Monday, February 28, 2011

Roy Crane "How to Draw Buz Sawyer"

"Mix good characters ... action, sex ... into a well-composed picture with blacks, whites and grays. Then with good drawing, good planning, and good luck you should have a pleasing strip."

Roy Crane talks about his work in "Roy Crane and Buz Sawyer" from issue no. 3 of Cartoonist PROfiles, Summer 1969. "The unique quarterly magazine for the professional, the cartoon buff, the student, and all who enjoy cartoons" it's noted under the masthead. This is so early in the history of Jud Hurd's great magazine that he felt obliged to have an explanation on the cover.

Roy Crane shares "How to Draw Buz Sawyer," which originally was part of a scrapbook he donated to the Syracuse University Manuscript Collection. Mr. Crane would continue his series during the early years of Cartoonist PROfiles magazine. (Click here for his "How to Draw Women.")

Roy and Ebba Crane in their home in Orlando, Florida.

He describes the work and pressure of coming up not only with the story, but maintaining the quality, cramming drawings "with endless detail of aircraft carriers, planes and flight gear, all of which had to be done accurately, or the new strip would would fail to gain a sense of reality and prestige."

And, yeah, he talks about "The Reason for Benday."

Below is the article, in its entirety, which begins with "Damn Sunday pages!"

A big hat tip to Don Orehek for this issue of Cartoonist PROfiles!

Friday, February 25, 2011

William "Bill" Crouch 1945-2011

I just received word that Bill Crouch died on February 21, 2011. He was 66 years old and had been in a coma for three weeks. The cause was respiratory arrest followed by cardiac arrest.

William M. Crouch, Jr., known as "Bill" to his friends, was one of these essential links to the world of cartooning.

Bill was born in January 25, 1945, in Bridgeport, CT, and attended Columbia University, graduating in 1967 with a BA in Art History. Bill raised some controversy with his senior thesis on comic art, a body of popular culture that had not received any critical scholarship to that point.

Bill volunteered for the US Air Force, serving for four years, from 1968 to 1972. He earned a Master of Arts degree from Pennsylvania State University a year later.

The death of his father caused Bill to return to Bridgeport to manage Equity Paper Company, the family business. He remained with the company, which was sold to Grossman Marketing Group in 1981, until 2008.

Paralleling those years, Bill became a well known comics writer and scholar, contributing to THE WORLD ENCYCLOPEDIA OF COMICS and 100 YEARS OF AMERICAN NEWSPAPER COMICS. With Walt Kelly's widow, Selby Kelly, Bill co-edited a series of five large trade paperbacks for Fireside/Simon & Schuster reprinting the strip during the 1980s. For eleven years beginning in 1978, Bill self published the POGO fan magazine THE OKEFENOKEE STAR.

He would go on to write more books, essays and profiles for many publications, including the late, great cartooning magazine Cartoonist PROfiles. He also wrote Hanna Barbera comic book scripts for Charlton. Poor health be damned, he continued to write his column "Comics and Kicks" every month for The Great South Bay Magazine. He became an Associate Member of the National Cartoonists Society. He was an active Rotarian and, thanks to his beloved wife, a world traveler.

From the Lesko & Polk Funeral Home obituary:

"In 1990, Bill married the love of his life, Minh-Chau Luong, a Vietnamese-born French citizen and senior translator at the United Nations. He liked to say that she 'completed' him. She expanded Bill's horizons, sparking a lively appreciation for Vietnamese and French culture and cuisine, and leading eventually to their establishing their vacation home in Cagnes, France.

"Bill's family and many cherished friends will miss his love of life, his verve and imagination, the breadth of his curiosity, his great courage and resilience in adversity.

"... Bill Crouch is survived by his beloved wife, Minh-Chau Luong-Crouch, her brothers Jim and Bob Luong-si, her sister Quynh-Chau Luong-Nguy├»¿½n and their families. He is also survived by his sister Dorothy Crouch, brother Miller Crouch, sister-in law Sarah, niece Christian Crouch, and her husband, Chris Bertholf.

