Saturday, September 30, 2006

"30 Years of Fantagraphics" at the Society of Illustrators

Craig Yoe, over at his ArfLovers Blog, has a great and funny photo diary of the September 28th "30 Years of Fantagraphics" reception at the Society of Illustrators. Go look!

Friday, September 29, 2006

John Nolan & Stephanie Piro Visit NYC

(Standing: Sy Barry, Stan Goldberg, Simmy Barry, John Nolan, Stephanie Piro. Seated: Mike Lynch. Photo by Pauline Goldberg.)

Stephanie Piro and her husband John Nolan visited us in Brooklyn this week. We had a good time and packed a lot into the handful of days we had.

Steph and John have been getting media attention and awards.

The New Hampshire Press Association presented John its WRITER OF THE YEAR award at an awards banquet on September 8, 2006. Congratulations, John! A couple of his award-winning Farmington Corners columns are here and here.

And Stephanie's work (above) will be featured in an episode of the NBC sitcom MY NAME IS EARL this October 12th. More info. here. And you can order the above "as seen on TV" shirt here st her site.

While in NYC, we did all sorts of things related to:
  • Traditional Irish Music
  • Drinking
  • Cartooning
Not necessarily in that order.

We went to a couple of Traditional Irish Music sessions. John (banjo & vocals) & Stacy (fiddle & flute) played in a trad music session with other musicians at Dempsey's Pub on the Lower East Side this past Tuesday night. Cartoonists Rina Piccolo and Paul Gilligan hung out with us as well.

(Things to do in a bar: Rina shows Paul that she can tie a cherry stem into a knot using her tongue. Paul's expression scares me.)

The next night we visited Ceol to enjoys another "trad" session.

We also visited The Strand bookstore, the Society of Illustrators (where we saw the new 30 Years of Fantagraphics exhibit that they had just finished hanging), and bought some good stuff at the Rocketship comic book shop in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn.

(Among the exhibits at the Society of Illustrators: YOU MUST HAVE BEEN A BEAUTIFUL BABY, featuring SI members illustrating themselves as kids. Steve Brodner, Sandy Kossin, Arnie Roth are among the participants. Above: Jack Davis' contribution.)

Oh, we also visited the Wall Street newsstand where Steph worked back when she was a teenager!

And here is Stephanie with Howard Huge, at the Hoest/Reiner studio. We stopped by here after being invited by Bunny (thanks, Bunny!), after the Berndt Toast Gang luncheon.

More about the ol' BTG anon.

A good weekend to all the cartoonists, musicians and regular people out there.

Morning Funnies Cereal

Ralston Purina and King Features put together this SUNDAY FUNNIES cereal a while back. I was told that this was a promo package, but I saw a price sticker on it and vaguely remember this cereal being on the shelves. Or maybe I'm just being wishful.

Here's the back. Lotsa reading here!

And the back opens out, gatefold style, for even more funnies! Seems like a great idea. I have no idea what the cereal looked like or what it tasted like or if it was in the shape of little Beetle Baileys or what.

To the right: a small promo statue of THE LOCKHORNS.

My thanks to Bunny Hoest, who let us in her studio with the digital camera!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Tom Gill: A Personal Remembrance

On the occasion of the publication of THE MISADVENTURES OF A ROVING CARTOONIST by Tom Gill with Tom Lasiuta, I thought I would share some memories of this man, best known as the Lone Ranger comic book artist. I first wrote this after he passed away on October 17, 2005 at the age of 92. The piece originally appeared in the NCS newsletter The Cartoon!st. This is the first time I've shared it.


Tom Gill: A Personal Remembrance by Mike Lynch who was co-chair of the Berndt Toast Gang with Tom Gill

This starts with a phone call I made to Tom a couple years ago. I had left a message on Tom Gill's phone. I didn’t know him then. I was hoping he would allow me to maybe, possibly attend one of the Long Island NCS chapter luncheons. I was nervous. I rambled on, explaining I was a magazine cartoonist, and hemmed and hawed as I asked about the Berndt Toast Gang lunch.

Tom returned the call the next day, saying, "Look, I don't know what you were saying, but you say you're a cartoonist, and, well, that's all right with me!" He said I was welcome to come to the next meeting, and then I kept coming.

Tom Gill was one of the giants of the golden age comic artists. It’s been estimated that over his 72 year career in commercial art, he’s impacted thousands of people. I’m glad to count myself among those who knew Tom as a colleague and friend.

