Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Video: Trina Robbins on CBS This Morning: "Pretty in ink: How women in comics went from damsels to heroines"

 Via CBS This Morning:

"Comic books have long been a male-dominated world and female characters have often been depicted as sidekicks, romantic interests and hypersexualized pinups. CBS News' Vladimir Duthiers talks to comic book historian Trina Robbins and comic book store owner Ariell Johnson on how women in comic books went from damsels in distress to the fearless powerhouses seen today."

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

The Missing Marvel Original Art of Jack Kirby


"Read here on OhDannyBoy's blog about what happened to the hundreds of others which were stolen from the Marvel offices and Kirby never got back. 'Out of the 4,537 pages that Kirby drew over those 274 [Marvel] issues, 2,480 went missing. Some of those pages were handed back to inkers, but the bulk was stolen.' Culprits are apparently known but no names are given here - it makes for some sad, sobering reading: 
"'This art was stolen directly from the Marvel offices. Now there are stories that are well known in these circles. The artist who stole John Buscema and John Romita art to pay for his divorces. The artist who stole art to pay off their house and set themselves up for life. The editor who used to ask for corrections to be done on vellum so he could keep the original art boards. The writer who proudly boasted about conning Steve Ditko into handing over original art because, as he and falsely claimed, the company they worked for had a policy that meant the writer got a portion of the art. The writer who used to constantly ask his artists for art, but only key or splash pages. The colourist who used to steal entire issues. The artist who, when given pencils by famous artists, would ink them on vellum and submit those for publication and keep the pencils. The list is endless really. All the names are those connected with the industry and held in the highest regard.'"

Monday, March 29, 2021

Rod McKie RIP

My Scottish cartoonist friend Rod McKie has passed away. He had a stroke the morning of March 16th and was admitted to the intensive care unit at the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh. He passed away ten days later. 

I don't have a birthdate for Rod. We rarely discussed personal things. We always talked cartooning.

While still in school, in the 1980s, Rod began contributing gag cartoons to leading British magazines. Rod became one of the youngest cartoonists in Punch Magazine. He created "Skid Kid" for IPC's "Buster" comic. He didn't stop there. He began submitting to the US markets soon after, with cartoons in The Wall Street Journal, The Harvard Business Review, Reader's Digest and others. I got to know him through the cartoonist chat board "The Wisenheimer." He was on top of it all: markets, then-new digital techniques, etc. 

From his Cartoon Fiend blog:

"I started drawing cartoons from a very early age, copying my comic books. Particularly Aquaman, for some reason. I stated submitting work as a teenager and by the time I was 21 I'd started working for the national press in the UK, then Punch and then IPC Magazines - the home of Judge Dredd. So, it was gradual, but I set out to become a cartoonist from the get-go."



This was a shock. Rod was an Internet pal for many years and I had hoped we would one day meet. He loved cartooning, and was a friend. Many years ago he was telling me about Doctor Who, telling me that the Second Doctor was the best. He then burned a DVD of "Tomb of the Cybermen," complete with his sketch of the second doctor on the disc for me and mailed it to my Brooklyn apartment. My condolences to his wife of 46 years, Lis, and his daughter. Rod was a grand fellow. And he was right that the second doctor was the best. I will drink a toast to him tonight.

The Daily Cartoonist has a remembrance and some good links.

Friday, March 26, 2021

From the Dick Buchanan Files: The Search For Happiness Part Three: Marriage 1946 - 1967

Marriage is a sacred institution, its vows meant to be taken solemnly. Unless you're talking cartoons. In cartoons the husband is a lazyboned dope  and the wife a shopaholic nag. You know what I mean. Dick Buchanan has 26 classic golden age magazine cartoons that get this point across succinctly. Thanks so much, and take it away, Dick:



Part Three: MARRIAGE
(1946 – 1967)

JOHN DEMPSEY. Look Magazine June 6, 1961. 

This is the third, and final, installment of The Search for Happiness—Marriage.