"The family would prefer contributions directed to either: American Heart Association- Connecticut Chapter 5 Brookside Dr. (P.O.Box 5022) Wallingford, CT 06492 or the Girls Scouts of America- Housatonic Council, 87 Washington Avenue, Bridgeport, CT, 06604-3800."
A memorial service will be announced at a later date.

As fellow comic art collector George Hagenauer told the Comics Buyer's Guide:

"'Bill was one of those people I have known for over 35 (maybe 40) years, but never met . He was one of those ‘old’ guys (he was 66; I am 60!) who taught me a lot by phone or mail when I discovered there were other people out there who loved, clipped and collected comic strips.

"'He was far more than a collector. His close friendship with Terry and the Pirates artist George Wunder resulted in that art being offered to collectors. If you own a piece of Wunder art (which has become a lot scarcer due to the tragic death of Don Lineburger in a fire that destroyed hundreds of Wunder originals) it is because of the efforts of Bill Crouch.'"

I met Bill for the first and only time time at a 2009 party at Bunny Hoest's. That's where the above photo is from. He had come down from his Connecticut home with my friend and fellow cartoonist Elena Steier.

As soon as Elena introduced Bill to me, I knew who he was -- even though the face was not familiar. Bill Crouch was responsible for a lot of my bookshelf space.

When I was a kid, growing up in the Midwest (living in those "states the planes fly over"), I didn't know any cartoonists, but, thanks to Bill Crouch, I got to read some great cartooning books that he edited.

I had always imagined that Bill had never grown up. He was a big kid who'd retained his love for the cartoon genre. And, better than that, he was the kind of kid who liked to share his toys, you know? Bill introduced me to an A-list of comic strip and comic book cartoonists

Here are some of the cartoonists:

  • Walt Kelly (Bill co-edited, with Selby Kelly, many issues of THE OKEFENOKEE STAR magazine and trade paperback collections like PLUPERFECT POGO to name but two of the many POGO projects),

  • Chester Gould (DICK TRACY THE ART OF CHESTER GOULD published by the Museum of Cartoon Art in 1978 - portion of that catalog is here - and DICK TRACY AMERICA'S MOST FAMOUS DETECTIVE in conjunction with the TRACY movie),

  • Hal Foster (THE PRINCE VALIANT SCRAPBOOK and more)

  • and Wally Wood (WOODWORK, co-edited with Bill Pearson; "first of a reprint series of his work that was authorized by artist Wally Wood;" THE WALLACE WOOD SKETCHBOOK II co-edited with Selby Kelly).

And those are just a few. Thanks to his work and love of the medium, he got a new generation appreciating these grand masters of the comic form.

He was a kid who never got over the funnies, and he made sure none of us forgot. He will be missed.

Related: CBGExtra obituary

Related: Elena Steier: So Long to Bill Crouch

Related: Connecticut Post obituary

Related: Extensive Lesko & Polk Funeral Home obituary

Thursday, February 24, 2011

1968 Visit with Frank King and Roy Crane

Jud Hurd, writing for the June 1968 Cartoonist Magazine, visits the home of Frank King in Florida.

We also get to see the many cartoonist neighbors: Roy Crane (above), Bill Perry, Mel Graff, Dick Moores, Les Turner, Kate Osann and more. Jud relates dines with them and visits their studios in what seems like a lovely time.

My thanks to Don Orehek for this issue of The Cartoonist.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Brian Crane: "Popular PICKLES Captures the Humanity of Humans"

Above photo of Brian Crane by Kristin Murphy for the Deseret News.

From The Mormon Times article "Popular PICKLES Captures the Humanity of Humans"by Carma Widely:

"'It's a tough field to break into, a tougher field to succeed at,' Crane said. 'Many strips don't last more than a few years.'

"...Twenty years later, Earl and Opal Pickles are still going strong. The strip currently appears in more that 700 newspapers and is heading toward 800. Though most readers are in the United States and Canada, 'Pickles' has appeared or does appear in South Korea, Australia, India, Aruba, England, Singapore and the Middle East."

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Madam Alexander ADDAMS FAMILY Dolls

Or should I call them action figures?

