Friday, September 28, 2007

Joe Sacco Interview

Media Circus interviews cartoonist/journalist Joe Sacco, whose work I admire.

"What I realised with my own career as a journalist is that no one is going to knight you and dub you Foreign Correspondent. The chance of you doing something on a mainstream level is one in a million. No one is going to give you a passport and a flack jacket and say 'GO – we trust in your genius!' You kind of have to do it yourself."


Ha ha ha! No WAY!

Yes -- WAY!!!!

20 years ago Roddenberry created TNG and it was premiered and it was a Big Deal. OK, so the video effects are no longer cutting edge and the bridge set looks like the lounge at the Howard Johnson, but it was, at that time, the only science fiction show on TV with a continuing group of characters. In 2007, now there's something Sci Fi every night.

Love the announcer (Ernie Anderson?) who gets all bass on us when he says that Data's an "ANDROID." Hee hee.

Link via Trekmovie -- the best source for things TREK.

Selling Cartoons to Magazines

I've been getting questions about what I do. How does something I draw at home, on a board, get into a magazine like Harvard Business Review?

Here's the process:

I send cartoons to HBR maybe once a month. I send a batch of 10-20 cartoons. I mail hard copies, with my contact information on the back of each one. I enclose a SASE. Yeah, I mail paper to them. Paper is better. This is my opinion. The editor doesn't have to disable a firewall, click to see the cartoon, and then print the cartoon if they're interested in it. You send an envelope full of cartoons, and all the editor has to to do is open it and there they are; tangible, and ready for them to go to a meeting.

They have meetings throughout the year. I'm not sure how many, but it's probably between 5-7 meetings a year. I've never attended any of these meetings, but I know from descriptions that a number of editors are involved and decisions on cartoons are group decisions. Maybe the cartoon editor does an initial sort, but the final batches are picked by a group.

I try not to edit myself too much. I try to send cartoons that I feel are appropriate. And I also throw in odd things here and there. Harvard bought a cat cartoon from me this week, and who knew that a business mag would buy a cat cartoon?

I got a question a while back asking about a batch of cartoons I mailed to Wall Street Journal. I can't find the comment (It's lost somewhere on another thread in this blog.), but the fellow had a good question: he was asking about a batch of cartoons I mailed to the Wall Street Journal. He wanted to know if I requested a set price from WSJ for the batch, or if they just bought a couple, and they decided on the price to pay me. It's the latter.

When WSJ (or any other publication in the business of buying cartoons) is going to buy from you, they have a set rate. All the magazines do. You can't negotiate a different rate.

Once, during a Q&A panel discussion on cartooning, someone asked how I chose where to send my cartoons. I said I started with the markets that paid the most, and worked my way down.

Anything can happen during this process: you can not be able to sell to a market despite your best efforts, you may run out of good gags, a publication will suddenly go from buying your great cartoons to not buying them, etc.

The people who give up are the norm. The rest -- the ones who slog through the not-selling, the no-idea, the collapse of markets times -- those are cartoonists.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Interview with Wiley

Comic Book Resources talks to Wiley Miller about his strip, Non Sequitur, as well as his foray into children's books.

They all said the same thing — "we love the art, we love the humor, but we'd like to see it with a central character." They figured having a central character would give them a single image that would make it easier to sell. They, of course, were wrong.

Zuda Comics Creators' Contracts

This summer, DC Comics began a Web site where creators could submit their new, undiscovered, graphic novel work, with anticipation of (a) high trraffic and (b) getting picked up for publication by DC, a division of Time Warner Communications. The site, called Zuda, was, at first, hazy on creators' rights. Here's a July 7, 2007 interview from Newsarama with two of the DC editors who are behind the initiative.

The site is run like a contest, with finalists and then, a winner. There are, as of now, a series of contracts to be signed. Here's a comment from that Newsarma interview:

"Once one of the creators is selected, it’s a much more complicated relationship with contracts and so on, where there are participations and all of that."

"Complicated relationship" means that "You" (the creator of the winning work) "grant and assign to Zuda, its successors, licensees and assigns, solely and exclusively, in any and all languages and media, whether now known or hereafter devised, throughout the universe, for the term of copyright, all rights in and to the Material (collectively, the "Rights")." The entire contract is here.

So ... you are giving DC the rights to your work. All the rights "throughout the universe."

I walked away from a book deal with another publisher (not the first) that wanted all rights. Another cartoonist, a good colleague, stepped up and filled the void, giving the publisher what he wanted. This is OK with me. I have no grudge against the guy, but I had to ask the cartoonist about it. He wasn't stupid. He knew it wasn't a good deal.

