Monday, July 30, 2007

Back from the con...

Okay, so I'm back from the con.

Now I'm in Tennessee. However, the internet here isn't working, so I have to use a library computer. But let me list some highlights from the con:

Keith Knight (The K Chronicles) and Steve Notely (Bob the Angry Flower)
Both brilliant cartoonists whose work runs in alt-weeklies. Look them up. Bought books from them.

Blank Label Comics
Met Dave Kellett (Sheldon), Dave Willis (Shortpacked), Paul Taylor (Wapsi Square) and Brad Guigar (Evil Inc.). All were cool, and bought stuff from them.

Ted Rall
He was actually a very nice guy. I talked to him for about 30-minutes on the cartooning industry. He told me TWO secrets over at United Features that I won't reveal, but I will tell you that it is very awesome. I bought several books from him. He also told me a funny Doug Marlette story (apparently, he was kicked out from the AAEC)

National Cartoonist Society
Met Greg Evans (Luann), Jeff Keane (son of Bil Keane), Daryl Cagle (editorial cartoonist for MSNBC.com) and Andrew Feinstein (co-creator of s and Sports). I also met R.C. Harvey, who was selling his book on Milton Caniff.

So it was a blast. Once I get a working home computer, I'll go in-depth.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Comic-Con or Bust

My posting will be light this week. I'm going to the San Diego Comic-Con and I can assure you that I am very excited.

I'll be taking pictures, so stay tuned...

Friday, July 20, 2007

For your reading pleasure - AT THE ZÜ by Ron Ruelle



Cartoonist Ron Ruelle began Stoopid Zü in 1990, running in Knoxville News-Sentinel. It was later picked up for syndication, retitled as At the Zü.



At the Zü was syndicated by Creators Syndicate from 11/20/1995 to 6/20/1998. The strip was about a zoo run by Edsel (official title: Director of non-human resources). The strip featured a variety of animals, but the primary focus was Darwin the monkey.



Other characters were Evelyn (a feminist ostrich), Zed (the zebra), Miles (the polar bear), and a somewhat infinite number of penguins, necessary due to Miles' appetite for them. There was another character early in the strip's run: Carl the lion. According to the cartoonist, "he was too hard to draw, so he quit."



Even after the strip ceased syndication, it continued for a while as a webcomic, retitled once again as Darwin and Co., running weekly until 2/20/2000, when it was permanently retired.



Tho he's done with the strip, Ron Ruelle still draws on a freelance basis. He's currently an editorial cartoonist for Boulder County Business Report and now has a website showcasing his current work.

Many thanks to Mr. Ruelle for selling me At the Zü originals years ago. For that, I am grateful.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Pinkerton


Mike Witmer, who does 44 Union Avenue for gocomics.com and a handful of newspapers has a new strip up called Pinkerton. Check it out.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Monday, July 16, 2007

Newspapers will stick around


This is one of the strips I'm working on. It's still in the development stage and I'm not ready to show it in public, but I'm making an exception with this one.

I think this speaks for itself. One thing that always puzzles me are those 20-somethings always blabbering about how newspapers will go extinct and how they're happy about it for some reason (I guess to them, anything that came along before their birth = evil). Guys? Grow up. Newspapers will stick around.

Yes, I realize that the industry is a mess now (especially the comics section), but so what? Movie theaters was in a pickle in the '50s and radios did, too. And the people in charge knew that, so they made some changes and 50 years later, movies and radios continue to be profitable mediums. What makes you think newspapers will go under because of changing times?

And don't get me started on webcomics. Fortunately, Corey Pandolph pretty much summed up my frustrations with webcomics in his blog.
And I'm not a fan of Zippy the Pinhead, but Bill Griffith makes a good point here, too.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

For your reading pleasure - SYDNEY by Scott Stantis


Scott Stantis is one of my favorite cartoonists and also one of my biggest influences, so I felt that it was appropriate to showcase his lesser-known work.

