Friday, July 31, 2015

UPDATED Cartoonist Ted Rall Fired by Los Angeles Times Speaks Out

Background: An investigation has been requested into the firing of Ted Rall, whether the LA Times and LAPD obtained the tape of his jaywalking stop illegally and whether the publisher (who is reportedly running for LA mayor) and LA police chief Beck colluded in any illegal activity leading to the ouster.

Ted Rall: LAPD Convinced LA Times To Fire Me After I Criticized Cops [exclusive]

UPDATE 8:44am: A New Domain files this story:

Ted Rall-LAPD-LATimes Battle: New Tape Proves Cops Lied [exclusive]

There is also a petition to reinstate Ted Rall at the LA Times where you can sign your name. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Home for Puff

It was late winter when I left some food out for a wild cat darting around our woods. Within a month of me leaving the food out, she was purring and letting me pet her and generally hanging out on the porch, washing herself. She wasn't wild, she was just a stray. She was a pretty thing, and someone had obviously loved her before she became homeless.

And then one day she appeared at the door with two tiny kittens. Two little powder puffs.

I was horrified.

Within a week, one of them had permanently disappeared. And a couple weeks after that, the mother cat, who had been a very good mom  -- inexplicably -- rejected her remaining kitten. It was terrible. She would hiss and growl at him and not let him near her. Maybe the little guy was getting bigger and she saw him as a rival for her food. Maybe she was sick. I just don't know. She then left.

We became the little kitten's new parents and he bonded with us and wanted to play and be let in the house. Such a cutie.

But we already have 4 indoor cats in the house and four is plenty. I know. They told me with their eyes.

So, yesterday, I took the kitten, which we nicknamed "Puff," to the vet. It was the first time he was ever inside anywhere!

He was very good at the vet, but a little scared. At one point he crawled on my shoulder to the back of my neck and gave me a bath, purring away. He is a sweetie, what can I say?

He got a clean bill of health. The vet was also able to tell me that he was a he. I didn't know for sure. Puff is very fluffy down there, you see.

And then we drove Puff to the far side of Manchester to meet the woman who had written that she "would love to have a kitten" on her Craigslist ad.

We gave her Puff and the vet paperwork and Puff's little brush and away they went last night. Puff will be safe and loved and not have to be afraid of thunder, fast cars or foxes.

It was bittersweet.

The mama cat has come back. She needs to be trapped and have that TNR thing done.

We will miss Puff very much.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Lost Recording: James Swinnerton Interview


 1932 photo of Swinnerton at his desk from the fotosdecomics blog. 

James Swinnerton (1875-1974) was one of the early giants of American cartooning. Four years before THE YELLOW KID, Swinnerton was drawing a little bear on the San Francisco Examiner every day. The bear cub became a hit and the Examiner's owner, William Randolph Hearst, asked "Swin" to move to New York to join his New York World bullpen, which included Tad Dorgan, George McManus, George Herriman and others.

Swinnerton created a lot of characters and was an early experimenter in comic strip narrative technique. An early success was THE LITTLE TIGERS. The naughty Mr. Jack became his breakout character, and the strip was later renamed for him. His longest running comic was LITTLE JIMMY (1904-1958).

Around 1905, this successful cartoonist was diagnosed with life-threatening tuberculosis. He was told he had a short time to live, and he should move out to the desert, where the air would be better for him. Swinnerton did this -- but he also defied the doctors by living for another 69 years, healthy and productive, continuing cartooning and painting his desert environs.

Below is the background on the 1963 interview and the audio itself. The video has a lot of rare art and certainly begs to be watched full screen:
"In 1963, Milt Kagen arranged for Master Sergeant Percy Brown, Jr. to interview legendary cartoonist Jimmy Swinnerton for a program that was broadcast by shortwave to troops overseas.

"A lifelong comics fan, Mr. Kagen carefully preserved the tapes of that interview and is now making the program available to the public."

OSU site
Coconino County page
Spectatorship and Framing in the Strips
Animation Resources
Illustration Art

-- Edited from a April 12, 2012 blog entry.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Editorial Cartoonist Mike Keefe on Leaving the Denver Post

From 2011, Mike Keefe talks about winning the Pulitzer and accepting a buyout from the Denver Post, a newspaper that he worked on for 35 years.

