Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Cartoon Class

Above: the cartoon class graduation photo!

Last Friday was the final day for the cartoon class I've been teaching for the past 6 weeks. The kids -- there were about a dozen -- were grand and fearless artists. We drew a lot! (Just look at the Draw 16o cartoon class exercise!) Some really great kids -- some of whom I may be competing against to get jobs in 10 years!

I decided everyone should have a certificate of achievement or a diploma. Something to remember the class. So, I drew up some sketches:

I like the guy with the irreverent big mouth and tongue.

The reason for the hydrant is that we all draw a fire hydrant in class. A fire hydrant is the perfect example of good cartooning: you take some rectangles and circles and combine them together to easily make this very recognizable object. I also just like drawing fire hydrants.

This was cute, but, frankly, I though it was maybe ...uh .... a bit insulting. Like I said, this class was FULL of great kid cartoonists. Every one of them could draw better than that representative stick figure with his beret and pencil.

I drew up the middle one.

Above is an early draft. Below is the final, color version:

One of the things that the kids were not afraid of was DRAWING. And here, in this little behind the scenes bit, you can see that there is sometimes a lot of drawing that goes on the people do not see. Yes, cartooning is a bit of work. I mean, you have to letter and color and be able to draw on top of all that, dogs and hydrants and everything!


Ger Apeldoorn shares some HAWKSHAW THE DETECTIVE
Sunday strips of the 1920s. It started out as SHERLOCKO, and the supporting cast also had names with "O" at the end. There was even a "Groucho." As Ger points out:
"I guess this is the strip that influenced the Marx Brothers to take fictitious names ending in -o, like Groucho, Harpo, Chico and such."

According to Ron Goulart's THE FUNNIES (1987), the strip was so popular that Groucho Marx did indeed take his stage name from the strip

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


I've been seeing trailer's for Universal's DESPICABLE ME for what seems like a year and every time I see one, I say, "Boy, I would like to see that movie. I hope it's as good as the trailer." Here's the latest preview and I still say I would like to see it.

Big hat tip to Mark Anderson!

William Steig Lived Here

... And so did John Barrymore and Cary Grant and Margaret Mead and Edna St. Vincent Millay.

Also: my grandparents.

I believe that this video from Daniel Basbus, a NYC Realtor, expounding on "the most charming townhouse located in the heart of the West Village," is the same townhouse that my grandmother (school teacher) and grandfather (jazz musician) rented back in the 1930s. Their apartment was at the top, which was where John Barrymore used to live. The place is close to Washington Square Park, and the speakeasies and the arteests of the Village.

Fun to unexpectedly run across this on YouTube. And I never knew that a cartoonist lived at that same place!
And, so far ass I can tell, Steig actually lived there the same time that my grandparents, Phyllis and Francis Lynch, did!
"[New Yorker editor Harold] Ross published sixty of Steig’s drawings in 1932, seventy in 1934. He also permitted Steig to write his own captions, or, rather, to draw his own ideas (the magazine’s usual practice was to buy an idea and assign it to a staff artist). Steig was becoming an insider."
-- Paul La Farge, The Tablet

Steig met many luminaries during this time, including Elizabeth Mead, anthropologist Margaret Mead's sister. They were married in 1936.

When I moved to NYC in the 1980s, finding this building in the West Village was a priority. Sure, many times I'd wished that my grandparents would have bought and kept it! Alas, it was not to be. Soon after my father's birth in Brooklyn's Long Island College Hospital, they moved to Pasadena, California. It would be 50 years before another Lynch would live in the City!

The Art of Jack Davis

Hairy Green Eyeball II has a wonderful selection of great Jack Davis art from (what else?) the book THE ART OF JACK DAVIS.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Video: Bruce Blitz Interviews Mort Walker

Bruce Blitz interviews Mort Walker in his Cartoon Museum. So, since the cartoon museum is no longer around, and Bruce mentions that BEETLE BAILEY is 50 years old (it began September 4, 1950), my guess is that this 6 minute bit of video is about ten years old.

Some great conversation here. Did you know that each character in the strip has a certain day? I didn't.

