Super I.T.C.H » Contemporary Cartoonists
Get these books by
Craig Yoe:
Archie's Mad House Krazy Kat & The Art of George Herriman: A Celebration
Archie's Mad House The Carl Barks Big Book of Barney Bear
Archie's Mad House Amazing 3-D Comics
Archie's Mad House Archie's Mad House
Archie's Mad House The Great Treasury of Christmas Comic Book Stories
Archie's Mad House The Official Fart Book
Archie's Mad House The Official Barf Book
Popeye: The Great Comic Book Tales of Bud Sagendorf Popeye: The Great Comic Book Tales of Bud Sagendorf
Archie: Seven Decades of America's Favorite Teenagers... And Beyond! Archie: Seven Decades of America's Favorite Teenagers... And Beyond!
Dick Briefer's Frankenstein Dick Briefer's Frankenstein
Barney Google: Gambling, Horse Races, and High-Toned Women Barney Google: Gambling, Horse Races, and High-Toned Women
Felix The Cat: The Great Comic Book Tails Felix The Cat: The Great Comic Book Tails
Klassic Krazy Kool Kids Komics The Golden Collection of Klassic Krazy Kool KIDS KOMICS"
"Another amazing book from Craig Yoe!"
-Jerry Beck
CartoonBrew.com
Dan DeCarlo's Jetta Dan DeCarlo's Jetta
"A long-forgotten comic book gem."
-Mark Frauenfelder
BoingBoing.net
The Complete Milt Gross Comic Books and Life Story The Complete Milt Gross Comic Books and Life Story
"Wonderful!"
-Playboy magazine
"Stunningly beautiful!"
- The Forward
"An absolute must-have."
-Jerry Beck
CartoonBrew.com
The Art of Ditko
The Art of Ditko
"Craig's book revealed to me a genius I had ignored my entire life."
-Mark Frauenfelder
BoingBoing.net
The Greatest Anti-War Cartoons
The Great Anti-War Cartoons
Introduction by Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus
"Pencils for Peace!"
-The Washington Post
Boody: The Bizarre Comics of Boody Rogers
Boody: The Bizarre Comics of Boody Rogers
"Crazy, fun, absurd!"
-Mark Frauenfelder
BoingBoing.net
More books by Craig Yoe

Get these books by
Craig Yoe:
Archie's Mad House Krazy Kat & The Art of George Herriman: A Celebration
Archie's Mad House The Carl Barks Big Book of Barney Bear
Archie's Mad House Amazing 3-D Comics
Archie's Mad House Archie's Mad House
Archie's Mad House The Great Treasury of Christmas Comic Book Stories
Archie's Mad House The Official Fart Book
Archie's Mad House The Official Barf Book
Popeye: The Great Comic Book Tales of Bud Sagendorf Popeye: The Great Comic Book Tales of Bud Sagendorf
Archie: Seven Decades of America's Favorite Teenagers... And Beyond! Archie: Seven Decades of America's Favorite Teenagers... And Beyond!
Dick Briefer's Frankenstein Dick Briefer's Frankenstein
Barney Google: Gambling, Horse Races, and High-Toned Women Barney Google: Gambling, Horse Races, and High-Toned Women
Felix The Cat: The Great Comic Book Tails Felix The Cat: The Great Comic Book Tails
Klassic Krazy Kool Kids Komics The Golden Collection of Klassic Krazy Kool KIDS KOMICS"
"Another amazing book from Craig Yoe!"
-Jerry Beck
CartoonBrew.com
Dan DeCarlo's Jetta Dan DeCarlo's Jetta
"A long-forgotten comic book gem."
-Mark Frauenfelder
BoingBoing.net
The Complete Milt Gross Comic Books and Life Story The Complete Milt Gross Comic Books and Life Story
"Wonderful!"
-Playboy magazine
"Stunningly beautiful!"
- The Forward
"An absolute must-have."
-Jerry Beck
CartoonBrew.com
The Art of Ditko
The Art of Ditko
"Craig's book revealed to me a genius I had ignored my entire life."
-Mark Frauenfelder
BoingBoing.net
The Greatest Anti-War Cartoons
The Great Anti-War Cartoons
Introduction by Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus
"Pencils for Peace!"
-The Washington Post
Boody: The Bizarre Comics of Boody Rogers
Boody: The Bizarre Comics of Boody Rogers
"Crazy, fun, absurd!"
-Mark Frauenfelder
BoingBoing.net
More books by Craig Yoe

Archive for the ‘Contemporary Cartoonists’ Category

Friday, December 21, 2012

Merry Apocalyptic Christmas!

Well, I don’t suppose I’ll ever have a better excuse than a supposed Mayan Apocalypse near Christmas Eve, to run this post-Apocalyptic Christmas tale from 1988. (Let’s hope not!)

Anyway, from the one-shot Comico Christmas Special, with cover by Dave Stevens, art by Steve Rude, Al Williamson, and Brett Blevins, and story by Yours Truly (sometimes known as The Reviled One, depending on your bent this fine World’s End), I give you, “Traditions Everlasting”.

Click on the above & below pages to view larger versions, and more easily read the word balloons.

