Wednesday, November 30, 2022

From the Dick Buchanan Files: "Wiggly Gardner" A Gardner Rea Profile by Gurney Williams

An editor must really like your work if he wants to celebrate your life and work in a major magazine. That's what cartoon editor Gurney Williams did for Gardner Rea (1894 - 1966). Like a lot of cartoonists, Gardner was born in Ohio. His initial plan was to become an artist, but at the age of fifteen, he sold his first gag cartoon to the old Life Magazine and his path changed. 

From the Post Morrow Foundation, which reprints the New York Times obituary of December 29, 1966, p. 31:

"When Harold Ross was gathering talent to start a magazine called The New Yorker in 1925, Mr. Rea was one of the original contributors. An old college friend, James Thurber, was in Paris at the time, but joined the magazine the following year.

"Rea’s contribution was considerably more than the drawings that appeared under his name. Some associates considered an equal talent was his short, sharp gags that formed the basis for cartoons by such noted colleagues as Charles Addams and the late Helen Hokinson. At one time he wrote about 40 gags a week, most of which he sold to editors.

"That somewhat serpentine line of his drawings, without detail, became his trademark, along with a trick of having in each picture a small shape, such as a necktie, inked in solid black. He explained the 'wiggle' of his line with another gag—'Nobody will catch on when I get senile.'

"But Mr. Rea distinguished between verbal humor and the art of drawing. He told an interviewer in 1946 that in common with most critics, he considered 'that line is the highest, most difficult form of art, and so long long as the fundamental design is there, I can’t see that it makes the slightest difference, technically speaking, if the subject matter is humorous.'"

Here's Dick Buchanan with the Collier's Profile and lots of cartoons. Thank you and take it away, Dick!


Collier’s April 4, 1953

   Whilst working at our desk, which looks suspiciously like a couch, we picked up an old issue of Collier’s magazine from the nearby coffee table, which looks suspiciously like a floor. Lo and behold, we discovered the magazine, dated April 4, 1953, contains a two-page spread celebrating Gardner Rea’s 20th year as a Collier’s cartoonist. Cartoon editor Gurney Williams’ profile of Rea claims Rea’s cartooning earned him a million dollars from 1908 up to 1953.  During that time, he contributed 650 cartoons to Colliers. All the while his cartoons were also appearing nearly every week in The New Yorker and The Saturday Evening Post and many other magazines. We do not have enough fingers to add it all up, but that’s a sh**tload of cartoons. Gardner Rea may have been the 20th century’s most published magazine cartoonist.  So, take a look at Gurney Williams’ profile of Gardner Rea, Wiggly Gardner . . . 

Full Page. Collier’s  April 4, 1953, page 66.

Full Page. Collier’s  April 4, 1953, page 67.

Gardner Rea  by Gurney Williams.

Gardner Rea’s first Collier’s cartoon, Collier’s  April 4, 1953.


GARDNER REA.  Collier’s  April 4, 1953.


GARDNER REA.  Collier’s  April 4, 1953.


GARDNER REA.  Collier’s  April 4, 1953.


GARDNER REA.  Collier’s  April 4, 1953.


GARDNER REA.  Collier’s  April 4, 1953.


GARDNER REA.  Collier’s  April 4, 1953.


GARDNER REA.  Collier’s  April 4, 1953.


GARDNER REA.  Collier’s  April 4, 1953.


