Friday, June 30, 2006

2006 Bunny Bash

The Bunny Bash is an annual event held in June these past 26 years at the home of Bunny Hoest. This all started because Bill Hoest wanted to show some some of his cartoonist colleagues the house he was building. About a dozen cartoonists showed up for sandwiches and a tour of the then-unfinished home on the Long Island shore. Today, the event has grown. About 150 cartoonists, spouses, kids and friends got together for what turned out to be a sunny, not-too-hot afternoon. Below are a few photos from the 2006 Bash:

Above is Art Cumings, know for the long-running "Balloonheads" feature in Penthouse magazine. He's also done childrens books.

New Yorker cartoonist and one of the minds behind the Puzzability company Robert Leighton. Check out their New Yorker cartoon puzzle book.

Mad's Nick Meglin, Daily News' Bill Gallo, Robert Leighton

Bill Gallo autographing a Daily News cartoon for hostess Bunny Hoest.

Mad Magazine's Tom Richmond and Mike Lynch, who are smiling a little too enthusiastically. Tom flew in from Minnesota that morning just to be at the bash.

NY Metro cartoonist Tony Murphy gives King Features' Karen Moy a gift. I liked the way Karen was so seriously trying to figure out what it is that Tony brought her -- and then that big smile when she sees it's an original strip! Cool!

Curtis cartoonist Ray Billingsley, Mike Lynch, Archie's Stan Goldberg

Frank Springer, Al Scaduto

Mad's Ray Alma, NYC NCS Treasurer and toy designer Andy Eng, Mike Lynch. Rain and thundershowers were predicted all week, and you can see one of the big tents Bunny had erected. The rain held off, not arriving until around 7pm, well after the Bash had broken up.

Australian cartoonist Jason Chatfield and Jason's girlfriend Kate stand in awe of Tom Richmond. I think Tom, who was hoping for that "Travelled Farthest" plaque, is trying to put a good face on that fact that he's in second place thanks to Jason. Jason C. has a travel blog here.

Jason also said when we met, "Oh I know your work." He had seen some photos of me at my pal's Mark Anderson's blog. "Yes, Australians read the Andertoons blog," he told me.

Soup to Nutz cartoonist and NCS President Rick Stromoski laughs.

Ray Billingsley sketching and talking. A lot of kids were coming up to him and he was drawing Curtis for at least 20 minutes straight.

The Glorious Fourth at Yapp's Crossing by Johnny Gruelle

Have a wonderful Canada Day and/or Independence Day. Back next week for more fun.

Until then, here is illustrator Johnny Gruelle's salute to the 4th of July. Gruelle was born in 1880 in Arcola, Illinois. A prolific illustrator, he's best remembered now as the creator of Raggedy Ann. Classic comic fans may know that he created the comic strip Mr. Twee Deedle for the New York Herald; a fantasy strip that echoed the then-departing Little Nemo.

Now, be careful with them firecrackers!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Sketchbook Process

I spent the early part of this week drawing and redrawing. Last week I wrote a lot of cartoons. Well, actually, I sketch them in a notebook. Years ago, I started the sketchbook process. I spent C$13 on this pad. (I bought it at the Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, while on vacation.) It was the first pad.

On each page, I divide it into a dozen squares and, being a thrifty sort, I draw on both sides of the paper. That's why the paper is a honking 110 lb.; a very thick page. It's almost, but not quite, poster board quality. So -- 50 spiral-bound pages, 2 dozen images a page -- well, that's a large quantity of cartoons I can put in the drawing pad. (After yesterday's bad math blog entry, I'm wary of anything, even simple multiplication.) I hand draw the squares. You can see how wobbly they are.

I used to draw on pieces of paper and, being a poor housekeeper, the papers would scatter and I would lose them in my tiny apt. Making an investment in one bound book of blank paper was, at the time, a big decision. I knew from previous experience that even a bad idea could be looked at a little later and, after a bit of tinkering, make it into a better idea. But not being able to lay my hands on old sketches was driving me crazy.