"Beetle's always on Monday; the side characters, like the dog [Otto] or the black character [Lt. Flap] are on Tuesday; Miss Buxley's always on Wednesday .... and it goes on down the line. They have their days."

Mort draws and talks about the process of producing the long running comic strip.

And here's a 2008 video via the Wall Street Journal of Mort talking about being a cartoonist. He talks about the Cartoon Museum as he prepares to send on his collection to OSU's Cartoon Library and Museum.

Jim Ivey Remembers Roy Crane

Jim Ivey's Sunday Comics, a continuing feature at Allan Holtz's Stripper's Guide blog, remembers the 1974 release of WASH TUBBS: THE FIRST ADVENTURE STRIP,

"... just in time for the reopening of The Cartoon Museum in Winter Park ....

"Roy Crane was in his glory! He not only autographed the book, but drew the purchaser a sketch of a favorite character on the flyleaf! He was all smiles that day!"

This is all part of Jim Ivey's recounting of the publication of this seminal reprint book, which he helped put together. Scroll down for Jim Ivey's Adventure in Publishing Part One

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Video: Roz Chast

Roz Chast (right) and her drawings of a “site specific” chalk wall drawing. On the left: Ann Sheffer, chair of the Betty and Ralph Sheffer Foundation which sponsored the event. Photo by Dave Matlow for More photos here, here and here.

New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast talks about why she's a cartoonist and where she gets ideas in this short video from March 26, 2010, in which she addresses a group of kids. This was part of the Westport Arts Center's "DrawOn!" cartoon workshop. Her cartoons, along with the work of R. Crumb, will be on exhibit in a show titled "Divine Comedy" at the Westport Arts Center in Westport, CT beginning April 1, 2010.

Ms. Chast will give the annual Malloy Lecture in the Arts on April 12, 2010. More information here.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Rochester Times: Pothole Contest

Above and below: some cartoons I drew in my sketchbook for submission to the Potholes, Frost Heaves and Sinkholes Contest

This is the time of year, here in New England (and pretty much anywhere else it got freezing cold this winter), when the pothole and the frost heave can change your life: you alter your usual route to the grocery, you get rattled or injured or -- worse yet -- your car gets injured. But, hey, it gives us all something to talk about.

There is a stretch of Governor's Road in Rochester, NH that resembles a roller coaster ride.

Once a year, you can do more than just tell old war stories about killer potholes to the kids around a campfire -- you can win a valuable prize!

The Rochester Times has its annual "Potholes, Frost Heaves and Sinkholes Contest." The winner receives a $75 gift certificate, courtesy of Poulin Auto Country, to go toward a front end alignment.

Contestants send in names and descriptions like The Moon Crater and One Track Mine Field or Spleen Splitter.

The Winner of the Pothole Contest is Dustin Pearce. Congratulations, Dustin! He "experienced a nightmare on a part of Four Rod Road that he called Cracked Axle Cliffs."

My wife entered the poem below, about that roller coaster ride stretch of Governor's Road between Farmington and Rochester. I added some illustrations.

It's the Most Bumpity Time of the Year
(sung to the tune of 'It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year')

It's the most bumpity time of the year –

When at night it's still freezing

But day temps are easing

And spring-time draws near –

It's the most bumpity time of the year.

It's the head-bangiest time of the year –

You tell your war stories

Of guts and of glory;

You veer more than steer –

It's the head-bangiest time of the year.

It's avoid-Governor's-Road time of year –

From Farm Town to Rochest

Please heed my behest

It's a gauntlet of tears!

It's the car-eatingest time of the year.

It's fore-head-thumpity time.

Your car's toast, jumpity time.

It's the most bumpity time of the year.

Monday, March 22, 2010

See You Soon

Above: my tiny travel sketchbook which you may click on to super-size.

I'll away from the blog for a short while. Please go and try that Face-ter or Twitbook or the new Boogle Guzz for your entertainment needs!

I hope to return soon. Please behave yourself. Thank you.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Interview: Jerry Dumas

Photo by Anne W. Semmes For The Greenwich Citizen.

