Monday, March 31, 2008

This Year's Reuben Award and NCS Division Award Nominees - Complete Listing

Below is the complete list of nominees. The updated list will soon be available at the National Cartoonists Society Web site.

This year's Reuben Award nominees:
Dave Coverly
Al Jaffee
Dan Piraro

This year's National Cartoonists Society Division Award nominees:

Magazine Illustration
Daryll Collins
John Klossner
Tom Richmond

Book Illustration
Nancy Beiman - “Prepare to Board”
Sandra Boynton - “Blue Moo”
Jay Stephens - “Robots!”

TV Animation
Sandra Equihua and Jorge Gutierrez - Creators - “El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera” Stephen Silver - Character Design - “Kim Possible”
Richard Webber - Creator - “Purple and Brown”

Greeting Card
Gary McCoy
Glenn McCoy
Dave Mowder

Newspaper Comic Strip
Paul Gilligan – “Pooch Café”
Jim Meddick – “Monty”
Richard Thompson – “Cul De Sac”

Editorial Cartoon
Gary Brookins
Michael Ramirez
Bill Schorr

Newspaper Illustration
Drew Friedman
Sean Kelly
Ed Murawinski

Feature Animation
Brad Bird – Director – “Ratatouille”
Sylvan De Boissy – Character Design – “Surf’s Up”
David Silverman – Director – “The Simpson’s Movie”

Gag Cartoon
Benita Epstein
Mort Gerberg
Glenn McCoy

Comic Book
Nick Abadzis – “Laika”
Bryan Lee O’Malley – “Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together”
Shaun Tan – “The Arrival”

Advertising Illustration
Jack Pittman
Tom Richmond
Tom Stiglich

Newspaper Panel
Chad Carpenter – “Tundra”
Glenn & Gary McCoy – “The Flying McCoys”
Kieran Meehan – “Meehan”

Congratulations to all of the nominees. The winner will be announced at the 62nd Annual NCS Reuben Awards banquet on May 24, 2008.

SUPERMAN Co-creator's Heirs Compensated

Well, not quite. But a Los Angeles federal judge has put Jerry Siegel's heirs on that road.

"A federal judge here [Los Angeles] on Wednesday ruled that the heirs of Jerome Siegel — who 70 years ago sold the rights to the action hero he created with Joseph Shuster to Detective Comics for $130 — were entitled to claim a share of the United States copyright to the character."

The NY Times is reported on this Saturday, but today's Journalista! has more of the history and copious links to the story.

Siegel and Shuster created Superman in the late 1930s. After trying to sell their creation to the syndicates and failing, they cut up their daily strips and pasted them onto boards to be published in Action Comics #1. They were paid $130 and became work-for-hire creators for National Periodical Publications (later named Detective Comics, or DC Comics; then, later, bought out by Time Warner). This was standard industry practice then. They watched as Superman became a licensing phenomenon, and the corporate types get rich. They would have died in poverty had not Jerry Robinson, along with the National Cartoonists Society, publicized their plight and shamed Time Warner to compensate the two men.

For more background, one of the best books to read is MEN OF TOMORROW by Gerard Jones.

62nd Annual Reuben Award Nominees

From the National Cartoonists Society site:

The nominees for this year's Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year are "Speed Bump" creator Dave Coverly, Mad Magazine Veteran Al Jaffee, and "Bizarro" Creator Dan Piraro. The winner will be announced at the 62nd Reuben Awards Ceremony, to be held in New Orleans May 25.

And nominees for most of the dozen NCS Division Award categories have been announced. The list should be complete in the next day or two. More here.

UPDATE: Related: a New York Times Al Jaffee interview.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Away from the Drawing Board

We're off on a plane ride. Have a great weekend! See you on Monday.

NEW John Stanley Web Site!!!!

Great news: a new Web site's in town, and it likes John Stanley!

The Stanley Stories Web site has a lot of unseen stories and "Stanleyisms."

Related: Pappy's Golden Age Comics Blogzine presents a story from Dunk & Loo #2

Big hat tip: Comics Reporter!

Dark Horse publishes Little Lulu reprints -- they're up to their 18th collection!

Bill Wenzel Illustrations

Ooh! Go and look at some Bill Wenzel book illustrations courtesy of!.

Big hat tip: Journalista!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Cartoon Class, March 2008, Milton, NH

Above: the students are given a gag line and then asked to draw what it suggests. This is "He has money to burn."

Time to look at some new cartoonists. Here are some scans of just a few of the drawings that we produce in the local cartooning class that I'm teaching once a week. There are up to a half dozen guys, all junior high and high school age -- and all of them are ready and eager to draw!

Above: another caption. This time the young cartoonist was given "He's eating me out of house and home!" and the image above was the result.

Above: my version.
One thing to keep in mind is that most of the guys take what they've drawn home with them. Sometimes, sketches are left on the table, and that's what these are: the dregs of the cartoon class. But these are good dregs!

Yes, we spend some time talking about musculature, but it's not as fun as anthropomorphic dogs with vests and ties!

