Wednesday, January 31, 2007

How to Create A Comic

Here's a link to a hands-on "how I do what I do" blog entry by Web cartoonist Bryant Paul. From Sketches to inking to PhotoShop -- it's all here.

His Web comic TEACHING BABY PARANOIA has been running since January 4, 2000, which is the equivalent of THE GUMPS or OLD DOC YAK in Cyber-land. More about Bryant here.

"I begin each comic with a more or less stream-of-consciousness block of text, usually based upon some observation or something I read."

I love this kinda behind the scenes stuff. I usually start each one of my cartoons out by staring at the ceiling and then I wonder if I'll ever have another idea in my head, and look at that cobweb up there, and one of these days I gotta have Sam (landlord) repaint this place since it's been like 15 years since a proper repainting job was done, but then I'd have to move all the books and book shelves, and maybe one day I should just sell or give away all of these dang books; well, not all, but most of them, bla, bla, bla .... Yeesh. It's a wonder I get any work done at all.

Giant h/t to Journalista!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Thurber and Melendez UPA Shorts

A couple of shorts, both under 7 minutes apiece.

Released September 4, 1953, the UPA short THE UNICORN IN THE GARDEN was released. It was based not only on James Thurber's short story, but it also recreated his cartoon "look." Rumor has it that director Bill Hurtz deliberately let the "greener," less experienced hands work on this to achieve Thurber's naive drawing style. YouTube link here.

CHRISTOPHER CRUMPET, from the same studio, same year (with an animation assist by Bill Melendez, who would produce the CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS special thirteen years later) is a story told by an animator sitting at his drawing board ....

"Well, you know Christopher. You either get him what he wants or you've got a chicken for a son."

Any short with that line in it is worth perusing. Link here.

1970s STAR TREK Toy Commercials

Ahh ... Life before Wii.

1976 Star Trek Tricorder Commercial

1976 Mego Phaser Battle Game

1976 Star Trek Intergalactic Projector Commercial

1976 Star Trek Command Communications Console Commercial

1975 USS Enterprise Gift Set

My favorite one of these commercials is for the lamest toy: the Star Trek Intergalactic Projector. Let me be upfront: I did not own one!

In this commercial, a kid (wearing nerdy glasses) operates this plastic play planetarium. It projects constellations on the wall of your darkened bedroom, see? There are 2 flashlights ("light beam pointers" they're called in the commercial) that emit cut-out shape versions of the Enterprise and the Klingon ship (clumsily identified as "enemy craft from Jupiter" and the kids fly it upside down in the commercial -- something that would never happen in these nerd-friendly times). So, the kid and his pal sit there, and shine the flashlight silhouettes of these ships over the starfield. Hoo boy. "Runs on 2 D and 2 AA cell batteries (not included)."

That's entertainment! Well, as pretty good as entertainment got in the 70s.

Image taken from the Mego Museum site's Star Trek page.

For Better or for Worse creator slowing down, not retiring

Eric Harrison writes of Lynn Johnston's hybrid-retirement in today's Houston Chronicle.

"[Lynn Johnston] has ...written and drawn the popular comic strip For Better or for Worse for 28 years, in sickness and in health, without complaint, while Aaron McGruder (Boondocks), Bill Watterson (Calvin and Hobbes) and others griped, took extended hiatuses and retired.

"'What wusses!' she exclaims."

H/t Dirk Deppey. Photo from David Folkman's collection of 2006 Reubens photos at Hogan's Alley here.

Cartoonists Getting Rich?

"Getting Rich In Comics?," is the headline.

"Probably not," is the first line. Slave Labor Graphics Editor-in-Chief Jennifer De Guzman writes about unrealistic views of comic book and graphic novel creators at the Comic World News site. [Edit: This domain currently down.]

Way back before I was a full-time cartoonist, I had no delusions.

I never, ever thought I would ever, ever, ever be successful because -- as the Ms De Guzman rightly states -- very few can make a living. "Most cartoonists' careers last six months," so the saying goes.

I think one of the reasons why most pro cartoonists are such nice guys -- and I mean successful comic book artists, lauded strip cartoonists, well-known gag cartoonists -- is that they are continuously humbled by the bucket-loads of perseverance that we all have to go through to get our work out there and get it bought by an editor. For every bought cartoons there's a number (sometimes a rather large number) in a drawer.

Success does not hold any guarantees.

For instance, it's nice that I have cartoons in WSJ, Reader's Digest and Playboy this month. Wow! Looky me! I'm in 3 huge markets! Wow!

But that doesn't guarantee any level of sales in February. Heck, as a couple of my cartoonist pals know, I lost a good client a couple of weeks ago. Things like this happen, as my colleagues all know.

A client will decide to change their approach, or something. Anyway, all of a sudden, the market is not buying from you any more. You need to smile and nod and move on. Rejection is all part of the profession.