For me, I produce a lot of, for lack of a better word, garbage: bad ideas, stillborn cartoons, cliched captions, bizarre nonsensical situations. Producing the stuff that doesn't work is part of the process. It was daunting to draw what I knew was not that good stuff on this nice paper. But I forged ahead. And, for me, it's been very helpful. Sometimes I'll look at a cartoon that I drew last month, and see that it's funny. Or I'll see some tortured, long-winded line from months ago and figure out a quick way to cut it to a precise, funny line.

I don't know why it works like this. My process is not the be all and end all. It's what works for me. One cartoonist I know just writes the captions on a piece of paper. For me, I need the image and the words together.

Eldon Dedini said in a Cartoonist PROfiles interview, "To be truthful, it's still a mystery to me. And it's the mystery that makes it interesting .... Maybe if I knew more about it, I'd lose the touch."

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Cartoon Sales Batting Average

Yes, well, it's rather mean, but shopping is all part of a woman's world. I guess that's why Woman's World purchased the above scratchy, snarky cartoon. I really don't like a mean cartoon, unless it's clever -- and I thought there were maybe 9 other cartoons in my batch of 10 that were better than this, the editors thought different.

When a cartoonist wrote me, asking me to critique his work, I emailed back:

I think you should do what you think is funny, and concentrate on that. I've been drawing cartoons for years now and still have no idea what cartoons will sell and what won't sell, so I never feel right criticizing anyone. I think the most important thing is to be able to produce 10-15 finished professional cartoons a week, every week.

For instance, out of all the cartoons I drew during the week of October 22, 2002, only the one below sold. All of the others, despite being sent to a lot of markets, failed to sell. Some weeks are like that.

October 2002 was pretty much like any other month: I drew 40 cartoons, an average of 10 a week. I sold 6 of the 40 cartoons. What is that? A 25 percent success rate, right? (I'm a picture person, not a math person.)

[MATH UPDATE: Nope. It's 15%. My mistake. Thanks as ever to my Dad, Professor Lynch, for e-mailing me, letting me know my goof up. I was wrong. I guess I was just in wishful-percentage-land.]In a conversation with my doctor last week, she told me that John Updike wanted to be a cartoonist. She tells me she read this interview with him. Updike pointed out that a cartoonist has to think up 30 ideas a week before selling one. But a novelist only has to have one idea every 2 years. Oooookay. I have no idea if Updike wanted to be a cartoonist, but at least my batting average is better than that one out of 30 figure. I don't know where that figure came from. (By the way, I'm feeling fine.)

I always heard that if you sell one or two cartoons out of a batch of 10, then that's considered a success for a magazine cartoonist. I don't remember where I heard that, but it works out that way. In a good month, maybe three cartoons. Not always the cartoons I want to sell are the ones that do sell.

Mark Anderson's Wife Tells All

The wife of my pal magazine cartoonist Mark Anderson blogs about her life with him at Mark's blog. It's titled, "Smart Woman, Foolish Cartoonist."

No. Not really. She's a wonderful, supportive spouse who enjoys the long discussions about what is funny. And she lets him to buy cool cartoon stuff too!

I was fortunate enough to visit the Anderson compound for the first time this past May. When I offered to help cook dinner, I was soundly rebuffed by Mrs. Anderson and received the suggestion that I maintain my stationary position and enjoy my beer. Whatta woman! She spoiled me!

Mark and I have similar histories: We worked "normal jobs" for a while before surprising our spouses with our cartoon freelance life. A move that would, obviously, be impossible without their strong belief in our cartooning abilities.

I always thought it would be interesting to have a panel of cartoonists' spouses for a convention. I wonder how many are deeply involved in the process? I would want to go to a panel like that.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Mike Lynch Cartoon in July 2006 Funny Times

The nice thing about seeing a cartoon of mine in the Funny Times is that so many of my cartoonist friends are in it as well: Tony Murphy, Steph Piro, Clay Bennett, Dan Piraro, Carla Ventresca and Mark Anderson and others. And FT is headquartered in Cleveland Heights, OH, just a couple of miles from where I went to high school.