From the Dick Buchanan Files: Gardner Rea Gag Cartoons 1938 - 1963

Gardner Rea's Sideshow

Tuesday, November 29, 2022



Above: cover detail from DC Comics' Limited Collectors Edition of Dick Tracy (1975). I was indifferent to DICK TRACY. I saw it in the newspaper growing up and I had read some of the old strips in those comics history books, but it wasn't until Blackthorne began reprinting the old TRACY strips in comic book and softcover format during the 1980s that I began to see why this highly stylized cops and robbers stories were so well regarded. TRACY is a markedly narrow strip that leaves no doubt that evil men (and women) exist and good (through sweat and perseverance) will eventually triumph. But while its scope may be narrow, Gould mines deeply. Tracy is the bright light of justice in this dangerous comic strip world. His morals as solid as his chin, this cop is unafraid to use as much violence against the ruthless villains as they themselves dish out. How grim is Tracy's world? As Don Markstein points out, within the strip's first week, Dick's girlfriend Tess Trueheart is kidnapped and her dear old dad is rubbed out. Mayberry this ain't! DICK TRACY was created by Chester Gould (1900-1985), who was at the helm 365 days a year from October 4, 1931 to December 25, 1977. Dick Locher has been part of the team behind this Tribune Media strip for over 30 years now. Here is a series of six cards from the Chester Gould Dick Tracy Museum that were part of a goody bag of items from the 2006 National Cartoonists Society Reubens weekend that was held in Chicago. Each card reproduced some terrific TRACY collectible and then there are interesting facts on the other side of the card. This is the whole set: Above is the front and back of the first card. These are all square, and about the size of a CD. The even came in a jewel box.


DICK TRACY is a registered trademark of Tribune Media Services, Inc. 

Related: "Dick Tracy The Art of Chester Gould:" 200 characters from DICK TRACY 1931-1977


- Edited from a blog entry of February 17, 2010

Monday, November 28, 2022

Cartoonists Pay Tribute to Charles M. 'Sparky' Schulz’s 100th Birthday #Schulz100

This Peanuts Sunday comic strip was first published on November 15, 1959.



It’s a celebration of #Schulz100! From the Charles M. Schulz Museum:

"In honor of Charles M. 'Sparky' Schulz’s 100th birthday, cartoonists across the country are paying tribute to the Peanuts creator in their own comic strips published today [November 26, 2022].

"Schulz is the only cartoonist ever to receive this honor—a fitting tribute for a man who devoted his entire life to cartooning.⁠

"The Schulz Museum is honored to share the collection of tributes at"

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Happy Fall

Time for some gatherings of family and friends! I'll be away from the blog for a short time.

This is a drawing I did for the Berndt Toast Gang Bill Kresse Memorial Spooky Drawing event, held every October to raise some money by the Long Island chapter of the National Cartoonists Society. I had no time and so, of course, when that happens, one has to MAKE time by getting up early or staying up late. It was fun to do in the midst of a big illustration job as well as teaching my History of Comics course at New England College. But, oh boy, I sure had to make the darn time to be able to draw it up.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Best Cartoons of the Year 1957

Time to visit Lawrence Lariar's BEST CARTOONS OF THE YEAR 1957! Here's an edit of a blog entry that originally appeared on November 21, 2007.


There is a lot of knowledge in this book. A lot of cartoon knowledge.


Here's what I mean. Here is an example of great composition and skilled use of wash. You get drawn in to the clunker of a foreign car due to the black spotting. I don't know who Keith was, but he's a pro.


Above is one by Huffine. Oh those darn office signs that people had in the 50s and 60s: THINK, SMILE, GENIUS AT WORK! They were a lot better than the once we have now with mountain climbers (ACHIEVE!) or eagles (SOAR!). I like Huffine's style, and I wish (like so many gag cartoonists) there was more about him on the Web.


The expression on the kid's face in this cartoon by the one and only Orlando Busino just grabbed me. Here's the whole format for that FAMILY TIES TV series wrapped up in one cartoon.


Al Piane draws beautifully correct plumage and I'll be darned but that suit looks like it could work.

John Albano shows us that what's old is new again with this gag that is still applicable today.

Bob Weber gives us the hardest working bank robbers ever. Bob, along with Orlando and other cartoonists, used to meet every week for lunch in Westport and talk cartoons. It was my pleasure to bump into this book, with samples of cartoons by two guys I admire!

I'm including Serrano's gag. I think I've seen this gag many times before. I don't know who was first, but the theme was popular with editors.

The one and only Don Orehek with a fantastic desert island gag. Not only is our man upset (he's literally tearing his hair out!), that bunny does not look pleased either!

Another from Busino. A great gag on an old topic. I love his lines; always great, cartoony, fun line work.