Doug “My-Birthday-is-the-Apocalypse” Wheeler

Doug
Doug


Monday, January 16, 2012

COMIC BOOK COMPULSIVE — Lion and Thunder: Adam Eterno

One of the strangest, darkest characters to ever appear in British comics expressly intended for kids was undoubtedly Adam Eterno, who came off like Doctor Who reimagined by Michael Moorcock.  An alchemist’s assistant who drank his master’s Elixir of Life before it was ready which gave him immortality and a smidgeon of super strength, both of which proved useful as he was cursed him to travel through time for eternity.  The only thing that could kill him, something made of gold, which as far as an Achilles Heel goes doesn’t sound so bad.  But naturally the authors concocted increasingly elaborate and labored ways of putting poor Adam inches in harm’s way of some sort of pointed golden gimcrack or other (invariably in the last panel of this week’s installment).  As you can see here:

As you can see from his first appearance he started out OK looking but when drawn by his signature artist Francisco Solano Lopez Adam became increasingly tattered and haggard.  Finally it reached the point where he looked like a crazy homeless guy rather than a standard British comic hero, which was undoubtedly a large part of his appeal.

In the 1970’s Adam appeared in the weeklies Thunder, Lion and Valiant  and for reasons inexplicable in 2004 when DC signed the deal with IPC Media (holder of the rights to the Fleetway characters) in 2004, there was never an Adam Eterno Vertigo mini-series.  Though there really, really should have been.

Francisco Solano Lopez,

Steve Bennett
Steveland

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Shannon Wheeler: Too Much Coffee Man!

I came quite late to the Shannon Wheeler party.  It was 2004 or 2005, and I was browsing the Alternative Magazines section at the Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver.  I spied an odd magazine called Too Much Coffee Man that looked like it came out of someone’s circa-1985 basement.  I opened it up and instantly fell in love.  I had yet to see a cartoonist so effectively skewer the Iraq War while showing such deep empathy for the soldiers fighting it.  I became a loyal fan on the spot.

If you aren’t a fan already, there are all kinds of ways to fall under the spell of Too Much Coffee Man‘s creator.  Shannon Wheeler launched his famous character in the early 1990s, and Dark Horse has published five volumes of the collected strips.  Dark Horse has also collected  Postage Stamp Funnies, Wheeler’s weekly strip for The Onion.  Wheeler began publishing cartoons in The New Yorker last year, and his collection of New Yorker rejects, I Thought You Would Be Funnier, will be available later this year.  Currently, Wheeler is writing How to Be Happy, published in Mykl Sivak’s Nib-Lit, and posted to Daryl Cagyl’s Political Cartoonists Index.

I recommend browsing Wheeler’s website, distinguished by its entertaining search features.  Dropdown menus allow you to narrow your search of Wheeler’s extensive database of cartoons and strips using conventional tags like “politics,” “consumerism” and “death.”  But since you’re entering the world of a highly talented cartoonist, the conventional approach to searching breaks down quickly.  You can also choose from such nutty tags as “Too Much German White Chocolate Woman With Almonds,” “ugly island,” and “you need a smaller brain.”

I’ve always thought of Wheeler as one of the good guys, if not one of the best, and felt a giddy sense of delight when he agreed to be interviewed.  You won’t see a lot of biographical detail on Wheeler posted to the web, and you won’t find enough interviews.  So I feel proud of this — it’s a high point over here at ITCH!

What was your first comic strip/cartoon/comic?

I first drew some comics for my grandmother when I was 7 or 8. They were goofy gags – Mad magazine type things.

What are you reading right now?

Lost Girls. I’m a big fan of Alan Moore and I finally got ahold of a copy.

What is your guilty pleasure? At least, the one that really answers an ITCH!

A guilty pleasure in comics? That would have to be What’s Michael. I love that book.

Who was the first cartoonist/animator you met?

Sam Hurt was the first professional cartoonist I met. I bought his first book on a trip to Austin when I was a kid. His humor and art was a genuine inspiration. Meeting him only added to my positive impression.

A Sam Hurt sample:

Which dead cartoonist/animator would you most like to meet?

Edward Gorey…. Shultz… Alan Moore (he’s not dead – but I’m afraid he’ll die before I meet him).

What would you say?

“I… uh…. um…. love your work.” I’m sure I’d be a total idiot.

What has been the highlight of your career to date?

I’ve had a lot of bright spots. Having the New Yorker run some of my comics has been incredible.  Bob Dorough doing a Too Much Coffee Man song still blows my mind. Seeing a Too Much Coffee Man opera blew my mind.

Please tell us a little about your latest project.

I have three projects. The first is a graphic novel about the the oil spill in the Gulf. I’m also doing gags for a rewrite of the Bible, and I’m just finishing up a kids book called Grandpa Won’t Wake Up.

Which old-time cartoon character do you most identify with?

Sometimes I feel like Little Nemo in Slumberland… one weird adventure after another.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

I’d like to get my work done faster (and with less emotional trauma).