Digression: I managed an outdoor theatre in the local Cain Park. It was a summer job, the year after I graduated high school. My friend Rob Towns helped me get the job, which entailed working during the day to put together sets for the shows, and then working half the night, running the shows. Long days! We were paid $100 a week. And I still remember Rob muttering at least once a week that the longer we worked that day, the less per hour we made.

But it didn't bother me. I liked what we were doing, and, frankly, I was too busy to spend much of that money. However, one morning I was riding my bike a couple of miles from my house to Cain Park, and I was sleepily weaving through Cleveland Heights -- when all of a sudden I fell asleep while riding my bike and I landed on a guy's lawn. Plunk! Nothing was damaged except my pride.

Alternate caption: "You're moving back in with us? But we were going to move in with you."

I remember drawing this with charcoal, conte crayon and wash a couple of years ago. This was, obviously, back in my charcoal, conte crayon and wash phase. I liked the look of the cartoons, but they took more time to produce than I wanted. The street is my street in Brooklyn. I liked trying to draw the guys in the cartoon as similarly as I could, since they are father and son. I'm not sure how successful I was in drawing it and I think maybe the alternate caption is a better one, since it explains the relationship better.

The cartoon was drawn in 2002 and actually published twice. But first, let's take a look at the rejections!

This cartoon was rejected by:

New Yorker




NY Daily News

Reader's Digest

And a couple more magazines in the UK.

It was finally bought by the Wall Street Journal almost 18 months later, in 2003. Funny Times held it in January 2004, running it 36 months later. (FT will run previously published material.)

So, even though it was published, I sent it to any other market I could think of. So, there we have it: a cartoon that double-dipped. This happens a number of times a year and that second time it sells is just so much gravy.

It's kinda crazy being a freelancer, huh? Most of my friends are. It's an interesting life, you can work as hard as you can push yourself. Just don't wind up falling asleep while in motion!

More Mike Lynch Cartoons Blogging at

Monday, June 26, 2006

Gag Writers and Cartoonists

Lee Lorenz, cartoon editor of the New Yorker since 1973, says, "The biggest change over my career - I started here as a cartoonist in 1958 - is that the generation of cartoonists that came to prominence in the sixties and seventies all do their own writing. For the first twenty-five years of the New Yorker, captions were nearly always written by people other than the artists - writers on the staff or outside gag writers. -- Behind the Cartoonist by Sarah Werner, Smithsonian Magazine, June 1995

Mr. Lorenz mentions the above in his audio portion of the Donald Reilly slideshow as well. My pal Tony Murphy, whose "It's All About You" comic strip can be seen in free daily papers in NYC and Boston, and now online, asked my opinion about this. He wrote:

I'd be interested to know more about why the NYer editor then was deciding he wanted cartoonists who could write their own material. In other words, why didn't that happen ten years earlier -- or later?

A good question! I don't know, but being a good American, I'm lousy with ill informed opinions and my right to pontificate about 'em

In 1925, when the NYer mag began, Harold Ross, who as we all know started the magazine, wanted a different type of cartoon. So many of the cartoons had dialogue back then. Not just the one line, but 2 or more lines of dialogue. It was clunky looking.

Voice from bank - Hey, mister, your oars are driftin' away!
Contented lover - That's all right. We don't need 'em any more.

These cartoons are from Judge magazine, a leading humor mag, created by Puck magazine contributors who jumped ship to create a rival humor magazine.


Gamin - Carry your bag for a nickel, mister.

Pater - No, never mind, boy.

Gamin - Carry the kind fer a quarter.

(Ahh, the street urchin gag! So rarely seen these days!)

E.B. White is generally credited with crafting the typical one-line New Yorker style cartoon. Cartoon captions were routinely handed over to White or Thurber for "tinkering."