"But the cartoons they're going to buy -- they're just sitting here in my drawer, not making me any money. So, you know, I figured, 'what the hell,'" he told me.

The book was published last year. This book will be republished in CD-ROM format this year, and all of the people who created the content will not see any money, except the publishers, who crafted the contracts. I don't know how he feels about all this, but I would feel pretty bad.

So ... just to submit your work to the kids at Zuda, you have to agree to sign away rights. T. Campbell writes, "It's silly to think that publishers are evil for wanting to retain rights as long as they can." He adds more comments today, and there are good links there. Certain rights are OK for a corporation to have, but the Douglas Adamsy language of having all rights in all pandimensional universes is wrong.

Hat tip to Journalista! and good ol' Dirk Deppey.

Publisher's Weekly reports on reaction to Zuda's contracts here, and mentions that there are some people who are getting a different contract. Better? Worse? I don't know.

Mike Lynch Cartoon in September 2007 Harvard Business Review

"Oh, it's a great place to work -- but the ergonomics are crap."

I have a second cartoon in HBR this month, as my pal, cartoonist Rod McKie, pointed out in the "comments" section in my previous Mike Lynch Cartoon in September 2007 Harvard Business Review.

But I could not figure out what Rod was raving about. He is, of Scottish descent, and there is a streak of madness in most Scots. I could only see the one cartoon of mine on the HBR site, so I pooh-poohed Mr. McKie's comment as completely dotty. I was wrong.

It was a surprise when I got a hard copy of the issue and saw that the crazy Scotsman was right. I did have another cartoon in there. But it was a little different. The picture was the same, but the line was changed to:

"Oh, it's a great place to work -- but the ergonomics are lousy."

OK, so they don't want the word "crap" at Harvard. Whaddya gonna do? The editor's rewrite conveys the spirit of the cartoon, but I felt that it lost some of its impact. But jokes or words having to do with a bodily function tend to make people nervous. Ah well.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Cartoonists Photos

Over at the Eli Stein Cartoons blog: photos of cartoonists at their drawing boards from a 1950s magazine.

Eli, more posts like this, please!

All Things Bionic

OK, I haven't seen the new BIONIC WOMAN show, but it'll be better than those Lindsay Wagner mattress ads, you bet. After all, it's produced by one of those guys who did the new BATTLESTAR show (David Eick) and the villainess is gonna be Katee "Starbuck" Sackhoff.

Above: Any excuse to run a photo of Katee Sackhoff, now a smokin' adversary to THE NEW BIONIC WOMAN. I'm hoping her lungs are bionic so she doesn't have to worry about cancer.

I went to the NBC site that promises that the "most anticipated" show will either appear tonight, Wednesday, September 26, according to the video preview, or, as it says twice on the page, on Wednesday, September 25. Screen capture of that NBC site above. Typos, goofs -- I see 'em a lot more. Today's lesson: "Most anticipated," at NBC, does not mean "most copy edited," OK? OK!

Regardless, if you miss it tonight regardless of what the date is, you can download the premiere tomorrow over at Amazon Unbox for a couple of bucks. "Unbox" is the trade name for its viewing on your computer service. Any truth to the secret malicious spyware stuff that I hear about this service? Anyone got anything to hide? FISA Act? Hello? Anyone? Wanna go thru my underwear drawer? Well, Katee can, if she drops by. But, smoke outside, babe.

Tenuously related: Bill Haverchuck dresses as the Bionic Woman for Halloween in this FREAKS AND GEEKS clip.

Linky Round Up

Lots of great stuff today from, well, other people's blogs and sites:

From the ASIFA blog comes a great series of scans of BLONDIE strips, along with excerpts from the book COMICS AND THEIR CREATORS (1942). Every time on I look at ASIFA, I wind up spending a lot of time there.

Please explain the above Peter Arno cartoon to Jeff over at It's from PETER ARNO'S MAN IN THE SHOWER collection. I'm lost on the context as well.

Current PRINCE VALIANT illustrator Gary Gianni is interviewed over at Comic Book Resources.

Don't give away your creations to corporations. Case in point: the latest on the ongoing Siegel estate's legal claim on SUPERBOY.

Above cover of The Man giving it to the Laddy of Steel (from SUPERBOY #55) taken from The Comic Treadmill site.

Syndicated cartoonist Sandra Lundy continues toward her goal of running 5 miles upon her 50th birthday this spring. Go Sandra!

Above photo of Mr. Schulz from a Sonoma area article from 1999 titled LAST LAUGH.