Over here at ITCH, one gets the feeling that Wheeler is in the middle of a creative explosion, especially with these three new projects in the works. It’s routinely amazing to read his blog, and to get sneak previews and insights into his creative process. Nearly 20 years in the business, and he remains a cartoonist to watch.  That’s stupendous!

And as always, thanks Shannon!

beth
beth

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Los Caprichos de Mr. Fish

James Gillray. Thomas Rowlandson. William Hogarth. Goya and Nast. Mauldin and Minor. Conrad.

Political cartooning is a completely unique form of expression because what you say and how you say it matter in equal parts, and you have to be eloquent in a very tight space. These legendary cartoonists are the greatest of all time because their achievements in all areas are unmatched. Few others have even come close.

So am I saying that Mr. Fish belongs in this sacred pantheon? Well, no I’m not. And after reading his cartoon philosophy, I’m not sure he’d want me to.

But here’s what I am saying: keep an eye on him. This brilliant mugwump is still young. Watch him as he develops his art. I believe that in twenty years, critics will fall over each other to install him in that sacred pantheon. And knowing Mr. Fish, he’ll have something pretty biting and ungrateful to say about it.

That is precisely why we will mention him in the same breath as Goya and Nast, Minor and the others.

Mr. Fish is a prodigiously talented artist who doesn’t sacrifice at the altar of Art. He is a uniquely independent observer of political life and culture. He doesn’t think anyone with power deserves it. His satire is completely catholic, aimed at Republicans, Democrats, and Independents alike. Nor does he spare the public, and its odd obsessions and unrealistic expectations.

The cartoons of Mr. Fish are unpredictable and aggressive. He employs a wide range of artistic styles. Whether it is photorealism, collage, sophisticated cartooning, child-like scrawls, even manga, he uses the style most likely to make his point hurt. He can be cruel, savage, lewd, and rude. And sometimes, he can weep.

In the contest between word and image, he mixes it up without restraint. Sometimes his intentions are cryptic, and other times, brutally clear. He makes you stare, even if you wish could look away. Pay attention when he makes you squeamish. That’s when he’s found your truth, amputated it, and made you unwillingly regard it as a stupid joke.

Frankly, in his mastery of the form, he makes most of his contemporaries look like they are phoning it in. It’s hard to believe that he even gets published. Aren’t these the truths that society would rather not face? Yet he regularly appears in prominent publications: Truthdig.com and Harpers.org.

Mr. Fish is our constant reminder that the First Amendment belongs to us, the people, and we should use it with all we’ve got. For this simple reason, his work is breathtaking. It confirms him as the cartoonist most worth reading, and most worth watching to see what he’ll say next, and how.

Mr. Fish, a.k.a. Dwayne Booth (for those who read the fine print), is also a pretty awesome guy, a real mensch to a would-be interviewer like me, because he was so very generous in his answers to our questions. Here’s your chance to get to know a bit about the man behind the best political cartoons in America.

What was your first comic strip/cartoon/comic?

Trying to pinpoint my first cartoon is a little bit like trying to pinpoint the first time I used a joke to get underneath somebody else’s skin. There was a series of comic books that I drew while I was in middle school about a fat classmate of mine called The Magnificiently Meaningless Misadventures of Ms. Suey Pig, which was usually rendered in pencil and starred me and all my friends.

Then there was the first piece of art that I did specifically for publication in the school newspaper, which I did when I was eleven. These were a pair of strips (mis)using the Peanuts characters, one that saw the death of our school principal and the other one making a remarkably tasteless joke about rape, referencing a well-known news story about a 500-pound sex offender named Jo-Jo Giorgianni. (Both were rejected by the school paper.) Then there was the first cartoon that I drew, in 1982, that directly addressed the grotesque hybrid produced by the marrying together of rightwing Christianity and modern Republicanism. Then there was the first cartoon done for publication in a zine (remember those?!) that depicted Santa Claus giving birth to Jesus Christ in a bathroom. Then there was the first cartoon published by an international magazine, Anarchy, that was about post-modern environmentalism.

What are you reading right now?

Just finishing up Donald Hall’s Unpacking the Boxes: A Memoir of a Life in Poetry, while simultaneously beginning Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg: The Letters, having recently abandoned Jules Feiffer’s remarkably mediocre memoir, Backing Into Forward, while cheering the factual content and abhorring the style of David Bianculli’s book, Dangerously Funny: The Uncensored Story of ‘The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.’ I am always re-reading Vonnegut and Mailer, mostly their non-fiction work, recent examples being Kurt’s Fates Worse Than Death and Norman’s The Spooky Art: Thoughts on Writing. Unable to read while I’m drawing, I also consume massive amounts of spoken word recordings, specifically the work of Lenny Bruce, Noam Chomsky, David Sedaris and Jack Benny.

What is your guilty pleasure?

My experience of pleasure is that it doesn’t have to be guilt-inducing. It is lovely. What’s lovely? Eating ridiculously expensive cheeses and cured meats and red grapes and crisp apples and artisan breads and drinking wine in front of an old movie, anything by Hawks or Hitchcock or Nichols or Allen, usually starring Bogart, Grant, Kelly, Stewart or Konigsberg, with my wife, who I’ve known since I was 18.