"Nobody is replacing anybody" when it comes to editorial cartoonists, so says Mr. Keefe.

Monday, July 27, 2015

British Movietone Short Film: Cartoonist Rowland Emett "Lunar Cycle"

Cartoonist and inventor extraordinary, Rowland Emett, enters the space race with a new method of moon transport. The "Lunacycle" may not get into orbit, but for sheer invention it matches your Apollos and Sputniks.

Related: British Pathé Short Film: Cartoonist Rowland Emett at Home (1963)

Friday, July 24, 2015

Aaron Fine Travel Posters

A while ago I posted about Aaron Fine, who wrote and illustrated a 1955 children's book PETER PLANTS A POCKETFUL. Mr. Fine's graphic style blew me away and I bought the used book at a Maine thrift store as soon as I saw it. Here's the cover page:

Rodrigo Baeza posted a comment about Mr. Fine on the above link:

Thanks for posting this, Mike. I found some additional info about Aaron Fine: it seems he's better known for his posters for Pan American airlines (some of these can be found on Tumblr and/or Pinterest), that he was a friend of Andy Warhol, and that he died of cancer in 1962.

Thanks, Rodrigo! Here are some of his posters:

Just stunning work!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Joe Phillips: Classic Hollywood Stars as Superheroes

Comic book artist Joe Phillips imagines old time Hollywood stars in superhero movies in this fun series of images. See Comics Alliance for the whole set. 

Yeah, okay: one nitpick: It's Carole Lombard, NOT "Lombart."

If the Moon Was Replaced with Some of Our Planets

From Yeti Dynamics: What if there were other planets out there, orbiting the Earth, instead of the good ol' moon? It would look something like this:

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Have a Good Week

I'll be away for a short time. Hope you are having a good time and not spending too much of your summer in front of a screen.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Video: Chuck Jones - The Evolution of an Artist

An analysis of Chuck Jones' technique as a Warner Brothers shorts animator by YouTuber Every Frame a Painting.

To see the names of the films, press the CC button and select “Movie Titles.”

Video: Toronto Star Cartoonist Theo Moudakis "Bring the 2024 Olympics to Rob Ford’s Toronto"

Video: 1981 John Candy Interview

An early 1980s interview with John Candy, filmed at his home in a Toronto suburb. Part of the "That's Life" series.

Thursday, July 16, 2015


Hello Dollinks! Here are a few hi res scans from the tiny KATZENJAMMER KIDS paperback collection of Sunday strips by Joe Musial. It's copyright 1970 by King Features.

THE KATZENJAMMER KIDS were created by Rudolph Dirks who, at William Randolph Hearst's request, nicked them from the German cartoon MAX AND MORITZ. 

"The strip relates in the frenzied style the war-to-the-death carried on by Hans and Fritz against any form of authority, whether parental, educational, or governmental."

I had this paperback when I was a kid and studied it. It was lost and so, last week, I bought a copy off of eBay. Such wonderful manic writing and terrific cartooning by Musial. Reading it now for the first time since I was nine years old, I was surprised at how many of the gags I remembered. 

Obviously, these are great fun (if not politically correct) to read out loud. 

That last panel, where Hans and Fritz kiss with a "smak!!" is funny and chilling and perverse at the same time.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

New "Bloom County" Comic Strips by Berke Breathed? Yes, Please!

"Bloom County" is back and creator Berke Breathed is drawing it. Michael Cavna has the story at the Washington Post. 

And Rachel Maddow, a "child of the 80s," celebrates the return of her favorite strip in the first five minutes of her MSNBC show on Monday, July 13, 2015.

John Candy, Rick Moranis, Catherine O’Hara, Dave Thomas and More Cast and Crew in 1982 ‘SCTV’ Cast/Crew Softball Game

Just discovered by John Candy's widow -- and now shared with all.

The Garden As of July 15, 2015

Bigger and bushier than when I last posted, two weeks ago.

The squash is coming in nicely.

Above and below: lots of leaves and tiny, tiny tomatoes as of now.

Nice to have a small first yield of squash and cucumber:

Okay, let's close with some flower pictures:

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


Some selected drawings from the children's book PETER PLANTS A POCKETFUL, written and drawn by Aaron Fine. It's copyright 1955 by the Oxford University Press. As you can see, this is from an old, discarded well-loved library book. I bought it for a dollar at a thrift store in Maine. What an old kids book from a San Bernadino, CA elementary school is doing at the other end of the country some sixty years later, I don’t know. But I was glad to discover it.

