Monday, December 24, 2018

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 20, 2018

From the Dick Buchanan Files: More Vintage Gag Cartoons 1947 - 1962

When you think about all those photos of the post-war newsstands, bulging with magazines -- with most magazines running cartoons -- it's boggling how many gag cartoons were being published. So ... it's hard to pick favorites. Dick Buchanan saved many of them, and here he shares some of his own favorites clipped from his towering files of classic single panel gag cartoons housed in his Greenwich Village apartment. Thanks, Dick!



1947- 1962

Once again, we have reached in to the bulging Cartoon Clip and extracted a fistful of gag cartoons from the era of the great magazines, presented here for the delight and amusement of one and all . .

1. ORLANDO BUSINO. The Saturday Evening Post February 8, 1958.

2. W.F. BROWN. 1000 Jokes Magazine March-May, 1959.

3. DICK CAVALLI. Here! December, 1951.

4. CHON DAY. The Saturday Evening Post January 15, 1949.

5. ED NOFZINGER. Liberty February 1949.

6. GEORGE LICHTY. Collier’s November 1, 1949.

7. BILL HARRISON. American Magazine. March, 1953.

8. HERB GREEN. The Saturday Evening Post June 2, 1962.

9. JOHNNY MACK. Collier’s October 19, 1946.

10. ERNEST MARQUEZ. Here! March, 1952.

11. CHARLES DENNIS. Cartoons & Gags August, 1960.

12. STAN HUNT. American Legion Magazine July 1954.

13. GARDNER REA. 1000 Jokes Magazine March-May, 1963.

14. VIRGIL PARTCH. Collier’s July 19, 1947.

15. TOM HENDERSON. American Legion Magazine November, 1960.

16. GAHAN WILSON. Look Magazine April 11, 1958.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Film: "From Trees to Tribunes:" The Chicago Tribune Cartoonists

Here's a clip from a 1931 documentary, "From Trees to Tribunes," showcasing the Chicago Tribune cartoonists at that time. They are (in order of appearance):

John T. McCutcheon
Gaar Williams
Casey Orr
Sidney Smith
Frank King
Frank Willard
Carl Ed
W.E. Hill
Walter Berndt
Martin Branner
Harold Gray

Poking around the internet, I see that the original "From Trees to Tribunes" documentary is from 1937, and there is no extended sequence of the cartoonists in the film that's at These clips actually look a bit older, but perhaps there is more than one cut of the documentary.

Short Film Clip of Richard Outcault, Sidney Smith, Fontaine Fox and Clare Briggs Drawing

A short (too short -- under a minute) from a longer piece of film of cartoonists drawing their famous cartoons. In this clip, we have these cartoonists drawing at a big easel: Richard Outcault, Sidney Smith, Fontaine Fox and Clare Briggs.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Rick Marschall remembers Walter Berndt

Comics historian Rick Marschall remembers Walter Berndt, who drew the "Smitty" comic strip for fifty years. I was fortunate to be chair of the Long Island National Cartoonists Society Chapter, nicknamed the "Berndt Toast Gang" in his honor.

I came along after Mr. Berndt had passed away, but Rick knew him well, and shares some memories:

"Walt lived in Port Jefferson, in a grand house on a promontory, and I occasionally visited him after I started a job as cartoonist and editor at the Connecticut Herald. It was old-fashioned fun, actually, to take the Bridgeport-Port Jeff ferry. Once my fiancee Nancy joined me (Sagamore Hill was on the agenda that day too) and she was charmed by thye old boy.

"The only people who were not charmed by the warmth and friendliness of Walter Berndt were those who had not met him."

Friday, December 14, 2018

LAUGH PARADE May 1969: Desert Island Gags

Above: the cover of LAUGH PARADE. The biker is whispering in her ear, "Honey, when you're with my friends, watch your language -- don't talk clean." The stunning thing to see is the casual placement of the swastika on the bike and his jacket. Pretty damn horrible.

Here are some desert island gags from LAUGH PARADE magazine, May 1969, Vol. 9 No. 3 issue. It was published by and copyright 1969 by Magazine Management Company, Inc.

"Shipwreck a cartoonist," the editor writes, "and he'll float a laugh."

Above: this one was my favorite. Hard to read the signature, but it looks like the cartoonist's name is Tann.

Above: a gag cartoon by Brad "Marmaduke" Anderson.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

RIGHT AROUND HOME by Dudley Fisher

If you had a big hardcover dictionary of cartoonists by state, then Ohio would be the thickest chapter. So many great cartoonists came from the Buckeye State. The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum has compiled a list of names with strong ties to Ohio that includes James Thurber, Milton Caniff, Bill Watterson, John "Derf" Backderf, Matt Bors, Jim Borgman, Edwina Dumm, Billy DeBeck, Cathy Guisewite, Richard Outcault, one of the co-creators of Superman, and more here. 

The Washington Post's Michael Cavna asks "Wait — just how did Ohio become the cradle of great cartoonists?"

From the article:
"'As a cartoonist, your job is basically to sit alone in your room, drawing on a never-ending deadline,' [Bill] Watterson, who grew up in Chagrin Falls, tells Comic Riffs. 'For that kind of work, it helps to grow up with sober Midwestern values and to live someplace without a lot of exciting diversions.'

"'Cleveland is especially good,' the “Calvin and Hobbes” creator notes, 'because it has eight months of cloud cover and snow.'"

Well, who am I to argue with Bill Watterson?

Today I want to talk about another great Ohio cartoonist: Dudley Fisher. Born in Columbus, OH in 1890 and schooled in the same town at OSU. It was in his sophomore year, during the mid-year break, that he visited some friends who were working at The Columbus Dispatch. There was a job opening, and so he began doing layout for the newspaper. This was a lot better than his previous job of working in a pool hall during the evenings. It would change his mind about his architect career. He worked at the paper and enjoyed it.

He participated in The Great War, and upon returning to Columbus in 1919, continued at The Dispatch. Mentored by renowned Dispatch editorial cartoonist Billy Ireland, he became known for a feature titled Jolly Jingles. He also drew an occasional Sunday, Skylarks, that incorporated an aerial view. In early 1938, he began Right Around Home and it was an immediate hit.

The feature took advantage of the size of the page, and it was a sweet look into an innocent, small town America. King Features took notice, and quickly syndicated it nationally. 

From Hogan's Alley's The View from On High: Dudley Fisher’s “Right Around Home” by Jonathan Barli:

"The drawing style of Right Around Home evolved from a variation of Ireland’s into one that would influence future generations of cartoonists. The compositions of the strip were concerned with surveying the ground, not with breaking ground. Large, single-panel cartoons went back to the early days of newspaper comics: the Yellow Kid, Jimmy Swinnerton’s Mount Ararat and crowded genre scenes by Walt McDougall, to name a few ....

"Just as Gasoline Alley, week after week, depicted the passage of time, so too did Right Around Home, making note of seasonal changes throughout each year, announcing 'Signs of Spring' and 'Autumn Leaves,' and marking Halloween, 'Thanksgiving at Grandma’s' and 'Christmas shopping.' Right Around Home’s thematic concerns are rarely concerning: whether it’s neighborhood picnics, screening home movies, going sledding, waffle parties, gathering around a radio mystery or automobile problems like tire blowouts and fender-benders, everyone in the neighborhood is there; even if they are dragged out by a spouse.

The feature diminished in size as all newspaper strips did beginning during WWII. This reduced its impact. Fisher died in 1951. His assistant, Bob Vittur, continued the strip, along with the assist of Stan Randal, until the end of its run in 1965.