Who was the first cartoonist/animator you met?

Daryl Cagle, I guess, and a handful of his cohorts, none of whom I remember at all beyond their extraordinary kindness and benign joviality. I later interviewed Paul Conrad for the LA Weekly and accompanied him to a number of venues in and around Los Angeles. (Not surprisingly, I find that I don’t have a whole lot in common with other cartoonists.)

Which dead cartoonist/animator would you most like to meet?

John Lennon

What would you say?

I loved your books, In His Own Write, A Spaniard in the Works and Skywriting by Word of Mouth – found your lines as carefree as Picasso’s and as witty in their brevity as Thurber’s. I also understand that you did music?

What has been the highlight of your career to date?

Having my Can I Have a Grant… go viral before there was a viable Internet. Ever since first appearing in Harper’s Magazine in 1992, I’ve seen it taped up and tacked up and pasted to dozens of walls, bulletin boards and, perhaps most often, in espresso bars (where most artists work for at least a little while, usually until their rage and discontent dissipates along with their personal optimism and career prospects and they return to school to become underpaid English teachers), some as far away as the Czech Republic, a snapshot of which I received in the mail in the late 90s from a friend backpacking through Prague.

Please tell us a little about your latest project.

I currently have a half-hour animated pilot, called A Dog Goes Into a Bar, circulating around Hollywood. I also have a graphic memoir, that includes interviews with a number of counterculture heroes (like Mort Sahl, Joan Baez, Noam Chomsky, Graham Nash, and others), called One Complete Revolution, being shopped around. I also have a Mr. Fish cartoon collection scheduled to come out next year in conjunction with a pair of major art exhibitions in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Which old-time cartoon character do you most identify with?

Bugs Bunny, without a doubt.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

An unflinching confidence while wearing a leotard.

Unflinching confidence, indeed! The best way to read Mr. Fish is at his website. He understands better than anyone that sacred cows make the best hamburgers. You’ll fill your belly by going straight to the source.

And as always, thank you Dwayne!

beth
beth

Monday, September 13, 2010

Vote for Oh, Brother!

Sometime in early August, I devoured the entire Oh, Brother! collection to date in about 20 minutes. Then I played all the games. And now I am hooked.

With the news of Cathy Guisewite’s retirement, Sunday funny papers across the country will need a replacement.  Pennsylvania’s Patriot News is putting the decision in the hands of readers by allowing us to vote on one of five selections. Internet readers are included, so this means you!  Why not click on this link and vote for Oh, Brother! It only takes a couple of seconds!

If you’re not sure that Oh, Brother! is your first choice, please read on and enjoy this interview with creators Bob Weber Jr. and Jay Stephens.  And remember: if we make the Sunday funnies a happy place for kids, then there will be a future for Sunday funnies.

Oh, Brother! is the best kid’s strip in ages.  It’s sweet and charming, offering a daily peek into the funnier side of sibling relationships. Always funny and never mean, it’s one of the smartest strips I’ve seen in a long while. It really works for all ages. Older siblings can relate to Lily, and younger siblings can relate to her little brother Bud. Parents can smile over their own children all over again.

Oh, Brother! is the result of one of the most welcome collaborations since Parker and Hart brought us The Wizard of Id. The talents of Bob Weber Jr. (Slylock Fox and Comics for Kids) and Jay Stephens (Tutenstein and The Secret Saturdays) have combined to create a loving homage to Charles Schulz and all the comics featuring kids that he inspired. There is not one trace of snark or cynicism here.  Oh, Brother! is pure.

Not only is it the best kid’s strip I’ve seen in forever, it’s perfect for pocket computers. Kids can use their Nintendos or iPods or PS3s or etc. to read the daily strip, play the games, learn to draw, and interact with other readers by uploading photos of their pets and samples of their art.

Yet even though Oh, Brother! takes optimal advantage of new media resources, it honors old traditions, too. While web comics can be in color seven days a week, the Sunday strip is larger in scope and benefits from landscape orientation. It makes a big splash on the screen. All’s right with the world!

Bob and Jay kindly gave us a few moments of their time, so that you can get to know the creators of this delightful and intelligent new strip.

ITCH: What was your first comic strip/cartoon/comic?

Jay: I have a crappy memory, so I’m not sure if I’m recalling this correctly. Plus all those emotionally scarring Marvel comics I had in the 70′s like Son of Satan, Tomb of Dracula, Ghost Rider, and Morbius, the Living Vampire (care of Spider-Man) are messing with my memories by creating a traumatic mind-block of horror. I know I had, and loved, a bunch of those little Peanuts and Family Circus paperbacks. And I remember being enchanted with the early history of animation that Walt would occasionally cover on The Wonderful World Of Disney. I became obsessed with Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Felix the Cat and Betty Boop.

Bob: At age 21 I sold my first gag cartoon to American Machinist magazine ($15). I was also inking and writing gags for my father’s comic strip Moose and Molly.

What are you reading right now?

Jay: The IDW Family Circus collections. Hellboy. And Hayao Miyazaki’s Starting Point 1979-1996. Obviously my growth is stunted.

