Monday, February 29, 2016

THE SATURDAY EVENING POST January 2, 1960 Part One

Above: POST regular Henry Syverson draws his "nebbishes"in a different situation each week. If the figures look familiar, it may be due to that famous "You Want it When?" poster.

Here is the first installment of gag cartoons that appeared in THE SATURDAY EVENING POST's January, 2 1960 issue. More anon.

I found this magazine at an antique mall in Laconia, NH.

 And here's a letter from that issue:

Friday, February 26, 2016

Ernst and Saunders, Kelly, Lazarus, Schulz, Walker: "Comic Strips They'd Really Like To Do"

Above: Mort Walker writes and draws an adventure strip for Mad Magazine #89. Looks like he's channeling some Roy Crane here!

Okay, I need to talk about some old cartoonists! You know it's what we usually talk about. Here are some:

From left, counter clockwise (do you really need to know who these guys are?): Mell Lazarus, Mort Walker, Ken Ernst, Charles Schulz, Allen Saunders, and Walt Kelly.

In 1964, MAD Magazine asked top cartoonists to draw their "dream" comic strip for a feature article.

Chaos, obviously, ensued, in the 4 page feature titled "Comic Strips They'd Really Like To Do:"

They are all funny and intriguing, with Mell Lazarus' contribution maybe the most visually arresting. Here's a scan of the original art:

And below is Ernst and Saunders' version PEANUTS, complete with a MARY WORTH cameo:

These three pieces of original art were offered for sale by the Lewis Wayne Gallery in 2009.

I'm not associated with the Gallery. I just thought theses were some unique and (to me) unknown pieces of American cartoon art.

Interestingly, the Schulz piece, was not offered in that auction.

-- An edited version of a February 26, 2009 blog entry.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

How Not to Get an Okay

Gag cartoonist Eli Stein shares some terrific in-house cartoons by Stan Fine -- unseen since the late 1950s, early 1960s. Look Magazine cartoon editor Gurney Williams distributed a broadsheet for cartoonists. This was specifically aimed at the cartoonists that were coming in on "look day," it was:

chock full of cartoon news, stories, gossip and photos. It even had a few running cartoon panels about the funny business of magazine gag cartooning. One panel was “How Not to Get an Okay” by Stan Fine, and another was “The Rat Race” by Jack Tippit.

Go look!

This was, of course, back in the day when cartoonists would appear in person and pitch their gag cartoons directly to the editors. I thought of this this week when I got an email that The New Yorker, which is the only magazine to still have an actual look day. The New Yorker has moved their traditional look day from Tuesdays to Wednesdays as of now.

-- Edited from a June 18, 2007 blog entry.

1974 CBS New Tribute to Jack Benny Hosted by Charles Kuralt

Inking while this great 1974 CBS News tribute to Jack Benny hosted by Charles Kuralt plays in the background. This stuff still makes me LOL.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Sam the Cat Has Taken Over my Light Box

Video: Alison Bechdel and Beth Malone

Cartoonist Alison Bechdel and Broadway actress Beth Malone took a break from skiing in Snowmass, CO to talk about Fun Home—Bechdel’s graphic novel that become a Tony Award-winning musical starring Malone. The pair visited Aspen for the 2016 Winter Words literary series.

Video: Political Cartoonist Scott Stantis

Scott Stantis is interviewed for about an hour for the "Against the Current" web series hosted by Dan Proft.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Seattle, WA: Ellen Forney Creates Murals for Sound Transit

Seattle cartoonist Ellen Forney discusses the process of developing two murals, “Crossed Pinkies” and “Walking Fingers,” for Sound Transit's art program, STart. The two iconic, hand-painted murals greet riders at entrances to the Capitol Hill Station, part of the University Link light rail extension opening March 2016.

Sound Transit’s art program, STart, facilitates the procurement and installation of public art at Sound Transit stations across the Puget Sound region.

TEDxHSG Talk: Philippe Becquelin: The Life of a Cartoonist

From December 2015 in St. Hallen Switzerland, French cartoonist Philippe Becquelin talks about Charlie Hebdo and press freedom. This runs about 14 minutes.

