I smiled.
When I first met him in person, back at a Berndt Toast luncheon, he said, "I'm Don Orehek." And a visual of his signature popped in my head.
(From a book collection of Cracked Magazine's "Shut Ups" feature from Suzy Orehek's blog about Don.) 

He was born August 9, 1928 in Brooklyn, to a Slovenian family. His dad was a musician with a local Slovenian band, as well as a bootlegger. When Don was as young as three years old, he was taking a bucket of hooch across the street to Orehek clients. He was sent to a Catholic elementary school, and hated it. He was not a good student, always doodling, not paying attention. He got a lot of whacks on the knuckles and couldn't wait to get out of there. He then attended the High School of Industrial Arts.

After graduation, he served in the U.S. Naval Reserves from 1945-49. He created an old crotchety navy veteran cartoon character named "Cyphers" for the base newspaper. Returning to New York, he took classes at the School of Visual Arts. By 1952, upon graduation, he was freelancing full-time. 

(Detail drawing of "Old Cyphers," his 1940s US Navy cartoon character, drawn in 2008. More here.)
From The Daily Cartoonist:
"He would contribute gag cartoons to a long list of magazines: The Saturday Evening Post, 100 Jokes Magazine, Look, Good Housekeeping, Playboy, McCall’s, Humorama, Christian Science Monitor, Modern Maturity, Family Circle, Cavalier, True Adventure, Broadway Laughs, Saturday Review, Reader’s Digest, and more."
From the National Cartoonists Society:
"In 1966 Don married Suzanne Whitney originally from Iowa and raised in Washington, DC. They have two children: Errol and Holly and three grandchildren: Emma, Owen and Haley.

"Don has received the National Cartoonists Society’s annual “Best Magazine Cartoonist” award four times. Twice he received awards at the Pavilion of Humor, Man and His World Exhibition, Montreal. His interest in caricatures was solidified in 1966 with a trip to Vietnam under the auspices of the National Cartoonists Society and the U.S. Department of Defense. Shortly after returning, Don and fellow cartoonists were invited to the White House to be personally thanked by President Lyndon Johnson for entertaining American and Vietnamese troops.

"Don’s career, the likes of which no longer exists, encompassed an amazing number of “markets.” His wife created a blog to determine how many different places where his work has appeared over the years. Hundreds! Check out his blog to see"

He lived in NYC in the 1950s and 60s. I remember he told me had a car in the city. A good looking car, but not reliable. Sure enough, one time the engine overheated and Don opened the hood. Steam is pouring out. This was in a not-so-nice part of The Village. Some dubious looking fellow walks over, asks what the problem is. The car needs water, Don says. Dubious guy smiles and says, "I'll be right back." He runs over to an apartment building and then a minute later comes running out, carrying a steaming bucket of dirty water. "What is this?" asks Don. The guy says, "I took outta this bum's bath. He don't mind." With that, water was poured in. Don turned the key and the engine came back on -- the dirty bum water worked. I have no idea what the poor bum's reaction was to the guy dipping into his hot bath water to help Don out -- but it's a favorite story. "Ahh, only in New York, kids. Only in New York," to quote Cindy Adams. And ... when I have car problems, I think that if only I had a bucket of hot Bum Water to pour into the radiator, the car would revive.

He began really plying his trade of gag cartooning at all of the major magazines in the late 1950s. He wrote some of the gags himself and also used gag writers. Gag writers are great and can help a gag cartoonist's productivity level for sure.

I know that one of Don Orehek's gag writers was a prison inmate and one time Don used the guy's inmate number on a prisoner gag cartoon -- and the inmate gag writer guy got very angry when he saw it in print. "No one can use my number! It's MY number!" he told Don.
And he never sent any more gags to Don.

We had more than a few dinners at their home in Long Island. After a couple of schnappes, he would get out his hat collection and we would all wear different hats and someone would take photos. I spent time with him in his studio. Don was a cartoonist for Playboy and Cracked magazines, as well as a variety of Scholastic joke books, gag cartoon magazines and other markets. We would sift thorugh his originals and stacks of books like Lawrence Larier's Best Cartoons of the Year books. His color art was vital and he showed me “the dots;” those watercolor sets you get in the dime store for a couple of bucks. He got such amazing effects out of those. 

He told me that, back in the day, if you did the Wednesday rounds -- where all of the cartoonists would go from magazine office to magazine office, showing the cartoon editor their batches, you could -- if you got to the offices early enough -- grab a free donut. After the rounds were done, most of the cartoonists would meet at the Pen and Pencil restaurant for lunch and drinks.