The first thing one must know about marriage in mid-20th century is that most couples didn’t believe in divorce. They preferred a fight to the finish.

The cartoons selected here clearly illustrate the haps and mis-haps of marriage as seen through gag cartoons. The husband, known in those days as “The Provider,” was often a lazy bum who spent most of his free time lying on the couch napping or watching TV while drinking beer. When he wasn’t home he was drinking and/or playing poker with his buddies he was fishing hunting or playing golf. The wife was the “homemaker,” usually a bird-brain who spent her time shopping for clothes and along the way, wrecking the car in her guise as the dreaded Woman Driver. Her spare time was spent brow-beating her poor husband, often assisted by her monstrous mother.

It is only fair to acknowledge the dark side of marital bliss -- spousal abuse. Many cartoons highlighted this topic. The wife was the abuser in 99% of the cartoons while the majority of readers of the leading national weekly magazines were women. Go figure.

So, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, winner take all, here’s the last stop in The Search for Happiness . . . Marriage.

1. BILL HARRISON. American Magazine April, 1955.


2. EDWIN LEPPER. The Saturday Evening Post October 17, 1953.


3. TOM HUDSON. True Magazine February, 1949.


4. BOB BARNES. The Saturday Evening Post October 3, 1953.


5. JEFF KEATE. Liberty Magazine November 30, 1946.


6. VIRGIL PARTCH. American Legion Magazine March, 1947.


7. TOM HENDERSON. American Legion Magazine March, 1949.


8. HERB WILLIAMS. True Magazine January, 1967.


9. IRWIN CAPLAN. The Saturday Evening Post June 12, 1949.


10. SYDNEY HOFF. The Saturday Evening Post June 11, 1949.


11. WILLIAM F. BROWN. 1000 Jokes Magazine December, 1955 – February, 1956.


12. JERRY MARCUS. The Saturday Evening Post April 18, 1953.


13. LEW FOLLETTE. The Saturday Evening Post November 5, 1949.


14. HERB GREEN. Laugh Parade May, 1967.


15. SALO ROTH. Liberty Magazine November 30, 1946.


16. WALTER GOLDSTEIN. The Saturday Evening Post June 11, 1960.


17. HANK KETCHAM. This Week Magazine August 21, 1949.


18. STAN HUNT. The Saturday Evening Post October 10, 1953.


19. DICK CAVALLI. Collier’s April 27, 1956.


20. STEVE DUQUETTE. American Legion Magazine July, 1963.


21. RALSTON JONES. The Saturday Evening Post October 30, 1954.


22. LAFE LOCKE. American Legion Magazine September, 1951.


23. GARRETT PRICE. Collier’s November 2, 1946.


24. ROWLAND WILSON. 1000 Jokes Magazine Spring, 1954.


25. MARTHA BLANCHARD. The Saturday Evening Post June 15, 1957.


This is the third Search For Happiness. Want more searching? OK! The other two are:

From the Dick Buchanan Files: The Search for Happiness Part One: The Mating Game 1949 - 1959

From the Dick Buchanan Files: The Search for Happiness Part Two: Here Comes the Bride! 1942 - 1964


Thursday, March 25, 2021

Mike Lynch Studio Drawings

 Here are some drawings I did (and one photo) of my studio set up through the years. 


From ten years ago. I still have that big bulletin board in front of me. Different computer and chair. 

From my first corner-in-the-living-room set up in Brooklyn. Maybe around 2005 or so.

My thanks to my dear old dad for giving me that Levenger lap desk a couple of decades ago. It IS shaped like a kidney bean. It's still in use!

Me and some lounging orange cat ....

I work at the computer and then there's a proper drawing table behind me.

Me and sweet Sam the cat ....

