Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Video: "Making Paper: From Trees To Tribunes" 1937 Chicago Tribune Documentary

How does the Chicago Tribune get printed? It all starts in the timberlands of Quebec ...

At 18:39, we get a brief peek at Chicago Tribune cartoonist Chester Gould working on a DICK TRACY daily and (I'm guessing here) editorial cartoonist Carey Orr.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Wishing Ted Rall All the Best with His First Amendment Hearing

A week from today my colleague, editorial cartoonist Ted Rall, will take the LA Times to court.

The paper fired Rall for lying. Then the LA Times wrote an op ed, slandering Ted. He was able to prove that the paper was wrong, but ...

"Times executives doubled down, publishing a second piece reaffirming the first one. In March 2016, I filed suit in LA Superior Court against the Times for defamation, wrongful termination, blacklisting and other charges."

Due to the Times' lawyers citing a law for out-of-state residents to have to prove that they can pay 100% of the defense's legal fees, Ted was forced to raise $75,000 as a cash bond just to have his three days of hearings next week. So ... even though he wants his day in court, it'll cost. He was able to raise the money through I gave a contribution.

His syndicated column, Sue the SOBs? It’s Harder Than You Think, has a lot more details, including the financial conflict of interest between the paper and the LA police.

I wish him all the best. This is not a cause that I see getting much coverage the past year, but I hope that changes. If he is successful, a trial date will be set for later in 2017 or maybe it'll be 2018. This is only the beginning. I hope you will take a moment to read what's going on.

Monday, February 20, 2017

James Stevenson 1929 - 2017

Above: Mr. Stevenson in the 1960s.

James Stevenson has died. He was 87 years old.

A prolific author and illustrator, he created about a hundred children's books, thousands of New Yorker drawings and covers, as well as a continuing series "Lost and Found in New York" for the New York Times.

James Stevenson interned at The New Yorker magazine offices in the mid-1940s. It was then that he began to give ideas to the cartoonists. He was hired as a full-time "idea-man" in 1949. Stevenson was given an office and, as Michael Maslin notes in his Inkspill blog,

... instructed not to tell anyone what he did. He eventually began publishing his own cartoons and covers as well as a ground-breaking Talk of the Town pieces (ground breaking in that the pieces were illustrated). His contributions to the magazine number over 2000.   Key collections: Sorry Lady — This Beach is Private! ( MacMillan, 1963), Let’s Boogie ( Dodd, Mead, 1978).  Stevenson has long been a children’s book author, with roughly one hundred titles to his credit.  He is a frequent contributor to the Op-Ed page of The New York Times, under the heading Lost and Found New York. Stevenson’s recent book, published in 2013, The Life, Loves and Laughs of Frank Modell, is essential. 

James Stevenson was a writer and an artist, creating many New Yorker covers, around 100 children's books and 1,987 New Yorker cartoons.

His work is vibrant, skillful and full of life. It is a joy to look at. I am so sorry I never had the chance to meet him and let him know how much I loved what he did. Here are a few samples of his prolific output from some of the books I own:

Friday, February 17, 2017

Harry Bliss Comic Offends, Readers React; Cartoonist Responds

Harry Bliss' daily panel "Bliss" depicts a man trying to stop Dracula with a Star of David in his February 10, 2017 syndicated comic.

The Boston Globe has an article about "a few readers" writing to express their displeasure and offense.

Here's a sample:

"The cartoon seems to imply that the Shield of David is not a true symbol of God, or that Jews and their symbols are less godly than Christians and their symbols, or that Jews are too stupid to know they are supposed to use a Christian symbol to ward off pagan vampires.

"Perhaps Harry Bliss is not thinking about the wave of anti-Semitism inspired by our new president and his strategists, but printing this comic helps normalize a hateful agenda. I am deeply disturbed and disappointed that the Globe would sanction publishing such an offensive cartoon."

I remember a similar gag from LOVE AT FIRST BITE, a 1979 comedy movie with George Hamilton, Susan Saint James, and Richard Benjamin about a fish-out-of-water Count Dracula in modern day America. I don't remember any outrage. The bit occurs at about 1:13.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Glenn McCoy Betsy DeVos Editorial Cartoon: "“I’m surprised that you see ‘hate’ in this cartoon"

Glenn McCoy's February 13, 2017 editorial cartoon about Betsy DeVos has been divisive.

