Saturday, December 23, 2017

The Great Ham Caper

My wife, Stacy, wrote this poem way back in Christmas 2006. It's about us and our cats, Rufus and Sam.

Her poem was got some serious Web traffic, and it's been rerun annually since. Since we moved we have adopted a few more cats.

It's bittersweet now, since big red Rufus died on December 5, 2014. It was cancer and there was nothing we could have done. He had a wonderful life. He adored Stacy, who tamed him from a wild cat from the big city to a sweet, round, purring house cat. He had no idea he was on the Internet, of course.

For auld lang syne, here is the poem again, starring our two cats from Brooklyn, Rufus and Sam (Sam is alive and well and asking me for pats as I type this):

The Great Ham Caper

Words by Stacy Lynch
Pictures by Mike Lynch

’Twas the week before Christmas
When Rufus and Sam
Hatched a devious scheme
To make off with the ham!

The ham that would grace
The holiday table!
Roo was the brains.
Sam, wiry and able.

They devised a plan
Of Goldbergian proportions
With pulleys and weights
And kitty contortions.

And on Christmas day
They’d eat until stuffed
(The very idea
Made their tails slightly puffed!)

’Til then, they’d lay low,
Little angels to see.
But that made us suspicious –
Wouldn’t you be?

So we snooped and we sleuthed
And uncovered their caper -
“The Ham-Stealing Plan”
Diagrammed on a paper!

“No silly cat’s gonna
Steal my roast beast,”
Exclaimed Mike. “Just watch,
I’ll ruin their feast!”So he countered their scheming
With mad plans all his own
And all I could do
Was inwardly groan!

Who’d win this contest
Of wits they were planning?
Would Mike, Roo or Sam -
Be last man or cat standing?

As Christmas day dawned
The four of us waited
For the ham to be served
With breaths that were bated.

But before the main course
Could even be plated
Their plans took a turn.
Some say it was fated...

What happened to stop them
So cold in their tracks?
Why, cat-nip and husb-nip
(in big canvas sacks)Was all that it took
To stop their foul warring.
And they rolled and purred
And drooled on the flooring.And as long as I kept
My fingers and toes
Away from a hubby and two cats
In nip’s throes -
My own Christmas day
Turned out merry and calm;
The ham moist and succulent,
The champagne, a balm.

When they “awoke”,
hostilities abated,
We all ate some ham
And went to bed sated.

And such peace we wish
To you and to yours:
An end to fighting;
An end to wars.

Happy Holidays!

Mike and Stacy and Rufus and Sam

UPDATE: and, the "new" cats: Dexter and Dropcloth and Fergus.

Happy Holidays, everyone.

It's time to be with family. So, this blog will be quiet for a time. I'll see you soon.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

PRIVATE BUCK by Clyde Lewis

PRIVATE BUCK was a King Features panel created by Clyde Lewis. Mr. Lewis (1911 - 1976) drew a number of strips at NEA (including a strip about kids called HERKY and a gag panel one called HOLD EVERYTHING), and then jumped to King Features in May 1940 with a panel titled SNICKEROOS. Amongst the many characters, like a hobo and a couple of old maids, was a little guy who one day joined the army. The panel was retitled after this fellow and PRIVATE BUCK was born. When WWII started, Lewis enlisted, and the feature was seen in Stars and Stripes. Clyde Lewis was in good cartoonist company, appearing in the paper with Dave Breger, Bill Mauldin and George Baker. 

After the war, Buck joined civilian life. The panel was renamed THE PRIVATE LIFE OF BUCK. It would continue until 1952. 

The gags are your basic innocent fellow misunderstanding the military world and getting into scrapes. Here are a few gags from the PRIVATE BUCK book, copyright 1942-43 by King Features.

More about Buck at the King Features "Ask the Archivist" blog. 

My thanks to Jeanette Stout for this book!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017


This issue of LITTLE IODINE (Vol. 1, No. 9, Dec-Jan 1952, published by Dell and copyright 1951 King Features Syndicate, Inc.) is credited to Jimmy Hatlo (but I suspect it may be the work of my friend Al Scaduto, who, along with Bob Dunn, was one of Hatlo's long-time assistants). I saw the comic book in an antique store. It was stuffed in an oversized Ziploc bag.

The vervy inking style, the "big foot" style first popularized in the teens and 1920s, is full on display here. The form is well worth studying -- but the plot is very silly. It has some cuckoo coincidences and misunderstandings, but it chugs right along, with Little Iodine trying to do the right thing and her greedy Dad at first mocking her and then becoming a creature consumed with greed.

Even in the first sequence, which is all expositional Iodine/Dad dialogue, look at the different angles. Everything is in motion. And, when doors are slammed, Iodine doesn't stand there: she coils back, her mouth agape in shock. When Dad suspects a fortune is to be made, he doesn't just stand there. He charges up the stairs, with a little puff of smoke, zoom lines and sweat beading off of him (page 7, panel 1). Gaze at the wonder that is BIG FOOT STYLE

-- Edited from an August 24, 2009 blog entry.

