Monday, June 30, 2014

The Garden As of June 30, 2014

The tomatoes are all mulched and getting taller and bushier every day.

And there are three wee peppers. So early this year and so welcome.

Much blooming going on: the day lilies, gerbera, and the roses.

The squash and cucumbers are barely little shoots out of the ground now. Not much to see. The chair in the foreground has a basil plant in its seat.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

WSJ: 100 Legacies of the Great War

Above: a screen shot of the Wall Street Journal's 100 YEars, 100 Lagacies: The Lasting Impact of World War 1.

The Wall Street Journal has three photos from World War 1 on its front page this weekend. Saturday marked 100 years that Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated. This event is acknowledged as the spark that started "the War to End All Wars."

And we all know how wrong that would be.

The Wall Street Journal has a fascinating online resource: 100 Legacies of the Great War. There is so much there that resonated from then until now. Take a look.

Interview: New Yorker Cartoonist Mick Stevens

Mick Stevens, a New Yorker cartoonist since 1979, talks with The Comics Alternative's Aaron Alexander about his life and work.

Aaron Alexander: Do tools make the cartoonist? Probably not. Still they say something about your approach, and it always interesting to hear about. What are your cartooning utensils of choice? (Let’s say sketching and final work). 
Mick Stevens: I use my trusty Uni-Ball pens and good quality bond for roughs, Arches 140 lb. acid-free watercolor paper for finishes, pencil and/or ink wash on my finishes for publication. When I do color I use Dr. Martin’s dyes. During my 10-week stint as the New Yorker Dailycartoonist (my last one was on June 20), I was working strictly for web publication, so I didn’t need physical finished art. I drew on bond and used pencil (Mirado Black Warrior HB2) for shading, then photoshopped the results and tweaked them for the finals.
I draw several roughs for my regular weekly batch, and when I’m satisfied (or my deadline encroaches), I use a light-table to trace off clean versions. These are still roughs. If the mag wants a finish, I get out the watercolor paper and use the light-table again to do the finish, add tone, and send it off FedEx to the New Yorker.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Etta Hulme 1923-2014

Pioneering Star Telegram editorial cartoonist Etta Hulme died Wednesday, June 25, 2014 at her home in Arlington, TX. She had been in poor health for some time. She was 90 years old.

Etta Hulme was one of the first full-time newspaper staff editorial cartoonist ever hired.

A former president of the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists, she also won the National Cartoonists Society' Division Award for Best Editorial Cartoonist twice.

From Star Telegram obituary by Tim Madigan:

“For a long time, Etta was the only female editorial cartoonist,” said Ben Sargent, the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist at the Austin American-Statesman. 
“It was always a delight to see her at our conventions. She was like a den mother to all of us wild and crazy cartoonists. But she never made a big deal about being a female cartoonist. She was just a cartoonist. And her cartoons were so amazing.”

Read more here:
The Daily Cartoonist has a link to a documentary on Etta Hulme here.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Terry-Thomas Comics

British character actor Terry-Thomas in a comic book? Yes!

Some really wonderful cartooning from the Film Fun Annual of 1961, courtesy of the British Comic Art blog. It's attributed to Roy Wilson.

Hat tip to Stephen DeStefano!

Norman Rockwell and Ted Key

If you get the Saturday Evening Post, then you already know this month's issue has an interview with Ted Key's youngest son, Peter Key, about his famous dad, "The Man Behind Hazel."

SEP: Where did the name Hazel come from?
PK: My dad maintained that the name Hazel came “out of the blue.” But, funny story, he later found out that Bob Fuoss, then the managing editor of the Post, was given the silent treatment by his sister for three years when the cartoon first started running. Her name was Hazel, and she thought Fuoss had selected the name to ridicule her.

Ted Key's list of creations is wide and impressive:


Children's Book DIGBY, THE BIGGEST DOG IN THE WORLD, which was made into a movie in 1973

Stories for three Disney movies and the script for Disney's THE CAT FROM OUTER SPACE

The long-running "Diz and Liz" cartoon in JACK AND JILL MAGAZINE


Back in the 40s and 50s, when he was at the Post, Ted Key also pitched ideas for covers. While this was welcome, and he was paid for it -- it had to be done in a slyly surreptitious way.

