Monday, April 30, 2007

Cartoon & Comic Book Industry Obits for the Past 12 Months

Hey ! It's spring! It's all sunny and beautiful!

And the National Cartoonists Society is having its convention in a couple of weeks. One thing that happens over that weekend is the Reuben Awards show.

It's like the Oscars. There's an emcee (in the past years it's been Dan Piraro), there are prizes, a live band, and I have to wear a tux.

One of the events that Reubens evening is a slide show of cartoonists who have passed away since the last Reubens. And so, today, for some reason (i.e., work aversion), I was counting up the names -- all of that I could think of, from the comic book industry to comic strips to animation (as well as a couple of seminal editors) -- and writing down names in a little pad. A couple of these names are industry legends, others are less known.

I thought I'd share the names and some links and graphics. I don't know if it's a complete list, but I hope there are no more names (but please correct me if I missed anyone).

Big hat tips to Mark Evanier and Tom Spurgeon for their blogs!

Here's a list of some of the tremendous talent that's left this Earth in the past 12 months, sorted by the date they passed away:

UPDATE: D.D. Degg let me know there were a number of cartoonists I missed (see his comment below). I can't believe that I missed people like Hilda Terry and Irwin Caplan -- and I even blogged about them. I've added the names to the list and stand, sadly, corrected.

Alex Toth 5/27/06, comic book artist & Hanna Barbera character designer

George Kashdan 6/3/06, writer & editor DC Comics

Tim Hildebrandt 6/11/06, Terry and the Pirates, comic books

Mickey Spillane 7/17/06, comic books, Mike Hammer

Bob McCausland 7/21/06, Hairbreadth Husky, editorial cartoonist

John Bush 7/23/06, Bush League

Bob Thaves, 8/1/06, Frank & Ernest comic strip

Bob Cordray 8/2/06, Smidgens, Alex in Wonderland

John McLusky 9/5/06, James Bond

Ed Sullivan 8/26/06, Priscilla's Pop, Out Our Way

Jerry Belson, 10/10/06 comedy show and comic book writer

Hilda Terry 10/13/06, Teena, magazine cartoonist

Michelle Urry 10/15/06, Playboy magazine cartoon editor

Don R. Christensen 10/18/06, animator & comic book artist

Dave Cockrum 10/26/06, comic book artist

Jack Williamson 11/10/06, Beyond Mars author

Paul Rigby 11/15/06, editorial cartoonist

Jerry Bails 11/22/06, father of comics fandom

Fred Schmidt 11/23/06, Appleton Post-Crescent cartoonist and illustrator

Ben Knight 11/28/06, Newbury News cartoonist

Bill King 12/7/06, Asbury Park Press cartoonist

Martin Nodell 12/9/06, Golden Age comics artist & Green Lantern creator

Robert Schaefer 12/14/06, comic book writer

Joe Gill 12/17/07, comic book writer

Joe Barbera 12/18/06, Hanna Barbera

Jack Burnley 12/19/06, DC artist & Starman creator

Sam Burlockoff 1/3/07, comic book and comic strip artist

Iwao Takamoto 1/8/07, Disney & Hanna Barbera artist

Joe Edwards 2/9/07, Archie Comics Li'l Jinx creator

Bob Oksner 2/18/07, DC Comics artist

Irwin Caplan 2/22/07, magazine cartoonist, newspaper panels

Thomas Stockett 2/21/07, editorial cartoonist

Arnold Drake 3/12/07, DC Comics artist

Jay Kennedy 3/15/07, King Features Editor-in-Chief

Clyde Schmidt 3/20/07, Daily Review sports cartoonist

Marshal Rogers 3/24/07, comic book artist

Johnny Hart 4/7/07 , B.C and Wizard of Id

Frank Chillino 4/9/07, comic art production supervisor at KFS from ca. 1945 - 1990 (retired)

Brant Parker 4/15/07. Wizard of Id

Art Saaf 4/21/07, Golden Age comic book artist

Spring in Brooklyn

A tree grows in Brooklyn and it's blooming pink! This is the front of my place with what we call the "carnation tree" outside. The blooms will be off by the end of the week, but for now, it's beautiful.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

1958 Leave it to Beaver Letter

Take a look at this: Beaver's brought a letter home from school. Sine the photo above of Ward's hands was a short insert shot, the letter did not have to register as anything more than a piece of paper with typing. Thanks to today's flickerless DVD freeze frame, you can read what was really written on this letter from Beaver's principal at the "Shorpy" blog here.

