Monday, June 27, 2016

Bunny Bash 2016

It's a tradition that a party of cartoonists and their friends and families gather at Bunny Hoest's home on Long Island's North Shore. She graciously opens up "Hoest Castle" to something like 100 to 200 of us. I think this year it may have been about 150 people.

Here are just a few of my photos.

My friend Adrian Sinnott receives a Major Award from The Berndt Toast Gang, the Long Island chapter of the National Cartoonists Society, for his service.

That's Bob Lubbers in the chair, and George Booth at the mike.

George Booth is given a happy 90th birthday gift from Sandra Boynton.

George Booth draws.

Misha Gross and her dad, Sam Gross.

Mort Drucker, Bunny Hoest and Barbara Drucker.

Sam Gross draws.

Stephen Goldberg and Pauline Goldberg.

Arnie Levin and Sandy Kossin.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

When Martin Landau Was a Cartoonist

Maybe you know this and maybe it's news to you, but actor Martin Landau was a staff cartoonist at the New York Daily News in the 1940s. He was just a kid, assisting other cartoonists (the Daily News' theatrical caricaturist Horace Knight and, later on, THE GUMPS cartoonist Gus Edson) and thinking that he would maybe be a pro one day. Actually, he was; he assisted Edson for several years in the late 1940s, graduating from drawing backgrounds and lettering to drawing THE GUMPS Sunday pages.

Above: a Horace knight caricature of Edward R. Murrow from the Tufts Digital Library.

Bhob Stewart recounts the cartoonist years of Martin Landau, complete with some screen captures of Mr. Landau drawing for the 2008 film LOVELY, STILL, and some GUMPS scans. Above: a close up of Mr. Landau drawing from the beginning of the movie.

On September 2, 2010, Mr. Landau gave an interview to Neal Conan on NPR's Talk of the Nation program (full audio here). While promoting LOVELY, STILL, he recounted his cartooning days at The Daily News:

CONAN: There is a part in the film you play, a character who is involved. We see him sketching at first, later painting. And that's you. You did that, right?
Mr. LANDAU: Well, I did that professionally, actually. I mean, I started on The New York Daily News as a kid when I was 17 years old, as a cartoonist and illustrator, and I was being groomed to be the theatrical caricaturist. And I know if I got that job, I'd never quit. So I quit.
(Soundbite of laughter)
CONAN: So you were getting offered a - you believed you were about to be offered a nice, cushy job in newspapers, and then...
Mr. LANDAU: It was a great job, actually. I'd go to opening nights, and the PR people would give me 8x10s of the dress rehearsal. And I would go home, actually - I didn't have to go to the news building - and do a drawing of the cast, which would appear in a Sunday paper. If there were two openings that week, two drawings. The old fellow, Horace Knight(ph), was an old English fellow who had that job was retiring. And I was - I had the ability to do that. So I - but I knew I wanted to go into the theater. I mean, I wanted to act. And I knew if I got that job - which was, again, a cushy job and very well-paying job, and the only - you know, I mean, my style was sort of a nouveau - art nouveau style, an art deco style, as opposed Hirschfeld's, who had a very flowing line.
CONAN: Yeah.
Mr. LANDAU: And it was a different look, but it had a look. And - but I quit. And my - you know, my family - I had to put up with a lot of - you did what?

A big hat tip to Bhob Stewart. Landau joins the ranks of other actor/cartoonists, like Caruso, Jackie Gleason, Orson Bean, Robert Lansing, Rita Moreno, Ginger Rogers, Al Roker, Denis Leary and Morley Safer.

Above: Albert Dorne, Carol Burnett and Bill Holman from the cover THE PRO CARTOONIST AND GAG WRITER. It's 1962 and she's receiving an NCS ACE (Amateur Cartoonist Extraordinary) award. Complete link to the entire PRO CARTOONIST issue here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016


HOW TO CREATE 1000 GAGS A YEAR by Jack Markow, Harry Lampert and Dan Koerner. Published by and copyright 1961 by Cartoon Consultants, 170 Broadway, New York 38, N. Y.

Let's say that you are a magazine gag cartoonist. OK? OK!

Today, you have an 8 hour work day to come up with and execute four complete cartoons. Tomorrow, draw 4 more.

And so on.

At that rate, taking off the requisite 2 weeks of vacation (unpaid, since you are a full time freelancer), you will have produced about 1000 cartoons. This book will help.

1000 GAGS A YEAR will not teach you to draw cartoons. It assumes you are already on your way drawing-wise and it's time to develop "systematic methods and habits of work."

I agree with the authors that coming up with ideas that are funny becomes easier with time. But I also think that a cartoonist is limited by his or her aptitude. You can teach the how-to, but so far as succeeding: that's up to the cartoonist, his abilities and his persistence to do this hard work.

-- This is an edited version of an entry originally blogged on June 21, 2011.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Garden As of Mid-June

Above: the before and the after of planting the heirloom tomatoes and some other stuff. Well, not much to see here. And it's not even pretty what with the weedcloth on it, huh?

