Archive for October, 2010
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Does the below look familiar? Back in the days of Great Depression I, a constant refrain from the Republican Party was that President Franklin Roosevelt was a communist or a socialist, and that the United States had become a communist dictatorship, because Democrats were in power. The below left cartoon by Rollin Kirby, is from the mid-term elections of 1934, showing the G.O.P. holding up signs proclaiming that Roosevelt is a Red!, and, Back to 1929 (a call to return to the Republican financial ideology, which had led to the first Great Depression — just like Republicans/Tea Party ideologues are today calling for a return to their policies which have now given us the second Republican-caused Great Depression), backed up by Wall Street on one side, and Rugged Individualism on the other. This cartoon, titled The Best They Have to Offer, appeared first in the New York World-Telegram. It is taken here, from its reprinting in the October 1934 issue in the American Review of Reviews.
Below right, from the 1912 Presidential Election year, we see Pulling the Same Old Stuff, by Stinson in the Cincinnati Post, showing the monopolies, big business, and party newspapers, cranking out the same old song (in this case, to re-elect Republican President Taft). Just as John Boehner and the Republicans this year, in their 2010 version of “The Contract with America”, while telling us how they were going to do things differently, also threw in to reassure people, that they are still the same old G.O.P., and that their ideas haven’t changed… (ahem). What that means to me, is that Republicans always talk fiscal responsibility, but in practice, when they’ve been in power, their actions have been precisely the opposite. They’ve cried wolf several times too many. I don’t buy it. The cartoon is taken from its reprinting in the November 1912 issue of Cartoons Magazine.
Click on any picture, to see a larger version.
And yet another example of Republican campaign propaganda of the past, below is but one of innumerably similar examples which appeared in The Fellowship Forum during the Presidential Elections of 1928. The Fellowship Forum was a Washington, D.C. published newspaper which intertwined Conservative Christian Fundamentalists, the Ku Klux Klan (which had wide mainstream acceptance at this time), Prohibition, and the Republican Party. The Democrats had nominated an anti-Prohibition, Catholic candidate for President — Al Smith — to run against Republican Herbert Hoover. This led to the constant refrain that A Vote for Al Smith is a Vote for the Pope. That if the people didn’t vote for Hoover and the Republicans, America would become a Catholic theocratic dictatorship, run both by the Pope and rum-running boot-leggers. An example detail from below, is candidate Al Smith at the head of the parade, driving a beer wagon with the words “Make America 100% Catholic, Drunk and Illiterate” written on its side, while Al says, “From Washington I’ll drive these protestant nags thru to Mexico City.” The below cartoon appeared on the front page of the June 16, 1928 issue of The Fellowship Forum. I could show tons of these, but, one hate-filled example is enough.
Click on the below picture, to see and read all the details.
In case you didn’t notice — yes, in 1928, Republicans claimed that if Democrats won the Presidency, the United States would become a theocratic catholic dictatorship, ruled by the Pope. In 1932, Republicans claimed that because a Democrat was in the White House, that the United States was a socialist/communist dictatorship. Today, extremist Tea Party-Libertarian-Republicans, claim that because Democrats are at the moment in charge, we are living in a socialist/communist dictatorship, ruled by an atheist communist, who is a secret muslim, with a crazy christian preacher… (They also say that allowing tax rates on the wealthiest 1% of Americans, to return what they were during the Clinton years, would also mean we’re a socialist dictatorship — implying that during President Clinton’s Presidency, we were living in a dictatorship then, as well.)
To make it easy, let’s just sum it up — the definition of “dictatorship” for a conservative extremist, is anytime their candidate loses a democratic election. Using Republican logic, their God-given freedom to impose their way of thinking upon everybody else, is being oppressed when they are not in charge of everything. The only way to make the United States free, is to make it a one-party state, in which the most right-wing conservative Republicans are guaranteed to win every election.
Does that basically sum it up?
To find previous Election-related Cartoons, click here.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
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!
Thursday, October 28, 2010
It’s that time of year and here’s Dell’s adaptation of Mad Monster Party?, the Rankin-Bass stop motion animated horror comedy that’s been gaining respect in hindsight. The film was written by Harvey Kurtzman with characters designed by Jack Davis, neither of whom had anything to do with this comic.
Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams revived the Joker in an early seventies Batman as the murderously insane serial killer he had been back in the early Golden Age stories. Then somebody at DC got the bright idea to give the character his own title…and make him the silly version again!
