Friday, July 30, 2010
Here are some gag cartoons from YOU'VE GOT ME IN THE SUBURBS, edited by Lawrence Lariar, who edited many, many gag cartoon collections. This is copyright 1957 by Mr. Lariar. The above title page cartoon is by Al Kaufman. The hardcover was published by Dodd, Mead and Company in NYC.
Part 2 is here.
Part 3 is here.
Stan Fine draws a 53 year old gag that still is prescient today. Sadly. (Except, of course, people don't wear ties and hats around the house these days.)
Al Kaufman reminds us that "play" is a homonym. The fun bit in this drawing is that each kid has a big, oversized instrument.
I like the line work that Bram employs. He very deftly suggests a suburban setting with the couple of house floating in the upper right.
Brad Anderson with the typical 1950s twin-bedded couple. The thing that makes this funny to me is (a) it's true and (b) that expressive, blissful smile on the fellow's face.
Hank Baeb draws soot in a way I have never seen: little inky dots, with a slather of grey wash over them. Wonderful! The great thing about cartooning is that there is always new knowledge out there.
I like Ali's drawing of the woman with the little frilly apron and Little Lulu style bow in the hair.
Brad Anderson with with another good one. In his composition our eyes easily follow the man's line of sight to the damaged light pole at the end of the driveway.
Bernardt's spectacular detail -- the open box, the large, unfolded complex sheet of instructions and the little lines detailing the shiny goodness of the swing set juxtapose the easy slopey lines of the tree and the tire swing.
Another cartoon that rings true no matter the decade.
Mel Millar reminds me of those sub class of Texas cartoons with men in ten gallon hats driving big cars with oxen horns jutting out of the grill. I can't help but wonder if these 2 women are not necessarily in Texas, but merely somewhere along the route of the pipeline.
Al Kaufman has a wordless, foreboding cartoon that made me laugh out loud.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
CORRECTION: This is not a preview of her new GN, but rather it's a new "spin-off." (See below.)
One hitch: NARRATIVE wants you to register at their site in order to see it.
CORRECTION 2: Liza emailed me the following:
"... [Y]ou don't have to register in order to see it. It was in the backstage first, and for that you had to register. for this now, its free. Also, it is not a chunk of my forthcoming book, rather it is a spin-off."
Thanks Liza. And I'm sorry for getting it wrong. Regardless, it's a good read.
Please take a moment to look.
Here is the first 90 seconds of the very first episode of the TV show MY WORLD AND WELCOME TO IT. Based upon "stories, inspirational pieces, cartoons and things that go bump in the night by James Thurber," to quote the titles.
You may already know the format:
William Windom plays John Monroe, a cartoonist who commutes from his Connecticut house to New York City to work at The Manhattanite magazine. Unlike Thurber's most famous character, Walter Mitty, John Monroe was not a passive, quiet soul. He railed against the world and its conventions. He was a curmudgeon, and not necessarily lovable. Balancing out the acid protagonist were Joan Hotchkis and Lisa Gerritson playing the more likable and sensible wife and daughter.
I was a wee tot at the time, but I have memories of this opening, with the real-life color Windom, interacting with a line drawing of a cartoon house. It was, to be honest, absolutely nightmarish and absolutely mesmerizing. I loved to watch it, although I doubt I was paying attention to the content. Those segments were the highlight of the show, and, according to what I've read, rather a costly item for a 1960s sitcom. The animation was by DePatie-Freling.
After its cancellation, the half-hour series would win two Emmies: one for Windom and another for Best Comedy Series.
Sometimes I wonder if there will ever be a revival or a reimagining of MY WORLD. I would be happy with the series just being properly cleaned up and available on DVD.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Above: Gary Larson's "old FAR SIDE" cartoon, nicked from the Psychology Today site. Yes, Psychology Today! (The Far Side ® and the Larson ® signature are registered trademarks of FarWorks, Inc. Copyright © 2000, 2007 FarWorks, Inc. All Rights Reserved.)
