Friday, July 19, 2019

Miroslav Šašek: This is the Way to the Moon and This is Cape Kennedy

Miroslav Šašek (1916 - 1980) was a Czech emigre author and illustrator, best known for his series of children's titled "This Is...," which he signed "M. Sasek." Since I think of him as the quintessential mid-century illustrator, here are a few of his works to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing on July 20th.

UPDATE 33 killed in arson attack at Japan anime studio

Horrible, sad news. An animation studio was attacked in Kyoto, Japan resulting in the deaths of 33 people. A man came into the building on Thursday, and yelled, "You die!" According to survivors, the suspect

"... doused it with a flammable liquid, and set it on fire on Thursday, killing 33 people in an attack that shocked anime fans across Japan and beyond.

"Thirty-six others were injured, some critically.

"The suspect was hurt and taken to a hospital. Police identified him only a 41-year-old man who was not a company employee. They gave no immediate details on the motive."

This is a developing story

More here.

There is a GoFundMe page for the survivors here.


Kotaku: Kyoto Animation Became More Than Just Anime

CNN: Kyoto animation arson suspect told police his work had been plagiarized

NY Times: At Kyoto Animation, Women Were Central. When It Burned, They Paid the Price.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Ryan Flanders: "An Unusual Gang of Idiots: The Joy of Working at MAD Magazine Past Its Heyday"

 There were 550 issues of Mad Magazine produced in NYC, and Ryan Flanders was there for the last 150 of them. Ryan was my contact at Mad, where I was able to sell a couple of cartoons. So, I am one of the "Usual Gang of Idiots," though a much lesser idiot.

Here's Ryan talking about his time at Mad Magazine and what it was like to put the magazine together for The Comics Journal in a piece titled "An Unusual Gang of Idiots: The Joy of Working at MAD Magazine Past Its Heyday."

"To truly succeed at MAD was to put it above your own ego. The staffers and freelancers who flourished are those who understood that the reader community and MAD ethos were the priority — and who knew that few opportunities in life would make them feel as good as working on MAD Magazine, and all that came with it. Making each other laugh in editorial meetings, getting called a clod over stupid misunderstandings, oohing and aahing as we’d crowd around a piece of freshly delivered artwork. Lunch visits from freelancers — some of the greatest minds, and kindest people, the world has even known. The thrill of coming up with a funny cover idea, the shock when a cover you didn’t think was anything special goes viral and sells extra copies. The smile on your face when the Bart Simpsons of the world show up for an office tour, eyes bulged and mouth agape. Sharing the pride of a new staff member holding the first issue they worked on. Veteran artists you’ve long admired saying that appearing in MAD was a career highlight, and young cartoonists telling you being published in MAD validated their career choice to their parents."


Mad Magazine is Dead. Long Live Mad Magazine.

1977 Video: Bill Gaines on the History of Mad Magazine's Alfred E. Neuman

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Nick Meglin Cameo in 1997 "Friends" Episode

Whaaat??? OK, so I was watching "Friends" last night ("The One With Joey's New Girlfriend," season 4 episode 5) and I saw RIGHT THERE ON THE LEFT -- it's -- NICK MEGLIN!!! Mad Magazine's NICK MEGLIN!!!

He gets shoved to one side by Matthew Perry, who is running to Paget Brewster in the episode. It really was a blink-and-you-miss-it cameo.

Couldn't be anyone else. How did he get to be an extra on "Friends" in 1997. I dunno. The man got around. I miss that guy.

Update: Ryan Flanders, a fellow editor at Mad, confirms.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Ron Morgan 1939 - 2019

Magazine cartoonist Ron Morgan passed away on May 17, 2019. He was 79 years old. 

His nephew Chuck Morgan, who is a cartoonist as well, sent this to Van Scott, who passed it along to me. Here's Chuck:

"The cartooning community lost one of its own. Ronald unexpectedly passed away in Bristol, Tennessee."

"James Ronald Morgan was born in Middlesboro Kentucky on November 11,1939. He grew up the eldest of 6 children spending many days in the mountains of southeastern Kentucky. In June of 1958 he enlisted in the United States Navy, rising to the rank of First Class Petty Officer. Upon receiving his Honorable Discharge he moved to Michigan for work. This was when he met his future wife Betty Lou Richardson.