A couple years later I got to know Tom better. One visit on a snowy day stands out. I took the train from Grand Central to Croton-on-Hudson to visit Tom and his wife 'trish.' They picked me up at the station.

We drove through the park and reservoir. There was a dusting of snow on the trees and the rocks. Although Tom was legally blind the last years of his life, he could still see light and shadow. Tom asked her to slow down. He pointed out the car window, smiled and said, "That's a Caniff rock." And sure enough, the spattering of white snow against the dark rock looked just like Caniff inks!

We continued to their condo. Red wine was poured and we settled into talking about his career.

Tom Gill started work as an office boy at the New York Daily News in the 1930s. He knew Captain Joseph Patterson, the paper's founder. Patterson’s secretary was writer John O'Hara's sister, Mary O'Hara. Tom recalled the day she let him see Patterson's executive office suite in the then-new News building on 42nd Street. Patterson had his own private bathroom. Just above the toilet, mounted on the wall, was a large, red fireman's axe. It had been put there at the command of Patterson, in case the door should ever get stuck and he couldn't get out. Mary confided that Patterson was a claustrophobic.

Not many people know that Tom competed in a contest to design a logo for the Associated Press, losing out to Frank Robbins.

Tom drew the first map of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor for the December 8, 1941 edition of the News. He moved to the New York Herald Tribune in 1946, drawing a strip titled "Flower Potts" for three years. The New York Times was also an employer.

He began freelancing for comic books in 1949. Tom worked on romance comic books back then. One day he got a call from Gene Autry's office. Mr. Autry had decided that since, at that time, there was a popular Roy Rogers comic strip, that he (Gene) should have a strip as well. Autry's people wanted Tom to draw up 20 strips. Tom said he could get it to them in four weeks. "A month? We want it tomorrow morning!" Well, Tom did it in a couple weeks -- but up to that point in his career, he had never drawn a horse. So he bought a book titled HOW TO DRAW A HORSE: IT'S FUN AND IT'S EASY. The book showed how to draw a horse correctly, and then, on another page, how NOT to draw the horse. Tom kept at it and soon he was drawing horses -- but a lot of times he had to refer to this little book (which he told me he still has on his shelf) to make sure he was drawing a horse from one of the HOW TO DRAW pages and not one of the HOW NOT TO DRAW pages. When it was all finished, the syndicates passed on it. This was bad news since Tom had done all this work on spec!

So, he went back to eking things out drawing the comic book romances. He had to regularly go to Western Publishing (Dell Comics) and beg for scripts. One day he had his Gene Autry samples with him and an editor saw it. He said, "Tom, I didn't know you drew horses!" Tom told him, yeah, of course he drew horses. He drew great horses. Drew horses all the time!

So the editor told him that was great and handed him a 52 page script for a comic book. "We have tons of Western scripts and not enough artists!" Tom was off and running as a prolific Western artist.

From 1950 to 1970, with writer Paul S. Newman, he drew The Lone Ranger comic book for more than 135 issues -- one of the longest consistent runs of any artist on a comic book. Herb Trimpe, Joe Sinnott and John Verpoorten were among his many assistants.

I was looking at some of his pages of original Lone Ranger art, asking him what he kind of reference he used for all that Western detail. “Reference? We didn’t have time for reference!”

Tom was just as busy outside of the studio, teaching at The School of Visual Arts and other colleges.

Tom had been with the National Cartoonists Society for over 50 years. He was Membership Chairman during the terms of Milt Caniff, Alex Raymond and Bill Hoest. He was Veteran Affairs Chair under Mort Walker and Vice President with Walt Kelly. He traveled with the NCS Armed Forces shows worldwide. The Silver T-Square, an NCS Comic Book Division Award, the first NCS Volunteerism Award, and a 50 Year Membership Recognition award were some of the honors he received. (And I’m not even mentioning his cartooning and illustration classes at The School of Visual Arts where he began as department chair in 1948 and was also alumni director until 1969.)

When the Long Island Chapter was formed (“I introduced ‘chapters’ to accommodate out expanding numbers.”), Tom was made co-chair for life.

On that cold day in January, Tom showed me a new how-to-draw book that he was pitching to publishers. He also had a book of memoirs. And he was teaching a class. He always had projects!

I saw Tom a number of times since then, at the Berndt Toast lunches. And we would talk on the phone. Tom never hesitated to call. Once he phoned on his cell from New Mexico just to chat. Trish, as ever, was by his side, driving them through the desert to visit a new great grandchild.