"For everything, there's a beginning, a middle and an end," Sam Gross told me a couple weeks ago. Sam submitted to the New Yorker for over five years before getting published. Heck, I've been submitting to the New Yorker for near seven years without success.

Every week, the challenge for me and every other brother and sister cartoonists drums on: come up with some good, new, funny content; keep pitching. I still don't know what sells. Some markets buy a lot, some a little, some not at all.

I may not be rich, but I am in the best company.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Late Comic Books Are No Fun

Some comic books are routinely late, late, late -- and blogger Mark Engloom has an old timey PSA essay about all this that's a lot of fun.


Sunday, January 28, 2007

Syncopated Comics Release Party

[UPDATE: I put the wrong date on this (now corrected below)-- please note the correct date for the SYNCOPATED COMICS #3 release party is FEBRUARY 20, 2007! Sorry about that -- and thanks to Brendan for the correction!]

Brendan Burford, a good egg and a swell cartoonist, is celebrating the release of his own SYNCOPATED COMICS #3 Tuesday, February 20, 2007 from 6-9pm at Drop Off Service in NYC.

And, as if that isn't enough, there will be free beer.

"Oh, hey, even though we're looking at free pints, please do tip whoever's tending bar," advises Brendan.

Sound advice!

More info. at Brendan's blog.

And here's the SYNCOPATED COMICS home page.

Beer and comics! My 2 favorite things ... together! Thanks, Brendan!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Charles Henry White

Turn of the (last) century illustrator Charles Henry White is the focus a 2 part essay (part one here, part two here) of pro illustrator Paul Giambarba's 100 Years of Illustration blog this month.

On etching in public in NYC:

"If there is anything the artist need fear in New York it is rather too much kindness than the contrary. Everyone in the neighborhood is interested and kindly disposed towards him, from Casey the [cop,] who occasionally stops on his beat with a word of encouragement, and a little well chosen profanity -- accentuated by a prod or two from his night-stick to scatter the crowd -- to little Tommy Sullivan, who rushes to the drinking-water fountain a block away to replenish your water-bottle."

Thanks, Paul, for sharing these images!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Figure Skating Hall of Fame Elects Late 'Peanuts' Creator

E&P has the news.

The 2007 National Cartoonists Society Division Awards

The 2007 National Cartoonists Society Division Awards

Cartoonists are invited to submit their work (or the work of someone else) for consideration for one or more of the following Division Awards.

NCS members, and non-members alike, are eligible.

You will need an NCS Division Awards Entry Form. Contact information is below.

Submit one or more samples in VHS or DVD format of aired or exhibited work that was released in the year 2006.

Submit one or more samples in VHS or DVD format of aired or exhibited work that was released in the year 2006.

6 samples of published work.

12 samples of work published in 2006.

6 samples of work published in 2006.

12 samples of work published in 2006.

12 samples of work published in 2006.

6 samples of work published in 2006.

6 samples of work published in 2006.

12-20 samples of work published in 2006.

4 samples of work published and marketed in 2006.

3 samples of work published in 2006.

DEADLINE: February 23, 2007

Three finalists will be announced at the National Cartoonists Society Web site <> by April 2007.

An award plaque will be presented at a black tie dinner at the 61st Annual Reubens Award Dinner in Orlando, Florida on May 26, 2007.

FOR AN ENTRY FORM and more information contact:

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Berndt Toast Gang Meeting January 25, 2007

Above: Emilio Squeglio shows us the latest issue of Alter Ego, which had an interview with him about his days at Fawcett.

After some morning flurries, the Gang convened around noon at our Long Island restaurant. I got in a little early due to unusually light traffic. The radio was warning everyone about the impending drastic temperature drop -- "the coldest it's been in 2 years!" -- and people decided to stay at home by the hearth. Heck, even the Office of Emergency Management issued this warning:

"On Thursday, January 25, the coldest airmass of the season will grip New York City, bringing sub-zero wind chills and temperatures in the teens. OEM reminds New Yorkers to dress warmly when they must go outside — layer clothes to capture warm air, wear mittens, scarves and hats, and keep clothes dry."

Regardless, us hardy cartoonists got together for lunch. Any chance to talk shop!

We toasted Bill & Mimi Seay, as well as Tom Gill and Val Costantino. Each of them, significant presences at the Berndt Toast Gang, and I miss them all.

When I first came to BT, it was then-chairman Bill Seay, and co-chair Tom Gill who welcomed me. It was through them that I met everyone else.

Above: Tony Cerezo has handed Sandy Kossin and Sy Barry an EC Comics Portfolio. All I know is I hear the name "Alex Toth," and these guys, whose faces are obscured by the portfolio, had to have a close look.

