Sunday, January 31, 2016

CRASH! BANG! BOOM! The Wild Sounds of Treg Brown

Great short documentary on the man who brought you all those sound effects from the Warner Brothers cartoons. So many iconic sounds -- from the Road Runner to Bugs Bunny. Wow!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Bad Drawings in THE HIPPO and THE EDGE

Here are two of this week's free weekly papers here in the Northeast: The Hippo and The Edge. Both feature caricatures. The Hippo (top; yes, that's its real name) has them on the cover and The Edge (bottom) has some on an interior page. They are drawn by two different men. That's nice. It's good to NOT have a photo as usual. The rotten thing is that the drawings are badly executed.

I mean, really. Look at them. Maybe these might do as roughs, but for an editor to go with these as finishes is praising bad drawings.

I'm very unhappy about the work here. I'm not mentioning their names, but I suppose they are easy to figure out. Both are local artists who have worked in this area. But both have produced some bad drawings this week, and the editor went with it and that bothers me.

Maybe they are looking for anyone who will work cheap. Or free.

The Hippo was paying $35 a cover, but most covers are produced in-house using photos which they may or may not pay for.

That second feature, from The Edge, the "Take a guess, win a prize" page is a contest where you, the reader, is asked to guess who the caricature portrays. The small drawing on the left hand side is last week's and the answer is there and, well, gosh darn it, there was no winner. If anyone ever does win, the editor will send the winner "a piece of EDGE swag (a CD or book we've been sent)." So, the prize is something from their review slush pile. Ugh! Talk about cheap.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Don Orehek & "A CRACKED Look at an Unemployment Office"

When people are worried about the future, they look to cultural touchstones for guidance. In this case, look no further than the one and only Don Orehek and his drawings for "A CRACKED Look at an Unemployment Office."

Above is a detail from his gatefold drawing. Just look at those characters. I love Don's work. So expressive, the lines full of the love of drawing.

Ahh, CRACKED. "the World's Humorest Funny Magazine." Remember CRACKED? Above is the cover of CRACKED No. 139, January 1976. Copyright 1976 by Major Magazines Inc. It's an expertly drawn cover by John Severin, who was probably the busiest of the stable of CRACKED artists. His ability to caricature is very much on the mark, without resorting to outlandish visual hyperbole. He did the bulk of the CRACKED cover art for 40 years.

And, below, is "A CRACKED Look at an Unemployment Office," drawn by Don Orehek, with writing by one of the stable of writers at CRACKED. The articles are, unlike MAD, uncredited. Joe Catalano, George Gladir and Bob Rafferty are listed as the writers on the masthead. Click the below to super-size this great work by Don:

And that's not all. If Severin was the busiest artist bee at CRACKED, than Don was absolutely no slouch. He has nine pages in this 52 page issue.

Here are just three samples from one four page feature titled "CRACKED Looks at the World of Superdom."

Above and below, a smartly dressed woman (dig that hat!) has a problem that she has learned to solve.

And we have the below comment on those who put on tights and capes and prance around ....

I really was just going to post the Unemployment gatefold above, but I got carried away by sharing Don's terrific cartoon art.

You can see Don's cartoons regularly in Playboy magazine.

-- An edited version of a January 27, 2009 blog entry.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Comic Strips by Ludwig Bemelmans

Ludwig Bemelmans is now known for his MADELINE series of kids' books. That's a good thing. They are good books. But he wrote and illustrated many books and had gallery shows and wrote and drew articles.

(Above: Bemelmans' studio in 1922, drawn by himself.)

Here are a few visuals I nicked from the terrific bio BEMELMANS: THE LIFE AND ART OF MADELINE'S CREATOR. It was written by his grandson, John Bemelmans Marchiano, with much insight and many, many drawings and paintings by his grandfather. It's copyright Mr. Marciano and published by Viking Press in 1999.

Born in Austria, his home was at his father's hotel in Gmunden. All was quiet until he was six years old. His father suddenly ran off with another woman. Ludwig and his pregnant mother left for Regensberg, Germany. His mother "held me close and wept almost the entire journey from Gmunden to Regensberg."

Ludwig grew up in Germany. He did not fit in. He only spoke French at first. After failing the same grade over and over, he was sent to a boarding school. He was not a good student, but the Rothenberg boarding school tended to pass all of their paying students. The family then tried to get him to learn the hotel business from his uncle. Ludwig went, and "showed little promise." He was sent to several of the uncle's hotels, but each time it was the same: Ludwig Bemelmans was not able to do the job. The family gave him an ultimatum: either go into a correctional institution to go to America.

Christmas Eve 1914 he arrived in NYC. He eventually found a home at the Ritz-Carlton. After a two years in the US Army during the Great War, he had worked his way up to assistant manager.