This is me at my old "real job." This was drawn back in the 90s I think.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Monday, March 29, 2021: When Comics Were Cancelled: Dr. Carol Tilley on Fredric Wertham


One of the great things about this time in history is that more and more events are being live-streamed. Case in point: this "The 1950s: When Comics Were 'Cancelled'" Zoom event on Monday night. Here's the scoop, and it's free:

"Comics historian Dr. Carol Tilley presents an in-depth, profusely illustrated analysis of the graphic images from 1954's notorious 'Seduction of the Innocent,' which claimed comic books were destroying American youth and which was written by anti-comics crusader Dr. Fredric Wertham, who largely succeeded in actually destroying the comics medium in midcentury America.

"Dr. Tilley is a one of the foremost authorities on Wertham. Her scholarship focuses on young people’s comics readership during the mid-20th century.

"This free online event is presented by Michael Dooley's 'Design History of Comics and Animation' course and ArtCenter Dialogues at ArtCenter College of Design."


I'm looking forward to it!



Tuesday, March 23, 2021

My Article in The Cartoonists' Club of Great Britain "The Jester"


The Cartoonists' Club of Great Britain, "the UK's largest and oldest cartoonists' organisation," has published an article in its Jester magazine that I wrote about The New Yorker cartoonist Peter Arno. Here's a copy of the cover, with a cartoon by Peter Rigby. There are profiles of Peter Rigby, Frank Dickens (whose "Bristow" strip ran in the Evening Standard for 51 years), Jim Russell (who drew perhaps the longest running cartoon strip by a single artist -- "The Potts" -- for 61 years, from 1940 to 2001), and some short articles on new members and computer programs. All in all, a great issue, and chock full of cartoons. 


John Stilgoe, the CCGB Secretary, had seen my short piece on Peter Arno on this blog, and asked to reprint it in their monthly magazine. Yes, of course!


Below is the story about Peter Arno in easier-to-read original bloggy format:

Here's one of my favorite stories about Peter Arno (1904 - 1968):

Some cartoonists like the beginning bit (the coming up with the idea, honing the gag bit I mean) and some like the process (the sketching and layout) and others prefer the end (the sale). My favorite part is coming up with the gag and drawing the doodle in my sketchbook. Not so with Mr. Peter Arno.

Arno would draw and redraw his cartoons sometimes dozens of times. There is a true story that cartoonist Mel Casson would tell, about visiting Mr. Arno in his penthouse apartment. I'll do my best to relate it here, from memory of him telling it some 20 years ago as part of a National Cartoonists Society Connecticut Chapter speech he gave.

So, a few decades back, Mel Casson and a friend went to visit the one and only famous New Yorker cartoonist Peter Arno. He had invited them to his apartment. And it really was a penthouse apartment. The lobby elevator went up, and the doors opened onto the interior Arno landing, from which one could see the Arno living room and -- there he was -- Peter Arno himself, mixing drinks.

It was a pleasant visit and Arno was a wonderful host. After sitting down, having a drink and talking shop, Arno asked the younger cartoonists, "Do you want to see my studio?"

Well, of course! Who wouldn't want to see Arno's studio?!

So, Arno walked over to a door, and opened it. They walked in. Arno switched on a light. The room had curtains all around, from floor to ceiling, covering the wall, the windows. "I can't have any distractions," explained Arno. The only furniture: a large drawing board, lamp and chair. And on the drawing board, laid out in two rows, were twenty original drawings.

These were 20 originals of the same cartoon, drawn over and over. But, coming closer, the cartoons were not exactly the same. Each one was had a slight difference: an arm bent a different way, a head turned, one character was upstage of the other, to the right in another, etc. Each one was a fully inked Arno piece of original comic art, ready for publication.

I remember Casson telling Arno how surprised he was that he (Arno) did all of this work, painstakingly laboring over the cartoon, drawing and redrawing it in so many different, subtle ways -- all in finished ink and wash. Casson suggested drawing a series of thumbnails or pencil sketches instead of going to all this time and effort to create twenty finishes.

Arno explained that this was always the way he worked: drawing many different variations of the cartoon until he was satisfied. Casson repeated that it was so much work, drawing a large size finished piece over and over and over again.

"But you don't understand," explained Arno, motioning to the 20 cartoons, "This is my favorite part."