Anne W. Semmes, writing for the The Greenwich Citizen, interviews cartoonist Jerry Dumas, who is as busy as ever.

"I'm working just as hard as ever. You've heard that story about turning 80 that goes, 'Hey, Leftie, you're not throwing the ball as hard this spring.' Leftie answers, 'I'm throwing the ball as hard as ever but it's not getting there as fast.' That's my current situation."

Hat tip to my pal Sean Kelly! Thanks, Sean!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Interview: Trade Loeffler

I remember seeing Trade Loeffler's ZIP & LI'L BIT "The Upside Down Me" and being impressed with the story and art. I sent him an email and told him point blank: I am a fan.

We emailed back and forth about his comics and cartoons in general, and slowly found out that we both lived in Brooklyn at the time. After a couple more emails, we realized we lived within a couple of blocks of each other. Since then, we've gotten together for beers and burgers, and become pals.

ZIP & LI'L BIT, the Web comic that he created, began in 2006. They are a series of all-ages friendly adventures of a brother and sister.

2010 brings us his new ZIP & LI'L BIT story, "The Captain's Quest," which began last Sunday. And Trade's first work in print, ZIG AND WIKKI IN "SOMETHING ATE MY HOMEWORK," has just been published by Toon Books.

Above and the below 2 panels: the beginning of the mystery of "The Upside Down Me."

Your ZIP & LI'L BIT stories seem inspired by McCay and Sendak (and maybe a wee bit of Lewis Carroll), who dealt with kids in strange dreams and having to use their wits to resolve their situation. This latest one promises to maybe have some hints of Segar. What cartoonists do you think of when producing ZIP & LI'L BIT?

I've definitely been inspired by all the artists you just mentioned. I would also list all the artists who worked on the old Disney cartoons and movies as having a tremendous influence on Zip and Li'l Bit.

How far ahead do you work? Is the story finished as of now or do you still have to write the ending? What percentage of the art is done before you post the first page on average?

The written portion of The Captain's Quest is finished. Other than the thumbnails I'll draw out as I'm writing, I won't do any artwork until I've got the story figured out. I find that I usually have to re-work my stories quite a few times before I'm happy with them. As far as the artwork goes, now that I've started posting the strip, I'm about ten pages ahead. Hopefully, I'll be able to keep that buffer there for the whole run of the story, but it's tough to keep up sometimes with a job and a kid.

What part is your favorite: the writing or the drawing?

The writing is definitely my favorite. I've always got a good idea of what's going to happen, or what needs to happen in a story, but I never know how it's going to happen. Figuring that out is always surprising to me and that's the funnest part of the whole process I think.

What is your workspace like?

Well, since I live in the city, my workspace is small and cramped. I've got my computer set up in our living room, and my drawing table is actually a dresser from IKEA. It's kind of silly because the surface of the dresser isn't even particularly smooth, so when I'm drawing or inking and I need a line to be nice and clean, I'll have to move the paper so it's over the smooth parts of the dresser. That probably doesn't sound too professional, does it?

What tools do you use when you draw?

I use markers. When I started drawing comics, I tried using those because they were nice and quick and I always told myself that as I got better, I'd switch over to a brush and ink, but those dang pens are so nice and quick for me, I haven't made the switch yet. Someday…

What cartoonists' work do you enjoy buying and reading now?

John Stanley's Thirteen Going on Eighteen is hands down the best comic book I've read lately. Richard Thompson's Cul de Sac strip is awesome! I've gotten my whole family hooked on that one.

Are there any plans for ZIP & LI'L BIT stuff to buy: books, t-shirts?

I wish I could say yes to that, but sadly the answer at this point in time is no.

You illustrated the book ZIG AND WIKKI IN "SOMETHING ATE MY HOMEWORK," which will be out soon from TOON Books. How did you get the gig?

