Friday, April 29, 2022

Before They Were Stars: Stan and Jan Berenstain

Above: A detail from the book IT'S ALL IN THE FAMILY (© 1956, 1957, 1958 McCall's Corp.)

Back before the BERENSTAIN BEARS children's books and the videos, husband and wife cartooning team Stanley and Janice Berenstain were regularly cartooning.

They met at the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art in 1941. After three years in the US Army during the War, Stan returned and, in 1946, they were married, and creating little Berenstains -- as well as many gag cartoons.

Above: Three of the many 1950s & 60s paperback book collections of Berenstain cartoons: LOVER BOY (© 1958 Stan & Jan Berenstain), IT'S STILL IN THE FAMILY (© 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961 by McCall Corp.), and HAVE A BABY, MY WIFE JUST HAD A CIGAR (© 1960 Stan & Jan Berenstain).

Here's a snippet from their bio on their site:

"Stan had become interested in cartooning and sold some cartoons to the Saturday Review of Literature during his last weeks in the Army. Jan also enjoyed doing cartoons and, after they married, joined Stan in submitting cartoons to magazines. It took them about a year of weekly submissions before they broke into the 'big time.' But they soon became major contributors to such popular magazines as The Saturday Evening Post and Collier’s and shortly thereafter became cover artists for Collier’s."

During the 1950s and 60s, they produced a regular feature for McCall's, and they were putting out a lot of paperback collections of family humor. Some were original works, other were collections of the McCall's feature. So many of these went into multiple printings and so much of their early work (the pre-Bear cartooning) is forgotten, including a comic strip Sister, that ran from 1953 to 1956.

Here are a series of cartoons from "The Cartoon Series From McCall's," as reprinted in the 1958 hardcover IT'S ALL IN THE FAMILY. First up is a series about being Home Sick -- not as in "missing your home," but as in "too sick to go to school and Mom has to take care of you all day:"


I like the whole family (pets as well) in attendance, observing the sick daughter.

The examples above of trying behavior by the ailing yet energetic little girl are detailed and good to click and look at big-sized. I like the glop hanging off the pile of dishes and the sorry looking "Free Funny Mask" dog.

And here we have the end, a repeat of the tableau from the first panel, with a few roles reversed.

Here they are, riffing on the Birthday Party theme:

Noted: A haze of black wash in the middle of the balloons makes them look very balloony.

Some great Lord of the Flies style kiddy chaos in the last panel!

The little brother and the family dog are in their own little world.

And here is Swimming Lesson:

By now, we know the formula: order (parents) is imposed on chaos (kids). Chaos rules.

Poor ol' Dad! and we get a reassuring background peek at the boys running out to get some ice cream, so we know they are not missing, presumed drowned here.

It took me a minute to notice that that was Dad under the blanket in the background.

Just some wonderfully observed material here, and a fine line and wash effect. Never have I been able to find out who did what -- Did Stan pencil and Jan ink? Who wrote them? Well, it was, obviously, a 100% team effort. Heck, that's why they signed their work "The Berenstains."


 -- This is an edited version of a blog post that originally published way back on April 1, 2008.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Graphic Novelist Ken Krimstein in Conversation with Rabbi Nanus

Via Wilshire Boulevard Temple:

"To commemorate Yom HaShoah, join Rabbi Susan Nanus and New Yorker cartoonist Ken Krimstein, as he presents his new graphic novel, 'When I Grow Up: The Lost Autobiographies of Yiddish Teenagers.' Based on six of hundreds of newly discovered, never-before-published autobiographies of Eastern European Jewish teens on the brink of World War II, these stories were found hidden in a Lithuanian church cellar in 2017." 

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Justin Green 1945- 2022


Underground Comix cartoonist Justin Green, best known for his Binky Brown series, passed away on April 23, 2022. He was 76. 

A pioneer in the field of autobiographical comics, Green suffered from undiagnosed OCD, which he felt that the Catholic Church exacerbated. He attended RISD, where he discovered Robert Crumb's comix work, calling it "harsh drawing stuffed into crookedly-drawn panels." Dropping out of a Master's program at Syracuse University, he moved to San Francisco. He said he felt "a call to arms" to be part of the alternative lifestyle and the emerging Underground Comix scene. 

Via Wikipedia:

"Green's short comics pieces appeared in various titles and anthologies including Art Spiegelman's and Bill Griffith's anthologies Arcade and Young Lust. But in 1972, he was overwhelmed by an urgent desire to tell the story of his personal anxieties.[11][12][13] Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary is a solo comic book that details Green's struggle with a form of OCD known as scrupulosity, within the framework of growing up Catholic in 1950s Chicago. Intense graphic depiction of personal torment had never appeared in comic book form before, and it had a profound effect on other cartoonists and the future direction of comics as literature. Green's roommate at the time, Art Spiegelman, was so inspired by Binky Brown that he thought he'd try his own memoir-type story, a strip he called "Maus" which some years later became the seed of Maus.[14]"

More at The Daily Cartoonist.