Bob: I’m reading volume 1 of John Stanley’s Nancy comics, published by Drawn and Quarterly. Before that I read Stanley’s Little Lulu collections by Darkhorse Books. Stanley is ‘the man’ right now.

What is your guilty pleasure?  At least, the one that really answers an ITCH!

Jay: I almost hate to admit I heart Harvey Comics. Casper, Hot Stuff, and especially Spooky. The writing is absolutely terrible, but I can’t seem to get enough!

Bob: My guilty pleasure is sitting down for lunch with my wife and watching the daytime soap The Bold and The Beautiful for the last 20 years.

Who was the first cartoonist/animator you met?

Jay: Genius Canadian underground cartoonist Chester Brown, I think. Don’t Google that if you’re under 14! Other indelible impressions were made early on by meeting John Kricfalusi (Ren & Stimpy) and Will Eisner (The Spirit).

Bob: The first cartoonist I remember meeting was um… my father. The second cartoonist I remember meeting was the wonderfully talented Orlando Busino. Living in Connecticut gave me the opportunity to meet some of the greatest cartoonists in the country. Within a few miles there was Stan Drake, Mort Walker, Jerry Dumas, Bill Yates, Dik Browne, Gill Fox, Hal Foster, Tony DiPreta, John Prentice, Dick Cavalli, Jerry Marcus, Dick Wingert, Kurt Swan, Whitney Darrow Jr. and more! Every one of them a gentleman and an inspiration!

Which dead cartoonist/animator would you most like to meet?

Jay: Ub Iwerks. Oh! And Winsor McCay.

Bob: Bob Clampett

What would you say?

Jay: Thank you.

Bob: Thank you!

What has been the highlight of your career to date?

Jay: Tied for biggest highlight is: 1) Seeing the float based on my cartoon character Tutenstein go by in the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and 2) Seeing the Mattel toy line based on my animated series The Secret Saturdays at Toys ‘R Us for the first time.

Bob: There have been three highlights in my career. 1) My first magazine sale. 2) The successful syndication of my Slylock Fox and Comics for Kids comic. 3) The launch of Oh, Brother!

Please tell us a little about your latest project.

Jay: Oh, Brother! is a dream come true for me. I’ve wanted to do an old-school daily strip forever! Three of my own pitches were rejected over the years, so I’m glad Bob could make my dream a reality by writing such instantly classic material. We both have older daughters and younger sons and can readily identify with the characters and situations. And we are both passionate about the history of comics and the need for more great all-ages comics in the current scene.

Bob: I am having a blast writing Oh, Brother! and my co-creator Jay Stephens impresses me every day with his beautiful and funny art!

Which old-time cartoon character do you most identify with?

Jay: Happy Hooligan. Or Sleepy from the Seven Dwarfs.

Bob: Mr. Peabody’s boy Sherman, from Jay Ward’s Peabody’s Improbable History segments on Rocky and His Friends and The Bullwinkle Show.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

Jay: The power to shift around my base elements a la Metamorpho. Nerd alert!!!

Bob: Flying would be awesome, x-ray vision could be interesting … but I’d settle for being the greatest guitar player in the universe.

Beth here: Sometimes I think if I could have any superpower, it would be the ability to survive without food, water, and shelter, so that I could spend my life doing nothing but reading comics from creators like Bob and Jay!  I know they’re not dead, but thanks, guys!  Thank you!

beth
beth

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Hassan Bleibel: Political Cartoonist!

American readers may be hesitant to tackle the work of Arab cartoonists because of the language barrier.  Not many of us know Arabic, in spite of the seven-year occupation of Iraq that only just officially ended.  I will say, in a kind of faint defense, that Arabic is an extremely sophisticated language that is exceptionally difficult to learn — I’ve tried and failed three times!  (All the more reason to take that extra step to show your respect and concern for our Iraq War veterans.)

But fear not, gentle reader, because Lebanese cartoonist Hassan Bleibel possesses advanced mastery of the power of image.  His wordless pictures speak volumes.  When necessary, he uses a brief phrase or two to underscore the meaning of his cutting visual comments on current events.  And when he does, he meets his international readers all the way, by writing in English.

In Bleibel’s single-panel interpretations of the world’s daily events, we hear cries of wounded compassion, pointed lacerations of global cynicism, and the kind of cold horror that comes from realizing that in the political conflicts that define our lives, no one has our backs.  No one, perhaps, except the cartoonist.  I’m  especially grateful for Bleibel, working with dauntless energy in the boisterous and tenuous democratic experiment that is Lebanon.

Bleibel is the regular cartoonist for the Lebanese paper Al-Mustaqbal.  He has also been published in a number of other Lebanese papers and in international publications like Al-Ahram (Egypt), The Washington Post, The New York Times, Le Monde, The Los Angeles Times, and various other American and European papers.  He has been published online at Courrier International.com, Al-Jazeerah.net, Cartunesebonecos.com, Al-Arabiya.net and others, and he’s a regular contributor to Daryl Cagle’s Political Cartoonists Index. Bleibel also maintains a highly entertaining website of his own.

