Friday, November 28, 2014

Sad News

Sunset on Tuesday.

There was a death in the family on Thanksgiving day. My stepmother died peacefully, in the hospital, with her husband (my Dad) and her sisters at her bedside. She had been fighting stage four cancer for over 4 years.

So, I will be away from the blog for a time to attend her funeral.

Thanks to all of you for being there. Now, please walk away from the Internet for a sec and go hug someone you love now.



Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Sketches From the Road

Teaching cartoon classes and graphic novel classes in New York, New England and North Carolina, keynote speaking engagements in Iowa and Georgia -- 2014 has been a busy travel year for me.

Here are a few sketches I have done while on the road.

The fellow wearing the "All Hail the Glow Cloud" shirt looked pretty smug about it all. No, I don't know what the heck a glow cloud is either.

Line to validate the ferry tickets on the Long Island Ferry:

In his own world at O'Hare:

Man wearing a white 9/11 memorial rubber bracelet that I suppose he bought at the WTC Museum which had just opened:

Damn captchas:

The captive audience in an airplane:

Faces from an airport. Yeah, the first guy does look like Walter White:

Monday, November 24, 2014

Cy Ferring: ABOARD AND ABROAD Illustrations

I would like to grab the Tardis or slip through the Guardian of Forever and travel through time to the middle part of the 20th century. It was the Golden Age of Magazine Illustration back then.

I would then like to mess with time and introduce the Internet. It would mean that all of these guys (they were mostly all guys) would have a site and a blog and a Tumblr and so on. We could watch process videos by J. C. Leyendecker or Whitney Darrow, Jr., for instance.

We would also have more information on Cy Ferring, an illustrator born in Dubuque, Iowa, who worked in Chicago. There is very little about him online.

He illustrated very popular children's books such as How Life Begins (Chicago Book House for Children 1935). 
In May of 1934, he was sent to England to make sketches of King George's Jubilee that would be used later for advertising. Royal events like anniversaries were often celebrated with advertising specialties like tea sets, silk banners, and badges upon which the likenesses of the Royal Family were depicted. -- Gary Olsen

One of the books C.P. Ferring illustrated was BOARD AND ABROAD (OLSEN'S COMPLETE TRAVEL GUIDE TO EUROPE) by Harvey S. Olsen. ABOARD AND ABROAD is copyright 1955 by Harved Publishers, Chicago.

This was when traveling meant putting on your best clothes for the twelve to fourteen hour NYC to London plane trip (this includes stops at Gander, Newfoundland and Shannon, Ireland to refuel).

ABOARD AND ABROAD has a lot of practical advice on where to go, what to pack, exchange rates, dealing with cabbies, waiters, hotel clerks, etc. For instance, if you are traveling with more than one woman, there is a section on hiring a gigolo for the evening to dance with that extra woman. The head waiter can find you a gigolo, and tell you their rates. And if you are a coffee-lover (Who isn't?), it's best to bring your own freeze-dried Nescafe than depend on that "bad" European coffee. There is a description of the pubs of England and the beers you can get, with the admonition to order the lightest beer since it tastes "more American."

 It was another time, and Ferring's wispy, precise pen and ink drawings cleanly convey a gentile graciousness. These drawings are general quite small, and they are blown up a bit here so you can real appreciate his work. I wish I knew more about this fellow Iowa-born artist whose work I admire.


The Ferring Murals at the Lamb-Hedeman Auditorium, Dubuque, Iowa

Friday, November 21, 2014


Above: Roy Williams in a photo from The Mickey Mouse Club TV series. More at The Mickey Mouse Club Cast Web site here.

"Here's a great big guy that spends his days wearing a mouse hat and drawing cartoons for kids. What do you suppose he thinks of when the kids are asleep?"

I don't know a lot about The Mickey Mouse Club. I didn't watch it growing up. I did know there was a large guy who smiled a lot on the show. His name was Roy. He was an animator and a gag guy for Disney. This is a collection of his gag cartoons, copyright 1957 by Bantam Books.

I got as big a kick out of the fun hyperbole on the book as I did the cartoons.

Above: Roy's dedication page, in Roy's handwriting.

In 1925 Roy was hired by the Hyperion Studio after a short conversation with someone he took for the office boy (it was Walt). This was the beginning of Roy's lifelong personal loyalty to Walt Disney. Walt paid for Roy's training at the Chouinnard Art School, and took him on in the Art Department. As Roy's skill and experience grew, he was moved to the Animation Department, first as an in-betweener, then as a full-fledged animator. Roy's strength was judged to be as a story and gag man, and by the start of the fifties he had moved away from animation.

-- a snippet of Roy's bio from The Mickey Mouse Club Cast Web site. Now you know why he dedicated the tome to Walt.

A lot of the gags in the book are just zany. His line work is very breezy and bold. There's an ease to the line that comes with lots of years of drawing behind him.

Some of the ideas here are tinged with some sad truths, like the cartoon above. Both men look nonplussed about this chance encounter.

Some are racist, bad puns in today's light. As you can see, most of these are in the "stand 'em up, shoot 'em down" school of composition. The figures are posed in full view, usually in an establishing shot of sorts, with some locale details here and there.

OK, like the one above. I always admire wordless gags, but it took me a few seconds to notice the wee size of the shoe to get the gag here. Their clothes, the framed windmill, are all the clues to where these people live.

I thought a lot of these gags would look fine in Collier's or the Saturday Evening Post. So far as I can tell, none of the cartoons in this book had been published previously.

The above cartoon, with the fellow doing the double-take, exhibits Roy's animation drawing ability. The fellow's left leg, jutting out, askew, is a nice touch. (Dig the pedestal ash tray.)

What's interesting is that none of the cartoons are signed. Every gag cartoonist from the period signed their work. I liked the above gag a lot.

A lot of his gags depend on his drawing ability. The bold lines would be a big plus in today's market where print cartoons are usually shrunk mercilessly.

Like I said, some of the gags are just odd.

... And some are prescient today. Again: the clothing, the doorway -- these are all the clues to where we are -- something we must know to get the cartoon.

What an evil grin on the policeman's face!

Related: Roy Williams risque cartoons at Arflovers.

-- Originally published 4/9/08.

Thursday, November 20, 2014


NEW CARTOON LAUGHS, a Fawcett Gold Medal Book (you can tell because there's a little drawing of a gold medal that they gave themselves with the 60 cent price in the corner), is a 1970 collection of gag cartoons that originally appeared in TRUE Magazine. Virgil "VIP" Partch draws the "Your place or mine?" cartoon cover of this naughty tome. Contents copyright 1970 by Fawcett Publications, Inc.

Here's VIP with a multi-panel cartoon:

Sid Harris's washes are so painterly:

Chon Day's cartoons are some of my favorites. His clean line style is his trademark.

VIP has a number of these "wandering in the desert" cartoons in the book.

Ed Arno is another master of line and shape.

The look of serious purpose on the bear's face in this great Don Orehek cartoon made me laugh out loud.

An early Sam Gross special! One of my favorite cartoons of his.

And here's Geroge Booth with another one of my favorites.

Jack Tippit's cartoon maybe would not be published today.

Gallagher poses a usurpation of the power structure at Camp Wah Ha Nee Nok!

Bill Hoest had a wonderful way with wash -- and he could draw cute cartoon girls. He was a favorite of Hugh Hefner's.

Chon Day with a gag that shows us that some things do not change!

Brian Savage with a particularly pointed barb.

I'm closing with Chon Day, since I laughed out loud at this one!

-- From November 9, 2011