The editor at RAW Junior, Francoise Mouly, had seen Zip and Li'l Bit online and contacted me about doing a book for her TOON Books series, which is a series of comic books created for early readers. The lineup of artists and writers that have created books for the series is amazing, and the books are fantastic. My son who's six years old reads them over and over and over, which is the best endorsement you can give for a kids' book. Can I give a shameless plug for the TOON Books site? Go to:

Was it more challenging working with a writer and editor (Francoise Mouly) on ZIG AND WIKKI than doing your Web comic by yourself?

The big challenge for me was that it was the first time I'd done a lot of things. It was the first book I'd done for print. It was my first time working with an editor. It was my first time collaborating with a writer on a comic. The writer of the ZIG AND WIKKI book is Nadja Spiegelman (who is Francoise and Art's daughter), and the characters she came up with for the story were awesome, which was also challenging because then I had to come up with illustrations that could do justice to Nadja's characters. Overall, I think everyone was really happy with the finished product. I'm definitely proud of how the book turned out. I hope that kids will dig it.

What did it feel like when you saw it on the shelf at your local Rocketship Comic Book Store in Brooklyn?

I don't know if I should say this, but I wasn't as excited as I'd expected. I had finished work on the book awhile ago and had advance copies and all, so when I saw the book in the store, it didn't seem like that big of a deal. Now, if they're all sold out next time I go in the store, I'll be ecstatic.

Above: some behind the scenes images from Trade Loeffler's "Storytelling 101" series.

Your wife is a successful working actress. Do you show her your work in progress?

Yes, I make my wife look at my comics as I'm working on them. Thankfully, she puts up with it and just gives me encouragement.

Will there a fourth ZIP & LI'L BIT? What future projects will there be?

There will definitely be a fourth Zip and Li'l Bit. I started writing it a while back, hit a wall with it, and have now started getting back into it. It's got some great characters that I'm really excited about. I don't know what projects other than that I'll have going on in the future. I've got a really fun twenty page story that doesn't star Zip and Li'l Bit that I've got written, I just don't know when I'll get a chance to do the artwork. If I could quit my job, that'd leave me more time to spend drawing and I could post more comics. Pray for me to win the lottery, will you?

Video: All Star Trio "Fluffy Ruffles" (1919)

The All Star Trio. Image nicked from

Above, on the left, is George Hamilton Green (1893-1970), who began life as a successful musician -- and ended up being a cartoonist. A successful cartoonist, or so I am led to believe.

Before he became a full-time cartoonist, George composed and played music. He and his brothers provided the score for a couple of the first Mickey Mouse animated shorts, including "Steamboat Willy." He recorded thousands of pieces, before leaving the music scene shortly after the death of his older bother Joe Green (1892-1939) due to complications from an operation. He lived in Woodstock, NY, working as a full-time cartoonist, until his own death in 1970.

While I couldn't find any samples of his drawings online, I sure did like this old timey 1919 jazz piece he composed titled "Fluffy Ruffles." Here, he plays his signature xylophone with Wheeler Wadsworth (sax) and Victor Arden (piano). Together, they were the All Star Trio.

George Hamilton Green (1893 - 1970) composed many songs that he recorded as a solo artist and with others, including "Fluffy Ruffles." George and his younger brother, Joe played marimba, vibtraphone, harpaphone, bells, and chimes. In 1914, George entered vaudeville and within a year he earned such titles as "World's Fastest Xylophonist" and "Speed King of Xylophonists." By late 1916 he was a member of Earl Fuller's Rector's Novelty Orchestra as well as a vaudeville and concert artist. He began recording in 1916 and most of his early pieces were classical and semiclassical. In 1918 he joined pianist Victor Arden and saxophonist Wheeler Wadsworth to form the All Star Trio. In 1920 he joined his brother and formed the Green Brothers' Novelty Band which also recorded for Victor. Throughout the 1920s they made discs as the Green Brothers' Xylophone Orchestra, Xylophone Band, Novelty Orchestra, Marimba Orchestra, and even Mellorimba Orchestra. Later in life he wrote many musical instruction manuals on various percussion instruments but made his living as a cartoonist. In 1983 he was inducted into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame. He was an important ragtime composer and authored many pieces that remain standards for the instrument even today.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

White House Seeks Artists' Comments to Improve Copyright Protection


White House Seeks Artists' Comments to Improve Copyright Protection


New Copyright Czar begins Joint Strategic Plan to Protect Intellectual Property
Victoria Espinel is the first U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC), also known as the Copyright Czar. Congress created IPEC by an Act of Congress. Ms. Espinel serves within the Executive Office of the President to coordinate with all the federal agencies that fight the infringement of intellectual property.