Madam Alexander
presents a line of four collectible dolls based on the new Addams Family Broadway musical; Gomez, Morticia, Wednesday (with crossbow) and Puggsly.

Above: Morticia, which retails for $139.95.

Cartoonists Making Decisions

From the Mountain Xpress newspaper:

“Dennis the Menace” visits Xpress (Don’t tell Mr. Wilson!)
by Jake Frankel

The Southeast Chapter of the National Cartoonists Society recently gathered around the Mountain Xpress ping pong/conference table to jury its book illustration contest. They were joined by the mischievous characters from “Dennis the Menace,” according to this illustration from cartoonist Marcus Hamilton, who works on the internationally syndicated comic strip.

The rest is here.

Stacking Wood

Hey there! That's a self-portrait of me under many wooly layers. And below, the reason why:

It's been a cold winter and we've gone through more wood than I thought. So, we had to order a cord of stovewood to keep the home fires burning. The only problem stacking wood in the winter is, of course, the cold and snow.

It was 30 degrees, but the 20-30mph wind gusts knocked the temperature down to bonechilling temperatures. I was only able to stack about a quarter of the woodpile before that Popsicle feeling overwhelmed me and I had to come in to warm up. Which is when I drew this cartoon of me in many layers (t-shirt, flannel shirt, wool sweater and jacket).

Here's hoping spring is around the corner!

2010 Reuben Award Nominees

The National Cartoonist Society has chosen its three nominees for the Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year.

And the Reuben Award nominees are:

Glen Keane

Stephan Pastis

Richard Thompson

Congratulations to all of the nominees!

The winner, chosen by NCS artist members, will be announced at the 65th Annual Reuben Awards Dinner on May 28, 2011

Monday, February 21, 2011

SIMON'S CAT by Simon Tofield

Like millions of people, I had seen one of the animations by Simon Tofield about a cat on YouTube. I didn't know that this hilarious cat had become an industry for Mr. Tofield, resulting in even more animations, books and now, he's replacing a British icon! A comic strip version of Simon's Cat will replace Andy Capp in the Daily Mirror.

EDIT: My friend, UK cartoonist Royston Robertson, in the comments section below, tells me Capp is staying and Simon's Cat is part of a Mirror comics page revision. Please take a look at his link.

Above: one of the more recent Simon's Cat shorts. You can see how much animator/cartoonist Simon Tofield understands about cat behavior. Some very funny stuff here and well worth a viewing ... or re-viewing.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

1967 Video: The Muppets

I saw this on Mark Evanier's excellent blog: a clip from an Ed Sullivan show (despite the "IBM Training Video" label the YouTube poster placed on it) featuring a proto-pre-Sesame-Street cookie monster, complete with teeth (!). Sometimes I forget just how funny the Muppets were.

Video: DOCTOR WHO/MUPPETS "Movin' Right Along"

A sweeping collection of DOCTOR WHO clips to the tune of "Movin' Right Along" from THE MUPPET MOVIE. A big hat tip to Andrew Farago for this!

"1979 - Hell of a year! China invades Vietnam. "The Muppet Movie" - love that film. Skylab falls to Earth, with a little help from me. Nearly took off my thumb."

Friday, February 18, 2011

Shop Talk by Mike Lynch

Occasionally some person asks me what hobbies I have. I don't have hobbies. No model ship building or stamp collecting. My world is cartoons and cartoonists. I love to talk shop, and I was able to do just that this week with a group of great cartoonists. Here are some of the comments that I overheard from these cartoonists.

I agree with the above (unnamed) cartoonist. Fortunately, I am not in love with a certain pen or paper or ink. I know that as soon as I do fall in love, it'll be discontinued.

I drew these in my sketchbook on an Amtrak train, so the lettering is a little bouncy.

Explaining Photoshop to someone who hasn't used it is an exercise in futility -- at least when I am being asked to clarify what it can do. The conversation becomes incoherent as I realize that technology does seem like magic to a lot of us -- and I think of Arthur's line in MONTY PYTHON & THE HOLY GRAIL: "This new learning amazes me, Sir Bedemir. Explain again how sheeps' bladders may be employed to prevent earthquakes."