The Shorpy blog has a lot of great photos from the past.

Huge hat tip to Johnny C. and his Hole in the Head blog.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Lost Sci Fi Comedy Pilot: Galaxy Beat (1994)

In 1994 a pilot for a sci fi comedy show titled GALAXY BEAT was made and not picked up. The first part is here, and the remaining chunks of the pilot can be found there too. As we all know, YouTube has a rule that all of its videos have to be under 10 minutes in length so we all have to deal with it.

The cast is full of actors like Gregory Harrison, Tracy Scoggins, RoddyMcDowell, Michael Dorn who were in other sci fi-themed shows (Babylon 5, Crusade, Logan's Run, Star Trek:TNG & DS9, Lois and Clark, Planet of the Apes, The Fantastic Journey, The Colbys, Trapper John M.D., Manimal -- OK, so maybe not Trapper John) and there are more gags per square inch than Quark. Some are clunkers, but a couple I laughed at. The cast is enthusiastic, and the leads are actually pretty funny. It was produced by Alan Spencer, whose SLEDGE HAMMER! I have fond memories of. Actually, I don't have to rely on those memories since the first season of SLEDGE is now out on DVD.

Maybe when they come out with the second season of HAMMER!, they could add this pilot too.

Kids' Comic Convention

Above: Logo designed by Akinseye Brown.

Workshops, exhibits and lotsa comics pros to meet at this weekend's Kids' Comic Convention!

Looks like it's going to be a great event. I won't be there, but a lot of great professionals will be. Alex Simmons deserves massive praise for putting this together!

Tip o' the hat to Jim Salicrup!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Berndt Toast Gang Meeting April 26, 2007

Above: Detail from a 1980s cartoon map drawn by Bill Hoest showing his creations. The map shows the way to the Hoest home -- or, as it's called, the Hoest Castle, on the Long Island Shore. Bill drew it as a handout to cartoonists who wanted to attend the annual Bunny Bash. Even though the map's over 20 years old, it still works great!

OK, where was I?

So, I drove to Long Island from Brooklyn yesterday. It felt good to get out. I've been working hard this week. I got off on Woodbury Avenue, and I hardly recognized the streets. The trees are in bloom.

Art Cumings, Sy Barry, Sandy Kossin, Mike Lynch

It's the last Thursday of the month and that means it's time for the National Cartoonists Society Long Island Chapter (the "Berndt Toast Gang") to have its monthly lunch. Over thirty cartoonists, their friends and loved ones gathered for shop talk.

Above: a Sandy Kossin illustration.

Sandy Kossin was kind enough to share some of his original illustrations from books and magazines. Sandy has the easy balance between fine art and cartoon in these illustrations.

Detail from the illustration. I love that satisfied expression on the dog!

Don Orehek, Jeff Fisher, Art Cumings

Don has a great cartoon in this month's Playboy mag. It's a wordless, color 2 panel cartoons. It's not, so far as I can tell, online.

Dan Danglo, Marty Macaluso, Tony D'Adamo

I've never told Tony this, but 20 years ago, when I first moved to NYC, I'd hang out at the Associated Press building in Rockefeller Center waiting for my then-girlfriend to get off work. I'd hang out and read Newsday until 1am, when her shift was over. Tony was one of its stable of artists and I always admired his vervy ink line.

Ernie Colon, Greg Fox

Ernie's "one of the most versatile artists ever to work in the comics field. A master of all genres .... " so writes Jon B. Cooke in the forward to an interview with Ernie in Comic Book Artist #19, June 2002.

Greg draws Kyle's Bed & Breakfast. He has a freshly minted blog too. And he always wears a DC Comics t-shirt.