Monday, December 18, 2017

From the Dick Buchanan Files: Hank Ketcham Gag Cartoons 1944 – 1952

My friend Dick Buchanan has reached into his tremendous archive of magazines from the golden age of gag cartoons and shares with us some early Hank Ketcham gag cartoons. A good number of these are pre-Dennis the Menace. Some wonderful line work here by a master cartoonist!

Take it away Dick! And thanks very much for sharing these!


1944 – 1952

Hank Ketcham achieved world wide acclaim as the creator of the syndicated newspaper panel Dennis the Menace which debuted March, 1951 and is still going strong more than six decades later. But before his blockbuster panel appeared, Hank Ketcham was one of the leading gag cartoonists of his era.

Ketcham started at the top, when Half Hitch, his diminutive sailor cut-up was published in The Saturday Evening Post. It ran from 1943 to 1945. Ketcham caught on immediately and his cartoons began appearing in all the leading publications of the day, Collier’s, American Magazine, Liberty, True and even The New Yorker.

Here a few examples of Hank Ketcham’s gag cartoons from 1944 to 1952.

1. An early cartoon by Hank Ketcham before his distinctive style was developed. American Magazine January 1944.

2. Another early Ketcham. From the beginning, Ketcham had solid gags. Collier’s February 12, 1944.

3. Half-Hitch was briefly revived as a syndicated comic strip in the 1970’s. The Saturday Evening Post c.1945.

4. Collier’s October 19. 1946.

5. Liberty June 1, 1946.

6. By 1946 Ketcham’s impeccable work had reached the high level he would maintain for the remainder of his career. The Saturday Evening Post c. 1946-1947.

7. Collier’s November 22, 1947.

8. Collier’s August 9, 1947.

9. American Legion Magazine September 1947.

10. Collier’s December 18, 1948.

11. Collier’s September 4, 1948.

12. True Magazine August, 1949

13. True Magazine March 1949.

14. American Magazine September 1951.

15. Saturday Evening Post January 13, 1951.

16. This post Dennis cartoon was a classic. True Magazine July, 1952.   

Want more? Try some of these great vintage gag cartoon selections from Dick:

From the Dick Buchanan Files: Hank Ketcham Roughs

From the Dick Buchanan Files: Holiday and Winter Cartoons 1948 - 1960

Dick Buchanan's Cartoon Files: More Cops and Robbers Gag Cartoons 1947 - 1968

Dick Buchanan's Favorite Gag Cartoons 1946 - 1964

From the Dick Buchanan Files: Even More Color Cartoons 1940 - 1956

From the Dick Buchanan Files: "Captions? Who Needs 'Em?" Wordless Gag Cartoons 1947 – 1970

From the Dick Buchanan Files: Orlando Busino Gag Cartoons 1956 - 1966

From the Dick Buchanan Files: CARTOONYFELLERS’ DIGEST, "a 1955 rag for cartoonists by cartoonists"

From the Dick Buchanan Files: Magazine Cartoons from Life and Judge 1931 - 38

From the Dick Buchanan Files: June 1953 Cartoonist's Market Newsletter

Dick Buchanan's Cartoon File: More Mid-Century Gag Cartoons 1946 - 1964

Dick Buchanan's Cartoon File: Color Gag Cartoons 1946 - 1956

Dick Buchanan's Cartoon Files: Cops and Robbers Gag Cartoons 1945 - 1968

Dick Buchanan's Cartoon Files: Gahan Wilson: Early Gag Cartoons 1954 - 1964

Dick Buchanan's Cartoon File: Inkyfellers' Gagzette

Dick Buchanan's Cartoon File: The Years of Al Ross - 1947 – 1968

Dick Buchanan's Cartoon Files: New Yorker Cartoonists Abroad 1966-1968

Dick Buchanan's Cartoon File: 1945 - 1962

From the Dick Buchanan Files: "How I Create Humor" from 1950s - 60s Gag Cartoon Insider Journal "The Information Guide"

Dick Buchanan's Cartoon File: 1950s Color Magazine Gag Cartoons

Dick Buchanan's Cartoon File: Funny Vintage Magazine Gag Cartoons 1946 - 1963

Dick Buchanan's Cartoon File: Wordless Gag Cartoons 1944-1964

1953 George Booth Drawings for American Legion Magazine

Dick Buchanan: Winter/Christmas/Holiday Gag Cartoons 1940s-60s

Dick Buchanan: Some PUNCH Magazine Cartoons 1948-1963

Dick Buchanan: Gag Cartoon Clip File 1946-64

Dick Buchanan: Gag Cartoon Clip File 1947-62

Dick Buchanan: Some Favorite Magazine Gag Cartoons 1940-60s

Dick Buchanan: Gag Cartoon Clip File 1931-64