Glenn has made a statement on the Belleville (IL) News Democrat newspaper's site:

“My cartoon was about how, in this day and age, decades beyond the civil rights protests, it’s sad that people are still being denied the right to speak freely or do their jobs or enter public buildings because others disagree with who they are or how they think,” he wrote. “I’m surprised that you see ‘hate’ in this cartoon when I thought I was speaking out against hate. It’s a woman passively walking while being protected from angry protesters. Isn’t that what went down the other day when DeVos visited a school to do her job? You may disagree with her on issues but I didn’t see any hate coming from her. I did, however see hate going in the other direction which is what made me think of the Rockwell image. That was the only comparison I was drawing. The level of toxicity in today’s political climate has reached ridiculous levels.”

Read more here:
My take: Glenn says that billionaire Betsy DeVos is a victim of hate; that she is just like six year old Ruby Bridges, the little African American girl, in the iconic painting by Norman Rockwell, "The Problem We All Live With" (1964).

Ruby Bridges is on her way to her first day of school at the William Frantz Elementary School. She is six years old. She will be the first non-white student attending that day. The four U.S. Marshals are there to ensure that the desegregation laws are adhered to.

Betsy DeVos is a white, 59 year old billionaire who was confirmed by the Senate in an historically close vote as the new Secretary of Education on January 31st, 2017. She has been heavily involved in Republican politics since the 1990s.

Glenn equates the N-word with "conservative" here, and anger at DeVos as being the same as bigots and white supremacists.

I disagree with this cartoon fundamentally. There is no comparison.

But, I believe in Glenn's right to draw it and sell it. And he has. He sold it to his paper, the Belleville News-Democrat. Universal Press has it on their site and it's available thru their syndication services.

Cartooning is a commercial art. If there is commerce for a certain sense of humor, a certain viewpoint, then the market will reward it.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Howard Shoemaker RIP

Howard "Shoe" Shoemaker passed away on January 28, 2017.  He was 85.

He lived in Nebraska. He used to work for the Omaha-based Bozell & Jacobs advertising agency before cartooning full-time. Mr. Shoemaker was a decades-long contributor to Playboy Magazine, among many others.

In 1964, he created a book of Porsche cartoons, which is now a collector's item commanding hundreds of dollars a copy today. 

From the Omaha World-Herald obituary:

He had six children, 13 grandkids and 13 great-grandkids. Shoemaker’s daughter Mareaeric Campagna said the family car was a Porsche. There would be outings in the hills of Council Bluffs, or Shoemaker would wake up his kids and take them out in the car to make the first tracks in fresh snow.
The house was filled with jazz, the Beatles and dance parties, his daughter said. Shoemaker’s drawing board was in the middle of the living room of the house in the Field Club neighborhood.
He jotted down ideas on napkins or his hand — a trait he passed down to children and grandchildren. And he drew cartoons on everything. Bar napkins, tags, cards and envelopes, which amused post office workers. All are treasured now, his daughter said.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Remembering Charles Schulz

Remembering Charles Schulz, who died on this day 17 years ago. How we love him.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Video: STAR TREK Mashup: "Anger is Illogical"

You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll kiss 3 minutes goodbye. One of the best TREK mash ups/parodies I've seen.

Thanks to OneMinuteGalactica for this -- and take a look at their YouTube page for more stuff!

Thursday, February 09, 2017

True Story: Grocery Store Lothario

Here's a short true life story I over heard while at the grocery store last night. This was definitely a "How Not to Pick Up Girls" moment for this fella. Clean up in aisle two!!!

Drawn freehand, no penciling. Ink on paper with a watercolor wash, 5.5" x 8.5" (14 x 21.6 cm).

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

July 14 - July 21, 1962 SATURDAY EVENING POST Cartoons

Snowed here yesterday, and today's it's almost 50 degrees. Then, 8 more inches tomorrow and we are back below freezing for the time being. So ... it's nice to see this Post cover reminding me of a sweet, old timey vacation.


George Hughes paints this cover to the July 14-July 21, 1962 SATURDAY EVENING POST. Mr. Hughes would paint 115 POST covers for fourteen years beginning in 1948. He was its most prolific cover artist. This would be his next to last cover commission (the final one would come nine years later, in 1971) as the magazine transitioned into using more and more photographs.

Here are all of the cartoons from this issue:

We begin with a topper by Henry Syverson:

Jack Markow with an animal gag:

The prolific Bil Keane, who was in the early years of producing his FAMILY CIRCUS panel, was still creating gag cartoons:

Below: a great Jerry Marcus gag.

