Friday, December 25, 2015

The Great Ham Caper

My wife, Stacy, wrote a poem way back in Christmas 2006. It's about us and our cats, Rufus and Sam.

Her poem was got some serious Web traffic, and it's been rerun annually since. Since we moved we have adopted a few more cats.

It's bittersweet now, since big red Rufus died on December 5, 2014. It was cancer and there was nothing we could have done. He had a wonderful life. He adored Stacy, who tamed him from a wild cat from the big city to a sweet, round, purring house cat. He had no idea he was on the Internet, of course.

For auld lang syne, here is the poem again, starring our two cats from Brooklyn, Rufus and Sam (Sam is alive and well and looking out of my studio window as I type this):

The Great Ham Caper

Words by Stacy Lynch
Pictures by Mike Lynch

’Twas the week before Christmas
When Rufus and Sam
Hatched a devious scheme
To make off with the ham!

The ham that would grace
The holiday table!
Roo was the brains.
Sam, wiry and able.

They devised a plan
Of Goldbergian proportions
With pulleys and weights
And kitty contortions.

And on Christmas day
They’d eat until stuffed
(The very idea
Made their tails slightly puffed!)

’Til then, they’d lay low,
Little angels to see.
But that made us suspicious –
Wouldn’t you be?

So we snooped and we sleuthed
And uncovered their caper -
“The Ham-Stealing Plan”
Diagrammed on a paper!

“No silly cat’s gonna
Steal my roast beast,”
Exclaimed Mike. “Just watch,
I’ll ruin their feast!”So he countered their scheming
With mad plans all his own
And all I could do
Was inwardly groan!

Who’d win this contest
Of wits they were planning?
Would Mike, Roo or Sam -
Be last man or cat standing?

As Christmas day dawned
The four of us waited
For the ham to be served
With breaths that were bated.

But before the main course
Could even be plated
Their plans took a turn.
Some say it was fated...

What happened to stop them
So cold in their tracks?
Why, cat-nip and husb-nip
(in big canvas sacks)Was all that it took
To stop their foul warring.
And they rolled and purred
And drooled on the flooring.And as long as I kept
My fingers and toes
Away from a hubby and two cats
In nip’s throes -
My own Christmas day
Turned out merry and calm;
The ham moist and succulent,
The champagne, a balm.

When they “awoke”,
hostilities abated,
We all ate some ham
And went to bed sated.

And such peace we wish
To you and to yours:
An end to fighting;
An end to wars.

Happy Holidays!

Mike and Stacy and Rufus and Sam

UPDATE: and, the "new" cats: Dexter and Dropcloth and Fergus.

Happy Holidays, everyone.

It's time to be with family. So, this blog will be quiet for a time. I'll see you soon.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The 12 Rejections of Christmas

This is not a Christmas card for everyone. Heck, it's not even a NICE Christmas card. This is for cartoonists. And these are all true things that were said to me.

Everyone has experienced rejection, but cartoonists experience it regularly.

And it's normal. The important thing is to persist, as gag cartoonist Roy Delgado has in regard to submitting the The New Yorker. (Well over 19,000 cartoon submissions, all, as of this date, rejected.)

Every once in a while, the Berndt Toast Gang (the National Cartoonists Society Long Island chapter) would have a "rejection show," where successful professional cartoonists would bring in their rejected comic strip ideas, rejected proposals, rejected illustrations, and so on. There was a lot of gorgeous work. All of it unseen.

"If we ALL brought in ALL of our rejections," the late Joe Edwards (Archie, Li'l Jinx) told me, "the room would be FULL to the rafters." Joe was right. And we were meeting in a pretty large banquet room at the time.

So, keep plugging away. You gotta have the misses to get the hits. And remember, to quote CBC TV's Red Green, I'm pullin for ya. We're all in this together!

Related: Rejection is the Key to Success.

A Visit From St. Nicholas (To the Moon) by Walt Kelly

It's Christmas time and that means that it's time to sing our favorite carol ("Deck Us All With Boston Charlie") and read "A Visit From St. Nicholas (To the Moon)" as reimagined by the one and only Walt Kelly (with "apologies to Clement Moore," natch).

It's originally from a POGO book titled GONE POGO (1961, Simon and Schuster). It would be printed once more, 26 years later, newly colored by Joe Orlando (!) and Angelina Genduso, for the December 20, 1987 edition of the Daily News Magazine.

This is all copyright the Walt Kelly Estate, with Jay Maeder's piece copyright 1987 by Jay or maybe The NY Daily News. Click to enjoy them is giant Kelly inky glory.

Here is a background on Walt Kelly written by Jay Maeder. Jay describes Kelly as

"... a fairly irascible soul, given to the fine Irish melancholia and possessed of no immense generosity of spirit when it came to his fellow human specimens.'People are basically idiots,' he reflected in one published interview. 'It may come as a surprise to find you're an idiot, but the fact remains you are.'"

Well, the dichotomy is there: here's a former Disney animator, comic book funny animal artist, and, okay, yes, he may have occasionally been a Scrooge in real life, but judge him not by what he says, but by what he has done. He is, after all, the man who gave us POGO.

Maybe it sounds idiotic to you, but Happy Christmas to you, Mr. Kelly! We miss you.

