Friday, May 29, 2015

Mike Peters and Drawing Board Dread

When I was at the 100th anniversary of King Features event a week ago, Mike Peters told a great story about when he sold his Mother Goose and Grimm strip -- a very happy moment -- and then realized he had to draw a comic strip a day, every day. And he was already an award winning editorial cartoonist. What did he have to prove?!

Now he had twice the work.

The way he told it, he was lying in bed, first thing in the morning, filled with dread. How was he going to come up with the requisite hundreds of funny ideas a year? How was he going to make the time?

He called Doug Marlette. Doug was an editorial cartoonist and he was also drawing his syndicated comic strip Kudzu. How did Doug manage to do it?

Mike explained his problem: he had to write, pencil and ink a strip or two a day. And it would be relentless. And, if the strip was successful, it could go on for the rest of Mike's life. How did Doug do this day after day?

Like I said, he was filled with dread. Just teeming with dread.

Doug said it was like brushing your teeth. You don't walk into the bathroom and moan that you have to brush this morning and then again  that night, and then twice tomorrow and tomorrow and on and on forever. You just brush and you don't think about it.

So, just go to the board and get going. Don't dread it, just draw.

I am sure that Mike told this much better than I did just now.

Sometimes, half the battle is just getting the pencil and paper out in the first place.

(Written on my phone while waiting for a car repair. This is the first time I've done a whole blog entry from my phone! I was dreading doing this, but it worked out OK.)

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Hallmark Shoebox Greeting Card Meeting

Here's the Hallmark Shoebox Greeting Card staff having a meeting. It does not go well.

Video: Comic Books in Canada: Sex, Violence and the Modern Comic Book

Archival Video Time: Here's a 13 minute CBC News feature from Apr 11, 1988: "A new generation of alternative comics sparks criticism and a call for government censorship."

Video: Canada's First Comic Book Store

Archival Video Time: Here's a CBC News feature from May 29, 1970 in which "Captain" George Henderson talks about his recently opened comic book store in Toronto and the fledgling community of collectors populating it.

Video: Bob Bindig

Cartoonist and comics historian Bob Bindig (1920-2007) gives an hour-ling interview originally recorded May 15, 2007.

Bob may be best known for his ten year stint on the Big Boy restaurant chain of comic books.

This video was recorded six months before his death.

Thanks to the New York State Military Museum for posting this.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Some Photos From the 69th Annual National Cartoonists Society Reuben Awards Weekend

Here are a few photos of some of the cartoonists at the 2015 Reubens.

Mort Drucker had a panel with John Reiner hosting. That's him on the left. And Mr. Drucker, Nick Meglin and Sam Viviano.

Our private bus to the Library of Congress got lost, so a lot of us were late to the King Features' 100th anniversary event.

Once at the LoC, we did get to see some wonderful original comic strip art culled from the Art Wood collection.

 SKIPPY by Percy Crosby

 POLLY AND HER PALS by Cliff Sterrett

The above is the original patent request by Richard Outcault for THE YELLOW KID!

Ray Alma, Anton Emdin, Sophie and Jason Chatfield

"Mr. King  Features" Joe D'Angelo and Bunny Hoest

Kerry G. Washington and the one and only Ray Billingsley.

My dear friends Margie and Mark Anderson.

My talented friend Juana Medina and myself.

That's Mo Willems and Patrick McDonnell. Sorry to say I am blanking on the very nice woman in the middle! 

Michael Ramirez and Guy Gilchrist. 

Rachel Kochman, Larry Katzman and Charlie Kochman.

Alex and Ken Krimstein.

Love it! The title of Mark Anderson's presentation: "I Don't Know, Give It a Try, See What Happens." 

Roz Chast had to be in Chicago, and could not be in DC for the Reubens festivities. She prerecorded an acceptance speech which was sweet and funny. She began by thanking cartoonist Bill Woodman for his description of the "blazing field of white," describing the blank sheet of paper. 

And, finally, I'll close with this graphic from the C and J Portsmouth-to-NYC Bus graphic which seems to concern BREAKING BAD's Walter White's bathroom habits. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The 69th Annual National Cartoonists Society Reuben Awards Weekend

I'll be there for a while.

