At eleven AM last Friday, I was watching some Larry Semon comedy shorts with live piano accompaniment. It was part of Mirthquake, a 4-day long annual silent comedy festival in Manchester, NH. Semon was a cartoonist turned comedian. He was big in the 1920s, but forgotten now. A very young Oliver Hardy was the heavy, and the films stuck to the hero-fight-villain-rescue-girl formula. Most of it involved chases, pratfalls, and lots of mugging. It's eighty years later, and the Semon shorts do not look as innovative as they must've looked back then. Richard M. Roberts writes astutely about Larry Semon's career here, and why Semon is forgotten now.
Above: Roy Delgado and Stephanie Piro.
Anyway, here's the background on last Friday: Stephanie Piro and I drove across the state of New Hampshire, to Manchester, to meet with gag cartoonist Roy Delgado and King Features cartoonist Bob Weber. We got there early to see some of those silent movies, and then we headed to the local Irish pub Shaskeen to talk cartoon shop talk.
Stephanie is one of King Features Six Chix, and she also syndicates the humor panel Fair Game. She has a variety of great t-shirts and other items in her shop. I own many of them!
Roy Delgado is one of the most published gag cartoonists today. His new book A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE NEW YORKER, in which he talks about what drives him and his multi-year campaign to get published in The New Yorker.
Mike Lynch and "Moose & Molly" cartoonist Bob Weber.
Bob was showing us a Sunday section of a Trenton newspaper that a fan had given him. There, at the top of the page was "Moose," and underneath was his son's comic "Slylock Fox." Right there, on the same page: Bob Weber, Sr., and Bob Weber, Jr.
Note: There are three Bob Webers actively cartooning; the two above, and Bob Weber of The New Yorker magazine.
We had a good time, talking about cartoons and projects and editors and so on.
Roy told us about his job before cartooning: head of his own sign making company. The drive that he had in that job has now been transferred full-time to his cartooning career.
The hours passed too quickly by.
On the walk back to the car, we went past this old timey soda shop. It had seen better days.
We walked inside. Yup, there were stools and an old marble counter. I saw an Al Ross cartoon from the 1970s on the wall . All right, Dilbert and Far Side I have seen -- but I've never seen anyone tape up a 35 year old Al Ross cartoon.
I asked if I could take a photo. I got the fisheye look from the woman who ran the place, then she shrugged her shoulders and made an "Eh!" sound. I took this to be an OK.