Dr. Yvonne Fournier, a specialist in childrens education as well as a columnist for Scripps-Howard, cites a Gary Larson FAR SIDE cartoon when a parent writes in, asking whether video games are beneficial for children, or big time wasters.
"An old Gary Larson Far Side cartoon showed a child playing a Nintendo with 'hopeful parents' in the background imagining help wanted ads in the year 2005: ''Nintendo Expert Needed. $50,000 salary + bonus" or ''Can You Save The Princess? We need skilled men and women, $75,000 + Retirement.'
"The cartoonist's message is obvious: Nintendo prepares our children to go nowhere in the real world."...Video games did not change the fact that my son is responsible, thoughtful and worthy. If he was so attracted to the game, my thought was that there could be something positive to that attraction. Today in 2010, degrees and careers in gaming and game development - both in programming and design - are in high demand for the exponential growth of this multibillion-dollar industry. The hopeful parents in the Far Side cartoon were heralds of the future!"
The entire column is here.
The interview was originally shot in 2008 for the Jeff Smith documentary THE CARTOONIST and the footage is seen in its entirety for the first time.
The video is copyright 2010 Mills James.
WAR IS BORING, a graphic novel collaboration between journalist David Axe and editorial cartoonist Matt Bors, arrives from the New American Library next week. The Huffington Post has a preview here.
"War correspondence -- that makes sense, people tell me. By why comics? they ask.
"Because words seem to want to connect like plumbing: one piece at a time in a perfect line, no gap between them. But images are like dreams. They're wispy. They linger. And as they fade, they mix with the images that preceded them and follow. Comics combine words and images. You get the solid, logical effect of words plus the images' gauzy wrapper. That lets you do all sorts of interesting things with story. You can say one thing with your text while implying another with the art. You can describe hints of untold back-stories with a few strokes of ink even as the narration leaves no doubt about your main point. 'Look here,' the words declare. 'Imagine this,' the art whispers"
Hat tip to Sean Kelly!
"This is an homage to two of my favorite artists. The great geniuses of MAD Magazine: Sergio Aragones and Al Jaffee. These two guys were thinkers, "imaginers," and writers and wonderful artists in the history of humor." - from Steve Brodner's introduction.
Here are 4 short videos about two of the seminal "Usual Gang of Idiots" from MAD Magazine: Al Jaffee and Sergio Aragones.
Steve Brodner hosts these segments, produced by Sundance, with direction by Gail Levin. These are worth watching, not only for the cartoonists themselves, but also to watch Brodner draw caricatures of some of these great MAD men.
Al Jaffee's SNAPPY ANSWERS TO STUPID QUESTIONS
Sergio Aragones on Pantomime
Big hat tip to Jelena Kovacevic! Thanks, Jelena!
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
"While I have you here, my friends and I would like to request that you bring back the comics, Pearls Before Swines and Garfield. Thank you."More here.
Hat tip to Journalista! via Justin Major.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the city of Louisville, KY have a problem and it's called Kentucky Fried Chicken. Louisville is the headquarters for Yum! Brands, which owns the KFC franchises.
New Yorker cartoonist Harry Bliss designed the above 5 1/2 foot tall bloody chicken statue to show the inhumane treatment that chicken suppliers use. PETA petitioned to put the statue on public display. Louisville Metro Government denied their application.
PETA says this violates their first amendment rights. An appeal was filed yesterday.
Dan Klepal of the Louisville Courier-Journal has the story.
Monday, July 26, 2010
John Callahan died due to complications with his paralysis on July 24, 2010 at Legacy Good Samaritan Hospital in Portland, OR. He was 59. Mr. Callahan had been in declining health for some time, according to Tom D'Antoni's article in the Oregon Music News.