Peter explains:

SEP: Were his ideas used? 
PK: Well, yes, but Rockwell didn’t like having cover ideas dictated to him. So, it was a bit of a dance. My father would sell cover concepts to Ken Stuart, the art editor at the time. Then Stuart would call Rockwell and ask him what he was working on. Rockwell would tend to say he had several projects going, but if he wasn’t specific, Stuart would run my dad’s ideas by him, and typically Rockwell would reject them all. Then a few weeks later Stuart would call Rockwell and again ask what he was working on. Rockwell would say, “Oh I have this great idea!” and it would be one of my dad’s concepts. In fairness, Rockwell always made these ideas his own.

A portion of the interview is at the link, for the whole thing you have to buy a paper or digital copy of the magazine. 

The FANTASTIC FOUR TV Series (1963-64)

Or: the best superhero TV show you never saw.

Go to for this "imagined" one season wonder starring Russell Johnson (the "Professor" on GILLIGAN'S ISLAND) as Reed Richards, "Mister Fantastic;" Elizabeth Montgomery (BEWITCHED) as Sue Storm, the Invisible Girl; William Demarest  as Ben Grimm, The Thing; and Tim Considine (SPIN AND MARTY) as Johnny Storm, the Human Torch.

It would have been a glorious show!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Golden Age Comic Books About Physics

Physics Central has seven public domain comic books about physics that are worth reading.

All of these tend to be from the Golden Age of comic books. They are silly, cheerful and pretty excited in general about science and its possibilities.

Hat tip to Michael Rhode! 

Worth clicking through for these images alone:

Karen Moy and Joe Giella Talk About Creating MARY WORTH

(Karen Moy and artist Joe Giella. Photo courtesy Tom Ward of Rattle and Hum Sports.)

"Meet the talented people behind the 'Mary Worth' comic strip" focuses on Karen Moy and Joe Giella, who have been creating the Mary Worth comic strip for newspapers worldwide. Tom Ward writes about the history and the behind the scenes goings on about Mary Worth.

Joe Giella:

“I started doing the strip with John Saunders about 23 years ago,” said Giella. “At that time Saunders was the writer on the strip, a former TV anchor man based in Chicago. When his father passed away he took over the writing of the strip. Prior to me starting the strip they gave me some references. I noticed that Mary had little round black eyes from the way the previous artist drew her. They looked like little raisins. I thought to myself that it just doesn’t look right. So I gave John Saunders a ring and asked him, ‘What’s the deal on the eyes? I was thinking of making her eyes blue.’ He said, ‘I’m glad you called me because my mother always had blue eyes.’ I said, ‘Your mother? What does she have to do with the strip?’ John said, ‘Well, that’s what the character was based on. My father’s wife.’

King Features staffer Karen Moy has been writing the strip, which originally debuted in 1938, for ten years.

“I knew Joe before I started writing ‘Mary Worth’,” said Moy. “He always struck me as a real gentlemen and I was also a fan of the ‘Mary Worth’ strip in general. I loved both the art and the stories. When the previous writer of ‘Mary Worth’, John Saunders, became ill, I tried out for the job, and based on my scripts, was hired by the editor as a temporary ghostwriter. After John Saunders’ death, it was a natural progression for me to continue to write the strip. I eventually received my own byline.”

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Sketchbook True Story: "Where Does a Thirty Pound Cat Sleep?"

A true story. We ran into a local gas station to get coffees and this guy that worked there, he … well, read on. My wife and I make a cameo in the 4th panel.

For those who care: Pigma Micron 08 and 02, Penstix 07 on 120lb sketchbook paper. Colored in Photoshop.

FOR LAUGHING OUT LOUD #1 Oct-Dec Winter 1956 Issue

The Hairy Green Eyeball Blog 3 shares the entire first issue of Dell's LAUGHING OUT LOUD, a gag cartoon magazine from the 1960s.

This mag features so many of the top post-war gag cartoonists. In addition to John Dempsey (above) and Stan Hunt (below), the list includes Chon Day, Virgil VIP Partch, Phil Interlandi, Gus Lundberg, Harry Mace, Bob Barnes and many others. Well worth a click!

Richard Thompson: Creating a Cartoon Character

Richard Thompson tackles the topic of creating a comic strip character:

"I always scared myself off trying a comic strip because it seemed too difficult and incomprehensible. How could I build a water-tight character that'd walk off the page and respond in ways that'd surprise me? Then I'd see Walt Kelly do it with ease, and I'd want to punch him."

Okay … and this all becomes an excuse for running some of the great Cartoon Class strips. You know, the CUL DE SAC comics where Petey takes a "how to cartoon class" from a guy who's named Mr. Spinnerack.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Original PEANUTS Specials Cast Interviewed

49 years ago A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS aired on CBS. Wow. That's a lot of years.