Harry Lee Green brings a lovely sampler of Peter Arno's amazing layout and masterful wash style from the collections SIZZLING PLATTER and HELL OF A WAY TO RUN A RAILROAD. 

Michael Maslin, who wrote the great bio of Arno (Peter Arno: The Mad, Mad World of The New Yorker's Greatest Cartoonist), weighs in and quotes many New Yorker cartoonists on the man.

Monday, March 22, 2021

George Mandel 1920 - 2021

Cartoonist and author George Mandel passed away on February 13, 2021, just two days after his 101st birthday. 

He was someone who always wrote and drew. Before entering the war, he drew comic books during the golden age. In WWII he was wounded during combat, and received the Purple Heart. George went on to write novels, poems, articles, fixing Hollywood scripts and drawing cartoons. An early writer of the beat generation, he was a lifelong friend of novelist Joe Heller.

The Daily Cartoonist has more information here. Well worth a visit.

In 2008, I shared some cartoons from his Beatville USA paperback collection. It's reprinted below. 

George saw it a few years later, and sent me the following email, which I wanted to share for the first time:

"Mike, I grew too old for a brain-damaged Purple Heart veteran of WWII to thank
you for the Beatville number Joe Heller’s daughter not too recently sent me.
Now reinforced by need and my good old wife’s workout regimen , I thank you very
much. {Thankful she’s a health nut, I once boasted that to a cop and he told me
his is just a nut.)

"As you know, everybody holds lawyers in the highest esteem just a notch below
politicians, so If you should think of any publisher that “can grok a whole”
satirical book of cartoons about them, please let me know before I hit
ninety-one and the metal yarmulke beneath my scalp calcifies. (Are you familiar
with Mario Puzo’s “George Mandel Plate-in-the-head Stories” in his Godfather
Papers and Other Confessions?"


I sent an email back, but never heard from George again.


Can you grok a whole book of beatnik cartoons? If you're hip to that, then BEATVILLE U.S.A. is the book for you.

Author/cartoonist George Mandel writes about the beat generation in 6 small essays interspersed between his own cartoons. The book is copyright 1961 by Mr. Mandel.

Above is a wordless 8-panel cartoon that is confident and successful. I kept looking at the compositions, the postures, and illustrative folds in clothing and really admiring Mr. Mandel's draftsmanship. Look at the fellow's legs and arms: angled this way and that, as he preps to look oh so beatnik casual cool.

The way our title characters lean up against the tree or stand in the doorway; there's a bad posture, knobby shouldered, slack-jawed look to these fellows. Even if their clothes change, you can always spot them. Mandel is very good about staying on the beatnik model.

Espresso, wheat germ and Mary Jane was the way of life. I like the happy smile on the woman in the workplace, in the left hand cartoon. And the choice to show her part of the way up, out of her chair, and turning to the rest of the office, is a naturalistic and nicely human touch. Isn't it strange to see an office environment without a computer monitor on every desk?

Was there ever a time in NYC when a guy would walk around with a "I Cash Clothes" bowler hat? Again, I like the posture of the 2 beatniks on the left. Even their knees have wobbly, gravity-stricken posture.

For some reason the "There Is No Zen!" cartoon struck me as wonderfully funny. The only nitpick I have with the book is the use of initial caps in all the gag lines, something I've never seen before or since in gag cartooning. I don't think it's Mandel's doing. My guess is that it was a decision made by an out of touch with gag cartoons editor.

I really did not have high hopes for this book when I first saw it. How many cartoons, after all, can you do about beatniks? "Congratulate Me -- It's a Cat!," with our young beatnik dad holding his beret in reverence over his heart, as he walks down the steps where his pals are splayed, has a wonderful sense of humor about this moment of passage. This is another good cartoon by the good writer George Mandel.

And I forgot that barber shops were once way back before men began going to salons and spas -- barber shops were where you could go and chew over the events of the day.

Mandel wrote a number of books, but was never as famous as his good friend Joseph Heller.