John Callahan had been paralyzed since the age of 21 due to a car accident. He turned to alcohol, and then, cartooning. His cartoons were called "sick" and "offensive." It didn't bother him at all. To quote his description from his very own Web site:
"There's absolutely nothing funny about a quadriplegic in a wheelchair. Unless, of course, that person is John Callahan. For nearly a decade, this irreverent cartoonist has been shocking America with his own special brand of wicked humor. In the world of Callahan, nothing is sacred, nothing is taboo and nothing is funnier!"
This came as an awful shock to me. It's a terrible loss of a singular, fearless voice.
"Watching John develop a single cartoon, nearly all produced under looming Willamette Week deadlines [en route to international syndication], is a short course in the creative process. John banters around ideas, plumbs anyone nearby or near a phone for suggestions, and then plays with 2 or 3 possibilities, flipping them around — mentally and verbally — until a punch line emerges. He then clutches a sharpie pen in both hands and begins drawing an image to fit the phrase. Sometimes he hits it on the first round, but more often image and phrase duel a while, with both subject to mutation in the process. Then boom, they fit together like a glove, and he’s off the hook for another week." from Jim Redden's Portland Tribune portrait.The Williamette Week has a brief John Callahan primer and a short obit (with many comments from those who knew him) here.
Associated Press obit at the Seattle PI site here.
There is a remembrance page at John's site.
My friend Rod Mckie has a remembrance and some links, including some video from a Dutch documentary on Mr. Callahan.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Friday, July 23, 2010
The great thing, as David points out, was that he was a saver of all his work. A lot of it certainly looks funny and interesting and it remains to be seen whether Mr. Sprod might get a crack at a nice book, recounting his work and life. Hope so.
Above: the many heads of Harvey, commissioned by Smith Magazine in honor of the man's 70th birthday.
"I can't draw but I write great stories, chock full of redeeming social value. Like I do stuff about how I fought my way up from Cleveland's tough East side to become a world renowned jazz critic. Just ask Crumb & up & coming Bob Armstrong & they'll tell you how deep I am." - from a letter Pekar wrote to Denis Kitchen circa 1972. Quoted from Comics Reporter.
While I was away last week, comics creator Harvey Pekar died at the age of 70 on July 12, 2010.
Harvey Pekar was a guy who wanted to do comics. He was nobody. He couldn't draw (see the above quote). Heck, the town he lived in was called "the mistake on the lake." And he already had a job consuming the bulk of his waking hours.
American Splendor #1, with Harvey writing and other people drawing, appeared in 1976.
I would see Harvey Pekar's comic -- it was actually the size of a magazine -- in local shops like Mac's Backs and Wax Stax and Daffy Dan's (respectively, a used paperback store, a used record store and the #1 t-shirt store). I would later see those American Splendors at the very first comic book store in town: good ol' Cosmic Comics, over in the old Colonial Arcade on Euclid, run by comics author Tony Isabella.
A few years later, Cleveland became the first city to default on bank loans since the great depression (People wore those "Cleveland: It's Not My Default" t-shirts), Harvey forged on, producing more stories for his comics.
Harvey reminded me of what's achievable. He felt you could do anything with words and pictures -- and he also felt, way deep down, he had something to say that was worth reading. He went to work, making time, writing and rewriting. He was, and will continue to be, an inspiration.
WNYC has links to Pekar talking about Ohio and artists remembering Harvey Pekar. My thanks to WNYC publicist Rosalin Luetum for sending these last week. It was by reading her email that I found out that he had died. It was a damn surprise. Still is.
Related: Tom Spurgeon has an extensive profile -- perhaps the best on the Web -- at Comics Reporter here.
Related: Even the lovely Helen Mirren, speaking at this weekend's San Diego Comic Con, doesn't understand that Pekar was a writer and and not an illustrator (but I like her sentiment, natch!):
“As you know, he was a great artist and a great innovator,” she said. “A guy who turned me on to the fact that graphic art can be personal. I wanted to salute him today.”
Thursday, July 22, 2010
I have no idea what this 1963 Czech movie IKARIE XB1 is all about, but I found it mesmerizing in its shadowy visuals and the sense of dread as the above 2 astronauts explore a derelict ship in space.