STORY: Peter and his family, for reasons not spelled out in the story, has to move three blocks away from his old house. (It could be eminent domain, but I am just supposing.) Now, before that happens, he plants the title “pocketful of seeds.” His old house is demolished. The seasons pass. Winter comes and goes. A concrete playground is poured on the grounds of Peter’s former house. And, workmanship being what it is in a contract-goes-to-the-lowest-bidder public works matter (Perhaps a topic for another book in the Peter series.), a crack appears. You can see it right there next to the teeter totter.

Turns out it’s a sunflower, left over from Peter’s planting of a year ago. Oh, and, “many, many weeds – a whole pocketful!”

Aaron Fine did a wonderful job on the look of this book, like I said. Each one of theses pages is an outstanding graphic, created in two tones. But, then I started looking for more about Aaron Fine. There is nothing on the Internet about him or about other books or other art that I could find.

I would be glad to discover that I am wrong, though!

My scans of the gatefold are incomplete. Sorry about that.

Monday, July 13, 2015

A Week in the Life of Sandra Boynton

The Wall Street Journal has "A Week in the Life of Sandra Boynton," in which the beloved cartoonist/illustrator/bon vivant tells us about "judgmental cows, soulful ducks and perfect children."

"To most of the world, it is 2015. But for all waking hours of the past three weeks, I’ve been wandering adrift in 2017. I have calendars due. Three of them. I usually do just two a year—a wall calendar and a desk planner—but for reasons I cannot now reconstruct, I allowed my publisher to convince me that what humanity will surely need, come January 2017, is a Page-A-Day calendar by me. 
"It turns out 2017 will have 365 days. Why didn’t they tell me this? That means 365 pieces of art. A few days ago, I lazily/cannily realized that I can group the Saturdays and Sundays into unified weekend pages, so that knocked it down to 313. 
"Now, many hours and much internal debate later—How many cartoon pigs are too many cartoon pigs in any given year? Should I include Static Electricity Day?—I count my finished pages. There are still 137 blank days."

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

No Time to Blog

I have to go teach cartoon class!

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Who Drew This?

I saw this large framed cartoon in a Maine antique store. I asked the owner about it. She said she got it "from a picker out west."

The style is confident and loose. Looks like the work of an old pro.

The text at the bottom left:

"I'm not marching"
"the Okie from Muskogee"

On the right hand side you can see a signature and the call letters for KQED, the San Francisco educational TV channel.

The cartooning looks like it may be in the 1960s ad house style. I cannot make out the signature. Banin? Bania?

Any guesses?

Open these images in a new window for very large pictures.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Dick Hodgins, Jr. Remembers Leonard Starr

Dick Hodgins sent me an email with a heartfelt remembrance of the late Leonard Starr. With his permission, here it is:

Leonard Starr's passing came as such sad news.

In addition to being a marvelous artist and brilliant writer, he was a compassionate soul.
Combine that with a high sense of humor and wide desire for cultural endeavors and you've got Leonard. 
My son Richard worked at the Westport studio Len shared with Stan Drake, another comics legend. 
In the early 70's, working from photos, Len cast me in his strip "On Stage" as "Mr. Quakers" the host of a kids television show. I continually delight in the craftsmanship of that series.
At the time I was doing "Half Hitch" for Hank Ketcham working from my studio also in Westport, which resulted in lunching with Stan and Len. Great lunches filled with shop-talk, ribald humor and simply good times. 
Brilliantly creating a show business strip, Leonard himself was a class act.

Friday, July 03, 2015

The Garden As of Early July

Okay, I should have moved the lawnmower before taking the above photo of the raised beds of vegetables. Honestly, nine years of doing this blog and I still don't know how to do it right!

Here's the squash, above.

A couple of beds of tomatoes. I think there are 22 plants. And in the far left, a small bed of green peppers and cucumbers.

Above: about a zillion sunflowers coming up under the bird feeder. Hmm. We'll see what happens …

Lots of raspberries in the backwoods. Seems like twice as many as in previous years. They'll be ready in August.

And now, the flower show: