Thursday, November 28, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving Weekend

Poor Stan. This cartoon originally appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Have a great weekend everyone. I hope to see you soon!

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Howard Cruse 1944 - 2019

Very sad news. Howard Cruse has passed away at the age of 75. The cause was cancer.

He was part of the underground comics movement in the 1970s with his comic book Barefootz. He also was the founding editor of Gay Comix in 1980. Later in the decade, he created the gay-oriented comic strip Wendel. DC Comics published his graphic novel Stuck Rubber Baby, which was nominated for and won numerous awards.

I remember taking the LIRR out to Huntington with Howard to have lunch with the Berndt Toast Gang for its monthly lunch. A self-effacing talent who was very gracious. He was more interested in the other cartoonists than talking about himself. He was one of the first, if not THE first cartoonist to draw comics and alternative newspaper strips about homosexual life. He will be missed.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Gahan WIlson 1930 - 2019

A Gahan Wilson cartoon from Look Magazine  September 10, 1963.

Gahan Wilson, known for his macabre magazine cartoons in Playboy, National Lampoon and The New Yorker, died Thursday in Scottsdale, AZ at the age of 89. The cause was dementia.

His stepson, Paul Winters, posted:

"The world has lost a legend. One of the very best cartoonists to ever pick up a pen and paper has passed on. He went peacefully - surrounded by those who loved him."

He was born in Evanston, IL. He was "born dead." This is a true story he would tell, just as the 2013 documentary on his life is titled "Gahan Wilson: Born Dead, Still Weird." 

From the NY Times obituary:
"The 'born dead' part of the documentary’s title refers to the story he recounts of his birth: His mother had been given an anesthetic that knocked her out but also caused him to be born seemingly dead. The hospital staff was prepared to “put me in some sort of box,” he says in the film, but his family doctor intervened.

"'He used hot and cold water and slap, slap, slap,' Mr. Wilson told The Comics Journal in 2011. 'He got me coughing and puking and breathing and that’s that: I was alive.'"

I met Gahan Wilson on a Tuesday at The New Yorker offices, back when it was in Times Square. It was maybe 15 years ago on what's called "Look Day" or "Cartoon Look Day" to be more descriptive. He was a quiet fellow; soft spoken and polite. I got to know him over time, while we waited in what was then called the "Cartoonists' Lounge." It was just a large closet with a couch. Many times, after filing in and out of the editor's office to show our cartoon batches for that week, Gahan, Sam Gross, Warren Miller, David Sipress, and other cartoonists would walk a few blocks to have lunch and talk shop.

Gahan told me, one time, about the early days, when he was just starting out. This was over one of these lunches and I, by chance, was sitting next to him. During the first years that Gahan Wilson slogged up to the Midtown NYC markets for "Cartoon Look Day," he was told that his cartoons, while funny, were probably not fit for the midcentury sensibilities that the cartoon editors were looking for. What was frustrating for him was that the editors LIKED what he was doing. How could they like it and not buy it? Maddening!

One day, after a long tome of note selling to the major mags, he went up to the Collier's magazine, as usual. The regular cartoon editor, Gurney Williams, was not there. The art director was temporarily performing the cartoon editor chores. (Gurney Williams had just accepted the cartoon editor position with Look Magazine.) The art editor liked Gahan's single panel cartoons and bought some. That was, as they say in the business, his big break. Slogging persistently has its rewards.

Soon, he would become a mainstay cartoonist at Playboy with his macabre cartoons, usually in full color and a whole page. He was a favorite of Hugh Hefner's. ("By the early 1960s, I could say with real satisfaction that no other magazine in the world — The New Yorker included — had a cartoon stable the equal of Playboy’s. And no cartoonist was more popular, or more enduring, than Gahan Wilson." - Hefner, as quoted in "Gahan Wilson: Born Dead, Still Weird.")

In the 1970s, he became a regular at the National Lampoon with his comic strip "Nuts."