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, then I'll have updates and photos.

The blog may be quiet during the holiday weekend.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Video: Juana Medina

The Politics and Prose Bookstore has a video of my friend and illustrator and writer Juana Medina. She talks about her process, and her upcoming autobiographical book. She's one of my favorite people in the industry, and this was my first chance to see her in her own studio, talking about what she does.

You might know her from her tweets and Facebook postings, where she puts a natural object on her drawing paper and then makes an amazing image with ink around it. Like this:

Here's the short interview with Juana Medina as posted by the Politics and Prose people:

She did the illustrations for SMICK, a new picture book from Penguin by Doreen Cronin:

Go buy a copy. I did!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

First Australian Animation: Cartoons of the Moment (1915)

Here's a animated short, "Cartoons of the Moment," by newspaper cartoonist and caricaturist Harry Julius (1885-1938). It's from the Australasian Gazette newsreel. This clip is silent. 
This collection of eight cartoons stretch between January to June 1915. All items concern the First World War, and as any evidence of exactly when they were screened is hard to come by, we can estimate a date on the basis of the news reports that Harry Julius may have consulted. The cartoons are not in chronological order but rather the in the order in which the NFSA received them.
The "Cartoons of the Moment" cartoons were the first Australian animation.

Video: Malaysian Cartoonist Zunar in Conversation with Martin Rowson

Malaysian cartoonist Zunar talks with cartoonist Martin Rowson about his work and trial on nine charges under Malaysia's sedition act.

Monday, May 18, 2015

MAD MEN: The Cartoons on Peggy Olson's Wall

It's so nice when you have a problem and someone just comes along and fixes it without you saying a thing.

On MAD MEN that there were these single panel cartoons on the wall of Peggy's office, but I could never get a good enough look at 'em to see what they were.

Ooh! It was quietly driving me crazy. Okay, granted: this is a pretty minor problem.

Enter New Yorker cartoonist Joe Dator.

Joe not only did a great screen capture of those cartoons (above), but he also IDed the cartoons and writes about them at Michael Maslin's Inkspill blog. 

He got four of the eight cartoons. They are all from February and March 1969 New Yorker issues. The others were most likely from another magazine of the time and are not readily identifiable.

William Steig

Dana Fradon:

Dana Fradon:

 Warren Miller:

Friday, May 15, 2015

Thanks For Your Orders!

Now shipping! $5.99 worldwide!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

On Sale Now: RACONTEUR #7

Now available: a the new issue of RACONTEUR! Only $5.99 worldwide.

Here's the button:

24 pages of true stories by cartoonists.

There are four cartoonist telling comic book style stories.

Who's in the issue:

Mark Anderson!

John Klossner!

Mike Lynch!

Michael Maslin!

Rina Piccolo!

24 pages, color gatefold cover (by me, Mike Lynch).

These sell out fast!

Early Jimmy Hatlo

Ger Apeldoorn shows us some very early Jimmy Hatlo efforts.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Lost Comic Strip Plays

Ads for "Bringing Up Father in Ireland," another play that isn't anywhere to read. Is it lost?

Allan Holtz at his always excellent Stripper's Guide blog (racy name, but it's all about the funny pages) talks about plays based on comic strips today. Specifically, a lost play that combined many, many comic strip characters titled "The Zander-Gump Wedding."

Like a number of other plays based on the funnies, the plays are not readily available.

Allan Holtz:

"This got me to thinking about all the comic strip-based plays and revues that were traveling the country back in the 1900s and 1910s. I have seen lots of ads for Mutt and Jeff and Bringing Up Father productions that circulated, and many others as well. What ever happened to the scripts for these productions, I wonder?"

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

E.B White: Writer, Editor and … Cartoonist

Back in the 1920s, when the little magazine that was bankrolled by Fleischmann's Yeast was a mere fledgling, E.B. White was known as a writer and an editor there. The magazine was, of course, The New Yorker, and E.B. White helped set the kind of style and tone of it.

He was also the cartoon tinkerer; writing and thinking up cartoons for the cartoonists (along with the able assist of his friend James Thurber). For instance, cartoonist Carl Rose drew the picture, but it was E.B. White who captioned this famous cartoon in the December 8, 1928 issue:

"It's broccoli, dear."
"I say it's spinach, and I say the hell with it."