In the early years, Don also sold original paintings on the street in Greenwich Village. Years later, when he and Suzy moved from the Village to Long Island, and Don was going to the Long Island Berndt Toast Gang lunches, one of the BTG members came up to him and introduced himself. It was John Reiner who was, then, assisting Mort Drucker and then, later, would be drawing (and still is drawing) King Features' syndicated cartoon panel The Lockhorns. Don told me that John says to him that they met years before. And he told Don about the one time in the 60s when he bought one of his paintings off the street from him in Greenwich Village. Small world!

(This cartoon of Don's appeared in the November 20, 1971 issue of Saturday Review.)

I was a kid in the 60s and 70s and knew Don's work from the Mad Magazine rival Cracked Magazine, where he did a lot of work. His vital cartoons, full of life and mischievousness, were always great to pore over. Lots of things to see in an Orehek cartoon. If you were lucky, you might see a self-caricature of Don or a drawing of a cat. 
Don and his wife loved cats. For many years, he had a black cat and one time a very superstitious guest was at their house. "Oh, black cats are bad luck," the appalled guest said. "He's not all black," observed Don. "His asshole is pink." The guest was now even more appalled, but I laughed when Don told the story. 

 (Above: a St, Patrick's original that he sent in the mail as a surprise, signed "Donnie O'Rehek.) 
Don really was a drawing machine. I remember one time, we were talking on the phone. He mentioned a cat calendar. We were both under deadline for the same calendar that Sam Gross was then editing for Barnes & Noble. After maybe 15 minutes of telling stories, I said I had to go and draw some more cat cartoons -- and Don informed me (with a loud laugh) that he was drawing HIS cartoons the whole time while we were talking!

That's how ya get ahead in this business!

And that's how you win four (1972, 1982, 1984, 1985) NCS Gag Cartoon awards!
OK. Another story. There's another time we were talking on the phone and (as usual) we talked and talked about gag cartooning and what the markets were like, etc. Finally, I had to go and get back to the board and draw — so I told Don I had to go. Don said, “Oh. I’m drawing now.” I asked, what are you drawing? “Rears. Women’s rears.” What? “Women’s rears.”
(What I like about Don's work is how alive his cartoons are. There's a real joy of drawing there. I mean, look at the expressions on his people: the evil sneer of the guy, and the helpless look of the French cutie!)

Men's magazines were Don's bread and butter. By the 1960s, Don was a contract cartoonist with Playboy. When you’re a contract gag cartoonist, that means that the publication has first rights: they get to see your cartoons first and get the right of first refusal. Don was a longtime Playboy regular, with gag cartoons in most issues. I remember at one point, I had sent 200 cartoons in to Playboy, with no sales. Don advised me not to give up. He was always very supportive and generous. We were both part of a show of original art at The Illustration House, and he asked me to pick up his original when I was getting mine, which I did. When I called him to tell him I had it and I would bring it to the next Berndt Toast, he insisted I keep it.

(Above: Just look at those colors! And take in the details: the water, still choppy from her slicing through it, the husband's smoldering cigar, the other couple peeking into the hole, the woman's look of wide-eyed hope that this umpteenth stroke got the ball in. This was the original that was in a show at the Illustration House that he gifted to me.)
Don was fine at driving cars, but I remember one time we were driving from his place to Huntington. We had picked up illustrator Sandy Kossin and everyone was chatting as we drove east on Route 25 toward the Berndt Toast lunch. Don pulled out a stack of 20-30 gag cartoon originals. “Take a look,” he said, one hand on the steering wheel and the other handing me the stack. There was a theme: women’s wrestling. All of them were women’s wrestling gag cartoons, ink and wash on Bristol. Beautiful Orehek originals! And all of the women were topless. There was, he explained, some kind of fetish magazine that bought these back in the day and he just came across the originals. As he talked, the car slowed down a little. I was getting nervous. Every time he talked, the car slowed. And Long Islanders use Route 25 as a highway, basically. I was envisioning the cops pulling us over, and then seeing these crazy risque cartoons we were passing around. Thankfully, nothing happened.

