Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Great Ham Caper

My wife, Stacy, wrote a poem way back in Christmas 2006. It's about us and our cats, Rufus and Sam.

Her poem was got some serious Web traffic, and it's been rerun annually since. Since we moved we have adopted a few more cats.

This year, it's bittersweet since Rufus died on December 5th of this month. It was cancer and there was nothing we could have done. He had a wonderful life. He adored Stacy, who tamed him from a wild cat from the big city to a sweet, round, purring house cat. He had no idea he was on the Internet, of course.

For auld lang syne, here is the poem again, starring our two cats from Brooklyn, Rufus and Sam:

The Great Ham Caper

Words by Stacy Lynch
Pictures by Mike Lynch

’Twas the week before Christmas
When Rufus and Sam
Hatched a devious scheme
To make off with the ham!

The ham that would grace
The holiday table!
Roo was the brains.
Sam, wiry and able.

They devised a plan
Of Goldbergian proportions
With pulleys and weights
And kitty contortions.

And on Christmas day
They’d eat until stuffed
(The very idea
Made their tails slightly puffed!)

’Til then, they’d lay low,
Little angels to see.
But that made us suspicious –
Wouldn’t you be?

So we snooped and we sleuthed
And uncovered their caper -
“The Ham-Stealing Plan”
Diagrammed on a paper!

“No silly cat’s gonna
Steal my roast beast,”
Exclaimed Mike. “Just watch,
I’ll ruin their feast!”So he countered their scheming
With mad plans all his own
And all I could do
Was inwardly groan!

Who’d win this contest
Of wits they were planning?
Would Mike, Roo or Sam -
Be last man or cat standing?

As Christmas day dawned
The four of us waited
For the ham to be served
With breaths that were bated.

But before the main course
Could even be plated
Their plans took a turn.
Some say it was fated...

What happened to stop them
So cold in their tracks?
Why, cat-nip and husb-nip
(in big canvas sacks)Was all that it took
To stop their foul warring.
And they rolled and purred
And drooled on the flooring.And as long as I kept
My fingers and toes
Away from a hubby and two cats
In nip’s throes -
My own Christmas day
Turned out merry and calm;
The ham moist and succulent,
The champagne, a balm.

When they “awoke”,
hostilities abated,
We all ate some ham
And went to bed sated.

And such peace we wish
To you and to yours:
An end to fighting;
An end to wars.

Happy Holidays!

Mike and Stacy and Rufus and Sam

UPDATE: and, the "new" cats: Dexter and Dropcloth and Fergus.

Happy Holidays, everyone.

It's time to be with family. So, this blog will be quiet for a time. I'll see you soon.

Children's Digest Adaptation: "The Mellops Strike Oil" by Tomi Ungerer

This February 1965 issue of Choldren's Digest had a couple of great things: a cover (no credit given) that made me pick it up, and a Merry Mellops story by Tomi Ungerer.

The Merry Mellops are a family of industrious pigs and in this one, they find oil. Mr. Mellop has the kids do research. For one thing, they look for fossils and take them to the local museum to see if they are the appropriate kind one would find in oil-rich country. And Mr. Mellop goes to the library to figure out how to build an oil derrick. The terrific thing about the story, which is copyright 1958 by Jean Thomas Ungerer, is that it shows a family unafraid of doing new things and tells us how to educate yourself to get these things done the right way.

This is an opportunity to see Mr. Ungerer at the beginning of a great decade of writing and drawing. Please, enjoy.

The reproduction is wanting since it was printed duotone on cheap newsprint nearly 50 years ago.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

NFB Animated Film: "Jaime Lo, Small and Shy" by Lillian Chan

Lillian Chan has a wonderful sense of color and design in this 7:48 short film  "Jaime Lo, Small and Shy" (2006) from the National Film Board of Canada. Pretty much each image can be freeze-framed and studied. I just discovered this and have watched it a couple of times now.  If you are looking for inspiration, Lillian Chan will not disappoint.

