Friday, February 26, 2010

From 1977: 25 Years of MAD Magazine

Above: a 1963 photo of Bill Gaines entering the MAD offices. Poking their heads out of the door are (from top to bottom): Nick Meglin, John Putnam, Al Feldstein, Leonard Brenner, Nelson Tirado, and Jerry De Fuccio.

I'm out of the office or away from the blog, so here's a rerun:

A heartfelt 1977 New York Times Magazine article about MAD's influence on R. Crumb, The Muppets, and the world at large.

From the July 31, 1977 New York Times: "THE 'MAD' GENERATION - After 25 years of perpetuating humor in the jugular vein, the magazine that wised up millions of kids is still a crazy hit" by Tony Hiss (son of Alger) and Jeff Lewis.

Below is page one, which should blow up nice and big for easy reading of the ol' pixels.

Like millions of other boys, I grew up with MAD. In the early 1970s, I distinctly recall making the decision to subscribe (when I realized I could get the mag for less than the cover price of 40 cents if I could save up the dollars), and walking down the shag-carpeted hallway to good ol' Dad, sitting in his chair in the living room, to ask him to make out a check to the good folks at E.C. Publications.

Above: a special painting by Norman Mingo done especially for the Times, so says the article. Let me know if that's not true.

I was pleased to see credit given to Harvey Kurtzman, and there is a hat tip to the circumstances of his leaving the mag after its first 22 issues.

I love the above photo, taken in 1963, of Bill Gaines, in what looks like full samba mode, and some of the MAD staff (from top to bottom in the doorway) Nick Meglin, John Putnam, Al Feldstein, Leonard Brenner, Nelson Tirado and Jerry De Fuccio.

The scan on this is not the greatest. The Times magazine, as of 31 years ago, was rather large and required multiple scans in my poky scanner.

By the way, last week, the Times cut the width of their paper by 1.5 inches. Shrinky, shrinky, shrinky! This makes the Times about the same width as the Wall Street Journal. And this is after raising its price from $1.00 to $1.25 per daily issue. My wallet is going shrinky too.

"Alfred E. Neuman was everything that parents prayed deep-down their kids wouldn't turn into -- and feared they would." Holy cow!

This article made me want to go and read a lot of old MADs.

UPDATE: Mark Evanier responds to this article here.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Serena Bramble's THE ENDLESS NIGHT

Via the Potrzebie blog:

Serena Bramble edited together a short homage to film noir on her Mac. Her

" ... short film tribute to film noir created a sensation at the Castro Theatre's 8th annual Noir City Film Festival last month. This is on several blogs, as Bramble's brilliance brings a luminosity to flickering frames in the dark balconies of memory. A 20-year-old psychology student at Santa Rosa Junior College, she created The Endless Night with iMovie on her MacBook, commenting, 'After many long hours, this is my tribute to my favorite genre, to the dark shadows and the profound despair of the soul.' The music is "Angel" by Massive Attack. (Control click heading at top for David Raksin's 'Laura.')"

I see clips like this, from these old film noir movies I've seen and some I haven't -- and I want to watch all of them.

I look at the movies that are playing now, or that are the most popular with the Netflix subscribers -- and I just am not interested. I mean, how many times can Ben Stiller go to a museum? Ugh. Give me Stanwyck and Bogie and Davis.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

JET SCOTT by Sheldon Stark and Jerry Robinson

Dark Horse has collected the "lost science fiction masterwork" JET SCOTT comic strip, which was written by Sheldon Stark and with wonderful art by Jerry Robinson.

"In the 1950s, when the world was faced with strange or anomalous threats, there was one man who was called on to set the situation right -- Jet Scott of the Office of Scientifact! Whether it was tracking down deadly Banthrax germs, uncovering the source of strange ocean creatures, or discovering the cause of spontaneously combusting pipelines in Saudi Arabia, Jet Scott was the adventurer who could get to the truth!"

We live in such a time when a forgotten strip that lasted only 2 years, from 1953 to 1955, published by the New York Herald-Tribune (and seen in few markets) now sees the new light of day between hardcovers.