We are so honored that he made time for an interview with ITCH.  The time difference made it much simpler to conduct the interview by email, and email was an amazing way to be introduced to Bleibel’s phenomenal personality.  He quite literally answered in glorious technicolor, which unfortunately will not reproduce here.  But you can enjoy the exclamation points!  You can enjoy the sunny personality that shines forth.

ITCH: What was your first comic strip/cartoon/comic?

My grandmother’s face!!

What are you reading right now?

A political book about the history of democracy in Europe.

What is your guilty pleasure?  At least, the one that really answers an ITCH!

Criticizing harshly the defects of others!!!

Who was the first cartoonist/animator you met?

Bahjat Osman (Egyptian).

Which dead cartoonist/animator would you most like to meet?

NAJI  EL-ALI (Palestinian).

What would you say?

Invention is the greatest pleasure in the universe!!! Ask  GOD.

What has been the highlight of your career to date?

When LE MONDE published my cartoons for the first time.

Please tell us a little about your latest project.

To win the Arab cartoonist award!!!

Which old-time cartoon character do you most identify with?

TOM!!!

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

I would fly!!!!

Hassan Bleibel’s expansive, generous, and totally ebullient love for humanity and for his craft should work as a catalyst for American readers.  Let’s take full advantage of our right to speak freely.  Got something to say?  Say it loud!

And as always, thank you Hassan.  Thank you so much!

beth
beth

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Randall Enos: Political Cartoonist!

The news broke on August 26th, in Daryl Cagle’s blog.  The headline read, New Syndicated Editorial Cartoonist: Randall Enos!

This sleepy journalist, who dozes through nearly every development and deadline, sat up and noticed.  Randall Enos, illustrator extraordinaire whose work has been featured by all the old grey ladies (The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Reader’s Digest) and their black sheep sisters (Playboy, National Lampoon), has joined Cagle’s syndicate.  This is extremely welcome news, because we all know Enos will bring his own unique sense of style to political cartooning, that wonderful exercise of free speech out at the blunt, brazen, and blasphemous limits.

‘Tis the season for campaigns and other types of egregious politicking, and that means ’tis the season for political cartoonists, the best friends of democracy, those who don’t mind poking at the soft belly of the political machine with the sharpest stick they can find.  I’m proud to say Randall Enos has joined ITCH for the first in our series of interviews with political cartoonists.

What was your first comic strip/cartoon/comic?

I started my career teaching at the Famous Artists School in their newly formed Cartoon Course (I was the first one hired). While I was there for eight years, I started my free-lance career doing not strips or panels but magazine and newspaper illustrations for places like Playboy and Harper’s Magazine. My actual first free-lance job was for a magazine called Cavalcade. I later also did some animation.

My first comic strip was Chicken Gutz for The National Lampoon, years later. Eventually I also did two strips which alternated in Playboy on their Funny Pages.

Is political cartooning a recent creative turn for you? And if so, why get into political cartooning now?

I’ve never “officially” been a political cartoonist before. But I have done quite a few for a group called INX…and throughout my 54 years in the business, I’ve done other political cartoons. I got interested because my regular markets — the newspaper and magazine illustration markets — are drying up on me and I’m looking for new things to do. I met Daryl Cagle at a National Cartoonists Reuben weekend where I had been nominated for my Broadway show poster. He knew and loved my work from way back and asked me if I might like to join his syndicate…so I did. It’s a little different for me. I think I’ll get the hang of it soon and then WATCH OUT!

Here’s a site where you can see up-to-date tons of my work. Take a look at the caricatures.

What are you reading right now?

I am Azorean Portuguese by heritage and I have a strong interest in studying whaling history so the book I am currently reading is And So Ends This Day which is about the Azorean Portuguese and their involvement in the whaling industry.

I would love to go whaling with you sometime. I have an excellent stomach for the ocean. But not much stomach for killing, so I might go below deck when that part happens.

Hey…I don’t kill animals either. Mocha Dick that I’m writing about was a hero whale. He protected his species from the whale hunters. I’ve already done one limited edition (36 copies) about this whale, hand bound, hand stitched, and beautifully printed on an old Vandercook printing press.  It’s called The Life and Death of Mocha Dick. We sell it for $300.

What is your guilty pleasure?  At least, the one that really answers an ITCH!

I’d have to say movies. I’m a terrible film addict and even watch while I’m working sometimes but I’m trying (after 54 years of doing it) to rid myself of the habit.

Who was the first cartoonist/animator you met?

My boss at the Famous Artists School, Bud Sagendorf who drew Popeye. He also gave me week-end work helping him on the Popeye comic books.

Which dead cartoonist/animator would you most like to meet?

George Herriman of course.

What would you say?

I’d say, “Mr. Herriman, sir, what were you thinking…a Kat with an ambiguous sexual identification?”

What has been the highlight of your career to date?

I think getting to do a Broadway theater poster (and ad graphics and web-site illustrations). It was off-beat with all my crazy linocut lettering etc.

Please tell us a little about your latest project.

My latest project is a children’s book that I am writing and illustrating for Creative Editions. It’s also about the huge white whale Mocha Dick — who was the REAL Moby Dick.

Which old-time cartoon character do you most identify with?