Sandy Kossin, Joe Vissichelli (partially obscured)

I think he's taking it away from Joe until Joe washes his hands.

Bunny Hoest, Helen Murdock-Prep, Jeanine Manheim

Bunny was on her way out when I asked if she would pose, hence the coat and cool shades.

NYC NCS Get Together 4/25/07

Tony Murphy, Rina Piccolo, Sam Viviano

The Metro chapter of the National Cartoonists Society got together Wednesday night. It was a grand time, despite the rain outside, and there were so many cartoonists that the restaurant's waiter suffered from cartoonist overload.

It was great to see David Hill, Francesco Marciuliano, Bill Alger, Flash Rosenberg, Evan Forsch and his lovely bride, Lovely Andy Eng and his lovely girlfriend, and a number of others whose names I am blanking on. There was not enough time to say hello to everyone -- a good reason to return next month.

Tony Murphy and Rina Piccolo and I talked about gag subjects that were now old and worn out. Terms like "feng shui" and "blog" are over. They're tired. It's like jokes about Dolly Parton's breasts. It's over! Tony added that "blogosphere" is not passe.

Mort Gerberg, Arnie Roth and Anne Gibbons

I don't know why Mort gave that goofy grin. Arnie was late coming and I asked his wife why. She said he was at home, doing crossword puzzles! But he did show. I think he was waiting to see if the rain was going to stop.

Dan Piraro started the meeting by asking us to identify ourselves. When it was Arnie Roth's tune, he pointed to Larry Katzman, magazine cartoonist. Arnie said that there was a time, the late 1980s, when the NCS was in dire straits, and Larry Katzman was the fellow who untangled the group after the deaths of then NCS president Bill Hoest and, soon after him, NCS super-secretary Marge Devine. Larry got a round of applause.

Larry Lieber, Stan Goldberg, Sal Amendola

Or, to put it another way: the Spider-Man comic strip, Archie and Batman. I remember that Stan and Larry were talking, for some reason, about the old Paddy Chayefsky MARTY play -- the original play on TV, not the movie. I'd seen it repeated on PBS in the 1990s and I thought that the version with Rod Steiger was much better than the movie. They agreed (or they were just being nice to me). Future mother of Tony Soprano Nancy Marchand played Marty's date in the TV version.

"Ruben Bolling," Mike Lynch

"Ruben" (not his real name) draws the Tom the Dancing Bug strip. I don't know if I can say his real name here. Is it a secret? Anyway, a heckuva nice guy, but I want to keep his ID private. I'm not gonna cheese off the Tom the Dancing Bug guy, OK?

Mad Magazine's Sam Viviano draws caricatures of ...

... Mike Lynch and Rina Piccolo, despite their protests!

The evening closed around 9:45. And Rina and me and Tony and Trade Loeffler and Marc Bilgrey all made our way home in the mist ....

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

CBLDF NYC Benefit Thursday

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is having a benefit. It's going to be a launch party for Nick Bertozzi's THE SALON graphic novel and it's tomorrow night at the Village Pourhouse. Press release here.

Nice graphic taken from Nick Bertozzi's site.

Islamic Comics

Good article by Megan Wong in the Christian Science Monitor about a new Islamic superhero comic book.

"The series is inspired by Islamic culture and history – the title refers to the 99 names and traits attributed to God in the Koran – and aims to spread a universal message of teamwork along with plenty of action, adventure, and 'kapow!'"

But since when did a comic book superhero need "$6.8 million from 54 investors in eight countries" in start up money?

Newsrama has a preview here.

Hat tip to Journalista!

Mike Luckovich Video Interview

Online Videos by

Pulitzer and Reuben Award winning editorial cartoonist Mike Luckovich talks about his job, the administration, the joy of working with pen and paper (No Wacom tablet for him. He uses ink and Wite Out.), and the future of the form.

I met Mike at last year's Reubens and he introduced me to his family. He's a very down to earth guy.

What he doesn't touch on in the interview is the amount of work that he does. It's deceptive to some people how hard cartoonists work. Sometimes people think the ol' drawing hand is just a faucet that pours out drawings. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.

