Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Cartoonists Exchange Correspondence Course: Lesson Correction Portfolio 1946

The Cartoonists Exchange of Pleasant Hill, OH used to be a busy cartoon correspondence course operation for a number of decades. "Learning how to cartoon by mail" was a real thing in the 20th century, with several schools all over the country. Famously, Charles Schulz and others paid for these kind of courses. Today we are looking at the Lesson Correction Portfolio and it is copyright 1946 by Cartoonists' [sic] Exchange.

Cartoonist David Rand collected students' submissions, and then, sold the drawings back to them. You just have to shake your head and admire Mr. Rand's monetization of the medium!

So many of these corrections are serious drawing comments:
  • indicate grain in wood,
  • upper torso should be longer,
  • nose on pretty girl's face should be less noticeable,
  • hand detail should be more carefully worked out,
  • glorify the girl's legs.

Okay, maybe not that last one.

Lots of good, basic advice here, 73+ years on. I love pages like this, with lots of pen noodling. Even if you've gone all digital, then this still applies!

Evidently, a student was given a lesson. I don't own the lesson books, so I'm in the dark here. Maybe something like the old lady commits violence against the old man. Something like that. Or, guy finds jar of mystery spirits in the cellar; hilarity commences.

There is some good advice here, but I find that instead of looking at the folds in the clothes, I am wincing at the story telling.

Below is a photo of Mr. Rand, realizing his ambition of drawing comic strip ads for some consumer item called "Peppets."

 Edited from an original blog entry of March 18, 2009.

Monday, November 11, 2019

"Like Getting My Father Back:" WWII POW's Art Returned To His Family

Howard Weistling was thinking about becoming a comic book artist when he was a young man. Then, Pearl Harbor was bombed and he enlisted in the army.

NPR has the story written by Laurel Morales:

"Mike Weistling, Howard's grandson, loved to hear his grandfather's war stories.
"'He probably told me a lot of stories that were not appropriate for a child to hear,' Mike Weistling says.

"After flight engineer training, Howard was shipped off to Europe. On his maiden flight, his plane was shot down over Austria. Mike has the actual rip cord hung on his wall in Flagstaff, Ariz.

"The entire crew of eight men landed safely. But a farmer found Howard hiding in his barn and turned him over to a prisoner of war camp in Barth, Germany. Howard's son Morgan Weistling says it was freezing and the men almost starved to death eating the guards' garbage.

"'German soldiers would open the door and after they had their food would throw their plates on the floor,' says Morgan Weistling.

"Hungry and homesick Howard coped the only way he knew how. He drew a comic strip. The book, made of cigarette wrappers bound together with scrap metal, was sent around camp.

"'Every couple of days he would add a new panel,' says Morgan. 'One panel at a time would be passed around the whole camp. And they'd have something to look forward to.'

"After an entire year of this, they woke one morning to find their guards gone. They fled before the Russians arrived to liberate the camp. Howard finally got to go home. Just lucky to get out alive, he left the book behind."

Howard came home, married and raised a family. He left the idea of being a cartoonist behind. He became a gardener.

He did get to see his son, Morgan, become a successful illustrator and painter. 

"'And he just got tears in his eyes 'like you're doing what I always had hoped I would do,'' says Morgan. 'And he was literally — I could just feel it — living through the moment like that's his way of living that dream out.'"

Howard Weistling passed away in 2002.

Just this year, Morgan got an email. Someone had bought a bunch of Nazi relics, including three of Hitler's watercolors, as well as a small comic book, bound in scrap metal with the name "Weistling" on it.

"'I get an email from an older gentleman and he says, 'I think I may have some drawings that your father did when he was a POW in World War II,'' Morgan recalls. ''Would you like them?' And I just stared at that email and started crying.'"

"'I want to know all the hands it's passed through,' Morgan says. 'What happened right when the Russians came in? And how did it end up with Hitler's watercolors? It just doesn't make any sense. It's like I wish there was a Go-Pro attached to it so we could've seen the journey these drawings have gone through.'

"A couple of days later when it arrived by FedEx in California, he couldn't believe it.

"'It was like getting my father back,' Morgan Weistling says. 'It was like him being able to tell me the story over again only this time it was real in my hands.'"

The whole story is at the NPR site. 

Thanks to my pal Adrian Sinnott for telling me about this story.

Friday, November 08, 2019

Video: Paul Conrad Interview on "The World of Cartooning with Mike Peters"

Editorial cartoonist Paul Conrad is interviewed in this segment of the 1980s 14-part PBS interview series, "The World of Cartooning with Mike Peters."

Thursday, November 07, 2019

THIRTEEN GOING ON EIGHTEEN No. 22, April 1967 by John Stanley

Here are a few stories from THIRTEEN "GOING ON EIGHTEEN," a Dell comic book by John Stanley. It's copyright 1966 by Dell Publishing.