And let's not forget that the PBS Show American Masters will spotlight Charles Schulz next month! PBS press release here. The October issue of VANITY FAIR has an excerpt from the forthcoming doorstop-sized Schulz bio by David Michaelis. Alas, no link to article on line for free. Must go to large chain bookstore and sprawl out on floor with overpriced coffee drink and read the real, physical mag.

Big hat tips all around to Journalista!, Comics Reporter, Collected Comics Library, the Between Friends Blog and Editor & Publisher!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Monday, September 24, 2007


Here's a link to one of the highest rated TV movies of 1977, MAN FROM ATLANTIS, starring the pre-Dynasty star Patrick Duffy. I haven't seen it since it aired, and maybe it's as good as I remembered. Maybe not. There was a short-lived series, after a couple more of these TV movies aired, and they were of diminishing interest. This is due to either their not being so good, or me getting more involved with girls.

STAR TREK alums Herb Solow and Bob Justman produced.

The 1970s had scant Sci Fi on TV, and most of it was drek. But some of it was rather fun drek. Enjoy until YouTube pulls!

Saturday Evening Post, November 14, 1953: Part One

Here are 10 cartoons from a 54 year old issue of the Saturday Evening Post.

Cartoonist Roy Fox shows us that lusting after women was a funny topic to be mined for gags back in the unenlightened 1950s.
Harry Mace carried on in the same theme. Mace created the syndicated cartoon panel "Amy" in 1962, which Jack Tippitt took over. There's a photo from the SEP cartoon look day at the Eli Stein blog here.

Stan Hunt was a New Yorker regular. He just passed away last year. I love that unfinished lamp just floating in the background!

MARMADUKE creator Brad Anderson struts his vervey brush style in the above cartoon that still works. This was just about a year before his United Features' syndicated panel about the big dog debuted.

When MARMADUKE turned 50 years old, fellow cartoonists attending the Reubens that year got a nice pen in their good bags with the notation on the side: "MARMADUKE - 50 Years of Woofs!" A 2004 interview with Mr. Anderson is here.

Peter Porges, a guy who is still alive and well and living in NYC, contributed the above wordless cartoon. His work appeared in a lot of mags, including Mad & The New Yorker. He no longer draws cartoons, he told me. But he did come out of retirement to contribute a drawing on the cartoon mural wall of the Overlook.

Ted Key, who currently lives in Pennsylvania, not only created HAZEL -- but he also created the PEABODY AND SHERMAN series of cartoons for the Jay Ward BULLWINKLE show, and wrote screenplays for Disney. I've asked around, but no one I know has seen Mr. Key in years.
Sometimes a one word gag line nails the cartoon so well, as Herb Green shows here. Mr. Green was a frequent contributor to a lot of the major mags, and rarely appears on any other Web site so says Google. But I do see his name in a lot of cartoon collections.

Boris Drucker does the art above. In his day, Drucker was in all the big markets. Syracuse University had a major exhibition of his work in 2005. He was one of the six Jewish WW II soldiers featured in the recent documentary FROM PHILADELPHIA TO THE FRONT.

Hmm. What is that woman doing? Anyway, the cartoonist, Joe Zeis, has a great tribute site here. Text is in ... um ... er ... I think it's in Dutch.

Tom Henderson finishes up today's round up. He's in the Top 100 US Cartoons and Comics, he was a mentioned as a favorite of Paul Gimabarba's in a Cartoon Fiend interview (Hi Paul!), and there are a few at this Dutch cartoon site (the same one with the Zeis cartoons).

More cartoons from this issue here.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

New Starship Exeter Episode

Well, not a new episode per se. STARSHIP EXETER, a fan-made STAR TREK film project, has completed and released Act 3 of its episode "The Tressaurian Intersection."

It's been something like 18 months between Acts 2 and 3, and that is one helluva big commercial break. EXETER, like other TREK fan-films on the Web, is created by fans in their time after their real jobs, and given away for free viewing right here, on your computer screen.

Like a lot of these fans-turned-moviemakers, the EXETER team buys costumes and builds sets and writes scripts, all in their spare time. This explains the delays until some new material is ready. And they do poke fun at themselves for these terribly long waits.

These are fun and interesting, but a lot of their appeal is to the all ready large TREK fan base. If you've never seen any of these, try out the teaser/titles of "The Tressaurian Intersection" at STARSHIP EXETER's Movies page for a sample of the production values. It's my favorite couple of minutes of TREK fanfilms.

The one-stop-shopping place to find out all about all of these TREK fan films (some based on TOS, some on TNG, VOYAGER, etc.) is at the Star Trek Fan Films Web site.