There are a lot of tributes and remembrances on the web. A few are:

CNN: Cartoonist Gahan Wilson, 'the Wizard of Weird,' dies at 89
The New Yorker: The Beautifully Macabre Cartoons of Gahan Wilson

Washington Post: Gahan Wilson, cartooning’s master of the creepy and the macabre, dies at 89

Courtesy of my friend Dick Buchanan, here are some of Gahan Wilson's little seen magazine gag cartoons from the first decade he was drawing:

1. At last a major market cartoonist, Gahan Wilson cartoons began appeared regularly in Collier’s until they ceased publication. COLLIER’S. October 15, 1954

2. COLLIER’S. January 7, 1955

3. COLLIER’S. January 21, 1955

4. The masses may have been bewildered but Cartoon Editors were beginning to get the message. TRUE MAGAZINE. May 1955

5. TRUE MAGAZINE. August 1955


7. COLLIER’S. September 16, 1955

8. COLLIER’S. January 20, 1956

9. COLLIER’S. March 16, 1956

10. COLLIER’S. March 23, 1956.

11. COLLIER’S. July 6, 1956

12. When Collier’s folded, Cartoon editor Gurney Williams welcomed Wilson to the pages of Look. LOOK MAGAZINE. July 22, 1958

13. Many of Wilson’s best gag cartoons appeared in Look Magazine in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. This one was a classic. LOOK MAGAZINE. December 3, 1963

14. Dell Editor and cartoonist John Norment was a friendly editor who happily promoted Wilson’s early work, publishing many cartoons, several spreads, and cover art for his two Dell publications. FOR LAUGHING OUT LOUD. October-December, 1963

15. 1000 JOKES MAGAZINE. June-August, 1964




From the Dick Buchanan Files: Some Gahan Wilson Gag Cartoons 1955 - 1964

THE TRUTH ABOUT GOLF AND OTHER LIES by Buddy Hackett with Drawings by Gahan Wilson

Friday, November 22, 2019

PS Magazine 1951 - 2019

PS Magazine, "The Preventive Maintenance Monthly," will cease to be after this month.

The monthly army instructional magazine, which detailed how to maintain and problem solve issues relating to army-issued jeeps, guns, communication devices, etc., was originally created and edited by Will Eisner. He ran the magazine from its inception in 1951 until 1971.

Mike Rhode reports that "P.S. Magazine ended as printed comic in 2017, ends as digital comic book in 2019:"

While looking for information on military educational comic books, I went to a couple of websites for the P.S. Magazine, the Will Eisner-created longtime Army preventive maintenance publication.
"A World War II publication, Army Motors, which used a few cartoon characters to discuss maintenance problems, became the model for a new publication. In June 1951, the first issue of PS Magazine was published using the cartoon format. The Army technical bulletin transitioned to an all-digital format in June 2017, publishing its 775th edition -- the last to run in print."
The Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS) says that the electronic issue version will end this month with #804:
" Effective 1 Nov 2019, PS will cease publication of its monthly, illustrated magazine and move to a fully-online information resource. To read PS Magazine after 1 Nov 2019, visit A quarterly compilation of articles appearing on its website will be made available on DVIDS."
Currently issues from 1999-2019 can be downloaded at the magazine's site at

Historical issues from 1951-2018 can be downloaded here.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Tom Spurgeon AKA "The Comics Reporter" 1968 - 2019

Photo of Tom Spurgeon by Meghan Ralston.

Tom Spurgeon, who was one of the co-counders of the Cartoon Crossroads convention in Columbus, Ohio, as well as the man behind the web site, passed away on Wednesday. He was 50 years old. No cause of death has been given.

The Columbus Dispatch has more:

Spurgeon served as managing editor and executive editor of the noted industry trade magazine The Comics Journal from 1994 to 1999. He co-wrote the 2004 biography, “Stan Lee and the Rise and Fall of the American Comic Book,” with Jordan Raphael. At the time of his death, he was managing his own website, The Comics Reporter.

A public memorial will be held at 5 p.m. Dec. 14 at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum, 1813 N. High Street in Columbus. There are no current plans for a funeral, his brother Whit said.

