Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Above: the lurid cover of DEATH DRAWS THE LINE by Jack Iams, A Dell paperback #457, copyright 1959 by Mr. Iams.
"Death mysteriously strikes down top-flight cartoonist -- twelve unpublished comic strips disappear -- a nude woman holds a supernatural rendezvous in a dead man's studio -- a blue sedan roars down upon two persons in a cab ... purpose: death for two -- and murder strikes again and again in this exciting mystery which reveals some unusual trade secrets of the men who create newspaper comic strips."
Ooh! Yup, just another day in the life of a cartoonist! This is a fun paperback mystery from 1959, one of the series of "map" mysteries where (bug duh) there's a map on the back.

Now, why isn't this old Dell paperback still in print? It's got a wonderful cover by artist Harry Barton. Dig her pearls and nice hairdo! This girl's high maintenance. This guy's strip must've been in 2000+ papers for her to be that well-coifed!

From Chapter 3, "Cartoonist in a Tailspin:"

"... [I]t got so he was too drunk most of the time to do the drawing."

You see? One of those little trade secrets revealed! "Drawing While Drunk" is one of the regular symposiums at the Cartoonists Association get togethers! Why, this tale is as contemporary a story as when Mr. Iams wrote it 50 years ago!

Note: Cartoonist "Zeke Brock's" apartment is in the West Village. This ruins the believablity so far as modern day cartoonists are concerned! This is back when a cartoonist could afford to live in Manhattan!

Did you notice "Tim Costello's" bar in the upper right hand corner? This is now the Overlook Lounge, where many real-life cartoonists hung out. The Daly News was nearby then, so this watering hole was full of writers and cartoonists. There are some great cartoon murals there, one from 2005, and another from 30 years earlier. I was fortunate to help organize the 2005 event, where cartoonists from the tri-state area converged & put together the new mural.

Tim Harries blogs about his visit.

A version of this blog entry originally appeared when I was guest-blogger over at my pal's Mark Anderson's Andertoons blog, way back on March 30, 2005.


Gregory Kogan said...

Do cartoonists still hang out at Overlook, or is it a thing of the past?

Anonymous said...

I love these books! I, also can't understand why they're still not being published. Hard Case Crime is bringing as many back as they can (Now with a $7 price tag). The stories typically are tight with out the excessive language and mess seen in so many novels today. I'll read an early Mike Shayne book and wonder how James Patterson gets published at all!

By the way, for trips, like the annual NCS gathering, I'll usually carry these books with me. They're smaller and fit easily in the pocket for air travel.