Whenever he phoned me at home and left a message, he would bark in his gravelly voice, "What are you doing out? How are you going to get ahead if you aren't in your studio drawing?!"


Today is another get together of the Berndt Toast Gang, the NCS chapter that Tom Gill was co-chair for life. Of course, Tom is on my mind, as some of the other men and women who were part of the Gang, and now are no longer with us. Here's a Berndt Toast to Tom, as well as my friend Bill (and Mimi, who was always at his side) Seay. I remember you and am thankful for our time together.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Mike Lynch Cartoon in Prospect Magazine (UK)

This month's issue of PROSPECT brings you a Mike lynch cartoon....

When I first came to New York City, I worked in some non-cartoonist jobs, mostly in higher education. I was working 40+ hours a week in my regular job, and commuting a total of 2 hours a day to our dinky Flatbush apartment. And I was taking classes at Parsons and assisting a comic book artist. I was a busy guy!

As I moved up as an educational administrator, I had responsibility for more and more staff. And, while most people do their best, I was surprised by the number of people who just did not/would not do their work. I was naive. I really thought that NYC people were the best of the best. But, no. They're regular people -- some great, some so-so, some not.

And so, as a guy whose job it was to make other people do THEIR jobs, I listened to a lot of excuses. And these people were not taking classes or assisting a comic book artist until midnight.
All this came to mind when I was thinking up the above cartoon. I do have some very good memories of people that were great at their jobs -- but the shirkers, the excuse-makers, the lazy -- all drove me nuts.

My goodness -- I just realized -- I was the pointy-haired boss!!! Ha ha.

I enjoyed drawing the puff of smoke.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Mike Lynch/DeForest Kelley Connection

I remember one time when I was a kid, my dad was getting off a plane (must've just come back from a University Film Association convention) and he greeted me first. I mean, I was there with the whole family, and I distnctly remember being singled out FIRST.

Dad had a "second-hand handshake" from DeForest Kelley; a friend of his had met Kelley, shook HIS hand, and then this friend met Dad, shook HIS hand, and dad SAVED the next handshake for ME! Wow!

It was cool. Hey, growing up in the Midwest, that is as close to a Hollywood celebrity as one can expect to get.

So today I watching this old Kelley flick on YouTube (More about this 1949-50 program here.), and I suddenly remembered something:


It's true.

Without my relative, there would have been some other guy as Dr. McCoy!

My great grandfather was Austin Goetz, one half of a vaudeville act. The other half was his wife, Mimi Fae. They toured successfully -- albeit modestly -- throughout the Midwest. My Mom still has all their review clippings that they pasted in a scrapbook.

In the later years, after decades of performing, they retired from the stage. Mimi Fae turned to Christian Science, and husband Austin wrote plays. Most of these were comedies of manners, rather dated droll plays that he hammered out on his maual typewriter and mailed into the Samuel French company. The chief appeal of these plays were that they were designed for one set, with a smallish group of actors.

Let's turn to the fellow who would be known as Dr. McCoy.

30 years before STAR TREK, De Kelley was the teen-aged son of a reverend and lived in Decatur, Georgia. In the 1930s, when he was in high school --

He dated young ladies under the Reverend's strict eye, and therefore not very late, not very often, and not very successfully. He did manage to enjoy female company, however, acting in the Decatur Girls High School production of He Couldn't Take It, a comedy in three acts by Austin Goetz.
-- From Sawdust to Stardust; The Biography of DeForest Kelley, Star Trek's Dr. McCoy
By Terry Lee Rioux

I think that this play, so early in his life, helped him decide to be an actor. I mean, this was a way to hang out with girls! My great grandfather's play gave De Kelley a cool way to hang out with the chicks and get attention!

Oh, and one of Austin Goetz's plays, "Hillbilly Courtship," was performed this year by the Dupuyer Community Players in Montana.

This is pretty good stuff for a kid from Iowa!

PS When I was in a junior high variety show at my Ohio junior high, my great grandmother commented how wonderful it was to hear that someone in the family was FINALLY going back into the thee-uh-tuh!

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Boondocks: "Aaron has decided not to restart the strip."

Today's Chicago Tribune has the story.

H/T Mark Tatulli.

Trek Clip

Thanks to the ever observant Mark Evanier, here is a fun clip.

Take a peek here.

Like Mark says, saying anything else would spoil it.