In 2005, when I helped put together a big group of cartoonists to draw on the wall of The Overlook Lounge bar and restaurant, Don came prepared and drew a large, color cartoon of the wolf and the three pigs. Except the wolf is old, and toothless, and he's hanging with the Three Little Pigs, sitting at a table, playing cards.  The pigs are also old. And the wolf is saying, "Remember the time I blew your house down for the insurance?" A terrific gag cartoon, that originally appeared in Playboy. "You know who thought of that?" he asked me when he was drawing it. "It was Suzy. One morning, she came outta the shower and told me the cartoon. It just appeared to her in her head. It's a great gag." I waited until he was done and then drew my cartoon next to his. (Look for the tiny penguin with glasses in love with the bowling pin, whic is dinky and to the right of Don's grand tableau.) It is, so far as I know, still there on the wall for all posterity. 

Don is survived by his wife Suzanne, his two children and three grandchildren.

Tuesday, December 06, 2022

The Comics Journal: Diane Noomin's Memorial Service at the School of Visual Arts

John Kelly reports on the Diane Noomin memorial celebration at the School of Visual Arts last month:

The life of pioneering cartoonist Diane Noomin (1947-2022) was celebrated by her friends, family and fans at a memorial service held November 10, 2022, at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, where she taught comics to hundreds of young artists. Speakers at the event included her husband, the cartoonist Bill Griffith, cartoonists Phoebe Gloeckner and Jennifer Camper, comics historians Bill Kartalopoulos and Hillary Chute, Columbia University's Curator for Comics and Cartoons Karen Green, and cartoonist Art Spiegelman, who introduced Noomin and Griffith in the early 1970s.

"I wasn't even aware that I was being a matchmaker until the last time I was at Bill's house with Diane... and she brought it up," Spiegelman said of his pairing of the couple, so many years ago. "All I really remembered is, 'we'll have a couple of people for dinner, you know'... Bill had been living with us a little bit before that for several months... Bill had been reeling from a relationship that hadn't worked out and he was with us a lot, convalescing from it. And then you know, it was like... 'Oh, well, maybe [Diane and Bill] will get along,' you know. But I but it wasn't as conscious as all that... but it does seem that maybe I did arrange this... and I'm glad I did. But as Bill has reported to me... when asked, what she thought of Bill—Bill asked [Diane] that—she said, 'well, you were kind of snooty.'" The crowd laughed. "And it wasn't until a little later," Spiegelman continued, "that that they actually made the connection that led to a really lifelong, very solid and and moving relationship between them."

Monday, December 05, 2022

2019 Video: Robert Crumb and Aline Kominsky-Crumb Interview: Drawn Together

Here's an onstage interview conducted in Denmark by Martin Krasnik with underground comix creators (and married couple) Robert Crumb and Aline Kominsky-Crumb:

"'If it repulses you, do not look at it.' Watch the iconic 'cartooning couple' Robert Crumb and Aline Kominsky-Crumb on stage. In this video, they talk about their close to fifty years together, from their first meeting to collaborating and giving the world a version of their marriage – their 'love story' – through their joint comic strip. 

"'It was the early seventies, it was crazy, it was a time of free love, and nothing was normal. So why should our relationship have been normal either?' The couple shares how, before meeting Aline, Robert was already drawing a character with her last name – Honeybunch Kominsky. At the time of their first meeting, Robert already had a wife – and a girlfriend – so 'it was a little bit complicated,' but the two were drawn together, and in the autumn of 1972, they started doing comics together. Initially just for fun and to pass the time because Aline had broken her foot: 'We made it really crazy, but then a publisher saw it and wanted to publish it, and so we said: Why not?' They recall how many feminists from the women’s comics collective in the 1970s disliked not only Robert but also Aline, who didn’t portray herself as a heroic figure 'conquering male-chauvinism.' Aline too considered herself a feminist, but wanted 'to be as free as a man, and have as much sex as I possibly could, and be as bad and wild as I could.' In connection to this, Aline is quite clear in her response to people, who find the cartoons degrading: 'It’s a lot better to draw it than it is to impose it on other people.'

"Robert and Aline also talk about how they work and both agree that working together is much easier than working alone: 'She’s just such a natural-born Jewish comedian, it just comes out of her, it just pours out of her all the time. She always keeps me laughing,' Crumb says of Aline, who adds that she likes working with Robert because he can keep her on the subject. The couple feel that people take things too seriously nowadays and that sometimes you have to go back to the very beginning of why you do things: 'I wanted to do art that people read in the toilet, and now I have my work shown in New York at the fanciest art gallery in New York, fifty years later.' 