Allan Holtz has background and more samples at his Stripper's Guide blog.

Hat tip to Comics Reporter.

Virgil VIP Partch

Ger Apeldoorn shares some of Virgil VIP Patch's BIG GEORGE comic strips. Scroll down for a trove of VIP's gag cartoons from his tenure as cartoon editor at TRUE.

Vegetarian Recipe: Roasted Vegetables with Brown Rice

This is not cartoons. This is a recipe for Roasted Vegetables with Brown Rice, since Don and Suzanne Orehek asked about it. I took some photos of the dish thinking maybe someone else out there might be interested.

1 head cauliflower
red onion
sweet potato
3-6 cloves of garlic
1 1/3 lb. brussel sprouts (fresh, not frozen)

Cut up the cauliflower, halve the brussel sprouts, cut the potato into small sticks, spread onto a jelly roll pan. Place thinly sliced red onion and chopped fresh garlic over the top. Drizzle it with olive oil, put some salt and pepper on it. Bake for 30-40 minutes at 425 degrees or until brown on the edges. I use the center rack of the oven.

After 15 minutes, the aroma of the garlic fills the kitchen.

Above: this is a photo of the roasted vegetables just out of the oven. I scoop up maybe 2 cups of brown rice on a plate and put the vegetables on top.

Try putting a little cumin on them as well.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Steve Brodner: The Vanguard at 75

Steve Brodner shares his sketchpad doodles along with his finished color drawing celebrating 75 years of the Village Vanguard.

Gag Cartoons Circa 1839

Via Yesterday's Papers, here is a collection of gag cartoons from the humorous weekly The Odd Fellow.

Although the context is lost on me (and pretty much everyone else who can't recall the issues of 1839), this is a splendid sampling of the quality of cartoon and caricature work.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Video: New DOCTOR WHO Trailer

Via the BBC, just released this weekend. Some mild spoilers re: villains in the new series.

What are SORDID comic books doing to our children?

Via Sherm Cohen's Cartoon SNAP blog: from the April 24, 1954 Milwaukee Journal, a piece on Dr. Wertham: What are SORDID comic books doing to our children?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Jim Tierney's Book Designs

Some knock-out book designs for some of Jules Verne's great works by Jim Tierney. Jim is studying illustration at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. This is all part of his senior thesis; a competition for the William H. Ely award.

"Being equal parts book-nerd and design-nerd, I naturally decided to re-design some classic Jules Verne novels. I‘m a big Verne fan, but a chance to re-design any classic book is always exciting. Classics usually allow for a more personal interpretation, since most people are already vaguely familiar with the premise of the books, and I didn’t have to compete with one well-known cover, as I might have with a more recent book."

Jim shares a lot of his process and sketches here.

Jules Verne cover designs by Jim Tierney from Jim Tierney on Vimeo.

Hat tip to my pal Sean Kelly. Thanks, Sean!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Video: Tex Blaisdell on "To Tell the Truth"

Above: Tex Blaisdell's NCS bio.

Here's veteran cartoonist Tex Blaisdell, whose talents spanned DC Comics and many syndicated features, guesting on this 1970 episode of the To Tell the Truth game show.

At this time, Mr. Blaisdell had taken over LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE after creator Harold Gray's death in 1968.

Some members of the celebrity panel (composed of Tom Posten, Peggy Cass, Gene Rayburn and Kitty Carlisle) ham it up, reading a very early ANNIE strip aloud. Actually, one of the very earliest ANNIEs. It's the strip from August 14, 1924, the middle of the second week of the feature when Mrs. Warbucks takes Annie from the orphanage to the Warbucks estate. As Kitty Carlisle remarks, people have not heard of Mrs. Warbucks, the wife of Daddy Warbucks. The explanation offered is that she was an unsympathetic character and Mr. Gray wrote her out of the strip.

At the end of this clip, Tex live-draws a portrait of Annie.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Above: cover detail from DC Comics' Limited Collectors Edition of Dick Tracy (1975).

