Saturday, April 30, 2011

Are Closed Parens Easter Eggs?

This should be subtitled "how to use clip art without using clip art."

From a flyer I picked up in Rochester, NH -- with a closed parentheses at the top of the page, posing as an egg graphic.

The Rochester Fashion Bug store sponsors an Easter egg hunt. "These eggs contain prizes!" we are told.

OK, it's a week late for an Easter egg hunt, but, well there it is. Better late than never. Nice of them to do it for the kiddies.

"Either being % off items, Vendors have put items in these eggs or the egg you pull might only have candy."

I suppose that this garbled Fashion Bug press roll out means that some of the kids are gonna get coupons and not chocolate. Ooh! Look out for paper cuts, kids! If I was a kid, I would cry. I want chocolate!

Hopefully, the tykes will be hunting for real eggs and not closed parentheses.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Vid: Steve Bell's Royal Wedding: 'It's all about image. It's all about show'

J.W. Taylor: Royal Wedding Cartoon

"Mr and Mrs Robinson request the pleasure
of our company at the marriage on their
television set of Her Royal Highness."

Everything old is new again.

Here's a cartoon by one of my favorite Punch cartoonists, J.W. Taylor, commemorating another Royal Wedding: the 1947 wedding of Princess (now Queen) Elizabeth.

I love Taylor's easy, smooth dry brush technique. More of his grand cartoons are here.

A big thanks to Peter Robinson for sharing the above, as well as the below Chris Riddell cartoon with all of us. Now, let's all take a screen grab of the wedding cake cuz that's as close as us rabble are gonna get to actually getting a piece!

Graphic Artists Guild Files Appeal Against Illustrators' Partnership

The Graphic Artists Guild has appealed the appellate judge's decision this week to dismiss the defamation lawsuit against The Illustrators' Partnership. Here's the press release:

Guild Files Notice of Appeal in Dismissal of Defamation Lawsuit

On April 26, the Guild filed a notice of appeal in the dismissal of the defamation lawsuit filed in the Fall of 2008. The Guild strongly disagrees with the judge's ruling in this case. For clarification purposes, the lawsuit is a defamation lawsuit regarding statements made by the defendants named in the lawsuit. It has no connection to the Orphan Works bill of 2008, or the Google class action lawsuit. Our statement on the notice of appeal can be downloaded here. An informational article on reprographic royalties can be read in our archived news.

Superman Renounces US Citizenship

Via Comics Alliance: Just in case you don't know, Superman will renounce his American citizenship in Action Comics #900.

"What it means to stand for the "American way" is an increasingly complicated thing, however, both in the real world and in superhero comics, whose storylines have increasingly seemed to mirror current events and deal with moral and political complexities rather than simple black and white morality."

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Illustrious Omnibus of Superpowers

Need to get all those superpowers out there sorted out into one big infographic?

The gang over at Pop Chart Lab has created The Illustrious Omnibus of Superpowers print just for you!

"A taxonomic tree of over 100 wondrous powers and abilities, with over 200 superheroes and supervillains as examples thereof. Face front, True Believer!"

Hat tip to Sean Kelly!

1977: Another QUINCY Comic Book Part Two


Above: the breezy art of QUINCY creator Ted Shearer at its best. This is part two of a complete scan of the QUINCY R-14 comic book, copyright 1977 by King Features. Part one is here. This is all part of something called "Comic Library #2." This educational comic features for the first (and only?) time a funny book appearance by none other than HAGAR THE HORRIBLE's son Hamlet. We open with a five pager, "Quincy and the Homework Blues." Like some of the other stories, this appears to be pasted up from preexisting dailies, resulting in plain odd images, like large blank backgrounds, and, at its worst: Quincy's floating torso at the bottom of page 17. 