Ms. Espinel and her team are specifically tasked with formulating and implementing a Joint Strategic Plan to help protect the ingenuity and creativity of Americans by improving the U.S. Government's protection of the rights of intellectual property owners.

Your input is requested.
The White House is inviting your public input and participation to shape an effective intellectual property enforcement strategy. Please respond with your written submissions regarding the costs to you, your business and the U.S. economy resulting from infringement of your intellectual property rights, both direct and indirect.

This will be a 2-part process.
The first is to gather public recommendations by March 24. IPEC will then gather your input on the formulated plan.

Please be precise.
Include your name, city, state, and what type of artist you are. Explain why copyright is critical to you as a commercial artist, how infringement affects you, and what the U.S. government can do to better protect the rights of American artists. If your submission is about your economic loss due to infringement of your copyrights you must clearly identify the methodology used to calculate your losses or otherwise validate your infringement and enforcement costs.

Your submission will be publicly posted.
For this reason, please do not include in your comments information of a confidential nature, such as sensitive personal information or proprietary information.

Confidential disclosures.
If you have confidential business information that would support your recommendation or that you believe would help the Government formulate an effective enforcement strategy, please let them know by contacting:
Thomas L. Stoll
Office of the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator
(202) 395-1808

Deadline: Submissions must be received by Wednesday, March 24, 2010, at 5 p.m. EST.
Address: All submissions should be sent electronically via

Additional Background Reading:

White House Blog
Federal Register Notice Request

- Brad Holland and Cynthia Turner for the Board of the Illustrators' Partnership


For news and information, and an archive of these messages:
Illustrators' Partnership Orphan Works Blog:

Over 85 organizations opposed the last Orphan Works bills, representing over half a million creators. Illustrators, photographers, fine artists, songwriters, musicians, and countless licensing firms all believe this bill will harm their small businesses.

If you received our mail as a forwarded message and wish to subscribe to the IPA mailing alerts, click on the link below, "Join Our Mailing List" and follow the simple directions on the webpage.
Please post or forward this message to any interested party.
Join Our Mailing List

National Cartoonists Society Nominees

Art by Patrick McDonnell

From the NCS Web site:

The nominees have been selected for the 64th Annual National Cartoonists Society Reuben Awards. The winners to be announced Memorial Day Weekend at the Reuben Awards dinner.

Stephen Pastis
Dan Piraro
Richard Thompson

National Cartoonists Society Division Awards:

Kevin Deters - “Walt Disney Prep and Landing”
Mike Gray - “The Infinite Goliath”
Seth McFarlane - “Family Guy”

Ronnie del Carmen - Storyboard Artist - “Up”
Tomm Moore - Director - “The Secret of Kells”
Barry Reynolds - Character Designer - “The Secret of Kells”

Bob Rich
Tom Richmond
Robert Sanchuk

Glenn McCoy
VG Myers
Dave Whamond

Glenn McCoy
Kieran Meehan
Debbie Tomassi

John Hambrock - “The Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee”
Wiley Miller - “Non Sequitur”
Jerry Scott & Jim Borgman - “Zits”

Dave Blazek - “Loose Parts”
Tony Carillo - “FMinus”
Hilary Price - “Rhymes with Orange”

Ray Alma
Anton Emdin
Tom Richmond

Lou Brooks - “Twimericks”
Tom Richmond - “Bo Confidential”
Dave Whamond - “My Think-A-Ma-Jink”

Nick Anderson
Rob Rogers
John Sherffius

Steve Brodner
Randall Enos
Mort Gerberg

Terry Moore - “Echo”
Paul Pope - “Strange Adventures”
JH Williams - “Detective Comics”

David Mazzucchelli - “Asterios Polyp”
Seth - “George Sprott”
David Small - “Stitches”

A personal thanks from me, the NCS Awards Coordinator for this year, to all of the participants -- the professionals who entered and their colleagues who voted.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Above wonderful drawing is by the one and only Don Orehek! But you can call him Donny O'Rehek for today, OK?