Stylistically more advanced than many other futuristic movies of its day, IKARIE XB1 is credited with being Czechoslovakia's first sci fi movie. If I was doing a sci fi graphic novel, I would want it to look as cool as IKARIE XB1.
American International, according to what I read, got the rights and hacked it up, releasing it as a movie titled VOYAGE TO THE END OF THE UNIVERSE. The look of the thing influenced Kubrick's 2001.
A hard to find DVD. Not impossible, just hard. Not for rent from Netflix. And, apparently it was not originally in black and white (although American International's recut of the film WAS released in B&W). Hard to believe since B&W really enhances the feel of the above scene. One of these days I'll have to find it.
Editorial cartoonist Steve Breen decided that using regular old ink to depict the anger he felt about BP oil spill wasn't effective enough.
Now, most people who are not happy with the way things are will sit back in their chair and complain. Not Steve. He went in to action. He spent his own time and money to address his dissatisfaction.
Here's a bit from the AP article:
"'I wanted to channel that outrage in a unique way,' he wrote in an e-mail to the AP, 'and since I'm in the powerful image business, I came up with the oil idea.'
"Breen flew across the continent on his own dime to spend the Fourth of July weekend collecting tar balls on Florida's Santa Rosa Island. He took the globs home to California, thinned them with gasoline and created four cartoons.
"One panel shows a BP logo made up of oiled birds and sea creatures, another the Statue of Liberty holding a dripping oil drum aloft instead of a torch. The brownish-orange oil - darker or lighter, depending on the amount of gasoline Breen used - seems almost to bleed from the page."
Or do you say "CD cover" or "iTunes JPG?"
Gerald Scarfe drew the iconic cover to Pink Floyd's THE WALL. Now he's doing his second album cover.
Anyway, poet Philip Larkin is to have a record out on the 26th of this month, commemorating the 25 years since his death. Titled LARKIN'S JAZZ, this new collection (to quote Bruce Lindsay's essay at AllAboutJazz)
" ... contains 81 of the tunes that he loved and enjoyed from his early-teens, beautifully packaged with detailed essays and notes. The cover illustration is by noted cartoonist Gerald Scarfe, whose only previous album cover was Pink Floyd's The Wall."
Related: The book GERALD SCARFE: THE MAKING OF PINK FLOYD: THE WALL to be published in September 2010.
Also related: Gerald Scarfe: Heroes & Monsters at the German Museum for Caricature.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
A few photos of the vegetable and flower gardens ....
These are the 3 main raised beds of vegetables.
Strawberries in front and runner beans in back. That's a tomato plant, lower right.
Broccoli, peppers and yellow squash, and, in the back there, cucumbers.
2 kinds of peas and cauliflower. On the far side (out of view): brussel sprouts.
Foreground: tomatoes (with marigolds). Behind that, a second box with lettuce, zucchini & carrots.
The new tomato bed since the old tomato bed got sickly in June (but now seems much better which may mean there will be zillions of tomatoes come August).
Perennial flower garden, with the new horseradish plant in the planter.
Yellow day lilies.
More day lilies.
Beauty shot 1 - lilies.
Beauty shot 2 - I can't remember. Uh ... cone flowers?
Beauty shot 3 - sunflower, with some peas growing on it.
That's a cauliflower peeking out.
A surprise guest tomato plant in the middle of the pea patch.
First zucchini bloom.
Flower garden in front of the house, with the water hose splayed out. Lotsa watering to do! Look at how parched the lawn is from the scorcher weeks we've had! Yipe!
From the description by itllfly and the National Film Preservation Foundation:
Production Company: International Films Service Co. (Educational Films Corp., distributor). Producer/Director: Gregory La Cava. Writer: Unknown; based on newspaper cartoon characters created by Thomas A. Dorgan. Animators: Grim Natwick (and Gregory La Cava?). Transfer Note: Copied at 22 frames per second from a 35mm tinted print preserved by George Eastman House. Running Time: 6 minutes.