What a crazy question. Do most cartoonists identify with old-time cartoon characters?

If I had to pick one, I guess I’d say Jiggs from Bringing Up Father. I like his style. He’s impressed me from when I was a kid and now that I am also a hen-pecked husband who yearns to escape to the guilty pleasures of corned beef & cabbage in the company of low-lifes at the local tavern (even though I don’t drink… anymore), I guess I identify even more.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

I guess to be able to cloud men’s minds so they couldn’t see me… the way The Shadow did.

Check out Randall Enos’s new page at Daryl Cagle’s Political Cartoonists Index. It’s election season, which for fans of comics can mean only one thing: an avalanche of sharp wit, irreverence, and laffs galore!

And as always: Thanks, Randy!

beth
beth

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Musings on Three New York Comic Art Events: Kids’ Comic Con 4, MOCCA Fest 2010 & the 2009 New York Comic Con

In early 2009 I attended The New York Comic Con. If I tried to describe the experience as a comic book character, I would probably say, "Galactus on Steroids". It was a humongous corporate trade show with gigantic crowds, It was a spectacle of high-tech sensory overload. It was light years removed from the conventions I grew up with, where a bunch of guys set up folding tables and put out cardboard boxes full of of comics. Parts of it were interesting and some of it was fun but at the end of the day, I felt burnt out and dissatisfied.

Last weekend, a parent at my son’s school asked if we wanted to go to the Kids’ Comic Con that was being held in the Bronx. I was skeptical, but my son and I got on the subway and headed uptown to the Bronx Community College. The convention was tiny compared to the NY Comic Con, but it turned out to be an exhuberant, grass roots event where professional (not celebrity) artists mixed with aspiring artists and kids.

Kid’s Comic Con 4 at the Bronx Community College

Bronx, NY; April 11, 2010

It seemed like there was an artist at every table, rapidly sketching on small sheets of paper or multi-panelled comic pages. Original drawings were available for 5 bucks and at one point there was a contest to see who could draw the fastest. We saw a nice presentation by Warriors manga artist James Barry and attended a coloring workshop that taught kids to use Photoshop’s magic wand and bucket tool. It was a little disorganized ("… who has the microphone?") and the workshop had rough edges (the printers in the computer lab didn’t work) but overall, the convention was a positive community event organized by a group of people who loved comics and wanted to do something good for kids.

When we got home, I saw Craig’s Saturday post about the MOCCA Fest that was being held in an armory in Manhattan. This seemed like an opportunity to see yet another type of comic convention.

The 69th Regiment Armory is a great place to see a show like this. Its high, vaulted ceiling, cavernous space and grand, turn-of-the-20th-century architecture gave a rich historical backdrop to some of today’s finest contemporary comic art. Scores of independent and small press exhibitors showed hundreds of works ranging from beautifully produced hard-bound volumes to self-published, fresh-from-the-inkjet-printer editions. Superheroes were almost nonexistent, even at table of the Jack Kirby Museum and Research Center.

MOCCA Fest at the 69th Regiment Armory

New York, NY, April 12, 2010

I saw two panels on comics making the transition from print to electronic form. The first featured a presentation by Neal Adams and Rafael Medoff on their new project for Disney Educational Productions: They Spoke Out: American Voices of Protest Against the Holocaust, a 10-episode series of motion comics designed for high school students. They showed an excerpt that was a powerful mix of relatively unknown historical events illustrated by Adams and combined with old film footage. At the end of the presentation an audience member asked if the work would appear as a graphic novel. Adams said that Medoff was a strong advocate of translating the work to print, but Adams himself was noncommittal.

The second panel, New Genres, New Readers, New Technologies: The World of Comics to Come, featured an interesting combination of some of the top independent comic art publishers: David Steinberger, President of Comixology; Leigh Walton, Top Shelf Productions; Liz Baillie, cartoonist and illustrator; Charles Kochman, Executive Editor of Abrams Books’ ComicArts imprint and Craig Yoe, cartoonist, publisher, designer and founder of this blog.

New Genres, New Readers, New Technologies:
The World of Comics to Come

A poorly photographed Craig Yoe at the MOCCA Fest Panel discussion

Steinberger opened the discussion talking about the apps that Comixology developed for the iPhone and the iPad. He drew a distinction between people who purchase comics for reading and people who purchase comics for collecting. He sees the former as the market for electronic comics and the latter as the market for printed comics.

Kochman said he liked the concept of creating books as fetish objects and talked about the challenges of working within a company like Abrams, long known for its high quality art books but unfamiliar with the work of artists like Jack Kirby.

Yoe described the importance of rediscovering the work of artists like Milt Gross and publishing lesser-known works by famous artists like Joe Shuster, George Herriman and Steve Ditko. During the Q and A an audience member commented that he preferred digital comics on the Internet to traditional comics. Yoe disagreed and said, while he liked digital comics, he preferred “the tactile pleasure of reading comics printed on dead trees”. To make his point Yoe then asked the audience to raise their hands and show how many people preferred Internet porn to “actually making love.” The discussion moved in another direction before the vote could be taken.