"In the late 1970s, he and Betty moved to Tennessee with their four children. This was when he began cartooning. James sold cartoons to many publishers, including the Reader's Digest and multiple newspapers. His cartoons were sold early on under the pseudonym "Lobo." He specialized in political satire but was capable of drawing for any publications that requested his services. Once he retired from his job as managing editor of the Claiborne Progress newspaper he began cartooning again, but this time under his actual name Ron Morgan.

"He sold his cartoons all over the world. His cartoons will be missed as well as his wit by all who knew him. Ron had cartoons in Harvard Business Review, National Enquirer, Saturday Evening Post, Smithsonian Institute, Field and Stream, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Woman's World, Leadership Journal, Country Living, The Star, Medical Economics, Clinical Advisor, Cortlandt Forum, The Oldie, and many more."


Ron Morgan's Hire an Artist site

Monday, July 15, 2019

The Garden As of Mid-July

It's been busy here, and sometimes I get too tense. Nice that I have this outside to relieve the pressure.

Friday, July 12, 2019

University of New England Art Gallery "The Art of the Comic” Gallery Show Reception

That's me and Roll Call editorial cartoonist RJ Matson. He used to run the NYC NCS chapter. I haven't seen him in years! 

Portland, Maine: University of New England Art Gallery "The Art of the Comic” gallery show official reception. Here are a few pics from the opening last night. Very well attended, and I saw many people.

The gallery is free, and it's three floors of a couple hundred comics, cartoons and illustrations by professionals and people on their way to become a pro.

UNE's Amanda Skinner put "The Art of the Comic" together. It runs through October 6th.

The first thing you see when you walk through the doors is art by the late, great Jeff Pert.

One of my cartoons.

From The New Yorker: the legendary Bill Woodman, the amazing John Klossner. From Marvel Comics/Beevis and Butthead: the one and only Rick Parker.

A lot of variety of work here, and it's worth a stop to see. 

Eda French

Fulton Beal 

George Danby

Ian Richardson

Mary Anne Lloyd

Joe Rosshirt

Rowan Elliott

David Jacobson

Michael Sloan

Michael Connor

Rick Parker

Some swag for sale. There is also a free reading library of comics.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Clay Jones: Perilous Times for Political Cartoonists

Editorial cartoonist Clay Jones talks about the state of editorial cartooning today, which is also the day of President Trump's "social media summit," in which only friendly right-wing media outlets are invited.

The right-wing editorial cartoonist Ben Garrison was invited as well -- and then, just the other day, disinvited. Clay has the details.

Portland, Maine University of New England Art Gallery "The Art of the Comic"

Above: a cartoon of mine that is NOT in the show. I just thought it was an appropriate cartoon to show for this occasion. It's actually the sixth cartoon I drew many years ago when I quit my "real job" and went freelance. For a guys in the desert kinda cartoon, it's not bad.

I'm part of a new gallery show opening this week.

"The Art of the Comic" is a gallery show at the Portland, Maine University of New England Art Gallery. The reception, which is free and open to the public, is from 5 to 7pm Thursday, July 11th. The show runs from July 10th to October 6, 2019 and features works from 28 local "comic and sequential artists, illustrators, and professional doodlers."

Fulton Beal

Bob Bergeron

Michael Connor

Patrick Corrigan

George Danby

Rowan Elliot

Katy Finch

Eda French

Turner Huston

Jamie Hogan

David Jacobson

Amanda Kahl

Melanie Kim

John Klossner

Mary Anne Lloyd

Mike Lynch

RJ Matson

Sean Moran

Rick Parker,

Jeff Pert

Michael Proia

Ian Richardson

Joe Rosshirt

Mili St. John

Michael Sloan

Mort Todd

Lisa Trusiani

Ben Williams

The UNE Art Gallery on the Portland campus is located at 716 Stevens Avenue, Portland, Maine 04103. The Gallery is located in the very back corner of the campus.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

1977 Video: Bill Gaines on the History of Mad Magazine's Alfred E. Neuman

I was remembering Mad Magazine and came across this.

From the CBC Archives, here is a snippet from a 1977 interview with the publisher William Gaines talking about "the real history of Mad Magazine's Alfred E. Neuman."

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

PBS News Hour: How Brian Fies Used Art to Process a Devastating Wildfire

PBS News Hour did a profile of my friend, the writer and graphic novelist Brian Fies, and his new book A FIRE STORY.