"Aline Kominsky-Crumb (b. 1948) is an American cartoonist. Kominsky-Crumb’s work, which is almost exclusively autobiographical, is known for its unvarnished, confessional nature. Solo work includes ‘The Bunch’s Power Pak Comics’ (1979-81), ‘Love That Bunch’ (1990), and ‘Need More Love: A Graphic Memoir’ (2007). She is also one of the cartoonists behind ‘Dirty Laundry Comics’, and cofounder of ‘Twisted Sisters’. In 2016, Comics Alliance listed Kominsky-Crumb as one of the twelve women cartoonists deserving of lifetime achievement recognition. 

"Robert Crumb (b. 1943) is an American cartoonist. Crumb, a counterculture comic book artist and social satirist, has enjoyed cult status for his underground comic strips, full of anti-heroes. Among these is a wide range of popular characters including Fritz the Cat and Mr Natural. Much of his work has also appeared in Weirdo magazine (1981-1993), which he founded himself, and which was one of the most prominent publications of the alternative comics era. Crumb has received several accolades for his work, including his induction into the comic book industry’s Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 1991 and the Angoulême Grand Prix in 1999. Crumb was also among the artists honoured in the exhibition ‘Masters of American Comics’ at the Jewish Museum in New York (2006-2007). In 2012 a retrospective of Crumb’s work was exhibited at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. He has frequently collaborated with cartoonist Aline Kominsky-Crumb, with whom he is married, and the couple has made a joint comic strip based on their life together through four decades. A collection of the comics, ‘Drawn Together’, was published in 2012. In 2017, David Zwirner Gallery in NYC held a joint exhibition of Robert and Aline’s artwork: ‘Aline Kominsky-Crumb & R. Crumb: Drawn Together’. Robert Crumb & Aline Kominsky-Crumb were interviewed on stage by Martin Krasnik in connection with the Louisiana Literature festival at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denmark in August 2019. 

"Camera: Simon Weyhe and Jakob Solbakken."


Friday, December 02, 2022

Trailer: Dave Stevens: Drawn to Perfection

Did you know there's a new documentary about the life and work of comic book artist Dave Stevens directed by Kevin Mao? I found out just now. More at Film Threat

It's available on iTunes as of December 2nd. (Hey, that's today!) Here's the trailer:


Thursday, December 01, 2022

Aline Kominsky-Crumb 1948 - 2022


Underground cartoonist Aline Kominsky–Crumb passed away at her home at France on Tuesday. She was 74. The cause was pancreatic cancer. She is survived by her husband Robert, daughter Sophie, and grandson Eli.


From The Beat:

The news was first posted by her local comics shop/gallery.


Fantagraphics comments on Facebook:

 From The Daily Cartoonist Facebook page:

"The underground comix scene, which arose from the counterculture of the 1960s, was not especially supportive of female artists. One of the few to break through and leave a lasting legacy was Aline Kominsky-Crumb, whose frank, self-lacerating, darkly humorous stories helped inspire generations of visual storytellers and the wider culture. Word started spreading on social media that Kominsky-Crumb died on Tuesday at her home in France from pancreatic cancer, confirmed by sources close to the family. She was 74."


From Forbes:

"Kominsky-Crumb, born Aline Goldsmith, grew up in Long Island, and first got into underground comix when she was at the University of Arizona in Tucson in the late 1960s. She moved to San Francisco in 1972 to pursue her artistic career, and soon fell in with underground icon Robert Crumb after mutual friends noted a coincidental resemblance to a character Crumb had created several years previously named 'Honeybunch Kominsky.' The couple were married in 1978, and had a daughter, Sophie, in 1981.

"Kominsky-Crumb was a founding member of the influential all-female collective that produced the anthology Wimmin’s Comix, a long-running feminist comic published by Last Gasp from 1972-1985. Kominsky-Crumb, along with artist Diane Noomin, broke with the group in the mid-1970s to do their own publication, Twisted Sisters. Both comics were some of the first to deal squarely with the political issues around female empowerment, criticism of the patriarchy, sexual politics, lesbianism and other topics central to feminist ideology."

I always liked the autobiographical comix that she did with Robert Crumb, her husband of fifty years. She drew herself, and he drew himself in a series appropriately titled "Dirty Laundry Comics.".


Tablet: Jewish, Ugly, Weird, Oversexed, Gross

Jewish Women's Archive


The Comics Journal Obituary

1990: Peter Bagge Interviews Aline Kominsky Crumb