We all know that since then it's become an institution. We all know the lines and the music. I mean, when you see this quote, you can hear the voice, right?

"All I want is what I... I have coming to me. All I want is my fair share."

And this is the voice from 1965:

Marc Tyler Nobleman remembers and he actually went out and found the original voice actors for the PEANUTS gang.

They were all little kids then. Schulz wanted was the casting of real, actual kids. NOT professional voice actors acting like kids.

Marc catches up with them today. Stories of the production, and some great comments from the "original cast" (from the initial specials from 1965 to 1973) makes this for riveting nostalgia.

For instance:

Sally Dryer was 8 years old when she played Violet in A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS. She then played Lucy in IT'S THE GREAT PUMPKIN, CHARLIE BROWN.

If you got to meet Charles Schulz, how was that? 
Tremendous. Kind, dear, quiet man. He left a huge impression on me. We went up to his property when they were working on a book or something to take photos with him, and he had invited me to come to his office, if you will, and watch him draw for a few minutes. I got to stand next to the drawing table in his office. It’s a vague memory but in his museum they have his office set up like it was, and when I saw it, it was the same.

There are more interviews all week as Marc posts them, one by one.

Go see!

Monday, June 23, 2014

"Gassed" by John Singer Sargent

This painting, "Gassed" by John Singer Sargent (click to make REAL big), was inspired by what the painter saw at a 1918 casualty station while on the Western Front. It's about 7 1/2 by 20 feet. The centerpiece, that group walking through the middle ground of the painting, are soldiers that are able to walk, but not able to see. They were all blinded by mustard gas.

The painting was finished and the original hangs in the Imperial War Museum. Sargent's various  sketches are housed at several venues: the Corcoran, The Cleveland Museum of Art, private collections.

The image of "Gassed" and the preliminary sketches are from the John Singer Sargent Virtual Gallery site, curated with care and much historical context by Natasha Wallace. 

This Saturday, June 28, 2014, commemorates the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. This event triggered what was then called the World War, the Great War or The War to End All Wars.

Video: Betty Boop in "Snow White" (1933)

This Max Fleischer animated short featuring Mae Questal as the voice of Betty Boop and Cab Calloway providing not only the soundtrack and voices, has been

" … deemed "culturally significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. In 1994 it was voted #19 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time by members of the animation field. The film is now public domain." - Wikipedia

But don't let that stop you!

Although the directing credit goes to Dave Fleischer, the cartoon was actually the creation of veteran Fleischer Studios animator Roland Crandall. This was his masterwork; his "reward" for working so hard for Max and Dave though the years. The 7 minute cartoon took six months of labor, and is now considered an animation milestone. It is now in the public domain.

Take a look at Cab Calloway as Koko the clown moonwalking during the "St. James" musical number. The footage was rotoscoped from the real-life Cab dancing.


Friday, June 20, 2014

John Huehnergarth: Amateurish, Mediocre Work Never, Never Gets Into the Big Time

"You can break into the minor markets (sometimes) with a half-baked, underdone sort of cartoon - but amateurish, mediocre work never, never gets into the Big Time." 
- John Huehnergarth, American Artist Magazine interview, 1950

Video: John Buscema Inks in "How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way"

From "How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way," a video from 1988 that's based on the book of the same name. Stan Lee stands over John Buscema's desk as we watch him ink.

↵ Use original player
← Replay

Hat tip to Jim Keefe!

Video: 1988 ABC Saturday Morning Animated Bumpers

A collection of 1988 hand-animated ABC Saturday Morning TV network bumpers from Olive Jar Animation Studios.

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← Replay

Video: Israeli Comics Today

From the Society of Illustrators/MoCCA video archive:

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Video: Kaamran Hafeez Draws a New Yorker Cartoon

(Copyright ® 2013 | All Rights Reserved)

Well, the video says it's a New Yorker cartoon, but the cartoon is credited to have appeared in Barron's on Mr. Hafeez' site.

No matter.

The process, which is detailed in fast motion and with Pablo Casals playing a Bach cello suite in the background, is exhaustive.

Here are the steps:

  1. The Sketch
  2. The Tracing
  3. The Transfer
  4. The Inking
  5. The Wash

There is a difference between the initial sketch and the final art: the devil has disappeared. There used to be a devil standing on the right, looking on. It would have been interesting to hear why this was dropped. Also: a word about the tools he uses, and why he uses them, would be interesting to hear. So, I guess I am asking Kaamran Hafeez to post more if he is interested.