From his wife, fellow cartoonist Carol Tyler's Instagram:

April blooms in pastel beauty, showy, fragrant, everything rife with pure poetry. Even the most beleaguered, broken-down empty lot looks pretty good.
Except on this exceedingly warm night, as warm as any you’d find in his favorite month July, the brilliant gentleman rolled off the edge.
The creative genius fell off the ledge, that crazy fellow. That marvelous, rolling magnet accumulating,
fueled by compulsions, and rituals, guilt, and rage . . . hobbled by disease of late,
The ever-vigilant dot connector slipped on the path of his illusions, tumbled down the magnificent facade of everything his life, and crash landed on the comfortable old mattress we had prepared for him months ago.
We, his loved ones, prepared but not prepared for the putty-dry voice on the phone in the wee hours, stating flatly: “I’m sorry, he’s gone.”
And that was it.
So we, his loved ones, hurry-assembled, in body and in spirit, at his place of care one last time, to abide with him
finally released.
Finally released.
In the still warm night, his widow flung open the window there.
Then, as if it were a bugle, this bird, in the dead of darkness, began calling out, cutting through the 3am murk like a machete clears a path - -
It went something like this:
Hark! Ages! Prepare to Receive a Great One in Glory!
And we understood that a coterie of plaid-clad brooding angels had set an infinitely long table to showcase his brilliance:
Drawn pages, pens, inks, brushes, paints, signs, his gold leaf kit (as the pearly gates apparently need a touch-up). There are scripts, notebooks, guitars, sheet music, coffee making supplies (essential), mystical talismans, books, correspondence, empty jars, receipts, stir sticks, and
all those things that say ‘I built a life. I loved my family. I valued my friends. I did quality work and shared my gifts, and, of course, (using his words) — (how often we’d heard him say):
“I’ll be in touch.”
Justin Green, 1945 - 2022.
Please share. I have no contact info for many of Jud's friends because he changed passwords often, and left his phone in his pocket when doing laundry a few weeks ago. Memorial being planned.



Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Riverhead, NY: Cartoonist Talk Sunday, May 1, 2022 2pmEST East End Arts Art Gallery


In honor of the East End Arts gallery show featuring Berndt Toast Gang member Don Orehek's cartoon originals, as well as his nephew Clayton Orehek, there will be a panel of cartoonists talking about their work on Sunday, May 1, 2022 2pmEST at the East End Arts Art Gallery, 133 East Main Street in Riverhead, NY.

"'Lights 'n Giggles' is an art exhibition showcasing sculpture by artist Clayton Orehek and cartoons by career cartoonist Don Orehek. This show is an immersive art experience, displaying not only the talents of this LI native Uncle-Nephew pair but also a delightful dichotomy of artistic styles, generational ideals, and social commentary. 

The panel consists of:

"BTG Chapter Chair/Children’s book illustrator/cartoonist Adrian Sinnott moderates the discussion with Bunny Hoest (The Lockhorns), Helene Parsons (Gag writer for multiple magazines and cartoon strips), John Reiner (The Lockhorns), and Van Howell (Cartoonist/illustrator, Riverhead resident, EEA Member). Panel discussion will be followed by walking tour to 11 West Gallery to see more of Don's works for those who are interested"

Monday, April 25, 2022

From the Dick Buchanan Files: Robert Day Gag Cartoons 1934 - 1964

Robert Day (1900 - 1985) was a mainstay freelancer during the Golden Age of Gag Cartoons. His cartoons were everywhere. Prolific, and in every major national magazine, his career spanned over sixty years. Dick Buchanan has generously spent his time and effort in unearthing twenty of his many single panel cartoons. Most of these have been unseen since their original publication. Thanks for shining the spotlight on the great Mr. Day, and take it away, Dick!


(Gag Cartoons 1934 – 1964)

Robert Day was one of the most prolific freelance gag cartoonists of the mid-20th century. His cartoons appeared in most of the leading magazines of the day, including Life, Collier’s, The Saturday Evening Post,  Look Magazine and, most memorably, The New Yorker. In a career that spanned 45 years, The New Yorker published 1,800 of his drawings, as well as 8 covers. It seemed as if one of his cartoons was in almost every issue.

