Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Interview with Robert Leighton

Here's an interview that The Medium site did with New Yorker cartoonist and professional puzzle-writer Robert Leighton.

"I don’t think that cartoonists ever decide to become cartoonists. I think they just don’t decide to become something else. I think that when we are little we are instinctively creative and open about the world, and we can’t draw all that well, and we think the world we see is confusing and adults are dumb, and all that stuff. And we simply continue along that path until we learn how to draw better. Then we’re cartoonists."

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

RIGHT AROUND HOME by Dudley Fisher

If you had a dictionary of cartoonists by state, then Ohio would be the thickest chapter. So many great cartoonists came from the Buckeye State. The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum has compiled a list of names with strong ties to Ohio that includes James Thurber, Milton Caniff, Bill Watterson, John "Derf" Backderf, Matt Bors, Jim Borgman, Edwina Dumm, Billy DeBeck, Cathy Guisewite, Richard Outcault, one of the co-creators of Superman, and more here. 

The Washington Post's Michael Cavna asks "Wait — just how did Ohio become the cradle of great cartoonists?"

From the article:
"'As a cartoonist, your job is basically to sit alone in your room, drawing on a never-ending deadline,' [Bill] Watterson, who grew up in Chagrin Falls, tells Comic Riffs. 'For that kind of work, it helps to grow up with sober Midwestern values and to live someplace without a lot of exciting diversions.'

"'Cleveland is especially good,' the “Calvin and Hobbes” creator notes, 'because it has eight months of cloud cover and snow.'"

Well, who am I to argue with Bill Watterson?

Today I want to talk about another great Ohio cartoonist: Dudley Fisher. Born in Columbus, OH in 1890 and schooled in the same town at OSU. It was in his sophomore year, during the mid-year break, that he visited some friends who were working at The Columbus Dispatch. There was a job opening, and so he began doing layout for the newspaper. This was a lot better than his previous job of working in a pool hall during the evenings. It would change his mind about his architect career. He worked at the paper and enjoyed it.

He participated in The Great War, and upon returning to Columbus in 1919, continued at The Dispatch. Mentored by renowned Dispatch editorial cartoonist Billy Ireland, he became known for a feature titled Jolly Jingles. He also drew an occasional Sunday, Skylarks, that incorporated an aerial view. In early 1938, he began Right Around Home and it was an immediate hit.

The feature took advantage of the size of the page, and it was a sweet look into an innocent, small town America. King Features took notice, and quickly syndicated it nationally. 

From Hogan's Alley's The View from On High: Dudley Fisher’s “Right Around Home” by Jonathan Barli:

"The drawing style of Right Around Home evolved from a variation of Ireland’s into one that would influence future generations of cartoonists. The compositions of the strip were concerned with surveying the ground, not with breaking ground. Large, single-panel cartoons went back to the early days of newspaper comics: the Yellow Kid, Jimmy Swinnerton’s Mount Ararat and crowded genre scenes by Walt McDougall, to name a few ....

"Just as Gasoline Alley, week after week, depicted the passage of time, so too did Right Around Home, making note of seasonal changes throughout each year, announcing 'Signs of Spring' and 'Autumn Leaves,' and marking Halloween, 'Thanksgiving at Grandma’s' and 'Christmas shopping.' Right Around Home’s thematic concerns are rarely concerning: whether it’s neighborhood picnics, screening home movies, going sledding, waffle parties, gathering around a radio mystery or automobile problems like tire blowouts and fender-benders, everyone in the neighborhood is there; even if they are dragged out by a spouse.

The feature diminished in size as all newspaper strips did beginning during WWII. This reduced its impact. Fisher died in 1951. His assistant, Bob Vittur, continued the strip, along with the assist of Stan Randal, until the end of its run in 1965.

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Garden As of Mid-October

Here is the garden as of mid-October. The greens are pale. The leaves on the trees are changing. We're getting close to peak. Time to put the garden to bed.

The zinnias are still blooming, so they won't be pulled out until the first hard frost, which is still in the future.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Graphic Novelist Brian Fies: "My house burned down. I made a comic about it." UPDATED

Here is my friend Brian Fies with the first eight-page part of his new autobio comic about the fires in Santa Rosa, and the devastating loss. Brian and Jeanne Schulz, Charles Schulz' widow, lost their homes in the blaze,

Horrific and riveting, Brian's graphic novelette "A Fire Story" explains step by step how this happened.

Bookmark it, read it, tell your friends. Great work as ever from my friend on this sad occasion.

UPDATE: Brian has now completed "A Fire Story" and it's all there, the first and now the concluding second part, at his blog. 

Washington Post: ‘Peanuts’ creator Charles Schulz’s home burns down in Santa Rosa fire

The homes of many people in Santa Rosa, including PEANUTS creator Charles Schulz and my friend, the award-winning graphic novelist Brian Fies, burned down due to the wildfires in the area. I am glad to let you know that the people -- Jean Schulz, her son, Brian and his family (including their cat and dog) are safe.

But their homes, along with many personal items are now gone.

Michael Cavna has the story about the Schulz home here.

His drawing board and, from what I understand, all of his significant original work was elsewhere. Most was at the Charles M. Schulz Museum, also located in Santa Rosa. The Museum was spared, as was his iconic skating rink there.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

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

There is the old story of one of my favorite cartoonists, Jean-Jacques Sempé, who was trying to sell gag cartoons from his studio in France after WWII. He worked hard at it and was successful. And he was even more successful when he hit on the simple idea that wordless cartoons had no language barrier and could cross borders. He specialized in pantomime cartoons, and was selling all over Europe.

