Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Frank Modell 1917-2016

Frank Modell, a long-time New Yorker cartoonist, died Friday, at the age of 98, in his home in Guilford, CT.

He graduated from the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art and served in World War II in the signal radio intelligence company as sergeant in the US Army.

The Philadelphia-born native contributed over 1,400 cartoons to the New Yorker magazine beginning in 1946.

From the New York Times obituary:

"Mr. Modell was hired as an assistant to the magazine’s art editor, James Geraghty. 
"'I was a hit man,” he told The New York Times in 2000. 'If an idea was O.K.’d, Geraghty would see the cartoonist. But if it was a rejection, he would say, ‘Frank will see him.’ The mortality rate was worse than for babies in 1910 Egypt.'
"Mr. Modell’s first New Yorker cartoon appeared in the issue of July 20, 1946. It depicted a couple at the beach in bathing suits. The man asks the stupefied woman, 'I don’t suppose you happen to have a match on you, do you?'"


Friday, May 27, 2016

A Collection of This Week's Warm Up Sketches

Here are a few warm up sketches from the week of ... well, of what ever I felt like drawing. The trick is that one just starts drawing whatever they want and then fill up the page. A scene develops rather unconsciously. But, no I don't know what all these characters are auditioning for and I don't know what the dog businessman is up to. These are just oddball sketches.

It's important to experiment and to draw to explore.

These are drawn with the Platinum Carbon Ink Pen. Some greyscale was added with either a watercolor wash or a China Marker.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Legendary Cartoonist Pat Oliphant: 'We Are in a Forest Fire of Ignorance'

Pulitzer Prize Award winner editorial cartoonist Pat Oliphant is interviewed in this Atlantic magazine interview by Les Daly. The interview is from 2014, but it's making the rounds on social media and it was new to me.

"Oliphant, now 79, still delights with a boyish sense of disbelief at what he sees as the absurdity (at best) of most political figures and the things they say and do. Exploding happily at his good fortune, he says, 'They create this stuff; all I have to do is illustrate it. I just sit back and it comes at me.'

'He is less good-humored about the fate of newspapers and magazines; the educational breadth, or lack of it, of the people who read them, whether in print or online; the people who publish and edit them; and the politicians who 'keep the country going in circles.' He reads a lot of history, he says, 'to find out if they’re doing it again.'"

Pat Oliphant arrived from Australia ("a country where nothing happens") in 1964, "in the middle of the Johnson-Goldwater campaign."

"Here, the place was polarized, as it tends to be all the time. And this is a happy hunting ground for cartoonists, if you’re that minded. I think politics itself is the most boring thing you could possibly engage in. The study of the charlatans that practice it is what is enjoyable. The machinations of politics is not what is fascinating to me. It’s the crookedness of the people. Politicians are disgusting people, with some exceptions."

And there are some good Q and A about drawing. I love Oliphant's inky, energetic style. 

Daly: You seem to use lots of ink, to draw details furiously; sometimes almost everywhere you can fit it all in the frame. Aren’t you working harder than might be necessary to make the point? 
Oliphant: I love drawing and maybe I get lost in it sometimes. I enjoy it so much that I just keep drawing and drawing, and as the drawing develops you see other chances and places you can take it. When you get into some cartoons like that, you can see this is going to be a long day, but what the hell? 
Daly: You tend to gather a crowd in your cartoons whenever you can. 
Oliphant: Yes, and that always seems to happen when I’m in a hurry, too. I’m a captive to my own idiocy sometimes. The more people I put in, the happier I am. Except when I’m in a hurry, and then my enthusiasm runs up against the deadline. You have to keep up your enthusiasm. It mustn’t show in the cartoon that you’re in a hurry. It adds to the spontaneity if you’re working fast.

Go read the whole interview here.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Mell Lazarus 1927 - 2016

Cartoonist and writer Mell Lazarus died on the morning of May 24, 2016 at his home in Woodland Hills, CA. He was 89 years old.

Born in Brooklyn, Mell, as he put it, "never really graduated high school."