It was never easy, and still isn't, for a new artist to break in to the New Yorker. Some of those whose names have become well known tried for months, or even longer, sending in dozens of rough sketches week after week. If an unknown's caption, or sketch, seemed promising, it was often bought and turned over to an established staff cartoonist. Arno usually got the cream of the crop; the wonderful Mary Petty has never worked from any idea other than her own; James Reid Parker did most of Helen Hokinson's captions; and other artists either had their own gagmen or subsisted on original inspiration, fortified by captions and ideas sent in by outsiders or developed by the staff. -- The Years With Ross by James Thurber

I believe that since the NYer was run by writers and editors, then the approach with cartoons was the same: Great cartoons are not written, they are rewritten and rewritten and edited and poked and prodded at by many on the staff. It's odd to think that Charles Addams had writers who would write for his distinctive style of humor. But this is all part of the branding of these different cartoonists. James Reid Parker, who wrote the introduction of The Hokinson Festival cartoon collection, is cited on the book jacket as the guy "who wrote most of the original captions" of her cartoons. Gag writers are, as Ms. Wernick writes, "an open secret of the cartoon business."

Most gag cartoonists buy some of their ideas from outside sources. They pay the writer 25 percent of what the cartoon earns and keep 75 percent for themselves. Only the cartoonist signs the cartoon. -- Cartooning by Roy Paul Nelson

"Any professional humorist is out of his mind if he doesn't surround himself with talented writers. Otherwise you get to the bottom of your own barrel too quickly," says Hank Ketcham in Sarah Wernick's Smithsonian article.

One cartoonist I know who uses more than 3 dozen gag writers, says they allow him to be more prolific. And a gag writer colleague of mine would point out that the cut for gag writers is now 30%. Or at least it is in NYC.

I don't use gag writers myself, despite getting approached by them. I like Dave Coverly's note to gag writers at his Speedbump site:

Note to Gag Writers: I don't buy cartoon ideas. It's nothing against you, I'm sure you're damn funny. I just don't. I like the daydreaming part of my job too much.

Bob Mankoff, who took over the cartoon editor position at the NYer after Lorenz, says that there are people that like to draw and there are people who like to write. Cartoonists are the rare combination of those two types

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Eddie Paskey: Star Trek Red Shirt Lives!

I wrote about how often a cartoon of mine was rejected 20 times before it sold on March 8th. And I used a metaphoric graphic for it: a photo of a Star Trek "red shirt,: dead on the ground. I repeated the image 20 times over:

Now I would be remiss if I didn't let you know that the fellow who had his white corpuscles drained out of his body by a cloud-like space vampire (above) also has his own Web site!

His name is Eddie Paskey and if you're a true Star Trek TOS fan then you know that he was Shatner's stand-in. Eddie has a site, with some terrific behind the scenes photos. Eddie was actually in dozens of TOS episodes. It's hard to get a good red shirt down!

Lee Lorenz Tribute to Donald Reilly

There's a lovely personal remembrance from Donald Reilly's friend and cartoon editor Lee Lorenz here. It's a five minute recording of Mr. Lorenz talking, along with a slide show of photos and cartoons. Wish it was longer!

Hat tip Emdashes.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

New Yorker Cartoonist Donald Reilly 1933-2006

Donald Reilly, a stalwart cartoonist known for his New Yorker contributions, passed away at the age of 72 this past Sunday. Comics Reporter has good links.

I'm fortunate enough to get up the NYer mag offices and even more fortunate to get invited to the cartoonists' lunch afterwards. I did not know Don Reilly that well. I mean, we knew each other well enough to say hi and he knew I was some other (upstart) cartoonist vying for a space in The Magazine. I admire Reilly's work. It has a lot of breadth and is very pointed. And, according to the NY Times, Reilly did the writing himself.

I loved this quote from the obit by former NYer mag cartoon editor Lee Lorenz:

"Most artists sketch things out, make preliminary drawings," Mr. Lorenz said in a telephone interview yesterday. "Don liked his work to be as spontaneous as possible, and he was one of the few artists who would sit down and just do a drawing."

That is so cool. No pencil sketch. So free. So scary!

Odd Dennis the Menace Comics

Oh my. This is so incorrect. It's good ol' Mr. Wilson having a happy moment over a hookah. This is for real, from a 1960s Dennis the Menace comic book, for goodness sake. Maybe Wertham was right!

This is from the arglebargle blog, by C. Martin Croker. And there's another weird Dennis tale here.