NY Newsday staffer Bob Buethe brought in a zine from the 1990s titled "Breaking In," which was, of course, about breaking in to the comic strip industry. And Tom Heintjes, who now is the force behind Hogan's Alley, was on the masthead. Valerie had a number of contributions to this 25 year old publication, including a full color cover. My friend Val passed away due to cancer 3 years ago next month; and, to draw a silver lining over her untimely passing, at the time of her death she had cartoons in all the major publications, had just scored a syndication deal, and was joining me in journeying the New Yorker offices. Yeah, up to the end (and without letting on how sick she was) she was getting routinely rejected by Bob Mankoff, but she persevered.
Above: Three masters: Don Orehek, Stan Goldberg and Steve Duquette

With Al Scaduto and Bill Kresse not able to come to our lunch this day, we were without any music. We asked Albert, the restaurant owner, but he shook his head and hustled away to his office. "That's the fastest I've ever seen him move!" quipped Sy Barry. Don Orehek sang a couple of Slovenian songs to our table, in between mouthfuls. We urged him to stand up and sing for the whole roomful of us (I even offered to buy him another drink), but he demurred.

This being the season of colds and flus, we shared advice about keeping healthy. Stan Goldberg pointed out that cartoonists are the healthiest. They work at home, they aren't in the office environment, getting other peoples' germs. Well said! And that ammonia in the ink maybe helps, added Sy Barry. Ha ha! Maybe.

Above: Emilio Squeglio and guest Mike Setaro who -- if I remember what he told me correctly -- is an SVA student. If not, please forgive me, Mike. (Mike's friend, Joe Bennett, was taping Emilio, and was probably out of view, taping me taking this photo. Joe, I told you to tell me if you're putting this up on YouTube, OK?!)

Emilio Squeglio brought a couple of students who told me they wanted to do a documentary about the Berndt Toast Gang. Emilio's days at Fawcett, as part of the Captain Marvel artist stable, is the focus of his interview in this month's Alter Ego. I remember one time, watching him draw the Big Red Cheese, and telling me, let me show you how Mr. Beck showed me how to do it.

I chatted with Greg Fox, whose Kyle's Bed & Breakfast strip runs in a number of gay and lesbian publications nationwide. It's usually paired with Alison Bechdel's Dykes to Watch Out For. There was one time when he got Alison Bechdel's check and she got his. It was weird, he elaborated, because her had her address in Vermont and mine had my address on it -- but we still got each others check. Weird! Well, OK, so, now they e-mail occasionally, but have never met. We talked about her book FUN HOME, and it being called "Book of the Year" by Time mag -- beating out a slew of "plain prose" books. . We talked about taxes. Freelancers get a lot of 1099s, and sometimes it's confusing. For instance, I got a tax statement today from Bauer Publications. And I gotta remember that Bauer Publications publishes a couple of magazines that bought some cartoons (FIRST FOR WOMEN and WOMEN'S WORLD). The names of those mags appear nowhere on the tax paperwork.

Knaishia and Penelope Grover, daughter (cartoonist) and mother (singer), joined us. Knaishia gave me advice about what manga to read. Her reply is below. Thanks, Knaishia!

Free Comic Book Day/Cartoonist Day

May 5th is the annual Free Comic Book day where (you guessed it) comic book shops give away comics for free. But these are not just any ol' comic books -- these are special comics that comic book companies produce especially for comic book day. Complete list at Newsarama.

Since May 5th is also Cartoonist Day, a day to celebrate cartoonists and their craft, this will be a doubly fun year for the event.

Oh -- and take a gander at that line up! MANGA! Oh, hate manga? SUPERHEROES! Oh, you don't like those male adolescent power fantasies? LYNDA BARRY! Do you know who she is? She's great. How about PEANUTS! Now, everyone loves Peanuts!

More anon.

Hat tip to Ms. MacDonald at Publisher's Weekly's The Beat.

National Gorilla Suit Day!

For goodness sake, it's almost National Gorilla Suit Day!

H/t Mark Evanier!

Handicraft Guide No. 9 CARTOONING Part 2

Continuing our scans of the US Army pamphlet on cartooning. The first part is here.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


"Are you alive?"

The show is popular, but what with DVR, iTunes & BitTorrent, actual TV ratings are down so says the Sci Fi Channel in this story "New season of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA might be 'lost in space'" by Robin Blade. Link to the Toledo Blade here.

Of course, it's gonna be time to renew everyone's contract soon, and this could be just so much baloney designed to put the scare in those who asking for more $$$.

BSG is to Sci Fi what SOUTH PARK is to Comedy Central: a breakout hit.

Besides, the chicks are cool and the guys are hunks. And there's spaceships zapping each other. What's not to love?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Handicraft Guide No. 9 CARTOONING

This is one of those things I came across on eBay. All I know is that it's from WW2 and part of a series of guides for such things as carpentry, bookbinding and tin can craft -- and it's for the Use of U.S. Armed Services Personnel Only.
You can click on the above for a larger pic.

