Friday, January 19, 2018

Be Back Soon

There are times when our private lives need 100% of our attention. This is one of those times.

I will be back shortly with some great cartoons of the past. For now, I wish you all the best. -- Mike

Thursday, January 18, 2018

New Movie Based on Cartoonist John Callahan's Memoir

After a long time in development, cartoonist John Callahan's autobiography is adapted to the big screen in DON'T WORRY, HE WON'T GET FAR ON FOOT.

Many years ago this was a project near and dear to the late Robin Williams, who, if I remember correctly, befriended John. John became a quadriplegic after a car accident and was known for his very politically incorrect cartoons. He took up cartooning after the accident and had to draw with both hands clasped together. John died in 2010 at the age of 59.

The movie opens in 2018. It's directed by Gus van Zant and stars Joaquin Phoenix, Jack Black and Jonah Hill.

My thanks to my friend Adrian Sinnott for the heads up!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

QUINCY by Ted Shearer Part Two

Here are some more of Ted Shearer's gorgeous QUINCY comic strips. Part one is here.

Above: a 4 panel gag sequence with an opening establishing angle of the interior of Quincy's home, a close up of angry granny, a medium close shot of Quincy's reaction with Granny in the background, and a final panel emphasizing Quincy's expression in a medium close up. Shearer gives you a real sense of place and character.

Quincy is one of the few comic strip characters to consistently address the reader directly. In the first 3 panels, we have the set up; and three different angles, as Quincy says his prayers. And, in the final panel, we are looking straight on at Quincy, and he meets our gaze, as he shares his realization with us.

Every character is in motion. Granny is moving a pot, and even Quincy, seated at the table, looks around while he complains. I like the painterly use of the grey tone, especially on the middle panel, as it's "splashed" haphazardly on Granny and the background.

Pragmatic Quincy may want to conspicuously consume, but he understands the bottom line better than his pals.

Above: another one of those kid conversations where lofty philosophising meets grounded economic concerns.

Above: a strip from 1971. Money, or the lack of it, is a constant theme. Here is Quincy, working part-time in a store, chatting with his white friend Nickles. I like the bits of the store that Shearer draws in the background. Note that there is rarely an inanimate object that is horizontal. The counter, the cash register; all are at a slight angle to make the picture a bit more dynamic.

Above: a deceptively simple strip. Look at that first panel. The whole set up is there. Shearer juxtaposes the rickety, home made "Soul Express" with the bikes, seen behind the glass window. The kids have to lean a little bit up just to see these objects of desire, emphasizing visually how out of reach they are. Like in the previous strip with the car, the items are shiny and new; the antithesis of the dark, jaggedy lines of the slums.

There is a lot of life in Quincy. Even when he's talking or eating, his body is usually moving.

This is the second time that I've showcased Ted Shearer. More QUINCY strips by Ted Shearer are here, along with biographical information and more links.

The cartoons reproduced here are from the softcover collection QUINCY, copyright 1970, 1971 and 1972 by King Features.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

QUINCY by Ted Shearer Part One

Ted Shearer's comic strip QUINCY ran from 1970 until he retired the strip, 16 years later. Ted was a cartoonist with a wonderfully grounded knowledge of illustration. QUINCY deserves more than a quick look, it deserves to be remembered.

The cartoons reproduced here are from the softcover collection QUINCY, copyright 1970, 1971 and 1972 by King Features.

Quincy was, in the tradition of the 1930s strip SKIPPY, a scrappin' philosopher. It was kid-friendly, and a beautiful thing to look at.

Jamaican-born Ted Shearer (1921-1996) grew up in Harlem. He sold his first cartoon at the age of 16 to the New York Amsterdam News. He studied at Pratt, in Brooklyn, NY. He served in the army in WWII, in the 92nd Division, achieving the rank of Sergeant. He was a regular Stars and Stripes contributor.

Since 1937, Ted had been drawing features for the Black newspaper press. After the war, you could see Mr. Shearer's cartoons in leading magazines. He began working full-time for the the prestigious BBD and O advertising firm in the 1950s, becoming an art director there.

But he left his career for QUINCY. One of a group of new, different post-war kid strips (along with WEE PALS, TIGER and MISS PEACH, to name a few). The difference here was the look and the tone of the feature.