Here’s prolific but little-known writer/artist and editor Ernie Hart (writer of a number of early Marvel Universe stories as E.L. Huntley) with some marvelous cartooning on Quality’s Mightymite from 1946.
Finally today, Cartoonist Henry Boltinoff, as mentioned here recently, was known mainly for his Silver Age National/DC filler strips but he was doing them as well as some regular strips way back in the Golden Age, too. Here’s some Honey in Hollywood.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Today being the start of the World Series, we present excerpts from the first issue of Puck’s Library, published July, 1887, titled The National Game.
Puck’s Library was a monthly magazine, which each issue collected and reprinted cartoons from the weekly Puck, centered on a common theme. Whereas Puck was dominated by its political cartoons, Puck’s Library deliberately stayed away from political themes, culling its material from the black & white pages in-between Puck’s large color cover and centerspread political cartoons. (Plus, sometimes from Puck’s color back cover, which as often as not carried non-political multi-panel color cartoons, which Puck’s Library reprinted in black & white).
Left, the front cover of Puck’s Library #1, with art by cartoonist A.B. Schultz.
Below, by Frederick Burr Opper, showing how all the employees at an office suddenly take sick as the baseball season begins, Base-Ball as an Underminer of Veracity. This had originally appeared on Puck’s back cover, in color.
Click on any picture, to open an enlarged version.
Next, a follow-up stand alone cartoon by Opper, involving the same characters from the comic strip above.
Below left, Umpiring Made Easy, by artist James Wales.
Below right, in He Will Deliver Hot Balls, cartoonist Michael Woolf imagines a steam-driven robotic pitcher — and the extra protective padding required by human players — in a baseball game of the future.
Below, by Opper again, first, It Happened Just Outside the Ball-Grounds, showing kids attempting to see over a fence to watch a baseball game for free, followed by the adult version, Human Nature.
To see a prior posting involving Baseball Cartoons, click here.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
We start today with more of Dick Briefer’s Frankenstein (available for order here at ITCH) as Comicrazys presents 30 splash pages featuring the popular “Merry Monster” version of the character.
Speaking of Frankenstein, Craig may have his new Dick Briefer’s Frankenstein book (available for order on this very page) but here Batman and Robin give us the “true” story of Frankenstein from a 1948 issue of Detective Comics.
There’s some Craig (Johnny, not Yoe) and some Feldstein but the visceral art of “Ghastley” Graham Ingels steals the show in this presentation of the covers of all 28 issues of the Old Witch’s classic EC title, The Haunt of Fear.
Finally, on a less monstrous note, check out the precise Caniff-like art on this Dell Steve Canyon comic from 1953, supposedly by William Overgard but possibly with the involvement of Caniff assistant Ray Bailey.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
The Barney Google celebration isn’t over yet, not by the long shot! We have millions and millions of versions of the classic song “Barney Google” to present here in honor of the new book collecting the classic comic strips. Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration. It’s probably more like a dozen. But each one is a gem in its own right and deserves to be heard, darn it!
Today’s selection is no exception. It’s by the Mellomen, featuring the voice of Thurl Ravenscroft.
Thurl, as any astute cartoon lover should know, was the narrator and vocalist on Chuck Jones’ animated version of “How The Grinch Stole Christmas.” You’ll recognize his marvelous deep (deep!) bass from “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch” on this barbershop quartet version of “Barney Google.”
But wait! There’s more! Thurl Ravenscroft was also the cartoon voice of Tony the Tiger, giving him a triple cartoon connection. Take that, Mel Blanc!
Click the link below to enjoy.
Barney Google – The Mellomen With Thurl Ravenscroft
— DJ David B.
Monday, October 25, 2010
For this week’s Non-Partisan Monday, we present in its entirety the 1866 political comic book parody, Andy’s Trip to the West, written by then-popular humorist Petroleum V. Nasby (pseudonym of David Ross Locke), and illustrated by…unknown. (Some have claimed it to be illustrated by Thomas Nast, but the art style doesn’t really match; plus, anything illustrated by Nast would have promoted that fact.) This is one of several versions all published at about the same time, from different printers located in different towns. It makes fun of President Andrew Johnson’s (successor to the assassinated President Lincoln) train tour from Washington, D.C. to Illinois (“the West”), and back, in an attempt to build political support for himself (the trip was a spectacular failure). The comic shows General Grant stealing the attention from the unpopular Johnson.
Click on any picture to enlarge it.
Click here to find prior postings of Election Cartoons.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Someday I’d love to see a career-spanning article about the much-despised artist Tony Tallarico who, amongst his many other accomplishments, edited the humor magazine, Trash from 1978, part one of which is up now at The Magic Whistle.