What a fun blog!

The Know-How of Cartooning by Ken Hultgren

Cartoon Brew links to some scans from The Know-How of Cartooning by Ken Hultgren. It's from C. Martin Croker's terrific blog.

Al Ross and His Cartoon Style

I was sick last week, but I did get some fun cartoon books in the mail. One of them was Cartooning Fundamentals by Al Ross (Stravon Educational Press, New York, NY, 1977). Ross was one of the four Roth brothers. Yeah, Ross was a Roth. Each brother's work appeared under a different pen name: Irving Roir, Ben Roth, Salo, and Al Ross. Al Ross studied at the Art Students League. It's still there, just across from Carnegie Hall. His first cartoons appeared in the 1930s.

A brave thing he does in the book is show his cartoons through the years. If he was anything like me, he cringes at his old cartoons! But his goal in Cartooning Fundamentals is to show us how his style changed through the years. Above is a sample of an early Al Ross sale.

Below are Mr. Ross' styles from the 1940s. You can see that he is all ready making some more interesting choices in compostion.

His illustrative brushwork, combined with wash, was very energetic. Even an inanimate object like the car or a chair were now shown at an angle.

Fast forwarding 20 years, in the 1960s he abandoned the brush for the pen.

His characters still have verve. No one ever stands, or sits, perfectly straight.

By the end of the 1960s, a speedy pen line was all that he was using for his finishes. He had left the brush, the wash -- and sacrificed none of the character of the drawings. Even though he no longer would delineate every fold and flutter in the curtains, the lines still do the job.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Masters of American Comics and Schulz' Vision

The Milwaukee Museum of Art hosts the Masters of American Comics exhibition through August 13th.It moves to New York City, to The Jewish Museum beginning September 15th.

This is all fine and good and I look forward to seeing the show. For now, you can view these wallpapers. There's the Spirit one above, and the Peanuts one below, as well as a Jack Kirby and a Crumb. And the cool thing is that you can see the Pro-White or Wite-Out on the art. I don't know why, but I find it interesting to see these pieces of art with their blemishes. I guess because it's a peek into the process of the artist. Keeping with tradition, Schulz work is without any Wite-Out. I was told by the person employed by the United Media syndicate whose job it was to open up Schulz original strips, that Schulz did not have any Wite-Out on his strips. This person's job was to check the strips for grammar and spelling. There were, I was told in a serious tone, no grammar or spelling mistakes. I think this story is retold in a Schulz book. Anyway, I heard it from the source, and tend to believe it. That's one heckuva persistence of vision.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Some Star Trek "Doomsday Machines"

Here we go, talking about Star Trek TOS (The Old Show). Now ... what can you do about a show that's been seen over and over and is really old news, etc? Well, you can enhance it a bit. Blow off the space dust and give it a bit of nip and tuck.

"The Doomsday Machine" episode was about a massive, deadly ship, that looks like one of those cornucopias that you see around Thanksgiving time. Anyway, in Star Trek it was wandering the galaxy, destroying planets and ships.

Over 20 years later, in the early 1990s, Paramount contacted a company named Digital Streams to enhance all of the visual effects in the episode. YouTube has the "rough proof-of-concept" footage and it looks quite good, especially for early '90s rough test footage. And there is even a bit of a Sandwormy redesign on the cornucopia planet-killing machine. I wonder if this was an idea to distribute some of the episodes as "special efx editions." Anyway, for whatever reason, the project was dropped.

Now, movie designer and Trek Talk radio show host Daren Dochterman has posted his enhanced efx from the same episode. This footage was done in 2003, as a pitch to Paramount. He tells his story at his site:

(Effects of "The Doomsday Machine" on the USS Constellation in 1967 (left), and 2003.)

What's interesting is that in both of the revised efx episodes, the destroyed starship still hangs "down" in space, listing a little to port. The 1990s version of the Enterprise has more baffling and details on the hull, but Dochterman, in his 2003 version, stayed with the clean hull design from TOS. He also chose to stay within the original design of the planet killer ship. Digital Stream did the most work, showing efx throught the entire episode. Dochterman gives us only the teaser, titles and first act. But I liked Dochterman's best, since he stayed within the design of the show.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

"Spock's Brain" Live Show

Above is a news story and (at about 2 minutes in) clips of the "Spock's Brain" show being done live.