I was indifferent to DICK TRACY. I saw it in the newspaper growing up and I had read some of the old strips in those comics history books, but it wasn't until Blackthorne began reprinting the old TRACY strips in comic book and softcover format during the 1980s that I began to see why this highly stylized cops and robbers stories were so well regarded.

TRACY is a markedly narrow strip that leaves no doubt that evil men (and women) exist and good (through sweat and perseverance) will eventually triumph. But while its scope may be narrow, Gould mines deeply. Tracy is the bright light of justice in this dangerous comic strip world. His morals as solid as his chin, this cop is unafraid to use as much violence against the ruthless villains as they themselves dish out.

How grim is Tracy's world? As Don Markstein points out, within the strip's first week, Dick's girlfriend Tess Trueheart is kidnapped and her dear old dad is rubbed out. Mayberry this ain't!

DICK TRACY was created by Chester Gould (1900-1985), who was at the helm 365 days a year from October 4, 1931 to December 25, 1977. Dick Locher has been part of the team behind this Tribune Media strip for over 30 years now.

Here is a series of six cards from the Chester Gould Dick Tracy Museum that were part of a goody bag of items from the 2006 National Cartoonists Society Reubens weekend that was held in Chicago. Each card reproduced some terrific TRACY collectible and then there are interesting facts on the other side of the card. This is the whole set:

Above is the front and back of the first card. These are all square, and about the size of a CD. The even came in a jewel box.

DICK TRACY is a registered trademark of Tribune Media Services, Inc.

Related: "Dick Tracy The Art of Chester Gould:" 200 characters from DICK TRACY 1931-1977

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mort Walker Gag Cartoons

A couple of blogs have featured some great 1950s Mort Walker gag cartoons recently. Here are some links:

John Adcock has some 1948 gag cartoons at his Yesterday's Papers blog.

Ger Apeldoorn shares some vintage originals at his The Fabuleous Fifties blog.

Related: Mort Walker's The Best of Times Magazine.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Hilary Price Leaves Town, Mo Willems Takes Over

Hilary Price has gone away to Cuba, but do not cry. She will return.

In the meantime, her long-running newspaper comic strip RHYMES WITH ORANGE will have a substitute cartoonist this week: none other than Mo Willems.

Hat tip to Hilary Price!


Did you know that Gahan Wilson had a syndicated comic strip in the 1970s? The Golden Age Comics Book stories blog remembers with a selection of his GAHAN WILSON SUNDAY COMICS from 1974 to 1976.

Images copyright Mr. Wilson. The comic strip was distributed by the Register and Tribune Syndicate, Inc.

THIS FUNNY WORLD and George Wolfe

Ger Apeldoorn, tanned and rested after his Florida honeymoon, returned to his lovely home in the Netherlands to discover that there were "[n]o burglars trying to steal my newspaper strip collection," and so promises lots more cartoony goodness at his Fabuleous Fifties blog.

Here's a grand sampling of McNaught Syndicate's THIS FUNNY WORLD newspaper panel, with a nice page of George Wolfe's best cartoons.

"Wolfe describes cartooning as starting with a blank mind and a blank piece of paper. The cartoon may emerge in 10 minutes or in tow hours - plus. Above is what he calls a 'comicature' of himself. 'It's less searching than a caricature,' he says, 'but friendlier.'"

Friday, February 12, 2010

Gahan Wilson Interview

Above drawing is by Gahan Wilson, from his site here, and is copyright Mr. Wilson too.

The nice thing about when a hardcover slipcased edition of a book like GAHAN WILSON: FIFTY YEARS OF PLAYBOY CARTOONS is published, is that there are some good interviews with Mr. Wilson, who has been cartooning for something like 50 years.