The title of this 1919 cartoon puns on the historical epic of four years previous, The Birth of a Nation. But its subject is tied precisely to its year and, indeed, to its release on June 29. Lobbying by the Anti-Saloon League had brought congressional enactment of an ostensibly temporary "wartime" national prohibition law, which came into effect on July 1, 1919. Hence the cartoon opens with flipping calendar pages: "June 30" with its drawing of a beer stein and "July 1" with its raspberry float. With the Eighteenth Amendment coming into force in January 1920, the prohibition era was effectively under way.
Badly affected by this ban is the dog-faced character Judge Alexander Rumhauser—Judge Rummy to his friends—who began life in a 1910 newspaper cartoon strip called Silk Hat Harry's Divorce Suit, written and drawn by "Tad," the pen acronym of Hearst sports columnist and cartoonist Thomas A. Dorgan. In The Breath of a Nation the judge is under the literally withering gaze of his wife, who proposes him as the "horrible example" for a temperance lecture called "The Horrors of Drink."
The film was directed by twenty-seven-year-old Gregory La Cava, a former political cartoonist who had overseen all the animated cartoons at the International Films Service studio in New York ever since its founding in 1915. The Breath of a Nation's gag-filled wit and full-body drawing style is due also to La Cava's friend from his Art Institute of Chicago days, Grim Natwick, who animated the leggy bar girl and probably much else in the film. (In his long career, Natwick's most memorable creation was Betty Boop.)
La Cava would abandon cartoons for live-action directing less than a year later. Like Judge Rummy, La Cava was known to enjoy his drink, and alcohol-induced freedoms regularly propel his films, including Stage Door (1937), Unfinished Business (1941), and So's Your Old Man (1926), which includes W.C. Fields's three-day drunk on roach-exterminator fluid.—Scott Simmon
About the Music
The ensemble here consists of Mark Harvey, leader and trumpet; Peter Bloom, flute; Phil Scarf, saxophone; John Funkhouser, string bass; Harry Wellott, drums; and Tim Ray, piano. Harvey, who teaches jazz studies at MIT, is the founder, music director, and principal composer for the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra. He and the other musicians, also from Aardvark, improvised this score by doing what jazz musicians so often do—jam and have fun. They took as their point of departure a topical 1919 ditty by Carl Zerse, "I've Got the Prohibition Blues (for My Booze)."—Martin Marks
Via New Mexico's PBS station KNME.
Video: Simon Ellinas Draws Caricatures of Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant, Karl Pilkington and Kate Garraway
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
"Space ... is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly hugely mindboggingly big it is ...."
I'm saying that Apollo 11 was an unfathomably big deal. It was bigger, and vastly more important, than any media hype put out for Lady Gaga or the new season of MAD MEN or even the frikkin' San Diego Comicon itself!
I was reading about it for months before, during the spring of 1969, in my Weekly Readers that I received at Roosevelt Elementary School, in Iowa City, IA. I knew the names of all of the astronauts. My Dad bought an Apollo 11 Saturn V rocket model kit and we put it together. He showed me all the stages and the tiny capsule and LEM. He told me all of the things that could go wrong.
Maybe you had to be there to feel the chill up and down the old spine while watching the dark, blurry, shadowy video of Armstrong leaving the LEM ladder to touch alien soil. I'm fortunate to have been alive for, as my pal Brian Fies aptly puts it, "the only event during my lifetime that anyone will remember 1000 years from now."
Sarah Palin has claims a "Shakespearean right" to make up her own words. She cites that The Bard created words all the time and when she is accused of making a "gaffe" (to quote this article by Ted Webb) she says she MEANT to say that.
For instance, she recently created the word "refudiate" instead of repudiate.
Does this put her in the same league as famous cartoon characters who also created their own words? Beloved characters like Barney Google ("heebie jeebies" and "google") and Homer Simpson ("D'oh!")?