Sure, Don is Slovenian, but on March 17th, we're ALL Irish!

Thanks, Don, for this wonderful piece of art!

Video: Richard Thompson Draws

Richard Thompson draws Alice Otterloop from his CUL DE SAC comic strip in this sped-up video (with Beethoven music!). This is filmed by Chris Sparks.

Looks like Richard is using a Micron Pigma pen, by the way.

Top 10 TV and Movie Doctors

UK pollsters OnePoll released their results for the top 10 most recognized doctors from the screen (movie or TV). Hat tip to Chuck Foster at the Doctor Who News Page.

The Top Ten Screen Doctors:

1.The DoctorDoctor Who
2.Doc BrownBack to the Future
3.Doctor KennedyNeighbours
4.Doctor EvilAustin Powers
5.Spock(!)Star Trek
6.Ross GellerFriends
7.Doctor DolittleDoctor Dolittle
8.Perry CoxScrubs
9.Douglas RossE.R.
10.Doctor WatsonSherlock Holmes

Above: Dr. Theopolis, from the 1970s TV show BUCK ROGERS IN THE 25th CENTURY. Not on the list.

Surprising to not see British thespian Hugh Laurie's Dr. House on the roster. Ditto Doc Savage, Dr. Hannibal Lecter, Dr. Jekyll, Dr. Strangelove, Dr. Zaius, Dr. Leonard McCoy (although Spock gets on the list -- go figure!), Dr. Frasier Crane, Dr. Bob Hartley, Dr. Huxtable and even Doogie Houser, M.D. Note: "Neighbours," an Australian program, is a long running and popular soap opera in the UK.

Video: Rob Rogers "No Cartoon Left Behind"

On March 6, 2010, the Carnegie Mellon University's Center for the Arts in Society hosted "How a Cartoonist's Brain Works," a lecture by the award-winning editorial cartoonist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Rob Rogers.

In this 39 minute video, Rogers, who received his master's degree in fine arts from Carnegie Mellon in 1984 and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 1999, discusses his book, "No Cartoon Left Behind: The Best of Rob Rogers," published by Carnegie Mellon University Press.

Despite Rob being in the dark for the first minute of the presentation, this is a talk worth a look. Rob shows a very early cartoon (drawn for his Dad), where he gets ideas, the difference between cartoonists and editors, why he didn't become a successful doctor like his Dad, etc. I was laughing our loud at a lot of his art, drawn specially for this presentation. A funny and insightful lecture by one of the best editorial cartoonists.

Related: "'Those Damn Pictures:' Rob Rogers in Historical Perspective"

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

2010 Festival of Cartoon Art

Registration opens on June 1st for the Festival of Cartoon Art. , which is put together by the OSU Cartoon Library and Museum. This highly anticipated, thrice-yearly event occurs October 14-17, 2010. Professionals, academics and fans of comics and cartoon art attend from around the world.

Here's a press release:

The tenth triennial Festival of Cartoon Art will take place at The Ohio State University in Columbus, OH October 14-17, 2010. The Festival is a unique celebration of cartoons and comics and their creators.

Featured participants include:

Steve Breen
Brendan Burford
Roz Chast
Tony Cochran
Jan Eliot
Tom Gammill
Matt Groening
Bill Griffith
Dave Kellett
Paul Levitz
Patrick McDonnell
Dan Piraro
Jen Sorensen
Art Spiegelman
James Sturm
Michael Tisserand
Gene Luen Yang

Walt Kelly Sings "Go Go Pogo"

Hat tip to Comics Reporter via Booksteve's Library.