Video: The Political Cartoons of Khalid Albalh

Since the American Revolution, our political cartoonists have tweaked the status quo, helped drive the discussion on critical issues and made us think. Arab cartoonists are no different than their U.S. brethren, except they do it under greater personal risk for they don't have the freedom of speech our country offers. Ms. Isra El-beshir presents a multi-media presentation on the political cartoons of Khalid Albalh, a Sudanese Muslim now living in Qatar.

Monday, February 22, 2016

John Caldwell 1946-2016

Above:  A photo of John Caldwell from Mad Magazine's "Idiot of the Month" feature. John was interviewed in Mad XL #21, June 2003. Doug Gilford has a scan here. 

John Caldwell died on February 21, 2016. The cause was pancreatic cancer. He was 69 years old.

A prolific cartoonist, his client list included the top markets in the industry: Mad Magazine, The New Yorker, Playboy, Harvard Business Review, The Wall Street Journal, Barron's, The National Lampoon and many others.

From the Times Union obituary by Lauren Stanforth:

"A graduate from Hudson Valley Community College who studied at the Parsons School of Design in Manhattan, he was a cartographer at the state Department of Transportation before he moved on to being an advertising illustrator and freelance cartoonist. 
"He joked on his website about how drawing maps for the state was not the creative outlet he desired. 
"'Indeed, you might still find an occasional topographic map of New York showing roads that never existed bearing names like HEY, IT'S ME JOHNNY AVENUE and HOW BORING IS THIS BOULEVARD. There's even a IF I LIVED HERE THIS WOULD BE CALDWELL LANE just north of Rochester,' Caldwell wrote in his online biography. "Realizing, under pressure from supervisors, that drawing maps was not the creative outlet he'd imagined it to be, Caldwell moved on to cartooning, an even more tenuous means of expression.'"

John was, in my mind, the consummate gag cartoonist, whose versatile style and sense of humor fit Mad Magazine as well as The New Yorker. He was a stealth cartoonist. He was someone whose work we all knew and who stayed by his board most of the time, creating his cartoons. He didn't go to many events. Maybe the Mad Magazine Christmas party, or a New Yorker event every once in a while. 

In 2005, he graciously made the trip down to New York City for a cartooning event I helped organize. Although we had chatted on the phone, it was the first time we had met. After a minute of talking shop in person, I felt like we had known each other for years. He was one of the last people to leave, catching a late train to his upstate home. 

We last chatted on the phone in November, when he told me about an editor who was looking for a cartoonist. John usually did this gig, but he told me on the phone that he hadn't been feeling well, and maybe I could do it instead. When I asked what was going on, he poohed-poohed his own bad health and told me about the job, the editor and the pay. He convinced me that he wasn't that sick. Another example of him not being interested in the spotlight. 

I will miss him and we are all the poorer for not having many more John Caldwell cartoons. 

Friday, February 19, 2016

How Do I Start a Blog?

Blog cartoons by me, Mike Lynch, originally appeared in Prospect Magazine (top) and Harvard Business Review (down there).

I was asked in an email "How does one start a blog?" I wrote a short note back, and thought I would share my response here.

I use Blogger because Blogger is free and Blogger blogs appear on Google searches, which draw more people to your blog. 
I began my blog in 2006. Within a few years, it had a reputation as a "go to" place for cartoonists. Lots of people liked it and its presence has helped awareness of who I am and what I do. 
But, look out: there is no equation like "the number of hours I spend doing my blog equals a specific dollar of income." Or, in fancy CPA-speak, there's no exact ROI formula. 
Anyway, I do it because I enjoy it and that's really the secret to maintaining a blog: that you are excited to share stuff.  

And by stuff I mean "content." You have to have new content, every day. Content drives traffic to your blog.  
Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) can also help awareness and get people clicking on your blog. Never tried social media? Pick one and watch it for a week or 2. That's the best way to see what these things like "hashtags" and "liking something" and "going viral" are like.  
Blogging takes time and there are certainly days when it's particularly grinding to wake up and wonder, What will I put up on my blog today?  
Hope this helps. I get thousands of people to my blog every day -- and even the stuff on the blog that isn't about cartooning (like the posts about our garden) generate page views and comments.  
Good luck with your new blog!