Above: the original, ink on paper with watercolor added after I got home.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Tour George Herriman's New Orleans

Big hat tip to Potrzebie!

Joanne Siegel 1917-2011

Above: photo of Joanne Siegel and Joe Shuster's drawing of Lois Lane. “Joe might have taken a few liberties,” comments Ms. Siegel's daughter, Laura Siegel Larson.

Joanne Siegel, the first model for Lois Lane, died on February 12th. She was 93.

Ms. Siegel was the wife of Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel. Back in 1935 --

"... [S]he placed a brief ad in the classified section of The Plain Dealer, declaring herself available for modeling work and confessing that she had no experience. Most of the responses to the ad were requests for dates, but one at least seemed serious, and she presented herself to Shuster and Siegel, who were then developing Superman."
She would become an advocate -- not only for Jerry and Joe, who sold Superman to National Periodical Publications (now DC Comics) for a pittance -- but for creators' rights for all.

“My dad always said he wrote Lois with my mom’s personality in mind," adds Laura Siegel Larson.

Much more here: Joanne Siegel obituary in the NY Times by Bruce Weber.

Lawrence O'Donnell Batton Lash James Hudnall

Today, you can cut and paste those 3 names in the headline above into a search engine and you'll get images from the "Obama Nation" comic by James Hudnall and Batton Lash. You'll also get a video from Lawrence O'Donnell's MSNBC program, reacting to the comic.

I didn't think that the comic was well done (to be kind). It's mean without being clever, for a start. The caricatures are off model. I suppose if you, too, are hateful and not too clever then you will think it's a lasting work of parody.

MSNBC host Lawrence O'Donnell was outraged, which is fine with me. I was fascinated by how bad the work was and why the right, when it tries to be funny, simply cannot.

Soon, you'll put those 3 names into a search engine and not get much about this. "Obama Nation" isn't a lasting work of parody. It doesn't even pass the first couple of the three rules of criticism:

  • What is it?
  • Was it worth doing?
  • Was it done well?

Comments are closed and I'm not linking to anything.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sketches by Nick Abadzis

Just discovered Nick Abadzis' gallery of sketches.

Nick scans in his doodles and sketches -- along with specific comments about the subject (most are fellow subway passengers):

"This guy had a practiced way of falling asleep. He steadied his whole body and let his head loll forward. Can't help thinking that it's a great way of instigating shoulder strain..."

Monday, February 14, 2011

See You Soon

I'm away for a short time. Back soon.

I really need to hire a blog-sitter, don't I?

Happy Valentines!

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Value of Your Creativity

Should you give away your work for free?

If you do, then "free" is your price.

Hey, even if you do not want to work for free, there are people out there who have no problem asking you.

For instance: Here's a person who placed an ad on the Web for a cartoonist. It's from one of those services where people post job listings and then the lowest bidder wins. You don't have to read the whole screed , but the point is he isn't shy about telling you why he will only pay 5 cents for a drawing. So, here's the whole thing, as it was posted on a job board, a few weeks back:

Title: 2000 Simple Line Drawings
Project ID: 686564
Budget: Under $250
Category: Illustration & Art
Description: Hi there, I'm working on an education project, and I need around 2000 simple line drawings of a variety of subjects: a dog, a cat, a house, etc. My budget is rather limited, so I am looking for a talented artist in the Philippines, India, or somewhere else where they won't mind working for about $3.00 per hour. When I say simple line drawings, I mean a simple vector drawing like this: or For a talented artist, with a drawing pad, I am sure you could complete each drawing in about a minute, so it works out to about $0.05 a picture. The reason I am asking for one person to complete the drawings is that I would like them to be consistent in style. I realise this is not a lot of money, but I am on a very limited budget and this is the best I can do. The ideal candidate is a natural artist who is super speedy and can plow through many drawings in a row. Working on this for 2 hours a day, it probably would take about 20 days to complete, so I am not going to propose an arbitrary deadline. If you are interested in applying, please respond to this image and include a few sample sketches. If you're quick, this should take less than 10 minutes. - a dog - a tree - a house - a simple landscape with a clock in the foreground showing a specific time (day) - a simple landscape with a clock in the foreground showing a specific time (night) (the final project will probably have about 10 of these, the purpose is showing different times) - a grandmother - a father - a washing machine - a $20 bill and other change - a car - breakfast I'll leave it at that. I'm just looking for super speedy line drawings in white, on a clear background. Obviously you can watermark the samples and I will not use them for any purpose other than evaluating you as a candidate. If you are selected and we come to an agreement, I would like full ownership of the works and a promise that you will not use them for any other purpose. If you think any of this is unreasonable, please get back to me with your thoughts and I will try to work something out that you think is fair. Thank you so much for your time, (I am traveling at the end of this week, so I will leave this posting open until I return on Monday 7 Feb)