Wordless cartoons are not common. At least not now. I think so many cartoonists (me included) concentrate on the quip or the wisecrack, instead of just letting the picture tell the story.

My friend Dick Buchanan has scanned in, and now shares, some great examples of the truly wordless and the mostly wordless cartoons. By "mostly," I mean a cartoon with a label or a sign you have to read.

Thanks for sharing this, Dick! Here's more from the massive Buchanan Clip File located somewhere in Greenwich Village, NY:


Here’s another bunch of clever cartoons of the wordless variety. Cartoons by cartoonists who don’t need one-liners to evoke amusement.

B. KLIBAN. Art school drop-out “Bud” Kliban started his gag cartoon career at the top, with Playboy in 1962. Look February 12, 1963

SAM COBEAN. Collier’s September 25, 1948

BILL HARRISON. Saturday Evening Post Jan 24, 1953

GEORGE SMITH. True April 1950

TOM HENDERSON. Look March 17, 1959

MORT WALKER. Saturday Evening Post September 27, 1947

VIP (Virgil Partch). American Legion Magazine May, 1948

 GARDNER REA. Look Magazine September 15, 1959

ED KOREN. Edward Koren, New Yorker cartoonist and  Vermont’s 2nd Cartoonist Laureate (2014-2016). From Columbia University’s Jester, reprinted in 1000 Jokes Magazine June-August 1963

B. KLIBAN. Kliban was hitting his stride in the early ‘70’s. Evergreen Review December, 1970

TOM HUDSON. Collier’s May 19, 1947

CEM (Charles E Martin) Collier’s June 5, 1948

HENRY SYVERSON. Collier’s August 14, 1948

ALI. (Alfred Isler) Boys’ Life April 1950

More from the massive clip file that Dick is generously sharing. Thanks, Dick:

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

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

C.F. Payne: An American Illustrator

“C.F. Payne: An American Illustrator” follows C.F. Payne, artist and professor. This new documentary spans his life; from his early interest in artwork, to his art school days at Miami University, and finally, the ups and downs of his 40 years working as a professional illustrator.

Here's the preview. You can buy it now and watch the whole thing beginning October 13, 2017.

C.F. Payne: An American Illustrator from Tony Moorman on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

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

My friend Dick Buchanan not only reminds me that it's Orlando Busino's birthday on October 10th, but he also shares fifteen of Orlando's magazine cartoons. Happy birthday, Orlando!

Orlando Busino was raised in Binghamton, NY. He was still in elementary school when he sold his first cartoon to the New York Daily Mirror. He was also a frequent cartoon contest winner in the "Open Road for Boys" magazine. In high school, he created a superhero comic for the school paper, "Bulldog, with Central, the Wonder Dog." He served at the Albrook Air Force Station in Panama after being drafted. And he contributed to the army newspaper during his twenty months there.

Returning home, he went to Binghamton University, which was then called Triple Cities College, and then moved out of state to complete his schooling at the University of Iowa. He drew cartoons for both college newspapers. Upon graduation in 1952, he moved to New York City. He was able to secure a job in the advertising department of MacMillan Publishing, and at night, attended the Cartoonists and Illustrators School. After about a year, Orlando sold his first cartoon to The Saturday Evening Post. This was just the beginning of his highly successful freelance cartoonist career.

He worked with George Gladir on the Archie series of humor titles in the 1960s: "Archie's Madhouse" and "Tales Calculated to Drive You Bats." I think his cover to the third issue (above) is one of the best comic book covers of all time.

Orlando has been drawing "Gus," a comic about a large, shaggy dog for Boys' Life Magazine since 1970. There are two book collections from 1980 and 1981 respectively: "Good Boy! And Other Animal Cartoons" and "Oh, Gus!" Gus was featured on the Boys' Life cover in 1981.

A three-time winner of the National Cartoonists Society Magazine Gag Cartoonist of the Year, Orlando was also honored by the National Cartoonists Society Connecticut Chapter in 2008.

Here's Dick with an intro to his collection of Busino favorites:

Orlando Busino is often described as “a cartoonist’s cartoonist” which is only to say he’s one superb artist. He is a three-time National Cartoonists Society’s Magazine Gag Cartoonist of the Year in 1965, 1967 and 1968.

He mentored many cartoonists, among them Bob Weber. Weber, in his 1980 NCS Album thumbnail bio, took time to credit his one time neighbor Busino as a “tremendous benefit” to his career. (There is no truth to the rumor that Orlando still has Weber’s lawnmower he borrowed)

In the spirit with which they were created, here are a few Orlando Busino gag cartoons from the mid-1950’s to the mid-1960’s.  A couple of these are among my all-time favorites.

 1.  COLLIER’S January 20, 1956

2. SATURDAY EVENING POST January 29, 1966

3.  1000 JOKES MAGAZINE.  June-August, 1957

  4. FOR LAUGHING OUT LOUD. July-September, 1957

5. SATURDAY EVENING POST.  February, 26, 1966

6.  BOYS’ LIFE.  June, 1960



9.  1000 JOKES MAGAZINE.  September-November, 1964

10.  BOYS’ LIFE. August, 1965

11.  SATURDAY EVENING POST. September 22, 1962

12.  BOYS’ LIFE.  June, 1960

13.  FOR LAUGHING OUT LOUD. July-September, 1957

14.  BOYS’ LIFE.  August, 1965 

15.  SATURDAY EVENING POST.  January 29, 1966

Monday, October 09, 2017

The Garden As of Early October

The zinnias are all hanging in there, with new blooms to come until there's a frost. But everything else is done. The leaves are turning. The days are shorter.