My art teacher flunked me. I have since, however, attended many classes of one kind or another. I frequently lecture at colleges and to other groups around the country. I sold my first cartoon when I was 16. I did commercial art and edited children’s magazines prior to February 4, 1957 when my comic, Miss Peach, was launched. The characters in Miss Peach are not actually modeled on real persons, with the possible exception of Lester, the skinny kid in the strip. Possibly the most loved character is Arthur, the dopey little kid. I make notes all week based on thoughts, conversational fragments, etc. I sift through all these notes on Monday mornings and select several to develop. I then write gags for them. I do six daily strips and Sunday page. -- from THESE TOP CARTOONISTS TELL HOW THEY CREATED AMERICA'S FAVORITE COMICS by Allen Willette. Allied Publications, 1964.

"'He was a high school dropout who later joined Mensa,' writer/cartoonist Tom Gammill told the NCS, confirming that Mr. Lazarus was literally a comic 'genius.'" -- "RIP, Mell Lazarus: Colleagues salute the warm wit of the ‘Momma’ and ‘Miss Peach’ comics creator" by Michael Cavna for the Washington Post's Comic Riffs

His early years were spent as an assistant to the Caplin brothers, Eliot Caplin and Al Capp. Mell assisted on their publishing enterprise, Toby Press. He wrote a novel, THE BOSS IS CRAZY TOO (1963), a fictionalized account of those times

MISS PEACH was syndicated beginning February 4, 1957, and would run until 2002. MOMMA began in 1970 and is still in newspapers today. He also worked on a comic strip with Jack Rickard PAULINE McPERIL, which ran for three years from 1966.

Mell was a National Cartoonists Society mainstay, winning multiple awards -- the Humor Comic Strip Division Award twice (1973 and 1979), and the Reuben Award (1982) as well as the Silver T-Square (2000). He was also a two-term president (1989-1993).

Michael Cavna has collected some quotes from fellow cartoonists who knew Mell well. Go see.

Here's Wiley Miller, the NON SEQUITOR cartoonist, on Mell Lazarus which I nicked from that page:

“My lasting memory of Mell was our first meeting. … The Northern California Spelling Bee competition [had] roped Mell into being the lunch speaker. … We had time to kill, so Mell asked me if there was a bar in the hotel. Like bees to nectar, that’s where cartoonists also are drawn, so to speak. As we sat down, continuing talking about cartooning and the business, Mell paused, then asked me, ‘So what should I talk about at this thing?’ I did a spit-take, laughed and said, “Mell, I’m here to learn fromyou!” That was Mell. No big-timing a young a cartoonist. He dearly loved the art form and cartoonists, never treating one better than the other, no matter how long or short they’ve been in the business. Mell and I became very close friends since that day over 30 years ago. 
“My last memory of Mell was two years ago at the Reubens Weekend when he was the presenter for the Reuben Award, which went to me. Having Mell hand the award to me meant more — far more — to me than the award itself. I’ll cherish those bookend memories the rest of my life. As I said in my acceptance speech about Mell, his influence on me didn’t make me a better cartoonist — it made me a better person.”
In person, he took you quietly into his confidence and there was, for a moment, just you and Mell. And he treated you like a contemporary!!! Mell told great stories and was a genuine gentleman. A huge loss for us all.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Early 1950s PEANUTS Promo Package

Rosebud Archives presents a series of 1950s newspaper promotional ads for the then-new comics strip PEANUTS by Charles Schulz.

Everyone's in a hurry to see
our new Sunday page
. . . and the more you see, the more you'll
want! You'll chuckle over the charm of these
kids . . . you'll be delighted by their doin's!
Every Sunday in the (name of paper)
Beginning (date)

-- Edited from a blog entry of July 6, 2010.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Cartoonist Photos Part 13

Above: A 1945 photo of George McManus at a luncheon. Who is that man on the right? What luncheon? Where? What did they eat? What's in that big long pipe? All that is left to history.

This is part of a continuing series of photos of cartoonists from the 20th century in actual photos. Most of these are from newspaper archives. More links to even more photos are at the bottom of this entry.

Below: A 1966 photo of Ted Geisel/"Dr. Seuss" with what appear to be HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS storyboards pinned on the wall behind him.

Chip Sansom, who continues his Dad's BORN LOSER comic strip. Unsure of the date on this.

A 1936 original NBC publicity photo of cartoonist Robert Ripley for the radio show "Bakers Broadcast."