The Neighbors by George Clark

I was fortunate enough to be at Don Orehek's home for a great dinner cooked by his lovely wife on Saturday. We had a grand time (except for heavy traffic on the way there thanks to heavy LIE volume). Sandy Kossin and his charming wife attended as well. At one point, Don went up to his studio and came back with a stack of originals of a panel titled THE NEIGHBORS by George Clark. I don't really remember how he said he came by them -- but one look at these wonderful cartoons and I grabbed my camera and got a few photos.

Please remember that I was shooting these photos in their dining room, and so quality is not the best. A few of these, when you click on them, will blow up into giant size, so you can see Clark's dry brush technique. Below each, I've written the gag line, which you can make out in blue pencil at the bottom of the originals. These are all from the early 1960s.

"Nothing going on out there. Back home on TV all that empty space would be filled with hard riding and shooting."

I love the way Clark spotted in those mountains in the background.

"I'm the rugged outdoor type while my wife likes sitting in an office. She took her job back and I took over here."

This was over 40 years ago, way before Mr. Mom and all that. A rather progressive gag!

"I thought you might like the tape recorder handy in case you hear some of his brighter remarks."

This line was changed to "... in case you want to take down some of his brighter remarks."

Nowadays, the kid would've just been put on drugs ....

"This is the very efficient little restaurant I discovered. No head waiter needed to --- customers to their seats."

Look at the coffee urn and cups -- all denoted with quick, masterly brush strokes.

"I'm afraid your mother was right, dear. I DON'T make enough to support a wife and family."

Love the suggestion of the laundry basket full of linen.

"What a letdown THIS job is! I thought work in a hospital was full of thrilling drama -- excitement -- suspense!!"

The panel ran from 1939 to 1976. Clark received the NCS Newspaper Panel Cartoon Award in 1961.

Bentonville, Arkansas native George Clark was featured in this story on September 11, 2006, by Jennifer Turner from The Benton Daily County Record:

“In 1939, he came (to Bentonville ) to visit,” Westby said, with a framed sketch in hand. “At some point, he pulled a piece of charcoal out of the fire... and sketched my mother and signed it.”

Nice to see these, and I've got one more to share. But that will have to wait till later ....

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Mike Lynch Studio

Mark Anderson visited and posted a photo at his blog here. I thought I'd add a key to it. Click to enlarge.

This isn't really "my studio," just a corner of the living room here in our Brooklyn home. And, yeah, we got a lot of books. Too many! And they're not just cartoon books, they're all over the board: literature, history, cookbooks, bios, etc.

Friday, September 22, 2006

The Comics in Canada: An Illustrated History

The CBC has put together this amazing site that covers Canadian comics, from Johnny Canuck to For Better or For Worse to Spawn!

An expert job, full of information I was ignorant of. Thanks, CBC!

And a big tip of the hat to Arnold Wagner, whose blog should be on your Favorites list!

Famous Cartoonists Quiz!

Cartoonist Dick Cavalli, creator of the Winthrop comic strip, created this Famous Cartoonists Quiz! It's from the 1960s, and there's more at Craig Yoe's always zany, always excellent Arf Lovers Blog. Just scroll past the PhotoShopped Nicole Richie photo ... and do it fast if you know what's good for ya!

And Craig has a contest about this too! Go look.

Braggy sidenote: Lambiek references Cavalli's 2 assistants as Bob Weber, Sr. and Ray Osrin. Ray was one of the first cartoonists I met as a kid, and I just had lunch with Bob and some other cartoonists last month!

A big hat tip to Craig Yoe, who gave me a lovely tour of the Yoe Studios this past July. Thanks, Craig!

Charles Dickens Bio Cartoon

Wait, wait. This is good. Really fun to watch and graphically eye-catching. Please take a look at this life of Charles Dickens from the BBC site.

Big hat tip to Cartoonbrew, which is knockin' 'em outta the park this week!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

"Method & Inspiration" by Chris Schweizer

Savannah College of Art & Design design student (also the singer and guitarist for Calico Jack) Chris Schweizer has a good slice of life piece at his "Chris the Cartoonist" MySpace page. Take a look at "Method and Inspiration."

You can see in his detail that this is a guy who loves to draw -- and he loves the old guys (like Wyeth and the great illustrators). Take a look at some of the other comics, too, like Kickball. Nice slice of life material. I hope Chris stays in the comics biz. He's got a wonderful voice. Kinda reminded me of John Stanley's LITTLE LULU work, and that, in the ol' Lynch playbook, is high praise.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Will Aaron McGruder Resume His 'Boondocks' Comic Strip?