Boris Drucker:

And we finish with another unsigned illustration by Syverson:

-- Edited from an original November 25, 2011 blog entry.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Clay Bennett to @AlShyster: "Stop stealing and altering my cartoons, @AlShyster #IntellectualPropertyTheft"

Last month, Pulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoonist Clay Bennett posted the above cartoon. It was swiped and tinkered with by someone called @AlShyster on Twitter:

When Clay got angry about the theft, the changing of the meaning of the cartoon and the deletion of his signature, he posted about it on Twitter and got a nasty response with a legal threat.

The link is to a fair use article on the Smith, Gambrell and Russell LLP attorneys at law web site. 

Here's Clay from his Facebook page:
The other day I noticed that someone on Twitter had taken one of my cartoons, removed my signature, and altered the image so that it expressed an opinion that was antithetical to my own. 
I reported it to Twitter, which has moved at its usual snail's pace to take down the image. So, at this point, this transgression is still unresolved. 
[What transpired next is included in the images included] 
I exposed the perpetrator on Twitter itself, admonishing him to "Think up your own ideas (if your capable). Stop stealing and altering my cartoons, @AlShyster #IntellectualPropertyTheft
The fact that he didn't immediately take down the image didn't surprise me, but what did take me aback was the threatening tone of his response. After posting a spurious argument as to why his thievery falls under the 'fair use' exception to the copyright laws, he added that "Any inappropriate response is actionable in civil court." 
He steals my work, removes my signature, alters my cartoon's content, and then threatens to sue ME if I take any recourse to rectify the situation?
This is crazy. 
I understand the lay of the land nowadays, and I rarely assert control over my work if its used without permission. After all, I'm not in this business to make money as much as to make an argument. But when that very argument gets turned on its head by some douchebag whose only talent seems to be a nominal skill at using PhotoShop, that's when my patience ends. 
If any of you are on Twitter, maybe you could take a few minutes to tell @AlShyster what you think of him. I would be greatly appreciative.

Monday, February 06, 2017


Jean Marcel Bruller (1902 – 1991) was a French writer and illustrator, a Resistance fighter, and a novelist. During WWII, he co-founded Les Éditions de Minuit with Pierre de Lescure and Yvonne Paraf. He wrote under the pen-name of Vercors. He authored THE SILENCE OF THE SEA, which was translated into 17 languages and sold a million copies. He wrote a number of science fiction novels as well, one of them being short-listed for a Hugo Award. (The 1952 novel Les Animaux dénaturés (translated variously into English as You Shall Know Them, Borderline, and The Murder of the Missing Link) was made into the 1970 film Skullduggery (1970) starring Burt Reynolds and Susan Clark, and examines the question of what it means to be human. -- Wikipedia.)

But way before that, in the year after the crash, Covici, Friede, Publishers published the hardback 21 DELIGHTFUL WAYS OF COMMITTING SUICIDE, written and illustrated by Jean Bruller. It's copyright 1930 by Conde Nast.

The book is:

"For the use of persons who are discouraged or disgusted with life for reasons which do not really concern us."

As Corey Ford explains in his intro, "I have suspected for a long time that a lack of exact knowledge on the subject was the cause of much of the bungling and messy attempts at self-destruction which we encounter today; and I hope this little volume, with its graphic illustrations, carefully scientific text, and copious notes, will serve to educate the public in the finer points of the Art."

This tongue-in-cheek "manual" has some great drawings in acid colors by Jean Bruller. Some very dark humor here; macabre humor that was not, and perhaps is not, to everyone's taste. Regardless, here are the 21 ways of doing it as prescribed by Mr. Bruller.

Suicide by Means of Blowing Out the Brains

Suicide by Means of Prolonged Total Immersion

Suicide by Means of Prolonged Partial Immersion

Suicide by Means of Carbon Asphyxiation

Suicide by Means of Other Asphyxiation

Suicide by Means of Hanging

Suicide by Means of Precipitation from an Elevated Site

Suicide by Means of Poison

Suicide by Means of Arterial Section

Suicide by Means of Empalement

Suicide by Means of Applied Pressure

Suicide by Means of Animal Absorption

Suicide by Means of Combustion

Suicide by Means of Explosion

Suicide by Means of Harakiri

Suicide by Means of Hydraulic Excess

Suicide by Means of Rolling

Suicide by Means of Burial Alive

Suicide by Means of Voluntary Contagion

Suicide by Means of a Deficiency of Alimentation

Suicide by Means of Excessive Longevity