Robert Day was a native of San Bernardino, California. When the 1919 flu epidemic postponed his high school graduation he enrolled at the Otis Art Institute. While on his way to school one day he dropped into the Los Angeles Times and got a job in the art department. He remained with the Times, while studying at Otis, from 1919 to 1927. He moved to New York City in 1930 and, while on the staff of The New York Herald Tribune, he became a freelance cartoonist. His first New Yorker drawing was published in 1931. 

Day was also an illustrator, best remembered for his color illustrations for Fun Fare; A Treasury of Reader’s Digest Wit and Humor, published in 1949 in collaboration with Bob Hope. The book remained a Best Seller for 3 years. He also illustrated Arthur Godfrey's Stories I Like to Tell and Leo Rosten's Rome Wasn't Burned in a Day. A collection of his New Yorker cartoons, All Out for the Sack Race, was published by Random House in 1945.

1. ROBERT DAY. Life Magazine July, 1934.

2. ROBERT DAY. Life Magazine July, 1936.

3. ROBERT DAY. Collier’s March 12, 1938.

4. ROBERT DAY. Collier’s May 13, 1939.


5. ROBERT DAY. Collier’s August 23, 1941.

6. ROBERT DAY. Collier’s April 18, 1942.


 7. ROBERT DAY. Collier’s March 25, 1944.


8. ROBERT DAY. The Saturday Evening Post February 16, 1946.


9. ROBERT DAY. The Saturday Evening Post April 26, 1947.


10. ROBERT DAY. Collier’s April 12, 1948.


 11. ROBERT DAY. Collier’s September 25, 1948.


12. ROBERT DAY. The Saturday Evening Post January 8, 1949.

13. ROBERT DAY. This Week Magazine July 29, 1952.

14. ROBERT DAY. American Magazine July, 1952.

15. ROBERT DAY. This Week Magazine June 22, 1952.

16. ROBERT DAY. True Magazine July, 1952.

17. ROBERT DAY. Colliers March 4, 1955.

18. ROBERT DAY. Look Magazine January 19, 1957.

19. ROBERT DAY. Look Magazine May 12, 1959.

20. ROBERT DAY. Look Magazine August 25, 1964.


All the Cartoons From May 1962 McCALL'S

The Hairy Green Eyeball 2 blog scans in a bunch of Robert Day's gag cartoons for your enjoyment

Friday, April 22, 2022

Cartoonist Chris Schweizer: The Drawing Tools I Use


Eisner Award nominated cartoonist Chris Schweizer posted this pic of his drawing gear on his Facebook page and, with his permission, here it is for your perusal. Chris says:

"Sometimes folks ask me what tools I use (usually in regards to the painted drawings and commissions I post from time to time). Since I was refilling my palette today, I figured I'd go ahead and snap some pics while my paints were all out. Hope this is helpful!"

Chris writes more at his Patreon.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Virtual Event Friday, April 22, 2022: Paddy Whacked: Tenniel, Nast, and 19th Century Irish Caricature Presented by Michael Dooley


The Lewis Carroll Society presents a live virtual event on April 22 at 1pmPST (4pmEST): Paddy Whacked: Tenniel, Nast, and 19th Century Irish Caricature presented by Michael Dooley.

The is part of the all-day Lewis Carroll Society of North America Spring 2022 Event "Curious Ways In: Collecting, Performing, and Contacts with the Carrollian Universe."

It's in conjunction with the USC Libraries Wonderland Award.

Virtual Event: Call Me Nathan: An Evening with Quentin Zuttion April 28, 2022 6pmEST:


Via the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum, a virtual conversation Thursday, April 28th with graphic novelist Quentin Zuittion:

Join the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum on Thursday April 28 at 6pm ET for a special event with French author and cartoonist Quentin Zuttion, co-creator of the graphic novel "Call Me Nathan."

Assigned female at birth, Nathan spends his formative years facing questions without answers. As puberty hits and begins to change his body, it all just feels wrong, and something needs to change for it to feel right. He finds himself at a crucial crossroads. Becoming oneself is the work of a lifetime, no matter our gender, sexuality, or refusal to be limited by such categorizations.

For Nathan, his courageous first steps towards discovering his true self happen through transition. Based on a true story, Catherine Castro and Quentin Zuttion explore the tenacity and bravery that such a journey entails while society continues to wrestle with the meaning of identity. "Call Me Nathan" issues a moving call for understanding, a powerful denunciation of prejudice, and a celebration of everything it means to love.

Zuttion will be in conversation with Dr. Margaret Flinn, Associate Professor in The Ohio State University Department of French and Italian. Book signing to follow.

Unable to attend in person? Register to join the Zoom broadcast.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Art by Charles Geer: THAT SUMMER WITH LEXY!


Here is another book with illustrations by Charles Geer (1922-2008). (Last month I showed you some of his work from the children's book THE MYSTERY AT REDTOP HILL.)