Friday, September 21, 2007

"What? Where? When?" and The Daily Cartoonist

Above: The Daily Cartoonist as it appeared this morning.

This is written with all respect that is due.

The Daily Cartoonist, "the source for industry news," would be given a failing grade by my high school journalism teacher for its lack of use of the inverted pyramid format in this "An Evening with Richard Thompson" item.

Who is Richard Thompson? Why no hyperlinks? Where is this? When is this? How do people RSVP? Do people RSVP?

I Was Almost Denied Liability Insurance

... because I am in a "high risk profession." Really!!

As a cartoonist, explained my insurance broker, I can be open to libel and slander.

I laughed.

He wasn't joking.

So, I told him that he should maybe look at my cartoons and make a judgment. I emailed him some cartoons from WSJ & so on, along with the link to my blog. Here's what I sent him:

Cartoon from 7/3/07 Wall Street Journal

Cartoon in 7/7/07 WSJ

Cartoon in July 2007 Harvard Business Review

Cartoons in July 2007 Prospect and This Week magazines

I also sent a link to a piece where I talked about drawing cartoon finishes for WSJ.

He forwarded these to some insurance underwriters.

Sure enough, a couple of insurance agencies pulled out.

My agent was, finally, able to find an insurance company.

Has any other cartoonist had this happen to them?

I asked illustrator Steve Brodner if he ever heard of being a cartoonist being so high risk that an insurance company won't touch them. He never heard of it.

And now I see cartoonists jailed in Bangladesh, threatened with death in Sweden, and -- this is just breaking in the past couple of days -- when a Connecticut schoolteacher gave a comic book (by an award winning literary graphic novelist whose work is now being serialized in the Sunday NY Times mag) to a 14 year old student, parents lash out calling the book "pornographic." The teacher resigns. The comic book, by the way, had been collected in hardcover graphic novel format by Random House. Tom Spurgeon, of the Comics Reporter, comments here.

Above: Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks showing a dog with the head of Mohammed.

Above: From the Reporters Without Borders site, the translation of the above cartoon drawn by Bangladeshi cartoonist Arifur Rahman:

The drawing was accompanied by this dialogue:

- Boy, what’s your name?
- My name is Babu.
- It is customary to put Mohammed in front of the name.
- What is your father’s name?
- Mohammed Abu.
- What is that on your lap?
- Mohammed cat.

Images of the Bangladeshi cartoon and the Swedish cartoon are from the Comics Reporter site.

Is my insurance agent right? And is American media, under the guise of sensitivity, missing the whole point of freedom of expression when it chooses not to show the very cartoons that are getting people upset? They cover the "controversy," get in some talking heads -- but they do not show the cause and talk about it.

And it's not just satirizing Islam that's a big no-no, it's now graphic novels. Heck, even my Wall Street Journal cartoons? These "damn pictures" are dangerous.

Last year, Harper's magazine published all 12 of the Danish cartoons, with a long analysis by Art Spiegelman. Everyone knows about the Danish cartoon controversy -- but who has seen the cartoons? Who has placed them in context? If you went to buy the June 2006 Harper's at the Indigo book chain in Canada, then you were out of luck. The chain, citing security concerns, pulled the mag from its nationwide chain.

My insurance agent, I decided, is pretty prescient.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Tokyo Comic Book Chain Store: Animate

Above: cool Moomin toys and a book-dispensing vending machine from Chris Butcher's Tokyo trip.

Christopher Butcher posts a ton of photos from his visit to Animate, a mega comics store in Tokyo, at his Comics 212 blog.

The amount of manga and anime in this multi-floor chain comic book store is overwhelming. Even if you're not into this kinda stuff, take a peek for a minute.

Big hat tip to Dirk Deppey at the TCJ news blog Journalista!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Cartoon-related Link Round Up

Various illustrations here and here,

Alex Raymond and Dave Stevens here,

Pirates plus ghosts comic book story from Feature Comics #37, October 1940 link 1, link 2,

a link to EC's Piracy comic book here and here,

and art (part 1, part 2) from Douglas Fairbanks' silent film The Black Pirate,

and, finally, a couple of masters: Howard Pyle and N.C. Wyeth (part 1, part 2).


In honor of STEVE CANYON's 60th year, there is a new STEVE CANYON. More over at Publisher's Weekly's THE BEAT. Follow Ms. MacDonald's link to the TCJ boards for more art and links.

With a hardcover collection of TERRY AND THE PIRATES, R.C. Harvey's doorstop-sized bio, and the upcoming Caniff-centered OSU Festival -- this is the year of Milton Caniff!

And the town we move to is called Milton too! Yipe!