Animation: Kelsey Goldych's TRASH CAT

SCAD student Kelsey Goldych did this two minute animation. Watch the whole thing, including the end credits. She really did a terrific job here. Just look at this cat! Perfect! Here's hoping she goes on and makes some more great animation in the future! Wow!

Trash Cat from Kelsey Goldych on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Stop or I'll Scream!

There is nothing half so much worth doing as simply messing about with gag cartoons, to heavily paraphrase Ratty from The Wind in the Willows.

STOP OR I'LL SCREAM, a collection of cartoons from Collier's edited by its cartoon editor, Gurney Williams, was published by Robert M. McBride and Company in 1945 and copyright same.

"An Album of more than 300 funny drawings by nearly fifty of Collier's cartoonists," says the interior frontispiece. Regardless of me bandying about $5 words like "frontispiece," here is, for your blog reading pleasure, but a wee fraction of the interior.

George Lichty's style always looked like his ink line was just slightly out of control. His eccentric characters would later get daily exposure with his Grin and Bear It syndicated daily panel.

Bo Brown's cartoon reminds me that not that much has changed with bus interiors in 62 years. We still got the straps, the poles, and the rude drivers.

Sam Cobean contributes a wordless adventure. Like I mentioned yesterday, he would have been better remembered to today had he not passed away too early in a car crash.

Another Cobean. Lovely touch: the dropped hat & cane.

Virgil Partch or "VIP." Another cartoonist killed in a car wreck! At least VIP had a couple more decades' of work out there and he's still well remembered today. Just go and Google the guy! A great, unique gag.

Reamer Keller contributes a pre-sexual harassment era gag that would garner rejection after rejection these days.

By the end of the war, a lot of the ladies were involved in running industry -- but then again, if you didn't all ready know that, then you picked it up painlessly from the cartoon, didn't you!?

Dead pan, spot on Chon Day shows us the power of simple lines and a bit of wash.

-- Edited from a blog entry dated October 15, 2007.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Woman's Day March 1951

This little kitty (who reminded me of our kitty, Trout), a 3 month old cat that belonged to the photographer, graces the cover of the May 1951 WOMAN'S DAY magazine. I picked this up in an antiques shop in SW New Hampshire. Mags back in the day used more cartoons and illustrations than ever, and let's just shine a spotlight on a few:

New Yorker cartoonist Sam Cobean puts meat on his table by schilling for Ken-L-Ration dog food, made with "100% real meat!*" Sam Cobean puts lovely energy into his cartoons. It was a tragedy when he died in a car wreck in Watkins Glen, NY at the early age of 38.

Take a look at his site. It's one of the best.

"*U.S. Government Inspected Horse Meat."

Above, an ad that was probably put together by the Johnstone and Cushing company, a firm that specialized in comic strip ads. In this installment, our title character get a buzz from Lipton that allows her to deal with the "Terrible Twins," Pete and Pat. Better living thru chemistry!

Actually, looks like Petey and Pat met up with some chick in the background of panel 5, and, off camera, she force fed the little terrors a couple mega doses of Ritalin.

In the middle of an article you get, as a lovely page break, a poem, with a hippo drawn by Richard Scarry.

This short story, "I Married a Folding Woman" by George Alna Brastow, complains of his wife's obsession with folding things and putting them away. Yeah, that's our man's biiiig problem: his woman folds stuff. The Eisenhower years! Ack!

Tom Funk's illustration is nicely done. The folded page isn't really folded -- it's all an illusion and an intentional part of Mr. Funk's illustration.

Above: THEY'LL DO IT EVERY TIME ala 40% Bran Flakes! Al Scaduto continued the panel for King Features, from 1989 to 2008. Al started with King right outta high school in 1946! The feature only stopped when he died in 2007.

Clear sunny, yellow margarine is the key to good food energy ... unless you live in one of those states where it's banned.

Some energetic figure work by an uncredited commercial artist.

When you are really want to impress those snobby ol' Thurston Howell types, serve soda crackers. Yeah, right!

We all know that if you want to impress those classy rich people, serve Ritz! It's named after that ritzy hotel, after all!

Click above to super-size, and ask yourself the same question I did upon reading the bottom line of this ad: Why oh why does Richmond, VA hate the Keebler elves? Somebody Google the living heck outta that and let me know, OK? OK!

This is all messed up. Give a dog a piece of dog candy and then he will stop being a dunce? Weird. Dogs are kinda dopey to begin with. Sweet, but dopey. Candy will just get a dog hepped up on sugar and he'll wee all over the lawn. Oh, and then there's the doggy dentist bills!

And what is the graph that's in the corner? Oh, I guess it's Charge Healthful Dog Candy's market sales.

Corporate America once again using the youth of this country to schill its products.

Above: I had to look at this for a minute before I figured out that the ghost is carrying out an old timey outhouse.

Above: ordinary housewives (you can tell because they're all in glorious B and W) agree that Fleischmann's Yeast is "Wonderful." Today, this ad would've been handed off to a celebrity like Paris Hilton whose reference to yeast is, well, entirely different.

That's it. I'll say no more.

-- Edited from a blog entry dated October 14, 2007