Huffine (I'm not sure of the first name; I think it's Dave -- but there's a Ray Huffine who worked for Disney), whose scribbly style I admire, has a great gag -- but there's a famous Addams cartoon that's similar. No, I don't know which one was first since I can't find the Addams one on Cartoonbank. If anyone wants to do the research on this, please do! I'd like to know myself!

The "I hate my mother-in-law" gag, along with the "boss chasing secretary around the desk" gag has been consigned to the great gag cartoon out-box in the sky. Still, I admire Hageman's ability to sketch this out so concisely.

Albano scores a hilarious (and mean) gag in the above cartoon. The look on the kid's face, and him holding onto his hat as he races away from the scene of the accident made me smile. This would not be politically correct today, so I could see that editors would not OK it. The times are a changin'. Heck, even 1970s era Sesame Street shows may not be appropriate for children!


Mr. Bernhardt will have the last word. Have a great Thanksgiving! And if you're drinking and driving, then please drive a dogsled!

UPDATE: On December 4, 2007 Orlando Busino was kind enough to email me and laboriously type in Dave Huffine's bio from THE BEST CARTOONS OF 1943:

"David Broome Huffine was born in Knoxville Tennessee in 1911. He left the University of Tennessee after his second year to become a surveyor and guide in the Great Smoky Mts. He left the Smokies to come to New York to attend the Art Students League which he left to become an apprentice to Dennis Wortman* whom he left after two years to become a free lance cartoonist...a field which he has not left as yet. He and his wife, Ruth Huffine. who is a painter have one nine month old son ( adopted). They hope he will share their hobbies of angling and hill-billy music. The Huffines live the year around in the Catskill Mountains.

"* I think he is referring to Denys Wortman who did a panel for United Features called EVERYDAY MOVIES."

I wanted to share his reaction to the similarity of Huffhine's cartoon with a famous/similar one by Addams. Here's Orlando once more:

"By now you must have gotten a number of answers to the question as to when Charles Addams did his cartoon ('George! George! Drop the keys!') but on the chance that you haven't. I have found it in a collection of Addams' work, MONSTER RALLY, published in 1950. The gags in Lariar's book are cartoons published in 1957. Huffine's gag has a similar caption but a different situation and I assume can be considered a legitimate switch."
I agree with you, Orlando! (Who am I to disagree?!)

Monday, November 21, 2022

FACE TO FACE Portraits by Feliks Topolski


FACE TO FACE is a big coffee table book of interviews with 35 people

"some likable, some not, each famous in America or England, each revealed in such a way as to make them better known to us in a few minutes than people we've known all our lives."

Hugh Burnett edits, with outstandingly loose and gripping portraits by Feliks Topolski. It's copyright 1964 by both men. Here are just three samples from the book.

Pretty much every famous person in the book gets a gatefold with a portrait and maybe another, smaller drawing. John Huston's crew and its boom mike overlap with the text. Each piece is only takes a few minutes to read.

These kind of books are not produced now. And if they were, (a) it would be actors and pop stars -- people who have fans who would buy, and (b) there would be no Topolski drawings, just photos like you can see everywhere else.

John Huston:

The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.:

Otto Klemperer:

-- Edited from an April 22, 2014 blog entry.

Friday, November 18, 2022

Happy Anniversary, Calvin and Hobbes

Thirty-seven years ago today the very first CALVIN AND HOBBES comic strip by Bill Watterson appeared in newspapers.

That's a long time ago. It was the reason I bought the paper! And I didn't have much money to go and spend it on a newspaper. I remember seeing it and thinking that it was too good. Too good to last long! My view of the world was that the mediocre stuff was the only thing that became popular. I am happy to be wrong!

Kids today tell me they love CALVIN AND HOBBES. When I teach cartooning classes, its regularly cited as a favorite. When I ask them where they got the collections, the answer is always the same: from their parents.

So, Calvin is being passed along from one generation of people to the next. Not thru toys. There aren't any. Not thru TV specials or movies. There aren't any of those. Calvin lives on the page and is kept in circulation because it's good stuff. Really good stuff. People are smart that way.

Here's the first five days of the strip ....