Gasoline Alley‘s Frank King has been gaining much deserved respect in recent years and here’s a nice short piece with a number of artistic samples including some of the great Sunday pages.
Speaking of gaining respect, here’s a pre-code Atlas horror story from Sub-Mariner creator Bill Everett whose life and work are celebrated in a just released volume by author Blake Bell.
Finally today, do you speak jive? If you do–in the traditional sense–then here’s a couple of stories from Pappy featuring The Kilroys that you might just be able to understand.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Let’s go mainstream today, shall we? Batman, Tarzan, Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and the Cryptkeeper!
It’s always fun to see the late Jim Mooney ghosting for Bob Kane. He usually did so on the long-running Robin series in the late forties but here he is on a 1946 Bill Finger Batman story.
Finally getting some respect with recent reprints, longtime anonymous Dell artist Jesse Marsh drew Tarzan for them for many years including this story shared today by Pappy.
From the classic Amazing Spider-Man # 8, one of the first back issues I myself ever had, here (via seventies reprint) is the odd Lee/Kirby/Ditko back-up featuring Spidey and the Human Torch.
Finally today, here’s the Cryptkeeper, arguably the most infamous of all the horror hosts from EC or even since, in what amounts to an origin story by Feldstein and Davis, shared here in both printed form and from the original art.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Archie Andrews had another major rival at DC Comics; Binky from Leave It To Binky which had one of the strangest publication histories in modern comics, running 82 issues spanning from 1948 to 1958, ending with #60. In 1967 he made an inexplicable (seriously, I know I sometimes overuse this word, I like the way it sounds, but if anyone out there does happen to have an explanation as to why DC would do this, well, you know where to reach me) appearance in Showcase #70 after which the comic became just plain Binky – though it retained it’s original numbering. It went on hiatus without explanation in ’70-’71 before finishing it’s run with #82 in 1977, which is pretty impressive considering it managed to hang on for years after the establishment of the direct sales market.
Like Buzzy before him Binky came in two basic incarnations. Phase One being very much in the traditional Archie wheelhouse when it came to plots, though not artistically. The sadly unheralded Bob Oskner did his usual fine job on the art and while the scripts were fairly by the number they were, like the Buzzy stories, nonthreatening and reassuring bits of Americana.
But Binky did have one major advantage over Archie; he had a little brother named Allergy. You read that correctly, the weird, fat little load was named (or at least called by all) “Allergy” for no apparent reason. I haven’t read every issue but as far as I can tell there was never any explanation as to why he was called “Allergy”, let alone why he always wore an enormous black bow-tie which seems to have been ordered from the Clown College Catalog. And while Binky was depicted as being fully human Allergy and his father were nearly identical, suggesting (to me anyway) that Binky might have been adopted.
From Leave It To Binky #1, here’s the very first Binky story:
As a bonus, from 1956 here’s a Public Service Announcement page that appeared in Leave It To Binky #57. This is ordinarily where I’d be praising the simple, common sense approach to an important, not to mention timely, issue. And then I noticed the thing on the sign about “literacy tests”….
In Phase Two Binky became much more cartoonish and was pretty much an Archie clone, one that tried to plug into the late 60′s, early 70′s zeitgeist with mixed results. The bulk of these stories were drawn by the late Henry Scarpelli, who’s better known for his work on other DC characters like Angel and the Ape, Stanley and his Monster and that Charlton classic Sinistro, Boy Fiend. And Buzzy (well, a blonde kid named Buzzy anyway; he didn’t look or act all that much like the one from the comic book Buzzy) became Binky’s best friend.
One noteworthy aspect of this version was while no African-American ever became one of Binky’s Buddies there were short filler strips featuring Li’l Leroy by veteran artist Henry Boltinoff (the man who gave us Super-Turtle) about a little black kid. It was a unexpected (though I suppose we could interpret this as another attempt at being “hip”; America having only recently discovered people of color) but welcome bit of racial diversity in the almost entirely segregated world of humor comics.
With names like ‘Buzzy’ (with its connotations of drug use) and ‘Binky’ (a brand name for a pacifier; the very thing teens and preteens want to be associated with) there’s almost no chance we’ll ever see either of them again. That is, unless Grant Morrison decides to show an interest…
I have more than enough material for a third installment on this subject, and DC’s third Archie rival Swing With Scooter (which ran 36 issues between 1966 and 1971) probably deserves one of his own. And I’ll definitely do a Part 3; eventually.
— Steve Bennett
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