Sydney ran for only a year (from 9/30/1985 to 9/21/1986) and was syndicated by United Features Syndicate (United would later distribute Scott's strip The Buckets, which is still being continued under Stantis's assistant Greg Cravens).

Sydney was a gag-a-day strip about a polar bear and the zoo he lived in. According to Stantis, he liked the characters, but when the strip began, he and his wife moved half-way across country to his new editorial cartooning job (at Arizona Republic, I believe) and was also becoming a father at the time. Being stressed through all that, he ended the strip.

In addition to Sydney and The Buckets, Stantis also worked on King Baloo by Bob Thaves (creator of Frank and Ernest), but he is better known for his politically-oriented Prickly City comic strip, which debuted in July 11, 2004.

Blogsitting Daily Cartoonist

Just letting you know that I'm blogsitting Daily Cartoonist this week (along with two other bloggers).

The Daily Cartoonist is a popular comic strip blog frequently referenced in Editor & Publisher, so this is pretty cool.

Friday, July 13, 2007

For your reading pleasure: SUPERZEROS by Mike Luckovich


A lot of people knows Mike Luckovich for his Pulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoons, but what many don't know him for was his short-lived daily strip SuperZeros.

The strip was about two brothers who, somehow, became superheros. They lived in their mother's basement as they bumbled on not even trying to fight crimes. Their car was "Manly Mobile," a name their mother thought was stupid.

It began in January 3, 2000 and was syndicated by Tribune Media Services. The strip didn't catch on, however, and was dropped in November 5th of that year.

Houston Chronicle still has some samples, so check it out.

Monday, July 9, 2007

For your reading pleasure - CONCHY by James Childress

In this installment of FYRP, I thought I showcase this underrated gem.



Conchy was a comic strip drawn by James Childress (1941-1977) and ran in newspapers from 1970 until Childress's death. The strip was self-syndicated (originally under the business name Corinthian Features) except during 1974-1976, when Field Enterprises took over the syndication duty for a while. Many sources also list Publishers-Hall Syndicate as the syndicate, but I have yet to find samples with the syndicate listed in the copyright label.


The strip's titular character was an everyman beachcomber who lived in an island inhabitated by other beachcombers (including Oom Paul, Bug, and the twins Patch and Duff). The native village on the other side also served as minor characters. While the beachcombers co-existed with the islanders peacefully, they were constantly warring with the pygmies on the other side.



James Childress initially created Conchy in the early '60s and submitted it to syndicates. After several rejects, he eventually decided to syndicate it himself. Through this, the strip began in March 2, 1970.



Within few years, the strip picked up a couple dozen newspapers, and it was enough to convince Field Enterprise to take over the syndication duty, starting April 29, 1974. This relationship, however, was short-lived, due to creative differences. Thus, Childress went back to self-syndicating in 1976.



Sadly, Childress was having financial and family difficulties, including a custody battle for the kids between him and his ex-wife. On January 1977, Childress committed suicide. And that was the end of the strip.


For a more in-depth look on Conchy, here's an essay written by Childress's friend.

Friday, July 6, 2007

For your reading pleasure - THATCH by Jeff Shesol

I thought I would do these posts once in a while, where I would showcase lesser-known strips introduced in the past 30 or so years ago.

So I thought I start out with Thatch.



Thatch was a comic strip drawn by Jeff Shesol. It was originally a college strip that ran in Brown University's student paper.



The title character was a everyman who struggled through life and politics. He had an alter-ego, Politically Correct Person (P.C. Person), who was a streotyped sensitive liberals who feared of offending people. Other characters were Tripp, Thatch's womanizing, obnoxious roomate; Kate, the editor for the college paper; and Sloane, who, as the cartoonist described in the strip's first and only book collection, a "heartless, shallow rich bitch." Tripp would try to date Sloane, only to fail (most of the time).




(The black and white samples above were the original college strips, and were scanned from the book collection put out by Vintage Books, a division of Random House, from 1991.)

Thatch was later picked up for syndication by Creators Syndicate. Its syndication run began in late 1994.