From Dave Astor's E&P column.

Hat tip to Wiley Miller!

The Making of a Comic Strip: FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE

FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE cartoonist Lynn Johnston describes the process of making the strip at the FBOFW site here. It's 42 pages, with a full descrip. & photo of the writing, drawing, inking, toning and delivery of one of the most popular comic strips in the world, with over 2,000 client newspapers. You'll quickly see that this is a team effort, requiring hours of work.

Hat tip to E&P.

Dr. Macro's Movie Scans Site

Above is a photo of Jimmy Stewart and Lew Ayres on skates. I don't know what movie it's from, but I'm guessing it was MGM's THE ICE FOLLIES OF 1939. I know that Stewart was a contract player and, as such, had to do roles that the studio told him to do. I did not know that that included skating with Dr. Kildare.

The image is from Dr. Macro's Scans, which has high quality old movie scans. And some more fun stuff, if you like old movies. And there are some films there to watch, film noir posters, etc. A real fun time-waster site, lovingly put together.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Check the Cool Wax Blog

The Check the Cool Wax blog has some really fun stuff, Jonny Quest's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the above Other Worlds Other Sounds album, lotsa old Power Records from circa. 1980 (like the Spider-Man one below).

I love these vintage ablum convers. Below, Comic Strip Favorites by Ray Martin and his Orchestra!

And this album below sure puts the swing in the swingin' 60s!

Hat tip to the always excellent Cartoonbrew Web site.

11th Annual Sketchcrawl Event

Cartoonbrew posts some links about the 11th Annual Sketchcrawl, held all over the world, this Saturday, September 23, 2006.

This is all very democratic. Anyone, regardless of skill level, is welcome to devote a few minutes or hours to recording that day visually. There's a forum and a blog and a Flickr site.

Check out the always excellent Cartoonbrew site for more information.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Mark Anderson Reports on Mark Anderson's Visit to New York City

My cartoonist pal Mark Anderson recorded every moment of his visit to my home, New York City at his Andertoons blogarino. Here is NYC DAY ONE and NYC DAY TWO/THREE.

Mark was in town to participate in the THIS INKING LIFE cartoonists' panel discussion this past Saturday. And, yeah, I really was going to introduce Mark last, but the idea of saying, "Here is Sy Barry, Isabella Bannerman, Ray Billingsley, Jim Salicrup ... And Mark Anderson as the Beaver" sounded disrespectful. But, hey, he was serious and he wanted me to say it. I just didn't know that at the time.

So, I just pantsed him in the gallery afterward.

New Yorker Cover Rejects

The pro illustrator site Drawger showcases works, works in progress and sketches by some of the best known commercial artists. Several of them have posted New Yorker magazine cover rejections today. The rejected cover above is one of my favorites, by Bob Staake. It shoulda been accepted!

Above: Edel Rodriguez had a good idea for a cover. Unfortunately, it was rejected as well.

Richard A Goldberg has a slew of rejects. All of them (I thought) were good!

I'm thinking that some of these guys PhotoShopped the NYer logo on the art. Regardless, you can see the kind of great talent out there -- and realize that even the best of the best get rejected. That's the way business is.

Artist John Mavroudis DID sell a cover to the NYer and it's out now. Here's the backstory.

And I have to post the below cover by Bob Staake because it made me laugh. Yes, it's gross, but I laughed. No, I don't think that it's a real children's book, Right, Bob? BOB?

Mark Anderson Visits New York City

Here is Mark Anderson, intrepid gag cartoonist, outside of the Conde Nast building where the New Yorker magazine offices are.

OK, now he's just being silly.

Mark Anderson came into town this weekend. After a grind of a trip down from Chicago (flight cancelled, on standby, etc.), he finally made it to LaGuardia (even though he should've gone to JFK -- I told you it was a mess!) late Friday night. We went to Manhattan the next day, poking around the city's best comic book stores before dropping in to the Overlook Lounge.

Here at the Overlook is the cartoon mural, and Mark duly added his cartoon to the wall.

His Andertoon is now forever surrounded by The Phantom, Little Orphan Annie, Popeye, Super Duper and Heathcliff. Look at that SWOOSH of his arm as he knocks off yet another Andertoon cartoon!

My thanks to Jeff at the Overlook for his continuing hospitality!