He references the Emmy Award winning KQED short FIRE STORY animatic. It's here:

Monday, July 08, 2019

Greg Perry Declines Michael de Adder Editorial Cartoonist Opening

I thought, naively, that it was a good thing that Greg Perry did not take over as editorial cartoonist for the New Brunswick papers after former cartoonist Michael De Adder was fired. It wasn't that simple. Here's Greg talking about what happened:


“I don’t use social media, but person/persons who do have used it to essentially destroy my character and my cartoon work."


“All this over a job that pays the same per month as a job at a grocery chain. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.”


Rotten news and Greg doesn't deserve this.

The Daily Cartoonist has more here.

Friday, July 05, 2019

Mad Magazine is Dead. Long Live Mad Magazine.

Above: one of my cartoons in Mad Magazine.

Mad Magazine is dead. Long live Mad Magazine.

Mad will cease publishing new content this summer. From there on out, a new Mad magazine, publishing reruns, will be available in limited outlets.

Sad news!

Like so many people out there, there's the history of Mad and then there's your own personal history of Mad. To think that I would meet and even know some of these legendary Mad cartoonists ("the usual gang of idiots") never occurred to me when I was kid. Ditto actually becoming one of "the gang" when Mad bought some of my cartoons.

It was considered, after Playboy and TV Guide, one of the major magazine publishing successes to come out of the 1950s. It hit a height of 2.4 million copies sold in 1973. So many of the cartoonists that made Mad Mad were legendary: Drucker, Martin, Aragones, Coker, Jaffee, Berg, Edwing, Woodbridge, Elder, Wood and others.

Recently, the magazine moved from its historic headquarters in NYC to Los Angeles, with a new editor.

Now the magazine will be available in comic book shops and with a subscription. There will regular issues, with new covers and old Mad articles inside. There has been an annual announced, that will have new material.

For me, Mad Magazine was an obsession. It was the height of Mad, the 1970s. Growing up in Lawrence, KS, I became disciplined and saved my money -- enough to present to my Dad and ask him to write a check so I could subscribe to Mad. It was great to get it in the mail! Wow!

Years later, at the 2013 National Cartoonist Society Reubens, I was fortunate enough to tell Mad editor Nick Meglin this. My Dad was there as well, and Nick mock-apologized to him for warping his son. Ha ha ha.


Michael Cavna, Washington Post: Mad magazine, a pioneer of modern satire, will soon cease publishing new content Details Surface About Plans for MAD Magazine's Future

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Politico's Jack Shafer: "The End Times of the Political Cartoon"

Jack Shafer, Poltico's senior media writer, says this is "The End Times of the Political Cartoon." 

"Essays marking the decline of editorial cartooning have been perennial since 1954, when the Saturday Review’s Henry Ladd Smith declared the form trite and exhausted. But we are now really entering the end times of the editorial cartoon. At the beginning of the last century, about 2,000 editorial cartoonists worked for American newspapers. By 1957 the number of full-time newspaper cartoonists had fallen to 275. As recently as 2007, they numbered 84, but the decline has continued to the point that the number of salaried cartoonists has reached about 30. Even freelance editorial cartoonists are feeling the pain—just last week, Pierre Omidyar’s First Look Media ended its funding of the editorial cartoon site The Nib.

"Cartoons were once so powerful they could bring down political dynasties, as Thomas Nast’s brought down Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall in 1870s New York. In the 1960s, Richard Nixon understood that a single cartoon of him by Herblock was powerful enough to block his political comeback. “I have to erase the Herblock image,” Nixon said. Just a generation ago, readers delighted in celebrating or damning the acerbic cartoons by Paul Conrad or Pat Oliphant. But somewhere along the line, editorial cartoons lost their cultural primacy. Who do we blame? And do we have a good reason to root for their return?"
He goes on to cite the decline of the newspaper and the rise of late night TV hosts cracking jokes and photoshopped images or memes -- and how all of that is much funnier (Shafer uses the term "eclipsed") than a political cartoon created by a professional editorial cartoonist.

Ha ha. This is, of course, baloney. It's one of those, "Let's write about the death of ______ ." And we've all seen these. "The death of print." "The death of scripted television." It's fine to have an opinion, but so many people I know LOVE cartoons I just can't take this too seriously.