Digression: A little bit more about Ripley and his BELIEVE IT OR NOT radio series, which was on NBC, and then CBS and Mutual. This is from YouTuber A Room With a Past:

In April 1930, Ripley brought "Believe It or Not" to radio, the first of several series heard on NBC, CBS and the Mutual Broadcasting System. As noted by Ripley On Radio, Ripley's broadcasts varied in length from 1 -15 minutes to 30 minutes and aired in numerous different formats. When Ripley's 1930 debut on The Collier Hour brought a strong listener reaction, he was given a Monday night NBC series beginning April 14, 1930, followed by a 1931–32 series airing twice a week. After his strange stories were dramatized on NBC's Saturday Party, Ripley was the host of The Baker's Broadcast from 1935 to 1937. He was scheduled in several different 1937–38 NBC timeslots and then took to the road with popular remote broadcasts. See America First with Bob Ripley (1939–40) on CBS expanded geographically into See All the Americas, a 1942 program with Latin music. In 1944, he was heard five nights a week on Mutual in shows with an emphasis on WWII. Romance, Rhythm and Ripley aired on CBS in 1945, followed by Pages from Robert L. Ripley's Radio Scrapbook (1947–48). Robert Ripley is known for several radio firsts. He was the first to broadcast nationwide on a radio network from mid-ocean, and he also participated in the first broadcast from Buenos Aires to New York. Assisted by a corps of translators, he was the first to broadcast to every nation in the world simultaneously.

OK, below is the one and only Al Capp from 1965. That's Joe Payton, who was retiring as CPA president. Joe seems to be enjoying Al's remarks.

Garry Trudeau from 1972:

Charles Schulz, 1963:

Art Spiegelman, 2002:

George Du Maurier circa 1890. Photo by Walery:

1952: The comedy team of Olsen and Johnson,  American mezzo-soprano opera singer/actress Gladys Swarthout, cartoonist George McManus, and humor columnist Bugs Baer:

The back of the photo:

More Cartoonist Photos:
Part one
Part two
Part three
Part four
Part five
Part six
Part seven
Part eight
Part nine
Part ten
Part eleven
Part twelve

Friday, May 20, 2016

From My Sketchbook: Random Weird Doodles

I think I realized a while ago that I didn't doodle very much any more. I used to do it all the time, but since I've become a working cartoonist, I just don't draw as much just for fun. So, I thought I would do some stream of consciousness drawings. These are just silly, weird things. Not cartoons, just oddball, random drawings.

OK, Dropcloth the cat is going to make me pay the "kitty toll" by rubbing his head before he stops standing on my sketchbook. I better go tend to that.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Beatrice the Biologist: "Do Not Share Uncredited Artwork. Ever."

Katie McKissick writes and draws. As a cartoonist, she draws under the pen name "Beatrice the Biologist."

A prominent Instagram account, "Sciencetagram," posted one of her cartoons. That was nice, but the image had her name scrubbed out. And the only way she heard was from her sister, who had seen it on Sciencetagram and recognized the cartoon. So ... no credit, no web site mentioned, nothing.

She writes about what she did on the Scientific American blog in an article titled "Do Not Share Uncredited Artwork. Ever." with the added subtitle "If you contribute to a culture that keeps sharing stolen works, someday there won't be enough art to go around."

So, what to do? She she complained on social media.

The nice thing is that everyone agreed and the image was replaced with one where you can see the credit clearly.

A nicer thing would be that Sciencetagram asked permission and paid for content.

She ends with several warnings. Go read all of them here.

If you are going to share something, it is your duty (duty, I say!) to credit the person who made it. You know why? Because if you contribute to a culture that keeps sharing stolen work for your selfish, lazy reasons, someday there isn't going to be enough artwork to go around. 
And you know why that is? Because those artists whose work you stole will be too busy working day jobs to pay their rent, leaving less time to create more stuff for you to steal. See, they can't exactly support themselves by being creators because so many people stole readership and money from them.

Sciencetagram does not care. If it did, then it would have NOT scrubbed her name off of the comic. If it did, it would ask permission. If it did, it would offer compensation. 

Good to see that the shamers won, but Sciencetagram's behavior is wretched. And it seems more and more standard. 

Thanks to Betsy Streeter for letting me know about this.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Artist Strikes Back Against Store Looking for "Unpaid Artist" Job

Sainsbury's, one of the leading food retailers in the UK, wants a “creative and ambitious artist” to refurbish its staff break room for free. They put out the above ad recently.