We try to put character into all of our sketches. Look at the cool posture of this guy.

One of our warm up exercises one day was to play the Exquisite Corpse game, where one person draws the top and another person (without seeing what the other person has drawn) draws the bottom. Then you unfold it and see the resulting character. No, I don't know why it's called Exquisite Corpse!!!

But I think that the game is at its best when you are drawing a cartoon head. Below are a few examples from about 60 or so drawings that we all produced in about 10 minutes of playing:

Look at the detail: those buttons in the collar and the strips on the tie. That mouth is INSANE! And great crossed eyes!

I drew part of some of these. Above: I drew the fellow's chin and mouth and shoulders. Those crazy bloodshot eyes (and the cigarette & blacked out tooth) are all from one of the student cartoonists. Great imagination!

I drew that tongue and goatee, and, as you remember, the guy who drew the top had no idea what the bottom of the head looked like. I thought a couple of these, including the above, just looked great!

Whacky hair!
That's my writing, letting the student cartoonist know to draw the bottom of a head. I doodled the top.

Above: "Hey you kids! Stay offa my lawn!"

Above: a sweet young thing with a dimpled chin.

Goofy guy with a dopey hat and bowtie.
I like a lot of the characters! So many of them suggest that they could be used in comic book stories! And we have another class this afternoon! More cartoons! More great characters! And in 10-15 years, these guys are going to be my competition!

So, there you go: some cool new young cartoonists to cleanse the old cartoonist palate a bit.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Steve Brodner: Person of the Day

My friend, the prolific award winning illustrator Steve Brodner does a daily blog titled Person of the Day, which I subscribe to. Every day you get a fresh image and some fresh thoughts from Steve.

Today it was 4000 Persons of the Day, with a drawing of a few of the soldiers who have died during the war. This originally ran in the NY Times.

It was simple: a Steve Brodner drawing of the soldier, their name, date they were killed, and then, their own words.

One of the most moving pieces to commemorate and humanize that number "4,000."

From today's New York Times article:

Specialist Daniel E. Gomez, Army medic, killed July 18, 2007:

“A few days ago I realized why I am here in Baghdad dealing with all the gunfire, the rocket attacks, the IEDs, the car bombs, the death. I have only been here going on a month and a half. Already I have seen what war really is... but officially its called “full spectrum operations.” No I don’t down Bush, he is my CinC, and I think he is doing an good job with what Clinton left him. I don’t debate why we are involved in Iraq. I just know why I am here. It is not for the smiling Iraqi kids, or the even the feeling of wearing the uniform ( it feels damn good though :) . I am here for the soldier on patrol with me.

But why are you there in the states. Why are you having that nice dinner, watching TV, going out on dates..”

Here is his letter to his girlfriend, to be read in the event of his death:

“Hey baby. If you’re reading this, then something has happen to me and I am sorry. I promised you I would come back to you, but I guess it was a promise I could not keep. You know I never believe in writing “death letters.” I knew if I left one for my folks it would scare them. Then I met you. We were supposed to meet, darling. I needed someone to make me smile, someone that was an old romantic like I was. I was going through a very rough time in Iraq and I was startin to doubt my mental state. Then one day after a patrol, I go to my facebook and there you were...

"I can’t stop crying while I writing this letter, but I have to talk to you one last time, because maybe the last time I heard your voice I did not know it would be the last time I heard your voice....

"I Love You. Go be happy, go raise a family. Teach your kids right from wrong, and have faith, darling. I think I knew I loved you even before I met. I love you, Katy. * Kiss * Goodbye”

Link to the handwritten letter here (PDF).

National Cartoonists Society Luminaries

Leif Peng's Today's Inspiration blog spent every day last week on one particular National Cartoonists Society member. Here are the links in case you missed any of Leif's always terrific entries:

Hank Ketcham

John Cullen Murphy

Dik Browne

John Prentice

Al Dorne

FOREVER FUNNY Edited by Bill Yates

Above: Jerry Marcus gives us hints that Day One of this particular marriage is tension-filled in the above cover cartoon for FOREVER FUNNY, A Dell First Edition (#93) that sold for 25 cents when it was published in 1956. It's copyright 1956 by F. B. Yates.

Look at the wonderful erect posture of Stan Hunt's businessman. He is a no nonsense go getter and he will have no nonsense this anniversary ... this anniversary, which, I predict, will be spent at the club playing solitaire game after solitaire game, downing scotches and sodas, all by his erect lonesome. He also would not approve that I didn't take time to get rid of the gutter shadow on the right hand side of his cartoon. Ah, well. Suffer, businessman, suffer!

Just how long have girl scouts sold cookies? Well, above is a brownie circa 1956. She and her cookies are being tossed out of a mean boss' office. Violence against children and/or women -- even if it's cartoon violence -- is a no no and this would may be perceived as too hostile to sell in today's market. Regardless, I thought Shirvanian's cartoon was hilarious!

Chon Day shows us a fellow who is having a bad day and trying to solve it with drink. Cartoons that poke fun at drinking and violence (see the boss-kicking-brownie cartoon) are hard sells nowadays.