The video runs about 4 minutes. He gives us "3:2329" as the actual time.

Video: Advice from Roz Chast

Roz Chast with words of advice in this thirty second video taped backstage at the 92nd Street Y.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Deep Dark Fears Tumblr

It's a wizzywig kinda thing: a Tumblr site that is full of troubling fears about life. Anyone can submit, and Fran Krause ( He is currently faculty in the Character Animation Program at CalArts.) illustrates them. Very addictive, and some are very funny.

Hat tip to Barry T. Smith!

Charles Barsotti 1933-2014

(Charles Barsotti cartoon © 2014 Condé Nast. All rights reserved.)

Cartoonist Charles Barsotti died in his Kansas City home late Monday, June 16, 2014. He was surrounded by family and friends. The cause was brain cancer. He was 80 years old.

(A column header by Charles Barsotti for The New Yorker via the My Delineated Life blog. © 2014 Condé Nast. All rights reserved.)

B. Kliban describes cartoonists as "the people Rockwell missed," but this isn't true of Mr. Barsotti. He believed in helping people. After graduating Texas State University with a social sciences degree and two year stint in the army, he worked in his home town of San Marcos, TX at the Brown School, a special needs facility, with the aim to complete a master's degree in education. He was there for six years. And he was also freelance cartooning.

By the 1960s, Barsotti had moved to Kansas City, MO to take a job with Hallmark Cards. For two years, he continued submitting cartoons. Among his clients were The New Yorker and Playboy, two of the most sought after gag cartoon markets.

After two years at Hallmark, he moved further north and east, to New York City. He became the cartoon editor for The Saturday Evening Post. In 1969, the magazine folded. With a wife and four kids, he returned to the "more manageable" locale of Kansas City and Hallmark Cards.

By the early 70s saw he became a contract cartoonist at The New Yorker. This means that The New Yorker got first look at all of his cartoons and he was paid a more substantial rate. The Magazine would buy 1,400 Barsotti cartoons. 

He also made time to propose comic strips for syndication. Here's a list of six that were syndicated from his Wikipedia page:

C. Barsotti's People
My Kind of People
P.J. McFey
Sally Bananas (1969–1973)
Funny Form (1974)
Punchline: USA (1975)
Broadsides (1975–1979)

He won his district when, in 1972, he ran for congress on an anti-Vietnam War platform. His wife, Ramoth Barsotti, said, "He hated the Vietnam War."

But he did not like campaigning. From the Kansas City Star obituary by Edward M. Eveld:

"He decided to 'stand for office but not run for it,' he said at the time. 'It was a ‘You can vote for me as a protest against the war if you want to’ kind of thing.'' He recalled getting about 30 percent of the vote."

A generous man, Barsotti would help out when asked, sending cartoon originals for fundraising efforts by public TV and others.

But there was one exception.

From The Star:

"In 1986, Barsotti told the Chicago Tribune about an incident a year earlier: Patrick Buchanan, then President Reagan’s newly named communications director, asked for an autographed original of a Barsotti New Yorker cartoon that featured Buchanan. 
"Barsotti declined, even after Buchanan wrote a letter to him on White House stationery: 'It would be much appreciated and would hang in a place of honor either at my residence or in my office — for Sam Donaldson to see. If not, thanks for — as the President might put it — making my day.' 
"But Barsotti was no fan of the conservative Buchanan and declined. 
"'Politicians don’t trust you if you give them something for nothing,' Barsotti quipped. 'They respect a trade.'"

1988 saw an award from the National Cartoonists Society for Best Magazine Gag Cartoonist. 

In 1996, he was one of five cartoonists honored in a series of postage stamps in the UK.

"'It got approved by the queen, they tell me,' Barsotti told The Star. 'I would have hated to not be approved by the queen.'"

His cartoons were described as evoking 

"… both the traditional world of a Thurber and the contemporary sensibility of a Roz Chast. With his simple repertory—including a nameless but lovable pooch and a monarch whose kingdom consists of a guard and a telephone—Barsotti manages to miraculously dissipate the clouds in people's minds with his unexpected humor." 
His bold line combined with a sharp, whimsical comment cannot be duplicated. It's uniquely Barsotti.

He was going to go into the social sciences. He spent 6 years in a staff position at a special needs facility in Texas. He ran for congress in 1972. He wanted to help his fellow man and he was smart. But he was also an illustrator with the pen of a poet.