You can't make a living (at least in the US and Western Europe) by making 5 cents a drawing.

But, let's say that just once you are going to give away your work. If you do, then you may be stuck "Free" becomes your price.

And that's what we are seeing with the HuffPo/AOL merger.

The Huffington Post, based on a business model of writers working for free, has been bought by AOL for $315 million. The unpaid content providers, the writers, want a piece of that. Ariana Huffington, who started the site, will not share the payday. A memo went out telling the writers that the only change will be that there may be more people reading their work than ever before:

"Your posts will have an even bigger impact on the national and global conversation. That's the only real change you'll notice - more people reading what you wrote."

You know the old saying: But people DIE from exposure!

What's the difference between the person who wants 2000 drawings and Ariana Huffington? Not much. They are both looking for something for nothing.

It's up to you whether your say yes or no to a potential client who asks you to work for free. If the client is from a money-making operation, then they are able to pay you. More than that: they should recognize the value of your work.

If they do not, smile and move on.

Unless you have a day job and can afford to work for free.

Related: If You Give Away Your Cartoons for Free, You Won't Make a Living as a Cartoonist

Related: Working for Free Business Model

And Ted Rall has a good cartoon today about the merger.

So does Matt Bors.

A hat tip to my pal David Jacobson for cutting and pasting that appalling job offer from a job board. I wish it was unique, but those kinda request are out there every day.


It's not cartoons, but I love the art in this 49 year old classic book.

Vintage Kids' Books My Kid Loves is a tribute blog, penned by B. Streetman. She shows us the known and unknown childrens' books. Some are classics, some deserve to be better remembered.

Today, it's a bird book.

Click here to see some gorgeous art by Arthur Singer for THE GIANT GOLDEN BOOK OF BIRDS by Robert Porter Allen (Golden Press, 1962). Singer also designed the book.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Video: STAR TREK Anger Management

Via Laughing Squid with a Vulcan salute to Mark Anderson for the heads up!

One of the best mash ups I've seen.

Collier's Gag Cartoons

From the Hairy Green Eyeball 2 blog: More Cartoons from Collier's, featuring many great cartoonists, including Virgil "VIP" Partch, above.

Floppy Drive Organ

FunToTheHead shows off his "(d)iskette (O)rgan" playing Bach's Toccata and Fugue.

Here's FunToTheHead's description:

Test run of my (d)iskette (O)rgan doing Toccata & Fugue.

People have made floppy drives sing before, but this is my personal take on it.

Features two 3 1/2" drives and two 5 1/4" drives connected to a PIC18f14k50 microcontroller. It interfaces to any MIDI source via MIDI over USB. Straight MIDI would also be possible with an additional small circuit and some minor firmware changes. This initial version can respond to all 128 MIDI notes, and pitch bends +/- 2 semitones.

As it can produce only four simultaneous notes, and each drive has a different range and tonal characteristics, best results are obtained by arranging compositions by hand. However, it features two modes of operation: in one mode, MIDI channels 1 through 4 are played directly on floppy drives 1 through 4. In the other mode, all 16 MIDI channels are read, and notes are "intelligently" divvied out on a first-come, first-serve basis. "Note stealing" ensures that melody lines sound, but chords are often cut short. One or the other produces acceptable results for many unmodified MIDI files straight out of your favorite media player.

I apologize for the poor video quality. :)

Hat tip to Bob Flynn.

Toilet Roll Comics

So many jokes can be made, but here it is: 1970s Marvel Comics printed on toilet paper. Yes, before the PDF or the iPad, there was the TP format!

And the story, "The Amazing Spider-Man & the Incredible Hulk" in "The Gamma Gambit," was co-written by my pal Jim Salicrup! Wow!

A tip o' the lid to Mark Anderson!

Sacco and Tomine's Drawing Process

Via SeeMagazine, graphic novelists Joe Sacco and Adrian Tomine talk about their process:

Joe Sacco:

“Drawing is generally like digging a ditch. I basically know how far I’ll get each day.”

Mr. Sacco completes about 2 pages of art a week.

Adrian Tomine was “constantly fighting against an undercurrent of stiffness” that can be a product of relying too much on photo reference. His new book, SCENES FROM AN IMPENDING MARRIAGE, drawn in a looser style, was originally not intended to see publication.

"It was a welcome reminder that drawing comics could actually be fun. Not just an arduous slog towards a very distant goal.”

The article begs the question (but doesn't answer it) of why Mr. Tomine was drawing comics not intended for publication.

Kenton Smith writes this informative short piece at SeeMagazine.

STAR TREK and DOCTOR WHO Vs. Klingons, Daleks, Etc!

"Star Trek vs. Dr. Who" is the title of this illustration by Mayhew, for Wizard Magazine, and now colored by Summerset.

Above: Mayhew's original B&W version.

I have no context for the illustration except that it's cool -- and if it's NOT a comic book then it SHOULD be a comic book!

Hat tip to Combom!

Of course, it would be historically accurate to have the Second Doctor in the drawing, since he was on the BBC while TREK was originally airing!

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Team Cul de Sac

Chris Sparks is the driving force behind the Team Cul de Sac charity.

What's the Team Cul de Sac charity and why should you consider giving? Here's Chris with his personal story:

Dear cartoonists, comic lovers, fans of Cul de Sac and friends of Richard Thompson,

I am Chris Sparks, a designer who has been a comic fan since I was five years old.

I met Richard Thompson in 2008 at Heroescon in Charlotte, NC. I was impressed with his sense of humor and amazing art, and we quickly became friends. Or as he might say, he just keeps finding stalkers.

We kept in touch over the next year, and I was devastated when I learned Richard had Parkinson’s. I started studying about this terrible disease and found out about the Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF). I read Michael J. Fox’s book, Always Looking Up, which documents, among other things, his decision to start the foundation and the process of establishing it. His story inspired me to think of a way I could make a difference.

The next step was asking Richard what he thought of my idea.

Richard has agreed to be the poster boy for Team Cul de Sac. Here is what he had to say:

“This idea of yours for a book is very cool, and of course you have my blessing! If I can help in any way, contacts, front man, falling down for cheap comedy, anything, lemme know. From what I've seen of you, once you've got an idea you'll pursue it till it happens.”

With his blessing I formed Team Cul De Sac through TEAMFOX.

I also contacted Lee Salem, president and editor of Universal Press Syndicate to pitch my idea for doing an art book featuring original work donated by artists to raise awareness and funds for the MJFF. Andrews McMeel publishing has agreed to publish this book. I would like to thank Lee, Caty Neis and everyone at Andrews McMeel for being behind this project. Putting this book together and thereby inviting cartoonists to donate original art made especially for a book about Parkinson's awareness in Richard's honor has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life.

How can you help?

Richard said it best in his own words:

Team Cul de Sac would love for all you professional cartoonists, illustrators, animators or drawers to create an original drawing that mocks, celebrates or vaguely refers to any or all of the Cul de Sac characters. Why? To raise funds for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's research, of course!”

All the information you need is at Team Cul de Sac. Everything from size of the art, to where to ship it, and all the contact information you should need.

If, like me, you are not an artist, you can still contribute by clicking here. The other way to contribute is to share this information with anyone you think can help Team Cul de Sac.

Please feel free to email me at

A big thank you for everyone who has helped me get the team going. Keep spreading the Team Cul de Sac news!

Chris Sparks

Please consider contributing whether you're a fan or a professional cartoonist.