Case in point: Mike and his family flew to NYC a couple years ago to attend Bunny Hoest's annual cartoonists' bash. The Bunny Bash draws a couple hundred cartoonists, editors, family and friends. Once there, Mike spent the bulk of his time there in the Hoest/Reiner studio, which is in a turret on the second floor. While he drew and faxed a cartoon, his family played in the Long Island sound!

Postscript: unfortunately, winning all these awards does not guarantee that the people who produced a video about Mike Luckovich can spell the guy's name correctly -- hence making the video hard to find!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Free Comic Book Day/Cartoonist Day

I've been keeping my eye open for some news about this event, coming the first Saturday in May. Here's a good article from the Honolulu Advertiser by Caroline E. Toth ....

Free Comic Book Day is coming. And, if you are lucky enough to live in Hawaii, then you have the coolest library; 6 libraries are participating in Free Comic Book Day, giving away Archie, Transformers and Peanuts comics. This is way, way cool of these librarians, and the Hawaii public library system, to actually support comics!

May 5 is also Cartoonist Day.

Hat tip to once again the informative Dirk Deppey at Journalista!

Brendan Burford Appointed Comics Editor of King Features

Editor and Publisher has the story.

Brendan is a very knowledgeable guy whose love of comics runs from the old time comic strips to today's indy cartoonists. He's just the guy to move King forward.

Congratulations, Brendan!

Brendan's Syncopated Comics site.

Hat tip to Journalista!

Mike Lynch Cartoon in April 23 Brandweek

"Oh, that one. That's one of your weird ones."

I like ALICE IN WONDERLAND. OK, more than "like." I went thru a period in my 1970s teenagehood where I carried the book with me to high school every day. Go ahead, make fun. People have carried weirder things in their backpacks.

I'm not a fan of the Disney version. My man is Tenniel. Seminal Tenniel. I have a number of books with different illustrators doing their take on the Lewis Carroll story (including the author), but Tenniel is above the rest. They're dark and realistic and it makes me believe the place. Everyone else follows in his wake.

When I was a kid, my folks bought a Caedmon LP of ALICE with Joan Greenwood (photo above) in an audio adaptation of the book. Greenwood has a smoky voice, and probably sounded way too old and sexy to be a little girl. But I grew up with this recording, and accepted the thing. Although it's been years since I listened to it, I still remember passages.

This cartoon doesn't work if you don't know the above floating head of the Cheshire cat drawing. And, obviously, the pros at Brandweek did!

To draw it, I looked at the Tenniel art and then drew the cat. I drew it fast and freehand, without pencils. It has the spirit of Tenniel, but it's not an exact copy.

Image of Ms. Greenwood from this tribute site to her and Margaret Lockwood.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Joe Simon on CNN

Here's a video clip of Joe Simon on CNN talking about creating CAPTAIN AMERICA with Jack Kirby in 1941, and reaction to his death in 2007. Or should I put quotes around "death?"

Hat tip to Mark Evanier.

Photo of Irwin Hasen and Joe Simon from the Diamond Web site.


So, less than a year after STAR WARS was released, NBC bought a science fiction comedy show created by Buck Henry. It was called QUARK and it was about trash collectors in outer space. There ... I've ruined the first joke in the pilot for you! Sorry about that, chief!

It lasted 8 episodes. But the Web, in all its infinite diversity in infinite combinations, has some QUARK Web sites where people recall this show, whose pedigree was that it was produced by the GET SMART producer.

There's a site that explains all here. And there are some episodes you can choose to view or download there.

It was silly, but if you liked SPACEBALLS, you might like to watch this -- even though it looks like an aged third generation video dub. Until the series is released on DVD, this is your only chance to see it. The cast is appealing, but the pace is a little poky. Hearing a laughtrack again is off-putting. (I've heard that the M*A*S*H DVDs allow you the option to watch episodes without their original laughtrack. A nice feature!) I like Richard Benjamin -- it's too bad that he's underused since he's basically a straight man for the oddballs here. I have to admit I laughed at some of the robot gags.