OK, it's funny that the wannabe cartoonist Private here is spilling the ink out of his back pocket, but funnier (maybe weird-funny, not funny-funny) is the eentsy beentsy puff of smoke behind the guy's left foot. I wish there was an art credit here, but it might've been farmed off on the some anonymous Popular Mechanics art department staff members.

I find those expressions to be rather haunting and ugly. Picking out the person's big nose to caricature may get you a sock in the puss.

Ha ha. "Pick a nose."

That guy with the big eye looks like a Jack Cole character. And what's with the aging, sad looking yellow kid on the lower right?

I wish we all wore hats (aside from baseball caps and knit hats). Hats are fun to draw, and I have a personal weakness for the ol' guy-so-shocked-his-hat-flies-off-his-head image.

This kinda stuff ("7 1/2 to 8 times the length of their heads") always spooked me.I don't like math, that's why I draw pictures.

More tomorrow.

Scan Your Cat

Our sweet little B&W cat Sam is fascinated by the scanner, hence this image.

Cartoon Art Advertising

Over at good ol' Mark Anderson's Andertoons blog, he cites a company that's making comic book style advertisements.

I agree with his "nobody can ignore a cartoon" comments, and just wanted to shine the Flashlight of Cartoon History on the topic. But, hey, I can be lazy and, actually, not even turn on the ol' FoCH, because illustrator/blogger Leif Peng all ready has!

Leif has a Flickr set of old comic strip advertising here. And don't miss his Today's Inspiration blog.

Tom Heintjes has written a wonderful history of the NYC company that did comic book advertising full-time for many decades, Johnston and Cushing. Scott Shaw! has a look at a special Boy's Life comic book that the company did in 1952. It had art by Creig Flessel, Lee Ames, and Dik Browne, among others.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Joe Sinnott & Dave Cockrum

Joe Sinnott's Web site offers work by Joe & fellow comic book artist Dave Cockrum this month. Link here.

You gotta remember to stop in to Joe's site every month for some new Sinnott art. I was surprised that I owned about half of these comics! To the left, one of those great Cockrum/Sinnott covers that appealed to all American boy comics fans!

Editorial Cartoons: Best of Times, the Worst of Times

Editor & Publisher's Dave Astor writes about how great so many images the current editorial cartoonists are producing, just as criticism -- as well as permanent job loss -- mounts in the industry.

Hat tip Journalista!

Tom Gill Memoir Delayed

Veteran comic book artist Tom Gill was working on an autobiography before he passed away peacefully in November, 2005. Titled THE MISADVENTURES OF A ROVING CARTOONIST, and co-authored by Tom Lasiuta, the hardcover volume was scheduled to be out on the stands just before the holidays.

According to my conversations with Five Star Publishing rep Linda Radke, the book has not been published yet, waiting on rights clearances.

I'll keep this on my radar, and hope we'll see it later this year.

Hans im Gluck by Herbert Leupin

Hans im Gluck ("Hans in Luck"), based on a Grimm fairy tale, with drawings by Herbert Leupin, is a book I picked up last year in a great used bookstore, Lippincott Books, in downtown Bangor, Maine. It was printed in Switzerland in 1944 by Globi-Verlag in Zurich.

The above full-page illustration was why I bought the book. Hans has a jauntiness to his step, and just look at that fat luncheon sausage stuffed in his pocket.

What amazed me is how old the book is -- yet the colors remain very vibrant and arresting.

The largest illustration in the book is this 2 page gatefold. The longer you look, the more detail there is. Clicking on the above image will bring a larger, actual-size-of-the-book image.

Detail of the above drawing.

The last Herbert Leupin picture in the book. A spectacular depiction that almost defies perspective, yet it all makes cartoony sense. The details have made me linger on this every time I see it.

I don't know who Herbert Leupin was, except for the fact that he was a popular illustrator who made posters. Heaven knows, my grasp of German is good enough to order "beir," but not to actually comprehend this German-language book. So, I bought it for the pictures.

Regardless, Mr. Leupin's work should be reprinted, and called attention to. Hence, this day's blog.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Masters of American Comics

Less than a week to go for the Masters of American Comics exhibition here in NYC. It closes Saturday, January 28th.

The Newark Museum
49 Washington Street, Newark, New Jersey

The Jewish Museum
1109 Fifth Avenue (northeast corner of 92nd Street), New York, New York

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Robert Crumb & Aline Kominsky Crumb

The NY Times has an article, photos and an audio slideshow focusing on Robert and Aline Crumb's life now. The audio slideshow has more photos, and focuses on Aline Kominsky Crumb's forthcoming graphic novel memoir "Need More Love." They'll be at the NY Public Library on February 14th. Crumb will interview his wife on stage.

Lots of photos of them in their 11th century house in France. Worth a peek.