Above is one of my favorite cartoons in the book. Al Johns depicts a befuddled ticket taker on a Metro North train (probably bound for Westport, the Connecticut town of so many cartoonists back in the day).

Dave Gerard's marriage is a lot like mine. Except for the pipe. Well, the pipe and the doilies. And there should be a couple cats in there somewhere too.

American Legion Magazine still publishes cartoons. Here is Jack Markow with a desert island cartoon. Markow wrote a couple of great "How To" books about cartooning, including my favorite, CARTOONISTS AND GAG WRITERS HANDBOOK. More lazy not-magic-wanding-the-gutter issues here. My bad.

Mr. Day's cartoons are wonderful studies. His upper middle class people may wear a tie to read a book, but they still got whacky problems.

I like the dancing style of the hubby on stage. It's such a small image, and his face is away from us, but you can tell by the body language that Al Johns depicts that this fellow is (a) having a fun time, (b) a great hip swayer, and (c) three sheets to the wind.

Ted Key with an all seeing eye looking in on our newlyweds. Scroll down for Dick Cavalli's similar take on this.

Don Tobin with a joke about entertainment technology. Most of the TV I watch I wish I could fast forward with a little horizontal control at the bottom ... but TVs don't got that YouTube toggle at the bottom of the screen. Nice to see technology transition issues have been around since after the war.

I love cartoons that suggest a whole other world of events. What did Harry Morton do to this woman to make her marry a guy just to spite him (Harry)? Mr. Chon Day knows, but he ain't tellin'.

Above: another Chon Day. This cracks me up. It's one of these moments-before-chaos-erupts gags.

Stan Hunt's shaggy-dog-story lengthy gag line lulls us until the wowzer of a last sentence. I liked the guy here, his lower face covered by the paper as he half-listens.

Shirvanian shows us the neighbor from hell in the above economically drawn cartoon. Look at the sense of purposeful movement in our man's tread.

The only editing error in the book is that Dick Cavalli's gag (above) and Ted Key's are way too similar. The giant head of a goofily grinning guy wearing a polka dot bowtie is intrinsically funnier than the spooky big eye in Mr. Key's, which reminded me of the big Salvador Dali-designed eyes in the dream sequence from Spellbound.

Above: Bill King inserts cartoonist Jack Davis' name into this gag from the back cover. I don't know if this THE Jack Davis, the great cartoonist, but, in reality, Davis is a big bear of a guy, so her comment is factually true. If you're chilly, get a little sugar from Mr. Davis. You won't be sorry.

UPDATE: Some early Chon Day cartoons at Eli Stein Cartoons!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Before They Were Stars

Above: a 1950s era Johnny Hart gag cartoon -- back when "Hart" was spelled with a drawing of a heart.

Here are a handful of gag cartoons by some of the best cartoonists around. They're all from the book FOREVER FUNNY edited by the one and only Bill Yates, and copyright 1956 by Mr. Yates.

Two years later, former USAF veteran Johnny Hart launched the comic strip B.C. In 1964 he followed it up with The Wizard of Id, co-created by Brant Parker. Hart would win a half dozen awards from the National Cartoonists Society, including the "Oscar" of cartooning, the Reuben Award.

Above: Hank Ketcham, making you to say the bad word to yourself! More great Ketcham work at: The Art of the Inked Line from Leif Peng's Today's Inspiration blog. More about Hank Ketcham: a Ketcham tribute page at the Dennis the Menace site.

Kansas born Mort Walker was a prolific gag cartoonist, even back in the early years of Beetle Bailey (1950 - present) and Hi and Lois, co-created with Dik Browne (1954 - present). A multiple-NCS Award winner (including the Reuben Award), he tirelessly advocates the medium, putting his time and money into the National Cartoon Museum.

Vahan Shirvanian was and still is a much-seen gag cartoonist with over 50 years of sales -- and still counting! I wish he had a Web site! Here he is with an early bigfoot style.

Al Ross with a cartoon, nowhere near the sketchy, coffee-nerves style he would later develop.

Even more Al Ross and even more sketchy cartoons here.

Bob Weber was an assistant to Dick Cavalli on his strip Winthrop before, in 1965, he began his own King Features comic strip Moose & Molly.

Above: George Booth before he developed his own George Booth New Yorker style. George is from Missouri and still is just a nice, Midwestern guy.

OK, admission time: I have to admit that the inspiration for today's post comes from We All Have to Start Somewhere by Eli Stein, and in the first installment he shows some early Mischa Richter cartoons. Please go click on it.

Thanks, Eli, for the idea to share some early, stylistically different work from these cartoonists. And I apologize publicly for taking your idea.

Friday, March 21, 2008

TGIF from Rufus

Here is happy Rufus (or "Roo" for short) to let you know to hang in there baby, Friday's coming!

Wait a minute. Don't bother. It's here.

Silly Roo! No more blog entries for you until you learn your days of the week! And sit up straight!!! To quote the previous blog entry: posture, posture, posture!