Monday, July 25, 2016

THE BEST OF TIMES by Ludwig Bemelmans

It was any cartoonist's dream assignment: fly over to Europe, as a tourist, and draw and report on what your experience is like.

This happened to Ludwig Bemelemans (the guy who did the MADELINE books). The editor of HOLIDAY Magazine asked him to fly to Europe, to see how the people were doing. This is just after WWII. Certain cities were in rubble. The Marshall plan was rolling out.


"After the most casual arrangements and without writing anything down on a contract form or even the back of a menu, I left, virtually from the table of the restaurant at which Ted Patrick [his HOLIDAY Magazine editor] suggested the voyage. I traveled wherever I would have gone had I been on my own holiday. I stayed everywhere as long as I liked."

Here are a dozen of the fifty color illustrations and 100 black and white illustrations from his collection of essays, THE BEST OF TIMES, copyright 1948 by Simon and Schuster, Inc.

My copy fell apart (the back cover came off while scanning these). It's easy to find online at used book sites, but most copies are well read. You can see why.

-- Edited from July 24, 2014 blog entry.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Cartoon Classes

I'm teaching cartoon classes this week. I should be back to posting regularly in the next few days. I tell you, these kids are drawing machines!!!


Above graphic from Cartoon Class: Can You Draw 160 Cartoons?

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Junior Fire Marshal Magazine Christmas 1957

Here is a Weekly Reader formatted Junior Fire Marshal Magazine from 1957. Sponsored by The Hartford, there are some great midcentury modern examples of cartoon illustration in the primers for kids about fire safety. These are all uncredited. I have a couple more of these Junior Fire Marshal Magazines, so I will continue to share them since they have been most likely not seen for many decades. Any guesses as to authorship would be welcome!

Monday, July 18, 2016

"The Careless Family" by Stanley Stamaty

Here's a rare gem: "The Careless Family" pamphlet, with cartoons by Stanley Stamaty, created and distributed by the National Board of Fire Underwriters. Stanley is the cartoonist father of cartoonist Mark Alan Stamaty. This was all part of a kids' education project and was probably distributed to schools in the 1950s or early 60s by major insurance companies.

"The Careless Family ... They're Responsible for Most Home Fires!

CARELESSNESS causes most fires. And carelessness means people. Some of the members of the Careless Family are shown on these pages ...

... are YOU a member of the CARELESS FAMILY?"

And we get ten samples of careless people like Hoarder Hattie, Bert and Nessie the Blow-Uppers, Glow-worm Gertie and other alliterative careless family members. This is from a small stack of fire prevention pamphlets and other paper ephemera that I recently bought. This may be the only instance where we get to see a cartoonist's signature on the art.

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Garden As of July 15, 2016

Tomatoes -- lots of different heirloom tomatoes -- and radishes and basil and eggplant and squash and a couple of "volunteers" that just appeared.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Why I Cut Cable TV

I cut the cord on cable TV three years ago this month. Every time I travel, and see what regular cable TV is, I am reminded of all the good reasons I did this.

As an example of the kind of crud that people pay for, here are Mitchell and Webb's parody of a reality show "Coverage of People Buying a House and Then Living in It." Oh boy. Spot on.

Kubert School Video: Frank Miller

Paris: Hergé Gallery Show at the Grand Palais 28 September 2016 to 15 January 2017

If you are in Paris, this looks like a great exhibition of Hergé's career ....

There is no longer any need to present the career of Georges Remi, known as Hergé, Belgian cartoonist best known for The Adventures of Tintin. Often referred to as "the father of the European comic strip," he was one of the first French-speaking authors to use American-style comic strip with speech bubbles. The exhibition looks back on his creative approach, fed by the cinema, painting, photography and adventure novels and his passion for drawing. It shows how the universally recognised drawings of Hergé fit in with both his era and the history of art.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Michael Crawford 1941-2016

New Yorker cartoonist and artist Michael Crawford died peacefully at his home in Kingston, NY yesterday afternoon. The cause was cancer.

He sold his first cartoon to The New Yorker in 1981. He told Michael Maslin that as the editorship of the magazine changed, and Tina Brown came in:

"'Tina was relentlessly cordial, encouraging and welcoming of spread ideas.” He contributed color work (color was no stranger to him. Like many New Yorker artists he wore two hats: cartoonist and fine artist). His good friend Danny Shanahan said of him not long ago: 'Michael’s not really a cartoonist – he’s an artist.'"

Over 600 cartoons and paintings he sold to the magazine. From his bio:

"Crawford’s work has appeared in the pages of the New York Times, the Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. A dedicated baseball fan, he has played first base for The New Yorker’ssoftball team since the nineteen-eighties. Off the diamond, he co-edited, and wrote the introduction for, 'The New Yorker Book of Baseball Cartoons,' with cartoon editor Robert Mankoff. Crawford’s talents expand beyond cartooning—he is a full-time painter, and also recently worked on a video project for Issey Miyake, examining the designer’s relationship with Irving Penn. He is currently working on a 'not-exactly-for-kids' picture book and animated film about the Skunk Mafia of Central Park, who are fighting for control of the city’s beloved oasis and all the animals in it. Crawford lives with fellow New Yorker cartoonist Carolita Johnson opposite the Cloisters, in upper Manhattan.
They have since moved upstate.

Here's what his daughter Farley Crawford posted yesterday:

"Our beloved Michael Crawford left us this afternoon. At 3:33 pm — in a house buzzing with family and visitors, but in a rare moment alone in his room — he took a last deep breath, and died a minute later. He was listening to Cannonball Adderley’s 'Autumn Leaves.' As his family gathered around his bedside, the song changed to Chet Baker’s 'Someone to Watch Over Me.'

"He spent his last five days comfortably and well cared-for at home, in Kingston, with his favorite paintings on the wall, his favorite music on shuffle, his pain relief delivered via passionfruit custard, his meds via mint chip ice cream, many of his favorite people at his side, and with the love and support of many more favorite people afar.

"We are so grateful to everyone who donated to help offset the costs of Michael's health care and end of life expenses. Your generosity is stunning, and affirming of our father's impact. We are living in such troubling times and this has been a very warm reminder of the deep goodness possible in humanity. 
"We are looking towards a memorial to celebrate Michael Crawford's life in NYC in September."

Michael Maslin has a gamut of memories of his fellow New Yorker cartoonist neighbor. Here is a small selection:

"The first time I laid eyes on him, thirty-two years ago, I was sitting in a street level apartment next to Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Lady Studios in Greenwich Village. The apartment belonged to another New Yorker cartoonist, Richard Cline. I was waiting for Cline to finish up a phone call so we could cab uptown to the Pierre Hotel on 5th Avenue for the magazine’s annual anniversary party. Crawford suddenly came in through Cline’s Seinfeldian unlocked apartment door. More specifically, Crawford sidled in like a sand crab – looking as if he wasn’t sure he really wanted to be there or was supposed to be there. This kind of entrance became, for me, his trademark over the years: looking like he was ready to leave as soon as he entered a room."

Michael has much more, including a good number of links, at his site: