Friday, February 29, 2008


Here I am standing in the driveway, with my arm out to show the height of the drifts. I've basically snowblown a tunnel for our car.

And there's another 6-10 inches predicted for tomorrow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Spring is coming. Spring is coming. Spring is coming. It helps to mutter this all day long.

Mike Lynch Cartoon in February 29, 2008 WSJ

Above: the "Pepper ... and Salt" cartoon as it appears at the Wall Street Journal Web site.

One of the things I do is try to think of commonly used business terms and how I can twist them to find the funny in them. Some of these corporate terms that I've used in published cartoons this year:
Sometimes it's a challenge to take a term and make a cartoon out of it. The corporate jet, for instance, is not necessarily funny in and of itself. But skew the idea of what's trendy, and there you have a cartoon fit for WSJ.

Above: the original. Comparing my version with what is published (top), looks like they dropped out the wash and slightly squished it to fit their square format. I wasn't asked to redraw it. If I redrew it, I would've drawn it with a bolder line and gotten rid of the cloud formation that seems to dominate the smaller version.

Pick, pick, pick.

Thursday, February 28, 2008


Below are some more cartoons by the masters of postwar gag cartooning. This is a selection from CARTOON LAFFS, a True Magazine collection, copyright 1952 by Fawcett. For Part 1 of CARTOON LAFFS, please go here.

"I wish it were called something else besides broadtail. My husband fancies himself a comedian."

Ketcham's clean pen line is a thing of beauty. The suggestion of the overhead lights receding and the successively smaller people in the background give this a good illusion of depth.

I think that if I described this cartoon with the comment that the guy has a big wrench on his head, you might not think it was so funny. One of the reasons that this is a great, funny cartoon picture is because cartoonist Leo Salkin worked in the animation business, and when he draws a big funny wrench, he does a great job.

Ralph Newman gives us a patent office cartoon. This is the first time I've seen a Ralph Newman cartoon and I don't know anything about him. This is such a strong gag, I'd like to see more.

Above: a horrible scan of a bad print job from CARTOON LAFFS. It's a cartoon by the one and only Hank Ketcham, with a touch of wash, hence, the reproduction in half-tone. What's interesting about the cartoon is that you can see a bit of the hand-written gag line to the bottom, right.

Dick Cavalli with the married brunette Cavalli woman and the single blonde Cavalli woman. Only a Cavalli man would discern that the blonde is the more desirable. They look like sisters to me -- except for the low décolletage of the blonde.

Chon Day gives us a glimpse of this woman's whole lifestyle in one line. Love her elf hat. Those should have come back in style when the LOTR movies came out!

Mort Walker examines the love/hate nexus of a bad marriage. You go to the saloon to get away from her, and then you call her up? I love Mort's line work. The floorboards draw us back into the background here. And the blinds and the criss-cross pattern in the phone booth complement each other in a nice designerly way. Are there still phone booths?

I had perverse fun in playing my own how-many-doors-did-Mr.-Monahan-knock-down game. It's a study in some stunning physical stamina. Five doors, and he's still in the mood! The loving detail of the twisted hinges and screws on the floor are nice touches by, who else, VIP.

Ed Nofziger, who drew some of the best cartoon animals ever, contributes this ghoulish gag. Again: a badly reproduced cartoon.

I like Gardner Rea's wonky, wobbly line.

Hank Ketcham shows us how young Alice Mitchell worked her way through college. She was a burlesque hoofer! And I bet ol' pipe smokin' Henry Mitchell was a Stage Door Johnny!

The beautiful signature of Irwin Caplan dresses this great gag. The guy's expression is spot on.

I think that the Jiffy Key Co. salesman can be put away for this. Another name that was new to me: cartoonist Les Colin.

Ted Key
gives us a strong sense of the dining room, with a good look at the crockery cabinet in the background. Nice line control and detail, down to the place setting on the table.

Claude gives us a gag based on a supposition that we all know the proper accouterments for an Elks Club man to wear. It also is a throwback to a time when this kind of humor was shrugged off. I included it because I liked his clean line and, although I sometimes see Claude's originals for sale on eBay, I rarely see his work in collections.

OK, there's love-hate marriages and then there's just the hate-hate kind. I like VIP's work on those sheets. Dig the 1950s single beds!

Cartoon Scrapbook of "Scooper" Conlon

Above: one of the cartoons from the scrapbook by animator Bill Nolan.

The ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive shows us a bunch of gag cartoons from the scrapbook of Hollywood publicist "Scooper" Conlon, who collected these anytime between the silent era and the 1950s.

A number of these cartoons are unidentified. Can you help?

Hat tip to Dirk Deppey at Journalista!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


"When I finished the book you are holding in your hands, my sides literally ached," writes Clyde Carley, Cartoon Editor of TRUE, "the Man's Magazine." this paperback collection, a Gold Medal Original from Fawcett Publications is copyright 1952 by Fawcett. Above: a cartoon by Virgil Partch, nicknamed "VIP." The man is being mean to the lady, but it's OK: they're 1950s cartoon characters.

Kirk Stiles draws the above cartoon with his usual breezy line. I like how the secretary, who powers over her boss, is leaning in to him, obviously up for anything.

The one and only Hank Ketcham, whose pen line and composition were impeccable, provides this cartoon. Just take a look at the crowd scene: is that Lucy Van Pelt in her witch outfit?

Another cartoon by VIP. It took me a minute to see the gag here. And it took me about 30 seconds of looking around at the cartoon to see VIP's signature.

Above: veteran gag cartoonist Dick Cavalli gives us a woman who is shady. It's the décolletage, the frilly flounce at the bottom of the gown, and that long cigarette holder working together to tell us very quickly what we need to know: she is no Sunday School teacher.

Hank Ketcham with another one. The guy with his hat in his hand reminds me of a middle-aged Mr. Wilson.

Above: another example of TRUE's branding. The men in the cartoon by Reamer Keller are the ones who read TRUE; the guy who's self-consciously obsessing about personal hygiene is not who they are.

Above: More VIP. He was, arguably, the cartoonist that was identified with TRUE during its heyday. The forced perspective here really works well. And look at the economy: 7 figures in total, no background, no bases, no stadium -- a lot of stuff that he did not draw. But it still READS as a ball field.

Gardner Rea, a master of line and boiling down characters to their minimum, gives us a racy caveboy gag.

Above: one of my favorite drawings in the collection by (who else?) VIP. For as much detail that he left out of the baseball gag, here is lots of detail of the destructive wake of the waterspout.

VIP with a honey of an overhead shot of a desert island and, below, a 7 panel silent gag. Click to supersize. I love the guy's sneering lip! With ugly, mean guys like this, it's no wonder VIP never sold to The New Yorker!  EDIT: WHOOPS! He did sell to the NYer. Mea culpa!

From Rough to Finish

Today I want to show some sketches and their trip from rough to finish. Above: detail from a sketchbook. The little note "sold HBR" means it sold to Harvard Business Review. I draw very simply and quickly and very small. I blew this up about 200%.

The idea came to me last year when other cartoonists would chat with me and maybe tell me some bit of gossip or something good and juicy -- and then warn me I better not to put it in my blog.

And, above, is the cartoon as I showed it to HBR for their consideration. The line "Aw, hell. You've been reading my MySpace blog, huh?" has been changed. The new line "Uh oh .... Something tells me that blog has been discovered" gets rid of the profanity (always a good idea) and the branding of the blog.

Above is the "Johnson is very security conscious" cartoon rough. You can see how quickly and messily I doodle a rough. Can you tell the guy is locking a steel gate? I originally thought that the text would just float over the cartoon, but then changed it.

Above is the version that I mailed out. Now we have a couple of guys walking by commenting that "Harding is very security conscious." I don't remember why I changed Johnson to Harding. It could be that there was all ready a Johnson character in another cartoon in the batch. I should have (as my Dad suggested afterward) put a big nasty bulldog by the cubicle. That would have been funnier and fun to draw as well. Ah well. The important thing is that it sold!

The "Meet the Cow" milk carton cartoon changed a bit from rough doodle to finish.

It became the Artisanal Milk cartoon, which I wrote about here. When I submitted this cartoon about conspicuous lactose consumption to the Chronicle of Higher Education, I had no idea there was such a thing as artisanal milk. A Chronicle of Higher Education reader told me otherwise.

Above is one of those silly little doodles again. I drew little sweatbands on the people who are running by with the numbers. Those were lost in the finish, and that was wrong. The people at the board room table are drawn so simply they look like three hairless heads on the floor.

Above is the finish. I remember drawing this up quickly, thinking that this one would not sell, so let's just draw it up and add it to the batch. No matter how long you are in the biz, you do not know what will sell. It sold very quickly.

And above is the page from my sketchbook. It's a 6" x 9" 110 lb. acid free 100% recycled paper from the Robert Bateman cover series produced by En Tour Artist Products, Inc. As you can see, I draw 8 ideas per page, on both sides of the page. The 110 lb. paper allows for no bleeding with my permanent Micron pens.

So, there you have it. Four sales out of eight. Actually, that's not true. Looking at that page of roughs, I only drew up five of the eight ideas -- and the fifth one, the one that didn't sell, is on hold. All in all, a darn good batting average. However, I should add in all honesty, like those diet commercials post in dinky lettering on the TV screen as Valerie Bertinelli goes from plump to thin, "results not typical."

I hope you found this interesting. I cringe at how rough these doodles are!

Sunday, February 24, 2008


I COULD BE DREAMING is a collection of single panel cartoons by Chon Day, copyright 1945 by Robert M.McBride & Co. The dedication reads:


Chon Day should be studied in fine halls of cartoony learning. Above is a great example of a how by adding one little element (an element that took me a few seconds to see) changes what may happen next, throwing the whole cartoon into a very hostile and funny light.

A lot of my favorite cartoons are about "the moment just before all hell breaks loose." I love the resigned look on the parents' faces as they prepare to passively face the inevitable.

Above: this would not get published today. I thought it was really funny. You can certainly imagine this as drawn by Addams.

Day's people are anti-establishment, and some then have had enough and are ready to fight back -- whether with guns or little signs on the solar plexus.

"Keep an eye on him -- I think he's got a frock full of snowballs."

Shades of Brother Sebastian, nine years before his initial appearance in the Saturday Evening Post!

Above: one's feverish imagination works overtime to imagine what the above couple is doing Saturdays.

"One more thing -- keep out of the way of his right and his left."

Sound advice.

Above: the wordless gag is the hardest to do. Here's another Chon Day character who is at the breaking point -- for what reason we do not know. Her taking taking solace in a good, big swig made me laugh out loud. I can see this running today as a comment on the cost of the war.

I like Day's minimalism. In the background, you can really only make out 2 faces, the rest are curved lines. An economical and effective choice to show a stadium full of spectators.

Above: another cartoon that would fluster a nervous editor. And another cartoon that you can imagine Addams drawing. What are they going to do with this pet???

"I want to buy a doll that doesn't do anything."

Chon Day's characters have had enough, and they want some peace, thank you very much.

Mr. Day is one of those people who just draws the outline of the pants and the shoe. Another cartoonist who draws like that: Sergio Aragones.

Just like the couple who has those Saturday nights where you can only imagine what happens, you have to provide the b-word here. Mr. Day knows you know it.

Again, the economy of a few wavy lines give us the flood, which is half-way up the cartoon's composition. High time to turn the darn water off, you stupid plumber you.

The above cartoon reminds me that there is legislation pending in Maine to disallow kids from buying energy drinks.

"Now, that didn't last long, did it?"

From the book jacket:

"This is the first collection in book form of the cartoons of one of America's favorite humorists -- the impish maestro whose pictures of human folly range with high gusto over a such a wide variety of subjects. In The New Yorker, Collier's, The Saturday Evening Post and other magazines he has made his gay and impudent reputation as indispensable performer for the sophisticates of mockery. They never know what tricks he will be up to next, and he never fails to surprise. Laughter flows like champagne from his bright pen as he moves from absurdity to fantasy and from nonsense to satire. He is expert in his deflation of pomposity and he takes mischievous delight in sending his astonished characters tumbling head over heels down the toboggan slide that leads so swiftly from the sublime to the ridiculous."