But you knew all that. What I didn't know (or maybe I knew once and then just forgot) was that Mr. White drew a cover of the magazine about seven years into its existence. His cover is at the top. Look for the "EBW" in the corner. Michael Maslin's Inkspill blog shows us that April 23, 1932 cover -- as well as an armed forces edition of essays with the cover reprinted (in an unflattering black and white).

E.B. White: renaissance man.

Video: "The Carbonite Maneuver" A STAR TREK/STAR WARS Mashup

A fun STAR WARS/STAR TREK mashup by SonOfSpork:

Hat tip to Blastr. 

Monday, May 11, 2015


Here are some great old-timey style animations of some classic heroes by Rob Pratt, producer/director/animator extraordinaire. Take a look at this Superman animated short (it won third place in the 2011 Superman Celebration Fan Film Competition), and see if it doesn't radiate some modern day Fleischer-ness. Here's "Superman Classic:"

Here's the follow up, "Superman Classic: Bizarro." Rob Pratt comes in at about 2:14 to talk about his work.

"Flash Gordon Classic" is his latest, just released this month. More classic animation and more fun. And, Mr. Pratt shows up at about 3:53 to talk about traditional animation, his love for Flash Gordon and an invitation to contact him with questions about the production:

The "Flash Gordon Classic" pencil test:

There are 3D versions of the Superman shorts at Rob Pratt's YouTube page.

Big thanks to Christopher Mills for this!

New Yorker Cartoonist Matt Diffee on NPR

"After several rejections, Diffee stopped trying to sell this cartoon to The New Yorker. Then his mom talked him into one last try."

Matt Diffee is interviewed on NPR and he talks about how hard it is to sell a cartoon to The New Yorker, saying, "90% rejection is doing good."

Go read and/or listen here.

Personal note: that Diffee cartoon has been on my Dad's fridge for years. 

Happy Birthday, Irving Berlin

Friday, May 08, 2015

Video: Brian Duffy

Editorial cartoonist Brian Duffy and the crew of the TV show Great Day on KCWI 23 cartoon:

David Horsey: Understanding Insight: Humor, Inspiration, and the Creative Process


Thursday, May 07, 2015

Surprise Doodle for Next EconoLodge Guest

Wilkes-BArre, PA: I left a doodle for the next person at the Econo Lodge. You see, they have this nice little booklet thingy with ruled lines in it ….

Winsor McCay: The DREAMS OF A RAREBIT FIEND Short Films





Wednesday, May 06, 2015

GREETINGS, DEARIE! Paul Coker, Jr. and Greeting Cards

Here's an odd little 1962 paperback titled GREETINGS, DEARIE! (A CONNOISSEUR'S COLLECTION OF HUMOR FROM HALLMARK CONTEMPORARY CARDS). It's a paperback collection Hallmark cards, produced and edited by Hallmark and copyright that same year by Hallmark.

The juxtaposition of the red cover and black ink makes it look crummy so far as my Canon scanner is concerned. In real life, the cover is very readable. The drawing in the upper right is of a nebbishy fellow in a top hat in a bubble bath perusing what looks like a greeting card. The column of text reads:

"This being an [sic] truly timeless eternal utterly unforgettable (yes) collection of more that 100 and fifty of the absolutely funniest Hallmark Contemporary Cards, many of which have never been seen before (or since)" 

and, then, in small print in the bottom, right-hand corner is the word "Yes!"

Dean Norman, in his book STUDIO CARDS: FUNNY GREETING CARDS AND PEOPLE WHO CREATED THEM, is the only reference book I know of about this subject.

Me? All I knew about Hallmark's Contemporary Card line is that Paul Coker was the Art Director. Mr. Norman's book concurs.

Above: a card by Paul Coker, Jr. 

I knew Coker's work from MAD Magazine, and I was always fascinated by his distinctive clean yet jerky coffee-nerves pen line.

Greeting cards that were funny was a new idea. Before these post-war funny cards, Hallmark's best selling card was this:

"Pansies always stand for thoughts
At least that's what folks say,
So this just comes to show my thoughts
Are there with you today" 

Uh ... yeah. Squaresville, daddio.