British Christmas Comic Posters from Denis Gifford

Here are some covers from "Denis Gifford's famous collection" of Christmas kids' comics from years past. These are terrific examples of some great art by British funny animal-type cartoonists of the 1930s. The book, copyright Mr. Gifford, collects the covers of many of the pre war comics with the aim for your to slice up the book and hang them about your room.

These scans are nice and big, so if you toss them onto a new window ( window on your computer, I mean), you can really see them well. These are all copyright Amalgamated Press.

Roy Wilson, RADIO FUN, 24 December 1938 (No. 11), Amalgamated Press

Roy Wilson, Happy Days, 31 December 1938 (No. 13), Amalgamated Press

 Freddie Compton, PLAYBOX, 24 December 1938 (No.723), Amalgamated Press

John Jukes, THE JOKER MERRY XMAS NUMBER, 2 January 1937 (No. 479). Amalgamated Press

 Freddie Compton, THE SUNBEAM GRAND CHRISTMAS NUMBER, 2 January 1932 (No. 309), Amalgamated Press

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Lowell Hess RIP

American illustrator Lowell Hess, whose work was part of the "Golden Age of American Illustration," died on Wednesday.  I have no details about his age or how he died at this time.

He was born in Oklahoma, went to high school there and then he attended the University of Oklahoma. He was, like so many illustrators, always drawing. 

"When he attended the University of Oklahoma he 'picked up a few covers for the school's humor magazine,' drew humorous depictions of student life for the college dance hall and caricatures at the student carnival. Lowell remembers that 'long after the festivities, I went home and drew funny faces late into the night.'" -- Leif Peng, Today's Inspiration

He married, and then found himself in Europe. He served as an artillery lieutenant in the US Army during WWII from 1942 to 1945. 

After the way, New York City was where he studied. He attended the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, and made the city his new home. 

In the 1950s, he worked hard to get assignments. And he go it, with a client list that included Colliers, Reader's Digest, Time-Life, Golden Books and many others. He drew 22 covers for Boy's Life. 

Photography began to supplant illustrations by the late 1950s. Lowell, like so many great freelance illustrators, found jobs scarce. By the 1960s his own income was, through no fault of his own, starting to dry up.

"After not making a dime for eight months, I told an employment agency in desperation, 'I can work with paper, I can do anything!'" he writes in THE ART OF LOWELL HESS (Dog Ear Publishing, 2011). 

This led to an interview with Graphics3. The interview must have went well, because Lowell became 

"the resident paper engineer and in-house illustrator at a company that specialized in creating pop-up greeting cards called Graphics3. Below are just a few of the many magnificent pop-up cards Lowell designed, engineered and illustrated during the 30 years he worked at Graphics3." --  Leif Peng, Today's Inspiration

Speaking personally ….

I am very sad to hear of Lowell's death. He had a wonderful life, and I know he was much loved by his own family, as well as the illustration community. 

I met him once, at a lunch in Westport, CT in 2006. The occasion was Frank Bolle's birthday. Ron Goulart, Bob Weber (the KIng Features "Moose and Molly" Bob Weber, that is), Orlando Busino and Frank McLaughlin were there. Those guys were all locals, but Lowell had somehow found his way from New Jersey, where his family now lived. 

Lowell was quiet, and I remember I had to ask Orlando twice if that was THE Lowell Hess. It was. Lowell listened to me for a minute and smiled broadly and chatted with me when I told him how much I loved his work -- especially those Boy's Life covers. A gracious gentleman whose skill will always be there for us all to look and wonder at.

The Lowell Hess Web Site
The Lowell Hess Flickr collection (maintained by Leif Peng)
Leif Peng's Today's Inspiration: Lowell Hess: "I had a reputation as an artist with talent."

Friday, December 19, 2014


The cartoon below is super hi-def for your enlarging pleasure.