The excitement was Sunday night, when, in the dark, a bear came wandering by and took out the feeder. The bear ate the seed and the suet and pretty much destroyed the suet holders.

There may have been two bears; a mom and a cub. The moon had not risen, but when the bear left it sure looked like a twosome ankling it down the driveway.

I was able to repair the feeder (although one suet cage was irreparable), so all is well. For now ...

Oh, here's the garden even further back in time, around June 12th:

And lastly, from May, some endangered ladyslipper flowers growing in the wilds of the woods:

Monday, June 20, 2016

PUNCH Cartoonist J.W. Taylor

Here's a post from five years ago. Although it's mostly about J.W. Taylor, a British Punch Magazine cartoonist, it opens with a want list of cartoon books. There are five items that I said I would like to see, and most of them are now a reality. That's pretty amazing!

Here is the edited entry from 2011:

Today I am celebrating the cartoons of J.W. Taylor, a cartoonist that's not well remembered at all, except by me. And maybe, after a moment of looking at his gag cartoons, you'll like his work and remember as well.

Like a lot of gag cartoonists, I discovered his work in collections of gag cartoons. I began to recognize his style and I loved his sense of humor and his broad, bold, economic ink line. When Tom Spurgeon at Comics Reporter asked his weekly "Five for Friday" question yesterday (Five For Friday #120 -- "Name Five Archival/Translation Projects That Aren't Happening Right Now (As Far As You Know) That You'd Love To See)," I emailed a list:

1. The Complete SKIPPY by Percy Crosby (EDIT: IDW is publishing this series and it's now on its third hardcover collection. Visit Joan Crosby Tibbetts' Skippy site for all the info.)

2. The Complete Virgil "VIP" Partch (EDIT: Fantagraphics has published a bio of Partch, as well as a new collection of his cartoons.)

3. The New Yorker Cartoonists Do Newspaper Strips (WHITE BOY by Garrett Price, THE SMYTHES by Rea Irvin, etc.) (EDIT: WHITE BOY in its entirety was published by Sunday Press last year in a gorgeous hardcover volume.)

4. WHERE'S NEMO? The "Other" Dream Strips (NIBSY THE NEWS BOY by McManus, MR. TWEE-DEEDLE by Gruelle, THE NAPS OF POLLY SLEEPYHEAD by Newell, etc.) (EDIT: Sunday Press has published just that in its large FORGOTTEN FANTASY collection of comic strips.)

5. The Complete J.W. Taylor (a great unsung British gag cartoonist for PUNCH) (EDIT: Not yet. I would love to edit this and/or buy it.)

I could blog about any one of those five topics, but it's the last one on the list -- the relatively unknown Punch cartoonist -- that I want to talk about a little and then show some of his terrific cartoons. (And maybe make a case for having a collection of his work.)

Who was J.W. Taylor? I'll share what little I know. First, his cartoons (especially the talking dogs ones and the beer ones) are very funny.

John Whitfield Taylor was a full-time schoolmaster who also cartooned. He attended the University of Manchester, and was head of the art department at Portland House School.

The little that I have found out about his life, I grabbed from the Comics, Cartoon, Caricature scan site at Dr. Chris Mullen's Visual Telling of Stories pages.

These J.W. Taylor cartoons are from two big hardcover collections of general gag cartoons from the 1950s: THE BEST CARTOONS FROM PUNCH (copyright 1955 by Bradbury, Agnew and Company, Ltd., the US proprietors of PUNCH) and CARTOON TREASURY edited by Lucy Black Johnson and Pyke Johnson, Jr. (copyright 1955 by the Johnsons).

Above: perhaps his most reproduced cartoon.

"All of his drawings are done at weekends, but throughout his working week he makes copious notes and rough sketches in a notebook which he always carries around with him. 'I attend seriously to business at educational conferences and head teachers' meetings, but I have sometimes been known to doodle on the agenda paper.'" Weekly Illustrated, The Artist and His Humor Series #14, June 1955 article by David Clayton.

"Full-time comic artists, far from resenting the success of an amateur in a highly-competitive field, are full of praise for his work. One professional, Bernard Hollowood ("Hod"), says, 'I collect genuine 'Taylors' as a connoisseur. His captions are slick and economical. The disarmingly simple brush lines of his drawings match the captions in clarity and vitality." - ibid.

"So we bought a couple of hens and I was to write a humorous best seller about our misfortunes -- but it didn't work out."

Above: parents don't change.

"All right, Brannigan -- we know you're in there!"

Above: one of my personal favorites.

Above: a rare multi-panel.

"One misses a lot -- being brought up to appreciate it."

The above gag works if you understand there's a can of Sterno with an open flame under that coffee pot!

I hope you enjoyed seeing this man's work. J.W. Taylor deserves at the very least a cyber-salute here for his modern, breezy brush style, spot-on expressions and great gag writing.

Above: the Weekly Illustrated article, with cartoons.

Note: this is an edited version of an earlier piece. The above was originally presented here on December 7, 2011. And I would be glad to edit that J.W. Taylor book, OK? OK!