Like the New York Comic Con, the MOCCA Fest has virtually nothing in common with the comic conventions of the past. It’s a different type of event – more like a large art or book expo with a sense of humor. Viewing the work, attending the panels, and talking with the artists and publishers was a great way to spend the day.

David Donihue, GreatCaricatures.com

David Donihue, GreatCaricatures.com
David Donihue, GreatCaricatures.com

Thursday, March 4, 2010

From the This-Dude-Is-Awesome Desk: David Cowles

 

 

beth1-150x1501

 

 

The people, places, and things of David Cowles’ world are lively, funny, and sometimes grotesque, animated with synergy so powerful you’d like to harness it to heat your home.  Witness Exhibit A, the caricature of yours truly that accompanies this post.

Cowles’ illustrations and caricatures have been featured in such esteemed publications as Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, Vibe, Time, Newsweek, Playboy, People, The Village Voice, Money, Worth, Fortune, Fast Company, Los Angeles Magazine, New York Magazine, The Boston Globe, The Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, The New Republic and Vanity Fair, among others.

He’s an animator too, and among his many projects he produced four videos for They Might Be Giants’ Here Come the 123s DVD (2008) and four more videos for They Might Be Giants’ Here Comes Science (2009).

Cowles graciously answered a bunch of questions from ITCH.

Let’s talk about your roots.  Was there a particular caricaturist who produced a life-long love and appreciation of caricaturing in you, and when did you first see his or her work?

I would have to say that my first exposure to caricature would have to have been Mort Drucker’s work in MAD magazine. I feel like I’ve always been aware of his stuff, so I must have been pretty young when I first saw it. So, let’s say “from birth.”

 

 

Drucker

 

 

 

 

Who do you think is the greatest caricaturist of all time?  Why?

Tough question, but my all time favorite, and the one who had the biggest influence on what I do now, is Miguel Covarrubias. The argument could be made for plenty of others, like David Levine and Al Hirschfeld, but for me this guy is it. When I first saw his stuff in the 80s, in an article about a show they had of his at the Smithsonian, it was such a revelation to me. In his work, beginning in the 20′s, you could both see the influence of Mayan art from the past, and the direction caricature would go for the next thirty or so years.

 

covarrubias

 

 

How about cartooning?  Suppose you wanted to teach a roomful of skeptics to appreciate the fine art of cartooning.  Who would you use as an example?

Not sure I’d want to be in a room full of cartooning skeptics. Okay, let’s say somebody had a gun to my head and I had to engage them. There’s another one that would be tough to whittle down… As a kid I was obsessed equally with the art of Peanuts, Pogo, and Dennis the Menace. So I’d probably start there. And if their hearts aren’t melted by wise-crackin’ kids and animals, then screw ‘em.

 

pogo

 

 

Is there a particular animator who inspires you?  Can we see his or her influences in your own work?

There have been a ton of animators that I’ve been inspired by, and the style of the old UPA cartoons have cast a big shadow on my work. But my all time favorite animator is probably Tex Avery. His sense of humor was so extreme and his timing was so perfect that he makes me laugh consistently more than any other animator. I want his influence to show more in my work.

 

tex

 

 

Was it a total blast to work with They Might Be Giants?

They are hands down the best experience I’ve had so far in the animation business. I mostly deal with John Flansburgh, who is a director himself and also worked as a graphic artist before the band took off. So, he actually taught me a lot as we’ve worked together. It was also an amazing experience where the executive in charge of the project (Flansburgh, who commissions all of the videos) has given notes that actually make the project better. There doesn’t seem to be any ego involved, just everybody trying to make the best end product. So, yeah, a total blast basically sums it up.

 

tmbgastro

 

 

Explore Cowles’ multiple awesome portfolios here.

beth
beth

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sugar Sugar!

Sweet! The Art of Archie is one of the best exhibits of comic art I’ve ever had the privilege and pleasure of seeing is in its very last days at the terrific MoCCA museum. Certainly some of the finest artists to take up pen an ink for comics have been part of the Archie stable, and this exhibit beautifully showcases their work. On the walls you’ll find choice art by Bob Montana, Archie’s incredible first artist; Dan DeCarlo, who deftly defined the characters for the modern age; Harry Lucey, one of the great storytellers in comics; Stan Goldberg; Joe Edwards; and more.

In this exhibits, there are treasures like DeCarlo’s recreation of the first Archie cover; an unpublished Cold War story; and the art for a comic story when the Archie characters visited MoCCA with Ellen Abramowitz and Karl Erickson, who head up the museum, as part of the tale!

MoCCA even offered a printed guide to the exhibit, which identified the artist of each piece of art in the exhibit. The guide was a great keepsake to take home.

Few weeks later, I went back to take more in when FIFTY YEAR Archie veteran, the amazing Archie editor Victor Gorelick spoke about his work. I’m planning to go back once more tonight at 7:00 pm, when Jim Salicrup interviews a bunch of Archie writers (due to weather conditions please call to confirm at 212-254-3511). It will be fascinating. See you there!

Archie-Royal-Portrait-Web

Craig
C. Yoe (in the funny papers)

SUBSCRIBE