Palin as influential as Simpson?!?! No way! I refudiate any comparison to Mssrs. Google and Simpson!
Monday, July 19, 2010
We always have a grand time in cartoon class. This year, we averaged about 7.5 complete drawings per hour. The kids, all between 10 and 14, were drawing machines.
I stand at the front of the class, and we all draw together. We draw people, expressions, pigs, cats, monsters, penguins, and many, many other things. We develop comic strips, tell visual stories, create characters and do a lot of writing and drawing. By the end of the week, the students are doing more and more of the drawing without my help. When the students leave, I hope I've empowered them to tell their own cartoon stories.
It's been a pleasure to get to know George Booth this year. We worked together on his presentation this past May for the National Cartoonists Society Reubens weekend, where he received the Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award.
Since the Long Island Museum is near his studio, we got together to have lunch last Wednesday. His wife and daughter were able to take time to join us as well. It was a grand lunch that lasted a couple of hours. George was, he told me, very interested in my cartooning class. I said he'd be welcome to drop by for maybe the last half hour and sit in, if he would like to.
George walked into the classroom bright and early the following morning. I introduced him as "my friend, George." I may have mentioned he was a cartoonist. I didn't tell the kids that George is, so far as I am concerned, on the Mount Olympus of great cartoonists. I figured he wanted to be discreet.
He stayed for the entire cartoon class on Thursday. Sure, I was nervous. Fortunately, I had over-prepared for the class, with at least twice as many projects -- so I knew we would keep busy. We had a lot of fun. And so did George, who laughed at a lot of the solutions to the "what comes next?" cartoons. This is just one of many cartoony things we draw in class.
The "what comes next?" exercise is where we all draw one panel together, and then each student draws the second panel, showing what may occur next. Here are a few of the set up panels, scanned in from my tiny sketchbook and blown up big:
"Do you bite?" does get a lot of dog-eating-person drawings for the second panel, of course.
The "Say cheese! and "No!" panel. I've seen students draw another 6-8 panels after this, with the kid basically saying "No!" to anything the adult says.
iPods are easy to draw and this always gets some interesting responses.
The "Why aren't you extinct?" panel, which usually results in a sympathetic dinosaur portrayal.
Sometimes it's best to be ignorant of what's in your food.
And so on. I have a lot of these panels and it's fun to see what the student cartoonist imagines what happens next.
THE EXQUISITE CORPSE (Yes, That's the Name of This Game)
Near the end of the class, George asked for a sheet of paper. He then drew something on one side and folded it over, so I couldn't see what he had drawn. He invited me to draw something else on the blank side. The one rule: I had to incorporate the lines he had made at the top.
And George then added the dubiously helpful hints "front maybe," "front maybe," and "bottom maybe."
And so I drew this:
And then we unfolded it to reveal:
Here's a close up on that goofy bird:
What a great game!
PUBERTY: A CAUTIONARY TALE by Cezanne Lojeski
Cezanne, one of the talented students, came in with the cartoon below -- a hilarious and creepy story of puberty that she had drawn on her own time. I thought it was GREAT and asked her if I could share it. She said it would be OK to post it here on the Mike Lynch Cartoons blog. Take it away, Cezanne!
Here is the giant size 16 x 20 original:
I've cut it into panels for easy viewing. Click to supersize:
"Everyone get into a line," she says. "Class! We are going to play a game!"
Fred, who is the star of this tragedy, has a question. Sadly, he will not be able to ask it. Keep reading!
Above: "What's wrong with Fred's armpits?" "Gross."
Above: "PUBERTY IS COMING!" And Fred says, "My armpit hair is strangling me! HELP! HELP!"
Thank you, Cezanne, for letting me share this!
A special thanks to my great friends and cartoonists Don & Suzanne Orehek, Trade & Annalisa Loeffler and Adrian & Pat Sinnott for letting me eat their food and sleep over during my time away.