Here's John Bemelmans Marchiano:

"During his years at the Ritz, Bemelmans' desire to draw intensified, and the hotel provided many excellent models—kitchen workers and waiters, as well as clientele. Bemelmans dreamed of becoming a cartoonist, a career that he thought would allow him to draw and also earn a good living.

An esteemed guest, who lived at the hotel, was a famous cartoonist. He was known for his generosity in tipping and for never looking at a bill. The entire staff from the maîtres d'hôtel to the chambermaids considered him a "gentleman par excellence." Spurred on by a waiter with whom I worked as a bus boy, I decided to become a cartoonist. By 1926, after years of work and countless disappointments, it seemed as if I had achieved my goal. I sat up in the cupola of the old World building with a group of funnymen: Webster, Milt Gross, Ernie Bushmiller, and Haenigsen. Walter Berndt, who drew "Smitty" in the Daily News, helped me a great deal. There was constant laughter in that cupola.

Unfortunately, there were so many complaints about my strip, which was called "Count Bric a Brac," that after six months, during which no syndicate had picked it up, I was fired. It was a bitter time, for I had to go back to the Ritz; and the old cashiers and the maîtres d'hôtel said, "Ah, Monsieur Bemelmans, who felt himself too good for this dirty trade, is back again. Tiens, tiens [Well, well]."

The comic strips, COUNT BRIC-A-BRAC, which ran a full page in magazine section of the New York World in 1926, and SILLY WILLY, which also ran for a year in Young America magazine, were not successes. He did do advertising work and sold gag cartoons to, among others, the Saturday Evening Post. MADELINE would come along a little later. 

If you are at all interested in Bemelmans' life and art, I recommend this book highly. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

PICK-A-RIDDLE Illustrations by Quentin Blake

PICK-A-RIDDLE (an abridged edition of RIDDLES, RIDDLES, EVERYWHERE) written by Ennis Rees, and illustrated by the British illustrator Quentin Blake, was bought in a second-hand store in Maine. It's a well-loved collection of silly/punny rhyming riddles with some amazing drawings. It's copyright 1964 by the Scholastic Book Services.

While I liked the riddles, it's Quentin Blake's illustrations that made me want this book. Each gives you a clue to the solution of the riddle and they are all drawn so freely, so casually -- and so well. You can see why Blake, at the age of 83 as of this writing, is still working.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Some Platinum Carbon Fountain Pen Sketches

Some goofy sketches made this months. Just doodles really. Rina Piccolo suggested I try a new pen and so I did. Here are a series of drawings that I have kicked out.

Just drawing and putting down lines without really thinking about what the finished product may be is a great way of experimenting. This is a super fine Platinum Carbon Desk Pen. It's an economical (around US$15) fountain pen, light and responsive. The ink is waterproof and (Rina tells me, I haven't tried it myself) will take on a watercolor wash over it without a smear.

Friday, January 22, 2016

The National Cartoonists Society Berndt Toast Gang 50th Anniversary Gallery Opening at the Society of Illustrators Wednesday January 20, 2016

NYC: I was honored to be part of the Berndt Toast Gang's 50th anniversary this past Wednesday night at the Society of Illustrators. The Berndt Toast Gang is the nickname for the National Cartoonists Society's Long Island Chapter. Adrian Sinnott, chair of the Gang, put the event together. There were many cartoonists in attendance. Here are a few photos from the evening.

Adrian Sinnott says a few words. That's Roberta Fabiano, who provided the music for the evening.

Love Adrian's tie!

Ed Steckley, Sam Gross, Heather Steckley, Arnie Levin, and Suzan Haeni of the Art League of Long Island.

My original hanging in the Society of Illustrators. Above and to the right, originals by the great Frank Springer and Garrett Bender.

Arnie Roth, me and Tom Stemmle

Pauline Goldberg, Tom Stemmle

Dionne and George Booth

Sy Barry is The Phantom!

Sandy Kossin, Sy Barry

John Reiner, Sandy Kossin

Jim Salicrup and Marc Bilgrey

John Reiner and Bunny Hoest

The exhibit was in honor of Jeff Fisher (1955-2014). Amanda Reilly and Jill Napolitano were two of his former students who attended.

George Booth draws.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

NYC: Berndt Toast Gang Anniversary Gallery Show at the Society of Illustrators

If you are in NYC, the illustrious Berndt Toast Gang chapter of the National Cartoonists Society is having it 50th anniversary show at the Society of Illustrators. The gallery show is thru the end of February. I am honored to be part of the Gang.

I'll be at the reception on Wednesday, January 20, 1966. While it's open to the public, you gotta RSVP ASAP and there is a fee to come. Hope to see some of you there!

Until then, this blog will be on hiatus.