And here's Hamlet, upsetting dad and mom (Hagar and Hilda) because he is interested in non-Viking pursuits such as sitting quietly and reading. While it's not drawn by creator Dik Browne, its adequately produced. I like some of the gags (the image of the bearded "other kids," panel 2, page 22, for instance) -- one or two of which I recognize from the strip (Helga sewing name tags). For an educational comic book to show a kid being encouraged to throw knives (p. 24) is, I'm sure, not politically correct today. The above story ends with no character transcendence: Hamlet flees from Hagar, running away from parental authority. Hagar is as unaccepting as ever. Not one character has any enlightenment at all. This is not a satisfying conclusion, but I find this ending sadly true to life. The unidentified floating head on the page below may be that of Sherman H. Saiger, one of the developers of the Supplementary Reading Program. And here are the answers to all of the puzzlers in this issue, printed upside down already for you so you do not have to turn your monitor over. Related: the QUINCY comic strip (part one, part two) Related: the QUINCY comic book R-05 (part one, part two)

Gahan Wilson Interview

Cartoonist Gahan Wilson is interviewed for by Richard Gehr.

RICHARD GEHR: What sparked your interest in cartooning?

GAHAN WILSON: When I was eight or nine, I was browsing through the books section of a second-hand store and I saw this set of bound volumes of Punch. I bought one of the volumes for fifteen cents and took it home. After pleading with my father, he very sweetly drove me back to the place and plopped down for the entire set, bless his heart. I can’t say how important that was.

This is a wonderful, career-spanning interview, with one of the great gag cartoonists.

Illustrators' Partnership: Graphic Artists Guild Lawsuit Dismissed

A message from The Illustrators' Partnership of America:

Graphic Artists Guild Lawsuit Dismissed

Last week the New York State Supreme Court, New York County, dismissed all claims in a million dollar lawsuit brought by the Graphic Artists Guild (GAG) against the Illustrators' Partnership of America (IPA) and five named individuals.

In the lawsuit, GAG asserted claims for defamation and interference with contractual relations, alleging that IPA had interfered with a "business relationship" GAG had entered into that enabled GAG to collect orphaned reprographic royalties derived from the licensing of illustrators' work. GAG alleged that efforts by IPA to create a collecting society to return lost royalties to artists "interfered" with GAG's "business" of appropriating these orphaned fees.

In her decision, Judge Debra James ruled that statements made by the Illustrators' Partnership and the other defendants were true; that true statements cannot be defamatory; that illustrators have a "common interest" in orphaned income; and that a "common-interest privilege" may arise from both a right and a duty to convey relevant information, however contentious, to others who share that interest or duty.

Regarding a key statement at issue in the lawsuit: that GAG had taken over one and a half million dollars of illustrators' royalties "surreptitiously," the judge wrote:

"Inasmuch as the statement [by IPA] was true, [GAG]'s claim cannot rest on allegations of a reckless disregard of whether it was false or not. Truthful and accurate statements do not give rise to defamation liability concerns." (Emphasis added.)

And she noted:

"The plaintiff Guild has conceded that it received foreign reproductive royalties and that it does not distribute any of the money to artists."

Labor Department filings provided as evidence to the court document that between 2000 and 2007, GAG collected at least $1,581,667 in illustrators' reprographic royalties. GAG admitted to having collected similar royalties since 1996. GAG's officers have repeatedly refused to disclose how much money their organization has received to date or how the money has been spent.

The judge concluded that this situation justified an assertion of common interest by IPA. This means that "the party communicating [relevant information] has an interest or has a duty" to convey that information truthfully to others "having a corresponding interest or duty":

"The duty need not be a legal one, but only a moral or social duty. The parties need only have such a relation to each other as would support a reasonable ground for supposing an innocent motive for imparting the information. Here the plaintiff Guild's factual allegations demonstrate that the defendants' statements were both true, and fall within the parameters of the common-interest privilege." (Emphasis added.)

We hope this decision will end the two and a half years of litigation during which GAG pursued its claims against IPA and artists Brad Holland, Cynthia Turner and Ken Dubrowski of IPA, as well as attorney Bruce Lehman, former Commissioner of the US Patent Office and Terry Brown, Director Emeritus of the Society of Illustrators.

All defendants were participants in a public presentation sponsored February 21, 2008 by 12 illustrators organizations. The presentation was disrupted by GAG's officers and their attorney. A videotape of the event proves that statements which GAG alleged to be defamatory were made only in response to GAG's intervention, and that until that time, no speakers had mentioned GAG or GAG's longstanding appropriation of illustrators' royalties.

Last year, on January 12, 2010, Judge James issued a prior ruling dismissing nearly all of GAG's causes of action. This left only a claim asserted by GAG against Brad Holland. But in a response filed with the court February 4, 2010, attorney Jason Casero, serving as counsel for IPA, pointed out that GAG's remaining claim rested on an allegedly defamatory statement that Holland never made. When confronted with evidence, GAG was forced to admit it had "inadvertently attributed" the statement to Holland.

GAG subsequently filed new motions in an effort to revive its claims against IPA and the other defendants. Last summer the judge consolidated GAG's multiple motions and on April 18, 2011, she dismissed all ten causes of action against IPA and all the defendants.

GAG served the lawsuit on IPA October 10, 2008, seven days after Congress failed to pass the Orphan Works Act of 2008. The Illustrators' Partnership and 84 other creators' organizations opposed that legislation. GAG had lobbied for passage of the House version of the Orphan Works bill. Mandatory lobbying disclosures document that GAG spent nearly $200,000 in Orphan Works lobbying fees.

In our opinion, the issues behind the lawsuit are greater than whether an organization should be allowed to benefit from the millions of dollars that, collectively, illustrators are losing. We believe the reprographic rights issue is linked to both orphan works legislation and the Google Book Settlement, which Federal Judge Denny Chin dismissed on March 22, 2011.

Each of these developments involves an effort by third parties to define artists' work and/or royalties as orphaned property, and to assert the right, in the name of the public interest or class representation, to exploit that work commercially or to appropriate the royalties for use at their sole discretion. So far, judges have affirmed that copyright is an individual, not a collective right, and that unless one explicitly transfers that right, no business or organization can automatically acquire it by invoking an orphaned property premise. Now the challenge for artists will be to see that Congress does not pass legislation to permit what the courts have so far denied.

We'll have more to say about this issue in the future. For now we'd like to conclude by thanking our attorney Jason Casero, who provided us with a strong, incisive and heartfelt defense; his law firm, McDermott Will & Emery, which provided us with his services; the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts of New York and its Director Elena Paul. We'd also like to thank Dan Vasconcellos, Richard Goldberg, and the over 700 artists and illustrators who in 2008 signed a petition asking GAG (unsuccessfully as it turned out) to drop the lawsuit; the support of so many colleagues was a great tonic at a low time. Finally we'd like to thank the representatives of the 12 organizations that comprise the American Society of Illustrators' Partnership (ASIP). ASIP is the coalition organization IPA incorporated in 2007 to act as a collecting society to return royalties to artists.

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

This message may be reposted or emailed in its entirety to any interested party.

The Illustrators Partnership Orphan Works Blog

Today's Religious Bumper Sticker

Walked by this truck in a Sanford, Maine parking lot.

I saw this bumper sticker with a great quote on it:

"I care not for a man's religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it. - Abraham Lincoln"

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

1977: Another QUINCY Comic Book Part One


Here's QUINCY R-14, copyright 1977 by King Features, an educational comic book featuring Ted Shearer's QUINCY syndicated newspaper comic strip in comic book form. There is also a supporting story about Hamlet, HAGAR THE HORRIBLE's son (which looks like it was not drawn by creator Dik Browne). 

Like my previous posts on the QUINCY comic book series (part one, part two), this rare comic book was produced as part of something called the "Supplementary Reading Program developed and editor by Richard Guttenberg, Dr. Anne Mueser and Sherman H. Saiger." 

Right off the bat, you know that this book is educational since you get 16 vocabulary words to look out for right there on the inside cover. Hoo boy. Education and comic books = oil and water. 

In the first story, which uses what looks like some poor quality photostats from the comic strip to layout a comic book story, Quincy and his pals are on a trip to Washington DC. Quincy obsesses over food, especially ribs and fried chicken. Little of DC is shown (nor learned about by stomach-centered Quincy), except for the steps outside the Supreme Court. 


More education stuff. Answers will be up in the next QUINCY post. 


Quincy's Uncle Cecil invites his nephew to go on a sales trip with him. As you can see, this is cobbled together from the strip. You get a set up, the joke; set up, joke, and so on. 


There are some beautiful sequences. Pages 10 and 11, below, show how a great cartoonist works with words and images. Shearer's characters are always in action. Even if they're sitting down, the angles are always dynamic. 


In the final 2 pages, you see the paste up nature of the book, with certain panels devoid of backgrounds. Or, in the case of the last panel below, a missing torso. 


More tomorrow, including the Hamlet story, as well as page 32 upside down so you may check answers. Related: the QUINCY comic strip (part one, part two) Related: the QUINCY comic book R-05 (part one, part two)

Real Life "Neighborhood Ninja" Protects Small Town

It's always a laugh til someone gets their eye poked out.

When things are going wrong, we can all use a Superman to put things right. A pajama-clad ninja is doing just that for a small town in Kent, UK. 'Ninja' protecting Kent spa town of Tunbridge Wells is the latest in a series of articles about a real life young fellow (identity unknown) who
" ... has tackled garage break-ins and conducted night patrols.

"The vigilante, who has so far remained anonymous, is posting his exploits in the Kent spa town on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

"He also says he has reunited missing cats with their owners and warned drivers when they risk parking fines."

Sure, this sounds like fun and the fellow's heart seems like it's in the right place, but what do police say? The Neighborhood Ninja tweeted:

"Don't worry Chief Inspector of Kent Police, you have nothing to fear from me, I am on your side. I'll leave my nunchuks at home."

Yes, well, here's hoping no one gets their eye poked out.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Have Ted Rall Draw a Political Cartoon Just For You

Ted Rall has all the details here.

EDIT: If you're having problems getting a link to Ted's blog (as I am now), here's the direct link to the "Have Ted Rall Draw a Political Cartoon Just For You"auction on eBay.

UPDATE: It sold for $355.

Media: Steve Bell's Wedding Mugs

From The Guardian: cartoonist Steve Bell visits the Stoke-on-Trent factory where "to see his contribution to the 'royal junk' [the mug above] industry being made to commemorate Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding."

Aside from the factoid that only 6% of Americans care about the Royal Wedding, here's Steve Bell speaking so frankly about William's horse face and disdain for the junk that's manufactured for these events that it's very entertaining -- regardless of whether you are the 6 or the 94 percent.

I liked his comments about the challenge of drawing the fiancee:

"I was casting around, trying to do Kate. It's difficult doing a new character because I have no idea what she's like as a person."

It's fascinating to hear how much Steve has to know about a person before he feels he can successfully draw them; fusing their personalities into his caricatures.

Big tip of the hat to Paul Giambarba! Thanks, Paul!

Edit: the mug is sold out.

Seven Birds a Week

In honor of Mr. Audubon's birthday:

In addition to the many birds that come around every day (wrens, finches, titmice, sparrows, chickadees, jays, mourning doves, etc.), the Lynch feeders welcomed a bunch of new birds this past week. Who are the new bids? Here is the new bird roll call, with bird drawings by yours truly:

The Baltimore oriole came to the feeder within an hour after I put out some sliced orange.

This young turkey has been wandering around the yard in the early hours. They really do look like velociraptors!

The grosbeak is one of my favorite birds. Love the bold red chest stripe.

The flycatcher appeared last week and hunts the backyard for bugs.

The evening grosbeak looks like a goldfinch on steroids. Our New Hampshire hills are a temporary stop for this Canadian-bound bird.

And, flying over the house, from stream to lake, every day, a great blue heron in the sky.

Drawn freehand with a thick stinky sharpie on typing paper, with color added with brush and watercolor.

-- This is a rerun of a May 10, 2010 entry.

Related: Content that is not suitable for Printing and the "No Name" bird t-shirt.