One source says that he achieved those painterly swooshes of dots by using some kind of Benday (or "Ben Day") paper; a specially treated art paper, popular among editorial cartoonists, that you could brush a clear fluid onto it and then dots or lines (depending on the kind of paper and the type of fluid) would appear. It's still available, but I have been told that it's (a) expensive and (b) all those chemicals are not good for you.

Above: this is what I like about the strip. Here's a conversation that has nothing to do with running down a Harlem street and shooting some hoops; but it does no harm to show that. It's also just like kids: they talk and talk, throughout the day, no matter what they're doing. I like the kids' point of view; a low angle -- in the first panel. That bit of fence on the right, in the second panel, is just enough to let us know that they're on a playground in the city. The swooping grey Benday clouds give us the sense that this is a gloomy and/or dirty place.

The reason I wanted to show these strips is because of Ted Shearer's mastery of place and composition. By looking at the above 4 panels, we can see 4 different views that show us who these characters are and where they live. The third panel, with the city angling over Quincy and his friend Sneeze, is gorgeous.

The juxtaposition of light and dark, and the different shapes -- the jagged lines of the grass, the rectangles of the strips, the jagged stones of the fence -- all combine to give a personal, even a painterly, depiction of the park.

Mr. Shearer enjoyed painting and was in many gallery shows. He also created the BILLY JO JIVE series of books with his son.

The drawing of Quincy, Viola and Sneeze, walking away in the final panel, is an example of good cartooning. Here we are, looking at the backs of 3 cartoon characters, and we can see they are alive; each walking in a different angle, their bodies at slight pitches. And that lone hydrant next to them -- it's Ted Shearer reminding us these are city kids.

-- Edited from an August 28, 2008 blog entry.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Cartoonist Rina Piccolo: Ask Me Anything

My friend Rina Piccolo is hosting a week-long #AskMeAnything session over at the #AMAFeed. This is a chance to ask a cartoonist whatever you would like. She will be popping in to answer during the week. Rina is a well known syndicated cartoonist, as well as an illustrator, New Yorker cartoonist and has been in the professional cartooning business for a while. If you want to know how to deal with feedback, how to get published, how to overcome doubts about a cartooning career, and so on -- then this is for you.

Here's a good question and answer from the feed:

Question: What do you think is the secret to getting more readers to take interest in your works?

Rina Piccolo: This is a good question because it raises a point that I've always believed in. I may have even written a blog about it somewhere along the line. Anyway, it's this: basically, if the cartoonist/writer/artist is having fun creating whatever they're creating, it will show in the final product, and chances are good that people will generally like it because the spirit in which it was created will shine through. I never believed in pandering to an audience -- as a younger cartoonist, I sometimes did things, or put things in my comics that I "thought people would like", and they just crashed and burned. I learned a lesson: Just draw and write to entertain yourself-- you aren't that much different from other folks, and so what you find funny will most likely be funny to other people as well. That said, I should add another little secret: Don't try to please everybody. It's impossible. There will always be people who don't like what you do, and so you may as well draw and write what you find funny.

Go look here, and consider asking this amazing cartoonist a question. 

Friday, January 12, 2018

"A Russian and an American Met On a Road" - a Story from ONION SOUP by R.O. Blechman

ONION SOUP is a collection of short, illustrated fables by R.O. Blechman. It was published by Odyssey Press and is copyright 1964 by Mr. Blechman.

Here is one of my favorites that still resonates today. Click these onto their own page so you can really see them.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

From the Dick Buchanan Files: William Steig Gag Cartoons 1946 - 1965

The terrific thing about seeing a collection of cartoons like this is that they are usually unseen since their initial publication. These aren't just the top cartoons that have been reprinted and reprinted over the years. And it's a reminder as well that most of the major magazines had gag cartoons.

Here are fifteen gag cartoons by the great William Steig. All have been lovingly clipped, scanned and cleaned up by Dick Buchanan. My thanks to you and -- take it away, Dick:

1946 – 1965

William Steig was a cartoonist and sculptor as well as a renowned children’s books author and illustrator. He sold his first carton to Judge in 1930, soon followed by his first sale to The New Yorker. Over the next 73 years The New Yorker would publish 1600 of his drawings and 121 covers—that’s more than two  years of covers.