Similar to the Brady Bunch episodes that was being done as a comedy show in NYC -- this is the first time that Paramount has officially licensed Star Trek to be performed in this manner. This improv group is just doing an episode of the show verbatim, and it looks to be pretty funny. The audience members, as well as cast, seem to have a genuine fondness for Trek and how silly it could be.

Joe Sinnott and Gorgo

Instead of being able to go out and do things, I have to have things come to me. I hate being sick! I did some errands today and they were totally exhausting.

So, it's time to peek at Some Great Cartoony sites.

Right there is a cover by Joe Sinnott and Vince Colletta (I think it's Vince Coletta) for Charlton Comics' Gorgo. Lots more at Joe's site. He changes what the monthly feature is every month and this is Junes/ Joe is also looking for a couple dozen comics that he would like to have that has his art in them. His site is What else?

When Good Cartoonists Go Naughty

For your edification, here is a naughty Beetle Bailey cartoon from 1955. Obviously, it was not in the local paper. The cartoon originally appeared in Ever Since Adam and Eve, edited by Mel Casson and Alfred Andriola, McGraw Hill Publishing, 1955.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Bob Staake

Bob Staake shows us the cover illustration from his new book Pop Bead People. The cool thing is that Pop Bead People is both a 2D bbook and then there are 3D little toy versions of the characters. Bob makes all his creations -- no matter how many "D"s -- fun and colorful. I've met Bob just twice, and each time I see him I tell him this and I think I embarrass him. But, hey, I love his work!

Hat tip to Drawger.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The New Yorker Book of Cartoon Puzzles and Games

I was walking past the Coles Bookstore on 42nd Street and saw this in the window.

My friend Robert Leighton, along with the whole team at the Puzzability company that he co-founded, have teamed together with The New Yorker Magazine to produce The New Yorker Book of Cartoon Puzzles and Games.

Robert is a cartoonist whose work has appeared in The New Yorker, Wall Street Journal, Nickelodeon Magazine, and other publications. He also creates mind-bending puzzles. I'm in awe of that!

Strange Planet Stories: A Comics Creator's Blog

You can get lost in I.N.J. Cumbard's Web blog: Strange Planet Stories: A Comics Creator's Blog. He's a Nottingham, England-based cartoonist and animator. (I'm assuming that he's a he, and I don't know him so it's just a guess. No offense!)

There's a lot to like here: Previews of a great goofy comic titled BIG APE GO MENTAL!, some of his Dark Horse Comics work, and tons of material on Grimmwood, a new animated feature. You'll get sucked in.

Ratatouille Trailer

Hey, there's a new movie called Ratatouille. It's gonna be by Brad Bird -- the fellow who directed The Incredibles -- and it'll be out next year. And the cool thing is that there's a funny trailer on the Web. But this is all so new that when you Google Ratatouille the above image is what you get. In a couple weeks it'll be the below image, you bet.

Hat tip to the always excellent Cartoon Brew site.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Puck & MoCCA Fest

"What fools these mortals be!" -- from the masthead of Puck magazine

The MoCCA Fest is traditionally held in the Puck building.

Bohemian sculptor Carl Buberl is the guy who did the statues of Puck on the Puck Building. He was Bohemian by way of actually coming from Bohemia, like my great grandfather. Of the 2 statues, one appears to be looking at himself, and the other is aiming his mirror toward the sidewalk. The Puck Building was best known as the home of Puck magazine. Joseph Keppler, a star illustrator at Frank Leslie's Illustrated News, started the magazine in 1876. It was in German the first year. The following year the magazine went to both German and English editions. Color cartoons figured on the front page and the centerfold. Specializing in political and social cartoons, the weekly 10 cent,16 page paper was selling a constant 80,000 copies a week.

I post this since I have got a cold this weekend and had nothing to add about MoCCA Fest. This is the first time I've missed it, darn it!