-- This was an edited version of a blog entry from February 14, 2014.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

#tbt: Some More Mike in Kindergarten Photos by Dennis Lynch

Here are some photos of some of the proof sheets of that day in February 1967 when my Dad came in and took photos of my kindergarten class in Moorhead, MN.

I shared some other #tbt photos my Dad took here last week.

That's me, above, in the cool cowboy shirt. I guess it's the black and white Kodak Tri-X film, but these all sure seem like old photos. These could be from the 1940s! I don't recall who any of these kids are. Within a year, my family would move back to Iowa City for a couple years and I would never see any of them again. I do remember playing with a girl named Maureen and we would occasionally play house together and tell people we were going to get married when we were older. Do kids still play house in kindergarten? We also had a nap time. You can see a couple of photos where kids are lying down. If you were good, then you got to hold the class's hamster while lying still on your mat. I don't remember ever being good enough for that honor. Do they still have nap time in kindergarten? Are hamsters allowed? I don't know.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Professional Writer Wants Artist to Work for Free on His Project

Above: a writer chasing the spec dollar.

You remember that piece I wrote last week, right? The "I'll work for exposure if i want to, and you guys can keep sitting around waiting for your cheque" one.

So, the same day I posted about a fellow who proudly draws cartoons for free, I got this email from a professional author. He told me he mostly writes greeting cards.

Pro author to me:

I have a manuscript that I would like to publish and wonder if you'd be interested in a collaboration. My copy and your art at a 30/70 split with 70% going to you for illustrating my [book]. 

Okay, I don't think that he actually read my blog that day, so he didn't get how ironic it all was that he emailed me that day.

I wrote him back.

Me to pro author:
Thanks for your email and offering me the opportunity to be part of your book pitch.

I would have to charge you for any drawings I did to help with your pitch. I hope you understand. If you are looking for someone who will do the work upfront for free, then I am not a good match for you. If you are interested in paying me for my work in advance for some drawings, we can have that conversation.

Wishing you much good luck.

And Pro author wrote back to me:

Thanks Mike. If the idea were to be sold to a publisher you would get 70% of any sales. If that's not enough then it doesn't look as if we can do any business. Sorry to have wasted your time.

Here's me writing back:

OK, here's the thing: I can't ignore paying gigs. I think it's the same with you, right? What am I saying? It's the same with anyone. Ha ha!  
You're a pro. You have deadlines and contracts and things to write that will pay the mortgage. Any non-paying projects would have to be constantly back-burnered until there was free time.  
If you want my time, then you have to pay. Your offer is fine. I don't have a problem with the offer. 70% is way generous, but, you know, 70% of nothing is nothing. You are not just looking for an illustrator. You are looking for a partner who is willing to spend untold free time on an unsold project. I am just saying that I'm not your man. 
His polite and short reply was:

My entire greeting card writing career is based on spec. I appreciate your offer but I'm still looking for a publisher. Thanks.

Should we all change our ways and be more like him? I mean, should we all work 100% on spec? How would that work? 


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Today's Cartoonist Quote

"I do this stuff, and then I'm horrified and embarrassed when I see it. I look at the paper, and I say 'Oh, my God,' but somehow I can't stop doing it." - R. Crumb

Monday, February 15, 2016

The New Playboy Magazine: No Nudes, No Cartoons

Above: some of the cartoonists received a letter from the Associate Cartoon Editor announcing that the magazine is "presently not accepting new cartoon submissions." My thanks to cartoonist Gary McCoy for this.

In the magazine gag cartooning world there are some A-list clients, and, until now, Playboy was on that list. Founded by amateur cartoonist Hugh Hefner, Playboy loved cartoons and paid well. It was a prestige market.

With no announcement or ceremony by CEO Scott Flanders, all the gag cartoons in the new, revamped "no more nudes" redesigned version Playboy are now gone.

So, this is what you get: a cartoonist (me) posting on social medial telling only those few thousand that the magazine that gave us Dedini, Cole, Interlandi, Silverstein, Kliban -- and my friends V Gene Myers, Don Orehek, Gahan Wilson, Mort Gerberg, Bobby London, and many more -- has gone out of the gag cartoon business. I'm very sad about this. It's a sudden nail in the coffin.