These stories, by the same fellow who did the long running LITTLE LULU comic book, are all about teenagers trying to act a little older than they are.

These are just the first couple of stories from the comic book. It's mostly about best friends Val and Judy, who get into teen scrapes and do silly things. As Don Markstein observes:

Val had an older sister, Evie (useful for borrowing or stealing make-up from); a next-door neighbor, Billy (whom she was in love with, except when she hated him); and a best friend, Judy (Val's dark-haired co-star, who started out pudgy but lost weight early on). Val and Judy weren't in the full flower of teenhood, like Binky, Penny, The Jackson Twins or most other comics teens (including, of course, Archie himself), but were at that awkward stage where they were just starting to get the hang of it.

The art looks a little rushed and sketchy looking. I liked the sketchy look. The splash panels tend to have a large void in them. I mean, look at that big blank space in "Val."

This was the final year of the book, which ran from 1961 to 1967.

The D and Q John Stanley hardcover book series

--  Edited from a blog entry of Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Video: Al Hartley Interview

Atlas Comics and Archie artist Al Hartley (1921 - 2003) is interviewed in this "Focus on Faith" Christian TV show episode. Host Cynthia Anderson provides the background on Al, who served as a bomber pilot in WWII, and then became a busy commercial artist in New York City. He did a lot of comic book work from the late 1940s until the mid-60s. He's best known for his run on the Patsy and Hedy comic book. In 1967, with the Patsy and Hedy book canceled, and his marriage in trouble, Al was out of work and despondent. He became a born-again Christian, and, out of the blue, got a phone call to come and work at Archie comics. He saw this as a sign from God.

He infused his comics work with his new-found faith, so much so that Archie comics had to ask him to please tone it down. He launched Spire Christian comics, licensing the Archie gang in stories with religious lessons. He also drew comic book versions of bible stories. In 1980, he received the prestigious Inkpot Award.

I should add something to the comments that Cynthia Anderson makes in the video. She mentions that Al was working on a risque comic magazine titled "Pussycat" published by Martin Goodman at the time that he (Al) found God. Goodman was, as you know, the head of Marvel and also had his hand in some more adult books. Pussycat, a sexy girl in the big city, was originally created by Wally Wood, and continued on by writer Larry Lieber and artists like Bill Ward, Jim Mooney and Al Hartley. Al went to Martin Goodman, says Cynthia, and told him that as a Christian, he could not work on a lewd book like this. That's what caused him to be out of work.

It's a decent story, but it doesn't make sense. Whether the cause was the demise of Patsy and Hedy or Al's refusal to work on Pussycat, Hartley had worked in pretty much all genres since the late '40s and it was just a matter of time he would have gotten more work.

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Video: Steve Benson Interview

Pulitzer Prize award winning editorial cartoonist Steve Benson talks to the Freedom From Religion Foundation in this interview about his life and work recorded on September 19, 2019.

"Steve Benson was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his work with the Arizona Republic. He sketched cartoons for the paper for decades, and we view and discuss with him some of his choice creations. The freethinking Benson is ironically the grandson of Mormon President Ezra Taft Benson. 'My grandfather said, ‘Stephen, just go easy on the church,'' Benson recounts on the show. 'Oh wait a minute, folks! My grandfather is about to become president of the church, and God is concerned about cartoons that are being done?!' Learn more about the Freedom From Religion Foundation at ffrf.org."

Monday, November 04, 2019

FEIFFER ON NIXON by Jules Feiffer

You know that old saying that there is nothing new in the world, only the history you don't know.

I picked up a copy of FEIFFER ON NIXON by Jules Feiffer at the Fryeburg Flea Market on Sunday. I flipped thru it while standing at the seller's table full of paper ephemera. It was amazing how many of Feiffer's reprinted Village Voice strips, from 1960 to 1974, resonated now. I bought the book, of course, to share. Here are a few. The paperback was published by Random House. These are copyright Mr. Feiffer.

These points that Feiffer makes, about lying, about the congress, about racism -- are sadly on point today. I originally posted this in 2017. My friend Michael Tisserand posted about this on his Twitter account last week, adding this great interview by Studs Terkel. There is a whole new Studs Terkel WFMT radio show archive online now.

Friday, November 01, 2019

Video: Tony Auth Interview on "The World of Cartooning with Mike Peters"

Editorial cartoonist Tony Auth is interviewed in this segment of the 1980s 14-part PBS interview series, "The World of Cartooning with Mike Peters."

Video: Jeff MacNelly Interview on "The World of Cartooning with Mike Peters"

Editorial cartoonist Jeff MacNelly is interviewed in this segment of the 1980s 14-part PBS interview series, "The World of Cartooning with Mike Peters."