Today Steig is perhaps best known as the author and illustrator of series of books for children.  His Sylvester and the Magic Pebble was awarded the Caldecott Medal. It was followed by Abel’s Island, Doctor De Soto and many more, including Shrek!  They are all marvelous books for children and adults alike.  

These are William Steig gag cartoons from the era when he was hailed as “The King of Cartoons.”  It’s a sampling of his drawings from Collier’s and Look Magazine from 1946 to 1965 . . .

1. Collier’s February 16, 1946.

2. Collier’s February 16, 1946. 


3. Collier’s August 14, 1948.


4. Collier’s May 14, 1949.


5. Collier’s December 31, 1949.

6. Collier’s March 11, 1950.


7. Collier’s July 22, 1950.


8. Collier’s August 19, 1950.

9. Collier’s May 11, 1956.


10. Look February 3, 1959.


11. Look February 17, 1959.


12. Look September 15, 1959.


13. Look May 10,1963.


14. Look January 15, 1963.


15. Look August 10, 1965.


There's a lot more from the Dick Buchanan collection of great old gag cartoons:

From the Dick Buchanan Files: Favorite Gag Cartoons 1947 - 1958 

From the Dick Buchanan Files: Hank Ketcham Gag Cartoons 1944 – 1952

From the Dick Buchanan Files: Hank Ketcham Roughs

From the Dick Buchanan Files: Holiday and Winter Cartoons 1948 - 1960

Dick Buchanan's Cartoon Files: More Cops and Robbers Gag Cartoons 1947 - 1968

Dick Buchanan's Favorite Gag Cartoons 1946 - 1964

From the Dick Buchanan Files: More 1960s Cartoons from PUNCH

From the Dick Buchanan Files: Virgil Parch Part One; VIP in the 1940s

From the Dick Buchanan Files: Virgil Parch Part Two; VIP in the 1950s

From the Dick Buchanan Files: Even More Color Cartoons 1940 - 1956

From the Dick Buchanan Files: "Captions? Who Needs 'Em?" Wordless Gag Cartoons 1947 – 1970

From the Dick Buchanan Files: Orlando Busino Gag Cartoons 1956 - 1966

From the Dick Buchanan Files: CARTOONYFELLERS’ DIGEST, "a 1955 rag for cartoonists by cartoonists"

From the Dick Buchanan Files: Magazine Cartoons from Life and Judge 1931 - 38

From the Dick Buchanan Files: June 1953 Cartoonist's Market Newsletter

Dick Buchanan's Cartoon File: More Mid-Century Gag Cartoons 1946 - 1964

Dick Buchanan's Cartoon File: Color Gag Cartoons 1946 - 1956

Dick Buchanan's Cartoon Files: Cops and Robbers Gag Cartoons 1945 - 1968

Dick Buchanan's Cartoon Files: Gahan Wilson: Early Gag Cartoons 1954 - 1964

Dick Buchanan's Cartoon File: Inkyfellers' Gagzette

Dick Buchanan's Cartoon File: The Years of Al Ross - 1947 – 1968

Dick Buchanan's Cartoon Files: New Yorker Cartoonists Abroad 1966-1968

Dick Buchanan's Cartoon File: 1945 - 1962

From the Dick Buchanan Files: "How I Create Humor" from 1950s - 60s Gag Cartoon Insider Journal "The Information Guide"

Dick Buchanan's Cartoon File: 1950s Color Magazine Gag Cartoons

Dick Buchanan's Cartoon File: Funny Vintage Magazine Gag Cartoons 1946 - 1963

Dick Buchanan's Cartoon File: Wordless Gag Cartoons 1944-1964

1953 George Booth Drawings for American Legion Magazine

Dick Buchanan: Winter/Christmas/Holiday Gag Cartoons 1940s-60s

Dick Buchanan: Some PUNCH Magazine Cartoons 1948-1963

Dick Buchanan: Gag Cartoon Clip File 1946-64

Dick Buchanan: Gag Cartoon Clip File 1947-62

Dick Buchanan: Some Favorite Magazine Gag Cartoons 1940-60s

Dick Buchanan: Gag Cartoon Clip File 1931-64