Mort Walker Gag Cartoons

Ger Apeldoorn shares a batch of early original gag cartoons by Mort Walker. Ger notices something about them:

"What amazes me the most when I look at these originals, is the fact that Mort Walker didn't use any white-out on them. I a quite convinced they are presentation pieces (since the editor okayed them on the front in red), but I still don't know if they were published."

Happy belated birthday, Ger -- and good luck with your quest!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Remembering John Kane

Above cartoon by John Kane. Copyright © 2010 The Cartoon Bank. All rights reserved.

There is an old bit -- a comedy bit -- and I can't remember who wrote and performed it -- but, anyway, it's about being friends when you're a little boy.

With boys, if you are 6 years old and there's another 6 year old guy next door, you say, "Hey! We live next door! Let's be best friends?" And he says, "Yeah, OK," and then, from that day on, you are best friends and that's that.

The New Yorker magazine cartoonists are in that same mold. Like Derek Van Giesen, I submitted to the magazine, first by mail, and then for about 6 years, in person. The scary part of the submission process is having to sit in front of the editor and have him go through your cartoons, one by one, right in front of you. The great part of the process is going to lunch with the cartoonists. Sam Gross, early on, asked me to come along. It was the beginning of a tradition that I kept for more than half a decade.

Above: one of the cartoonist lunches from 2004. Photos courtesy of Felipe "Feggo" Galindo. Thanks, Felipe! (Correction: it's Mort Gerberg)

John Kane, who died on March 10, 2010, was part of the group. He had been cartooning full-time for less than 10 years. Before that, I know that he had a long career and had retired. I know he told me what he did. I can't remember. And there's good reason for that and not just my own faulty memory.

When John had retired, he decided that this was the time to become a full-time cartoonist -- with the lofty goal of selling to The New Yorker. So that's what he became. Within a year or so, he had made a sale. And then there were more buys.

Many times, we sat next to each other at the cartoonists' lunch. John always had news. I remember that 7 or 8 years ago, he had one of the first hand held GPS devices and was telling me about it; how he had used to locate and then bookmark a particularly elusive gravesite in Long Island.

John didn't talk much about his past. The reason is: he didn't live there. And so that's why giving an account of who he was before he became a cartoonist is not something I can write. He was more interested in the now and the future. We talked about cartoonists we admired, how we write gags, and slogging through those times of no inspiration or, worse, no sales.

John was untiringly curious and enthusiastic about the process from writing to doing the finished drawing. Sometimes I thought that this fellow, who was a generation older than me, had more energy than most cartoonists my age.

I didn't know it at the time, but John had decided that I was a cartoonist and he was a cartoonist and, therefore, we were friends. And that was that.

I moved out of NYC in 2007. Last year, a Twitter message popped up on my Tweetdeck. It was John Kane. We messaged back and forth about our impressions of Twitter and reassured each other that we were doing fine.

That was the last time I heard from him.

I mentioned fellow cartoonist Derek Van Giesen. He remembers John warmly and fondly here.

Although I don't know Derek, I feel I can call him a friend. My experience with our friend John is much the same; "Are you a fellow cartoonist? Then you are a friend."

My friend and fellow cartoonist Eli Stein sums up John's warmth with this remembrance:

"One Tuesday in the waiting room [of The New Yorker], John was passing around his copy of a hard-cover New Yorker collection of cartoons for everybody to autograph. He eventually passed it to me. I demurred, telling him that I was never actually published in The New Yorker. John’s simple response was, 'Oh, but you will be.'"

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Lunch with David Jacobson and Jeff Pert

Above: cartoon detail by Jeff Pert.

It was a lovely March day when I made the 2 hour drive north to Brunswick, Maine to have lunch with fellow cartoonists Jeff Pert and David Jacobson.

Above is © Jeff Pert. All rights reserved.

We had all met at last year's Maine Comics Arts Festival. (And we will all be there for the second year of the Festival, on May 23, 2010, in Portland, ME.)

Jeff is well known in the area as the Bob Lobster Guy." His cartoons, in particular the "Hey Bob! How's the water? Bob? Bob!? BOB!!" cartoon, are on magnets, t-shirts and other products. I first saw his work in 2007 at the York Trading Post. There were a bunch of postcards by Jeff and I bought some. All along 95 and Route One, you can see Jeff's cartoons for sale.