Via The Stranger's Paul Constant, here's his process for a full page cartoon:

"The Playboy [illustrations] can go on for quite a stretch, because I do really elaborate production with those. Because it's color and full page, it's a series of sort of underpaintings. I'll do the pen drawing, then I'll do the first color, then I'll spray it with a workable fixative, and then I'll do another color on top, or some other medium, sometimes. Sometimes I'll do more watercolor, sometimes something else. With New Yorker [cartoons], sometimes I'll do the thing to the point where I think that's all I can do, and then I'll set it down, and then just sort of sneak a look at it as I pass by, and then the next day, check it out again, just to see, and stuff will pop into view that I had missed. So that's how it works. It's not regular. Sometimes it'll take a couple of days, sometimes it'll take a little longer."

Hat tip to Journalista!

Charles Schulz: November 26, 1922 - February 12, 2000

Above: copyright UFS.

Ted Dawson remembers Charles Schulz on the the tenth anniversary of the great cartoonist's passing.

While Ted may feel "like the whole art form died with him," I can't disagree more.

My two cents is cartooning is as alive as ever. While comic strips are, invariably, connected to the fate of newspapers, other graphic art forms -- Web comics, graphic novels, manga, animation -- are flourishing.

But, yeah, of course, there was only one PEANUTS.

Related: Read PEANUTS from the very first strip at!

1948: Remembering the NCS in St. Petersburg, Florida

This is one of those things I ran into on the Web. I don't know what I was searching for, but this popped up and since it had some great art and photos. OK, the photos are darn muddy, but , hey, I had to share. So, here's the St. Petersburg Times' enthusiastic coverage of a National Cartoonists Society exhibit of cartoons from 1948.

Above cartoon splash page by Dick Bothwell, "described as 'the St. Petersburg edition of Will Rogers."' This was back in the day when every newspaper had a staff cartoonist. The larger papers had more than one.

Milt Caniff, Rube Goldberg and other NCS luminaries made the trip down to Florida for the festivities surrounding this show of original cartoon art that had traveled from the Nyack, NY Rockland Foundation Gallery. And why not? It was in a great hotel, with warm weather and year-round golf.

From the St. Petersburg Times, March 21, 1948.

The show was at the Soreno Hotel in St. Petersburg, a large, beautiful hotel and resort which was built in 1923, shuttered in 1984, and "its 1992 implosion lives on to this day at the end of the movie 'Lethal Weapon III.'"

At Memorial Hospital in New York City [,] members of the National Cartoonists Society decorated the walls of the Children's Cancer Ward with their characters. Left to right: Otto Soglow, Milton Caniff, C.D. Russell, Rube Goldberg, Russell Patterson, Gus Edson, Ernie Bushmiller and Joe Shuster.

Above: a courtesy photo that was reprinted in the Times. Just look at that line up of cartoonist greats, huh? And the NCS continues the tradition of visiting hospitals to this day.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

KING AROO by Jack Kent

The nice thing about a book on a shelf is that it lives on. Case in point: Jack Kent. If you were a kid in the 60s and 70s, you might know about his books. If you were growing up in the 50s and 60s, you might know about his comic strip, KING AROO. IDW Publishing did, and this week it adds it to its Library of American Comics, which includes TERRY AND THE PIRATES, LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE, BRINGING UP FATHER and BLOOM COUNTY.

Jack Kent (1920-1985) wrote and drew 40 children's books, and illustrated 20 more. Writer and book lover Burgin Streetman, writing for the San Antonio Current, discovered him for the first time two years ago. She found an old copy of his book JACK KENT'S TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS. Here is how she ran across Jack Kent's work and how that started a quest.

"In my thrift-shop travels, I’ve come across a lot of forgotten gems, but there was something different about this book. The innocence of the illustrations, the sweetness in the characters’ faces, and the irreverence of the story made me want to know more about Mr. Kent. A thorough search through online bookshops, local thrift stores, and seven states’ worth of rare-book dealers led me right back to the place where I started, San Antonio. Jack Kent is probably the most famous illustrator you’ve never heard of"
Above: a Sunday KING AROO panel nicked from Sherm Cohen.

This week, IDW's Library of American Comics, publishes what San Antonio native Jack Kent drew for 15 years before he did those children's books; the comic strip KING AROO. As the cover blurb states, this is "A royal invitation to a comics masterpiece in the tradition of Krazy Kat, Barnaby and Pogo." And that ain't no hyperbolic bunk.