THAT SUMMER WITH LEXY by Audrey McKim was published in 1964 by Abingdon Press. It's copyright that year by the author. The dust jacket and cloth book cover utilize an exclamation point at the end of the title, but the interior title page drops it. 

Plot: Lexy O'Connor and her friend Patty are starting an unexciting summer vacation at home in Edmonton, Alberta, when they

"… decide to earn money for allowances during the school year. A White Elephant Sale ends in near disaster when a neighbor's wedding ring is sold; their house-to-house photography business almost collapses when two picture become police evidence. A lot happens, but it's all told in uninspired prose. The laugh possibilities in this string of misfortunes may hold the youngest members of the age group." -- Kirkus

Here are some of the drawings from the book, all drawn in that loose but confident style of Mr. Geer's which I admire. Mr. Geer was born in Long Island, served in the navy in World War II, and then studied at Pratt. He settled in Rockland, Maine. You can see his love of trees, rocks and water in these drawings.

-- This has been an edited version of an April 20, 2015 blog entry.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Monday, April 18, 2022

Video: Mickey Rooney as "Mickey 'Himself' McGuire" in MICKEY'S CIRCUS (1927)



A salute to the late Mickey Rooney, who audaciously tried taking a comic strip character's name for his own, but did not get away with it.

Below is an excerpt from one of the TOONERVILLE FOLKS comedy movie shorts, based on the newspaper comic panel by Fontaine Fox (above). It stars a wee Mickey Rooney. He's the tough ne'er do well tyke "Mickey 'Himself' McGuire" in MICKEY'S CIRCUS (1927). This was his film debut.

Sure, it's similar to the Our Gang shorts, and you don't need me to tell you who Mickey is. He's the bossy one in the big black hat (see above drawing), the one moving the plot along.

There were 55 live-action two-reelers made, straddling the silent and sound eras, from 1926 to 1936.

Mickey's real name was Joe Yule, Jr. In the early silent shorts, he was billed as Mickey McBan and then Mickey Yule before settling on the same name as the bully from the feature, Mickey "Himself" Mcguire. And that was okay for a decade, while filming these movies.

By the 1930s, at the same time he was shooting the TOONERVILLE series, he was in another series based on a cartoonist's creation. He was the voice of OSWALD, THE LUCKY RABBIT for Disney,

With subsequent movie roles in bigger pictures, like A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM and MANHATTAN MELODRAMA, it was time to move on. Besides, he was getting a little big to play McGuire.

So, in 1936, he left these shorts to do other roles. The first Andy Hardy movie, YOU'RE ONLY YOUNG ONCE, was a year away, and after that, in 1938, his scene-stealing role as Whitey Marsh with Spencer Tracy in BOY'S TOWN.

But the syndicate threatened him with a legal suit. The name of "Mickey 'Himself' McGuire" was one of the characters in the Toonerville Folks comic strip before he had it, of course, and he could not formally appropriate it. And so he changed his name for good this time, from Mickey McGuire to Mickey Rooney.

On an odd note, the popular panel was known by a couple of names too. In some papers it was Toonerville Folks, and in others Toonerville Trolley. The panel (it was always a panel, not a strip.) ran in up to 300 newspapers from 1913 through to 1955.

The Mickey Rooney live-action shorts were the "middle" movie series. The live-action series was bracketed by animated films. The first time that the Toonerville panel was brought to life in the movies was in a series of silent animated shorts from the Betzwood Motion Picture Studio between 1920 and 1921. The final time that the series was in the movies was Van Beuren Studio's production of "Toonerville Trolley" in 1936.

Here's Mickey Rooney hamming it up in MICKEY'S CIRCUS:



One of the featured players in these live-action pictures was Billy Barty, who played Mickey's brother Billy McGuire. He was three years old when he appeared in his first one. He's about six or seven years old in this excerpt from MICKEY'S THRILL HUNTERS (1931), which takes off on the Harold Lloyd "thrill" comedies:




Child Star Delia Bogard Interview (1989) Via Barry Conrad

Delia Bogard starred, along with Rooney and Barty, in the Mickey McGuire series:

Friday, April 15, 2022

Society of Illustrators Gallery Show: WHAT ME, PANIC? Celebrating Angelo Torres Reception June 17, 2022


From left: Tony Tallarico, Angelo Torres and Howard Beck.

For Angelo Torres' 90th birthday, there will be a gallery show at the Society of Illustrators. The reception for his show, titled WHAT ME, PANIC? Celebrating Angelo Torres is June 17th. You can reserve here. He's posted an excerpt from a documentary video on his Instagram



Left to right: Lenny Brenner, Bill Gaines, Antonio Prohias, Angelo Torres, and Nick Meglin.