Above: "James Joyce's Refrigerator," a New Yorker cartoon by David Jacobson. Copyright © 2010 The Cartoon Bank. All rights reserved. The list goes like this:
1. Call bank
2. Dry cleaner
3. Forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race
4. Call mom

David Jacobson may be a well known, award winning artist who creates "Contemporary Glass in the Venetian Tradition," but he is also a cartoonist, and has sold to The New Yorker. He lives about 90 minutes further north, and has a studio in Portland. Check out David's glass at his new Etsy store.

We had a great meal at the Brunswick Diner. Really. One of the best burgers I've had. And they have a Facebook page.

We had long conversations about cartooning and meeting some of our cartoonist idols. We talked about the challenge of sitting alone in a studio, trying to come up with ideas. We also had a great meal. I know I just said that, but it was really good food.

We talked about making a living, which people now like to call "monetizing your cartoons." In the middle of this talk, sure enough, the waitress came over and asked for a free cartoon drawing! We chatted with her for a minute and found out that she likes to paint. I told her that I'd trade a drawing of mine for a drawings by her. She left and the trade was not mentioned again. But I was serious!

Anyway, it was great to see David and Jeff and talk cartoon talk for a couple of hours. The bill came, and we split it three ways, leaving a generous tip for the patient, artistic waitress.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo.

Fortunately, we did draw an impromptu cartoon triptych on the back of that check of a diner. This greasy spoon does not represent the fine establishment that we dined in! This is a work of parody! From left to right: art by Jeff Pert, David Jacobson and me, Mike Lynch. All rights reserved by the respective cartoonists unless you really want to monetize us.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Draw 160

A comic book artist friend of mine, when looking at comic art by Wally Wood (Wally Wood being the best artist ever, in his opinion), would point to Mr. Wood's art and always say, "Look at the knowledge!"

And that's what drawing is all about; acquiring the knowledge of how to draw. How do you draw a fish? A bird? a cool car? a poodle?

Sure, when you read those words you get a visual in your mind -- but how to train your hand to draw what you imagine?

By drawing a lot.

How do you get to be a better cartoonist?

There is the old piece of advice: take a stack of paper the same height that you are. Draw on every one. When you get to the bottom, you've gotten a lot of the bad drawings out of your system and you're a better artist.

I teach cartoon classes in New England and New York. One of the things we do is the "cartoon grid," a series of empty boxes on a page with a word under each panel. Above is one of the cartoon grids, all filled out by last Friday's class.

There are 10 kids in the class, all of them in the upper grades at the local elementary school. All of them are fearless drawing machines!

Here are some details:

Above: 4 of one page's 16 panels. The sleepy monster is one of my favorites.

The chef is crying! The student cartoonist added the emotion herself. What's the story? Cutting onions? Did the souffle fall? Did Gordon Ramsey yell?

This is the most devilly devil have ever seen!

I like the addition of "Yo! Yo!!"

Yes, that IS a big nose!

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Captain Underpants!

Look at that breathy exhaust! Great!

This does not look like a nice robot.

I couldn't draw a pencil better myself.

The class of 10 drew 160 images in about 25 minutes. How it works: you would get the cartoon grid and read all 16 of the boxes. Pick your favorite to draw and then, when finished drawing, pass it to the left, to the next student cartoonist. The 10 pieces of paper went around the circle of hardworking cartoonists until all of the grids were filled in.

Here is the rest of the results (click on them to supersize):

Just look at all that knowledge! And look at all of the personal, artistic touches: those steam lines coming out of that hot cup of coffee, the girl dancing with the "TAP TAP" sound effect, the mountain climber with all of his gear. I could go on and on, but pictures are worth a thousand words. And there are 160 pictures to look at, so take a moment to look above, and see this next generation of talent.

It worked out to be about 6.4 drawings per minute. All together it looked like this:

A lot of pages! It's not a pile of paper as high as I am, but it's a darn good bit of drawing by a classful of talent for sure!