Spurgeon is survived by his mother, Sandra “Sunny” McFarren, and brothers, Dan and Whit Spurgeon.
When I heard that Tom had passed away, I couldn't believe it. It was just wrenching news. He was a force in comics. Everyone knew him or knew of him. Spurgeon was an enthusiastic comics omnivore and champion. This is a tremendous, unexpected loss. RIP, my friend.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

From the Dick Buchanan Files: Dog and Cat Cartoons 1949 - 1966

Dogs and cats. Living together. Mass hysteria!

Courtesy of gag cartoon collector extraordinaire Dick Buchanan, here are twenty magazine cartoons about cats and dogs from his vast Greenwich Village-based clip file. Thank you and take it away, Dick!


(1949 – 1966)

Dogs and cats play a big part of the lives of many Americans.  Some folks like cats while others like dogs.  Some like both.  For what it’s worth, the Cartoon Clip File’s office pet is our goldfish, Benchley.

We laugh at our pets.  We’re never quite sure whether or not they laugh at us.

This time it’s our turn to laugh at them.  Here are some cartoons about our animal friends, the dog and cat . . .


1.  HANK KETCHAM.  Collier’s, circa 1951.

2.  RAY HELLE.  The Saturday Evening Post  June 11, 1949.

3.  JACK TYRELL.  1000 Jokes Magazine  September – November, 1956.

4.  PHIL INTERANDI.  This Week Magazine  December 4, 1960.

5.  DICK SHAW.  Collier’s  May 20, 1950.

6.  BOB KRAUS.  1000 Jokes Magazine  Summer, 1951.

7.  JOHN GALLAGHER.  The Saturday Evening Post  March 30, 1957.

8.  VIRGIL PARTCH.  Collier’s  March 19, 1949.

9.  EDWIN LEPPER.  The Saturday Evening Post  November 2, 1963.

10.  VAHAN SHIRVANIAN.  The Saturday Evening Post  July 27, 1957.  


1.  TED KEY.  Collier’s  December 16, 1950.

2.  GEORGE WOLFE.  American Magazine  August, 1950.

3.  BO BROWN. American Magazine  September, 1950.

4.  THE BERENSTAINS, JAN AND  STAN.  American Magazine  July, 1953.

5.  LARRY REYNOLDS.  Look Magazine  January 17, 1957.

6.  JOHN NORMENT.  The Saturday Evening Post  July 20, 1957.

7.  MORT WALKER.  The Saturday Evening Post  July 30, 1949.

8.  TOM HENDERSON.  The Saturday Evening Post  September 27, 1958.

9.  HERB GREEN.  The Saturday Evening Post  May 4, 1957.

10.  BILL HOEST.  The Saturday Evening Post  May 21, 1966.


Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Cartoonists Exchange Correspondence Course: Lesson Correction Portfolio 1946

The Cartoonists Exchange of Pleasant Hill, OH used to be a busy cartoon correspondence course operation for a number of decades. "Learning how to cartoon by mail" was a real thing in the 20th century, with several schools all over the country. Famously, Charles Schulz and others paid for these kind of courses. Today we are looking at the Lesson Correction Portfolio and it is copyright 1946 by Cartoonists' [sic] Exchange.

Cartoonist David Rand collected students' submissions, and then, sold the drawings back to them. You just have to shake your head and admire Mr. Rand's monetization of the medium!

So many of these corrections are serious drawing comments:
  • indicate grain in wood,
  • upper torso should be longer,
  • nose on pretty girl's face should be less noticeable,
  • hand detail should be more carefully worked out,
  • glorify the girl's legs.

Okay, maybe not that last one.

Lots of good, basic advice here, 73+ years on. I love pages like this, with lots of pen noodling. Even if you've gone all digital, then this still applies!

Evidently, a student was given a lesson. I don't own the lesson books, so I'm in the dark here. Maybe something like the old lady commits violence against the old man. Something like that. Or, guy finds jar of mystery spirits in the cellar; hilarity commences.

There is some good advice here, but I find that instead of looking at the folds in the clothes, I am wincing at the story telling.

Below is a photo of Mr. Rand, realizing his ambition of drawing comic strip ads for some consumer item called "Peppets."

 Edited from an original blog entry of March 18, 2009.