Here's a snippet from a 2006 interview with Dean Norman by Pamela Zoslov from the Cleveland Free Times (and that's also where I snagged the pansies poem above):

"I never dreamed of doing greeting cards," says Norman, now 70 and retired from a 30-year career working for the two greeting-card giants, Hallmark and American Greetings. By the time he graduated from the University of Iowa in 1956, general-interest magazines like The Saturday Evening Post, Look and Collier's were folding, and the once-lucrative market for freelance cartoons was drying up. Fortunately, executives at Hallmark spotted a cartoon series Norman drew for his college newspaper, and offered him a job. "I kept thinking someday I'd break into newspapers. I never did," he says, laughing. 

Norman came into the industry at an interesting time. Greeting cards, once limited to sentiments like "Pansies always stand for thoughts/At least that's what folks say,/So this just comes to show my thoughts/Are there with you today" (one of Hallmark's all-time best-sellers) were beginning to reflect the subversive Cold War humor of the 1950s. Comedians like Mort Sahl, Bob Newhart, Ernie Kovacs and Lenny Bruce, and publications like Mad Magazine, were lampooning the uptight post-Sputnik culture with irreverent, sardonic humor. Hallmark, the very traditional Kansas City company that practically invented the greeting card, created its Studio department to tap into the emerging zeitgeist. They hired creative, offbeat artists and writers to produce funny cards with a modern twist.

These silly, raucous cards may have reflected a bit of the non-mainstream, pointed humor of Mort Sahl or Lenny Bruce, but the fact is that they were being offered to the great Wonderbread heartland of America. And the heartland voted with its wallet.

Here's Mr. Norman from the introduction to his STUDIO CARDS book:

There were few funny greeting cards before 1946. OK, if you were born after 1946, that's ancient history. But, consider this -- in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, there were lots of funny radio shows, funny movies, funny books and funny cartoons in magazines and newspapers. So why was there so little good cartooning in greeting cards? 

Mr. Coker, again, with another reminder of the time is how funny drinking was! Would these would sell today?!

Coker and Norman were both Midwestern boys, so maybe they knew, somewhere deep down, that America was ready for antisocial, hostile and shocking humor in its greeting cards.

From the GREETINGS, DEARIE! introduction:

Sentimentality is absent in these cards and in this humor. But sentiment is always present. Strong feelings about certain this -- including the right way to express one's feelings in greeting cards -- have made this style of humor almost as popular in some quarters as the funnies and cartoons are in others. 

The introduction to GREETINGS, DEARIE! is credited to "The Editors of Hallmark Cards." Unfortunately, the editors do not give page by page credits to the writer(s) and artists(s) of the contents.

Above: another by Paul Coker. I love that pile of beer cans, all at different angles.

Coker graduated from the University of Kansas in 1951. He drew advertising cartoons for the paper, but never drew cartoons or comic strips for them. He didn't believe in doing free work. Advertisers paid, the student paper did not.

Above: Coker again, with a groaner. But I like this groaner. And it's funny if you never heard it.

I like the little puff of a zoom cloud below right as the patron zips away from the barstool, and the teary expression and waving of the dainty dish rag from the bartender just makes this one a terrific, characterful drawing!

There are a lot of cards reproduced in GREETINGS, DEARIE! and this is a small sample from one section that dealt with drinking as a funny topic, as if you didn't know by this point in the blog entry.

There's so much material in the book, and so much information that I didn't know, that I think I'll revisit the topic in future. I never considered the history of greeting cards.

Mr. Norman's book, without which I would have no context for these scans, is self-published. From the Amazon page:

Unable to find a publisher willing to even look at his manuscript, Norman decided to go the self-publishing route, investing his own money to have the book printed. "I figured even if I didn't sell any books, I can afford it; I'm retired now. I may lose [money], but no one else is going to write this book. And the people I write about are so pleased to have the stories told."

And there is a book titled COLLEGE CARTOONS that has more great self published cartoons by Dean Norman, Frank Interlandi and Richard A. Watson -- BUT that book seems to have disappeared from its publisher's site.

-- Edited from a blog entry dated July 8, 2008.