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.


Bear said...

Wow, more great stuff Mike. You continue to amaze with your historical cartooning finds. I sure appreciate all your work scanning, uploading, etc. If you're not already, you should be designated as THE Official Gag Panel Historian. Keep up the great work.

Anonymous said...

I agree. I've been quietly enjoying your blog for many months now. And I learn something new every time.

Unknown said...

Just what Bear and Beyer said!
Where are you finding these 'treasures'?

Dave James said...


These are GREAT! Thanks for posting them.

Mike Lynch said...

Thanks so much for the kind words. I enjoy putting up the blog and it's been my pleasure to get so many comments.

What cartoon books and mags I don't find in antique stores, I find online.