Kent's comment in his NCS bio that King Aroo, "which ran (or jogged) for fifteen years, beginning in 1950, made me world famous for blocks around," is the kind of self deprecating joking a shy fellow might say. Truth is, AROO was highly regarded by both readers and Kent's colleagues.

Above: the first strip from November 1950, nicked from an interview with Bruce Canwell, Associate Editor of The Library of American Comics, at the Westfield Comics blog.

Don Markstein's Toonopedia describes the premise:

King Aroo was the monarch of Myopia, a pocket kingdom that doesn't seem to appear on most maps. His prime minister, grand vizier, chief advisor, or whatever, was named Yupyop. The two were about equally out of touch with reality and common sense, but Aroo's child-like unconcern for the duties and dignities of a king contrasted with Yupyop's more business-like attitude.

Like a lot of cartoonists, Kent was a fan long before he was a pro. Here's Bruce Canwell on Kent's early years:

In his teenage years, during the mid-’30s, he was part of the very first generation of fans… some wags might even say he was part of the first generation of fanboys. He referred to himself as “Texas Jack” in letters he wrote to all the major comic strip artists (this was all a few years before Action Comics #1, remember, so comic strips, not comic books, ruled the day). His letters were brimming with boyish enthusiasm, they showed how carefully he studied all the strips, he outrageously flattered the artists, and he always asked them to send him an original piece of artwork. His approach worked – seventy-five percent of the artists to whom he wrote sent responses that included autographs, pictures, and yes, original strips or drawings. Jack built a sizable collection in only about a year’s time! He ended up on Milton Caniff’s Christmas card list. He got letters and long-distance phone calls from George Herriman. All the while, Kent kept honing his own artistic skills until finally, he made it: he sold King Aroo and graduated from the ranks of the fans to the ranks of the pros.

Please consider buying KING AROO Vol. 1 for yourself.

My thanks to Dean Mullaney for the KING AROO preview.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Hung Up on Tools

Above: "Alien Spy," a piece of Mike Lynch Juvenalia. A splash page for a comic book story of mine when I was a kid. This was when I was heavy into Marvel's Warlock by Jim Starlin.

I get emails. A lot of them are from people who want to cartoon for a living. Some of these people are good cartoonists, some of them are on the way, still learning.

One of the traps is getting hung up on tools. A cartoonist emailed me, saying that now that he had finally saved the money to buy a Wacom tablet & stylus, he could now begin cartooning.

Stan Goldberg, who now draws Archie, points out that all he needs is a piece of paper and a pencil. That's all he needed since he was a kid.

Stan, like me, was of the pre-Wacom generation.

I'm lucky that my Dad was a working graduate student when I was a kid. We had no money for fancy paper or pens, and so I was never into the tools.

Dad would being home some "scratch paper;" leftover mimeos from the classes that my Dad was teaching or, when he got his Ph.D., extra copies of internal memos. This was free drawing paper. I would draw on the back of these. Above: the back of the "Alien Spy" page.

Above: another superhero that I made up when I was a wee tot: Eagle Man. I did a lot of shading and noodling around. Notice me hiding his left hand, and making the other inot a simple fist. I was afraid to draw hands then. This period was heavily influenced by the Bob Kane Batman reprints in BATMAN: FROM THE 30S TO THE 70s hardcover.

... And here is the back of the Eagle Man drawing: a 1972 University Film Association memo from then-secretary Dr. Lynch (who would go on to serve as President).

Of course, like a lot of students, I would not pay attention in class and doodle. But that not paying attention thing leads to some bad grades. (Note the date above, written in the nerdly STAR TREK star date format -- 7612.14 = December 12, 1976.)

Best to wait and draw once I am home. (Do as I say and not as I did.)

Please do not get hung up on fancy tools. Don't let your economic situation slow you down if you want to cartoon. Cartooning can be done for very little money. Like Bob Montana said: It's the think, not the ink. That was today's message -- and the excuse for going through my nostalgia box of drawings.