They will not pay.

Artists are not happy with the non-compensation. Katie Marie Andrews for instance:

If you follow the #payartists hashtag, you can see a lot more. 

Someone -- no one on the Internet knows for sure -- posted this response on the right:

Here's a reaction from Sainsbury's, according to The Telegraph:

A spokesperson for Sainsbury's has responded to the online backlash, saying they are discussing the issue with the store in Camden. 
They said: "We’re discussing this with our store in Camden. The advert was placed in the local paper following a colleague discussion around ways to improve the canteen and offer an opportunity to the local community.

"It is not our policy to hire volunteers and we are sorry for this error of judgement."

Hat tip to Jim Nolan for this! Thanks, Jim!

Jim's links:



Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Video: John Reiner Interviews Mort Drucker

Today's Rant: You Don't Get to Call Him "Sparky"

Today's rant:

I really liked how when the late Golden Age comic book artist Emilio Squeglio would talk about his days at True Magazine with Virgil Partch or working on Captain Marvel at Fawcett with C.C. Beck. Emilio never called them by their first names. He would always refer to them as "Mr. Partch" and "Mr. Beck." Always!

Nowadays, I routinely hear young cartoonists who never knew him, refer to Mr. Charles Schulz as "Sparky."

Monday, May 16, 2016

Darwyn Cooke 1962-2016

It's with great shock and sadness that everyone who makes comics and/or loves comics is grieving due to the sudden death of comic book artist extraordinaire Darwyn Cooke. He passed away from what his family described as an "aggressive cancer" on Friday night/Saturday morning at his home in Florida. He was 53 years old.

We wuz robbed.

His ink was lightning in a bottle. His storytelling: smart and full of visual passion for the medium. These supermen and superwomen and noir detectives and cowboys were going to have a great adventure. The energy of his composition and assured ink lines captured fans and pros.

Other than suggesting you just type "Darwyn Cooke" into the search engine and look at his mastery of comics, I want to share a quote.

A lot of my colleagues are posting Darwyn Cooke's well-founded critical quote about reinventing the superhero world for all ages on social media. I couldn't agree more.

"I don't know how a company like Warner Bros. or Disney is able to rationalize characters raping and murdering and taking drugs and swearing and carrying on the way they do, and those same characters are on sheet sets for 5-year-olds, and pajamas and cartoons. 
"... I think the bravest and smartest thing one of these companies could do would be to scrap everything they're doing and bring in creative people who would have the talent and were willing to put in the effort it takes to write an all-ages universe that an adult or a child could enjoy. If either one of these companies were smart enough to do that, I think they could take huge strides for the industry."

Friday, May 13, 2016

Gag Cartoons About Love

It's Friday, so let's end the week on a happy note!

Here are a few cartoons I've drawn about love. Dating cartoons, love cartoons, marriage cartoons. courting cartoons, lover's quarrel cartoons, married cartoons, penguin love, people loving people, spousal love spats, geriatric love, urban love ...

 Above: a cartoon from Reader's Digest. The penguin in love with a bowling pin cartoon is the one I use on my business card.

"I look forward to growing old with you. It's the maintenance I hate."

I actually said this while jogging along Pacific Street in Brooklyn. Every once in a while I say something that becomes a cartoon. The fact I remembered it, drew it up and sent it out is a testament to my concentration. Usually when I say something funny, it disappears into the ether. I forget it. The cartoon was published in the Wall Street Journal.

"Breaking up is hard to do. So how 'bout I just send an e-mail?"

"I won't know how I really feel about him til I hack into his Netflix queue."

"This is all very romantic, but I can't see my fork."

"I accept. But there may be some monitoring for quality assurance."

"If you get half the closet for shoes, then I get a drawer for my old rock concert t-shirts."

"Do you know I haven't eaten a pie tip since before we were married?"

"I converted all our old love letters to text messages."

"Let's quit this exhausting dating routine and get married all ready."

"I'd be glad to accept your invitation to come in cutie -- if your kids have grown up and left."

"Why do all my inner demons look like you?"

"I'm emotional. It's just that yours scare mine into hiding."

"We're in the tub together. But not like it used to be."

"Remember when we were young and fancy free -- back before everything had to have coasters under it?"

"No, you're not interrupting a damn thing. We're just having our usual argument about who came first."