But if he had written about the end times of the PAID PROFESSIONAL editorial cartoonist, I would have a harder time saying baloney. Editors have slashed these jobs, along with a lot of other newspaper jobs. Being a syndicated freelancer is no guarantee of a decent income, as editors are free to pick and choose. The cartoonist only sees money if his or her cartoon is picked. Yeah, this is spec work.

And it's too bad these late night comics don't want to hire cartoonists. I don't think a good cartoonist is funnier than a meme or a joke.

The Nib is turning to crowd-sourcing to buoy itself after its major back has pulled out. I have friends who use Patreon for help their income. Others are looking for work other than cartooning to eek things out. The old economic model is gone.

But people still love cartoons. I hope they are willing to pay.

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Matt Bors: "The Nib publishes 800 comics a year, and we can't do it alone."

Matt Bors' The Nib, an online magazine by editorial and nonfiction cartoonists, has lost its primary business partner and is asking for help. This is on the heels of last week's firing of Michael de Adder, and the cessation of all political cartoons at the New York Times.

We are witnessing the death of a particular kind of cartoon, unless we can help.

From Matt Bors, editor of The Nib:

After three and a half years, First Look Media has decided to no longer fund The Nib at the end of July and me and my team will be let go as part of a broader shift at the company.

They are, however, working to hand the publication over to me so that I can continue The Nib. This will be a big shift, but I will be devoting all my time to continuing this publication with contributions from all the editors and cartoonists who have made this publication what it is.

Our membership program and print magazine will continue. You can sign up today to get our new Scams issue and support us through this transition.

We hear from readers of this newsletter every day who say it’s an important part of their day. Now your direct support is crucial; our only funds going forward will be those our members have pledged each month to support us.

I founded this publication almost six years ago to highlight political and non-fiction comics in a media environment that doesn’t support them. I refuse to walk away from this project or let it die after the successes of our last year. There are are too many of you who have expressed support and written to say how important it is to you.

So we’ll keep going. I need your support to do so.

Become a member of The Inkwell today to support our comics.

Monday, July 01, 2019

Guillermo Mordillo 1932 - 2019

Argentine cartoonist Guillermo Mordillo, known simply as "Mordillo," passed away on June 29, 2019 in Mallorca, Spain, where he had been living the past couple of decades. He was 86.

He was one of the widest published cartoonists, famous for his big-nosed characters in print and animation.

"Mordillo was born on August 4, 1932, the son of Spanish immigrants in Buenos Aires. Having lived in Lima and New York, where he worked as a Popeye film cartoonist for Paramount studios, the budding illustrator moved to Paris in the early 1960s and developed his signature minimalist style. Mordillo had also long been fascinated by the big noses seen in characters in Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, and incorporated this motif into his work.

"Mordillo used absurdist humor to paint determined characters who often try to battle adversity. But since he knew no French, his protagonists did not speak and were unaccompanied by speech bubbles, a device that was prevalent throughout nearly all of his work.

"His breakthrough came in the mid-late 1960s when his cartoons were published in international magazines such as Paris Match in France and Stern in Germany, among others. In the 1970s, he had become one of the most widely-published cartoonists in the world. Over the course of his career, he created over 2,000 drawings without words, with an average of 60 per year."

- from

Beginning in 1976, Slovenian animator Miki Muster created a series of what would become 400 short animated cartoons titled "Mordillo." These were presented at Cannes and bought by TV stations in 300 countries. 

Mordillo was president of the International Association of Authors of Comics and Cartoons. His last gallery show was in 1989.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Video: Liza Donnelly at Inspire Fest 2019

New Yorker and CBS News cartoonist Liza Donnelly talks about how cartoons "disrupt" in this presentation from InspireFest. She cites Ben Franklin's "Join or Die" image, and rightly calls him America's first editorial cartoonist. Lou Rogers, an early 20th century female cartoonist, also used her images to move the country toward women's suffrage. Take a look at the video. Some inspiring words.

"Cartoons tell us about our world .... [Cartoons] tell us about who we are, what we're doing and what we might be doing wrong."

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Mike Lynch Cartoons in New Reader's Digest Book DUMB DAD JOKES

Just saw this at the local bookstore. Here's a 2019 book from Reader's Digest with some of my cartoons in it: DUMB DAD JOKES. You can buy it in the bookstore or online. I'm just one of several great cartoonists featured.