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

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

NYC: Anatol Kovarsky New Yorker Gallery Show at the Society of Illustrators January 2 - March 3

Above: an Anatol Kovarsky rough courtesy of his daughter, Gina Kovarsky.

NYC: New Yorker cover artist and cartoonist Anatol Kovarksy (1919-2016) is the subject of a Society of Illustrators gallery retrospective: "Kovarsky's World: Covers and Cartoons from The New Yorker" which began on January 2, 2018 and runs through March 3, 2018. The reception is Friday, January 12, 2018 from 6:30pm until 10:00pm.

Mr. Kovarksy's daughter, Gina Kovarksy, has been kind enough to send on some scans of his work. These are, so far as I understand, not to be seen in the show. But what with dozens of covers and over 300 cartoons sold to The New Yorker, there will be plenty there to gaze upon at the Society of Illustrators.

Please enjoy these "unseen Kovarksys."

Here is a rough of a trusty Saint Bernard dog offering a holiday glass of egg nog. This was drawn as a holiday greeting card for friends.

Another ink sketch on thin paper. This was also a Christmas greeting card for friends.

"Reading the morning papyrus." Another unseen Kovarsky drawing.

If you are lucky enough to be in New York City this Friday, then you can attend the reception. His daughter, the co-curator of the show, will be there and it promises to be a wonderful event with some great cartoonists and illustrators in attendance.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Tom Gill: How To Pace a Comic Strip Story

Found in an old box of papers and correspondence: Tom Gill's (1913-2005) "How To Pace a Comic Strip Story."

Tom was a friend and colleague and my co-Chair of the Berndt Toast Gang, the famous Long Island Chapter of the National Cartoonists Society. He was part of the NCS from the beginning of the group. He taught cartooning at the School of Visual Arts for about fifty years. From his Long Island studio, he drew the Lone Ranger comic books for Dell.

Before Dell, for about two years, through the old Daily News Syndicate, Tom drew a daily strip about a boxer titled "Flower Potts." I know a lot of stories about Tom, but I do not know the context for these two "How To Pace a Comic Strip Story" pages. Maybe they were part of his reference for "Flower Potts," or for one of his classes at SVA.

Regardless, here's Plan A and Plan B of how to pace your daily adventure strip, all in Tom's hand. It's all about "building up" during the week, and reaching a reveal to readers by Thursday or Friday. Oh, and you gotta constantly recap.

About Tom:

Tom Gill: A Personal Remembrance


-- Edited from a 2/21/13 blog entry.

Monday, January 08, 2018

Magazine Gag Cartoon Cliches

How many gag cartoon cliches are there? In 2008, we had a survey here at the Mike Lynch Cartoons blog.

We care about this crazy stuff here. In 1973, my friend Bill Woodman put a lot of them together (psychiatrist's couch, bed of nails, flying carpet, etc.) in his "Funniest Cartoon in the World" for National Lampoon. Click the above cartoon to a new page to see what a great drawing Bill did. More information on that here.

And I just came across this: The people at the Cartoon Companion site have put together a list of 126 most used magazine gag cartoon tropes. They did not endeavor what Bill did -- to actually create a drawing that puts together all of the cliches -- but they did compile a nice listicle:

Gag Cartoon Cliches:

1 Abominable snowman
2 Airport security line
3 Aliens arrive on Earth
4 Alien abductions
5 Asking directions
6 Atlas holding up the world
7 Banana peels
8 Beached whales
9 Bed of nails
10 Bedtime story
11 Big fish eating little fish
12 Bird versus worm
13 Bowling pin versus bowling ball
14 Burglars in masks
15 Cat versus mouse
16 Cave paintings
17 Centaurs
18 Chalk outline at crime scene
19 Chicken and egg
20 Cinderella
21 Cloud watching and identifying
22 Comedy and tragedy masks
23 Counting sheep
24 Couple caught cheating in bed
25 Couple on house during a flood
26 Crash-test dummies
27 Crawling through desert
28 Desert island
29 Easter bunny
30 Easter Island heads
31 Equations on blackboard
32 Eskimos
33 Evolution
34 Fountain of youth
35 Funeral-parlor viewing
36 Galley slaves
37 God looking at Earth
38 Goldilocks
39 Good cop, bad cop
40 Greeting cards
41 Guillotine
42 Guru on mountain
43 Hansel and Gretel
44 Mobsters and victim with cement shoes
45 Humpty Dumpty
46 Husband behind newspaper at breakfast
47 Invention of fire
48 Invention of the wheel
49 Judges
50 King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table
51 Lawyer reading will
52 Life-raft survivors
53 Light-bulb idea
54 Little Engine That Could
55 Little Red Riding Hood
56 Lover hiding in closet
57 Man in stocks
58 Marriage counsellors
59 Mazes
60 Men working
61 Men’s Club codgers
62 Mental undressing
63 Mermaid on rock
64 Metal detector
65 Military round table
66 Moby-Dick
67 Modern art
68 Moses parting the Red Sea
69 Moses and the Ten Commandments
70 Mother-in-law
71 Mountain climbers
72 Murphy beds
73 Napoleon
74 Noah’s Ark
75 Nudists
76 Operating theatre
77 Panhandling
78 Patent office
79 Pinocchio
80 Pirates’ buried treasure
81 Police lineup
82 Rapunzel
83 Robin Hood
84 Robots
85 Rubik’s cube
86 Sandcastles
87 Scarlet letter
88 School of fish with leader
89 Sisyphus
90 Snails
91 Snow White
92 Song lyrics as captions
93 St. Bernard rescue dog
94 St. Peter
95 Stargazing
96 Star constellations
97 Statues
98 Stock-market graph
99 Superman / Batman / superheroes
100 Talking trees
101 The-End-Is-Nigh Guy
102 The Thinker
103 This Side Up box
104 Three Little Pigs
105 Tombstone
106 Traffic cop pulling over speeding motorist
107 Trojan horse
108 Tunnel of Love
109 Turtle and Hare
110 TV weather forecasts
111 Two guys in a horse costume
112 Umpires
113 Volcanoes showing that the gods are angry
114 Voting booths
115 Vultures
116 Walking the plank
117 Weather forecasters
118 Why did the chicken cross the road
119 William Tell
120 Wishing Well
121 Witch’s broom
122 Witch’s cauldron
123 Woman trying on shoes
124 You-are-here map
125 Zeus throwing lightning bolts
126 Zzzzz (sleeping)