Things, however, changed. Jeff Shesol, the creator, was offered to become a speech writer for President Bill Clinton. Shesol wasted no minute agreeing the deal and promptly ended the strip. The final Thatch appeared in April 11, 1998, after only few years in syndication.

Below is the final Thatch.


Since then, Shesol has written many political books, but no cartooning. The character, more likely, won't return in one form or another, although you'd never know.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Gag cartoons

I drew various gag cartoons a week or two ago (about 14 in all). So, I thought I start sharing them here.

Here's one. This is one of my oldest. When my old high school had a monthly newspaper (basically just xeroxed sheet folded in half), this was the cartoon I submitted. Thus, in essence, this was my first cartoon.

Majority of my older cartoons are painful to read, but this one, I thought, was good enough to be redrawn for modern use.


Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Interest in Paris Hilton coverage


I drew this one with brush. Let me know what you think.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Howie Schneider on "Mice to Men"

By Mark Heath's request, I'm running this article about Howie Schneider and the transformation of Eek & Meek from mice to humans.




Mice to Men
By Jud Hurd
(Originally published in Cartoonist PROfiles, March 1982)

Beginning on February 8th of this year, Howie Schneider's popular 'Eek & Meek' strip, which he writes and draws for the Newspaper Enterprise Association, began to chronicle their adventures as men, rather than as mice which they've been since 1965! In this conversation Howie, who lives and works out of his oceanside in Provincetown, Massachusetts, tells how the change came about.




Hurd: Howie, when did you first start thinking about changing your mice characters into men?

Schneider: Maybe about a year-and-a-half ago, but there's been a constant change going on with 'Eek & Meek' ever since it started sixteen years ago. This latest change, I guess, was just a natural development of this continuing process. Eek and Meek started back in 1965, looking like a little cocktail franks with one-line arms and legs, ant there wasn't that much expression on their faces-which was just what I wanted. At that time I really wanted to write something and I didn't specifically wamt to do a comic strip. But I wanted to write on the comic strip page, so I needed drawings. I didn't even want Eek and Meek ro be different from each other-I wanted them to be identical-but they talked me into putting a little black hat on Eek. And then I needed more expressions so I began to draw more open mouths, and to put in more eye and body expressions. (There hadn't been too much movement in a cocktail frank!)

Then gradually the backgrounds began to change to accommodate the changes that were taking place in the figures. I began to do closeups and there's nothing more uninteresting than a cocktail frank, with a stick arm and leg, in a closeup. At this point I gave the characters thick, flesh-and-bone arms and legs. Next, in order to get more color in the strip, in the form of zip-a-tone, I began to put sweaters and shirts on them-only because I was beginning to enjoy drawing them that way. The art was beginning to become as important as the words. Television sets were coming into the strip, as were interiors of homes, and innocuous bedroom scenes. And then I began to draw bar scenes with characters who were actually people, standing next to this somewhat weird-looking character that wasn't really a mouse but something which had a lumpy head with no hair. It wasn't obvious to me but it was pointed out that this was a strange combination. So I began to give some consideration to making a 'people' strip. This turned out to be difficult because I didn't want the change to seem obvious. The hair on my 1982 characters follows the same contours as the head, and as I look at them now, it seems to me that they've been that way for years. So I'm happy now that I've created two human beings by a devious process.

Hurd: Our readers would be interested in hearing how 'Eek and Meek' started.





Howie Schneider: I had been trying to develop a comic strip about a Washington secretary who had all kinds of people coming into her office. But as often happens when you're devising a comic strip that doesn't really suit your temperament, I got into a hole with nowhere to go. After a couple of months of trying to go somewhere this idea, I dried up. However, one of the characters was a government scientist doing research and he was performing experiments on two mice. At this point I decided to have the two mice talking to each other. So one mouse, with a big cigar, bragged to the other that he was working on a cancer research program, and smoking for the government. Whereupon the other mouse comments, "Big deal-I'm in genetics!" I had a great time showing these two talking to each other, without knowing who was saying what.

Hurd: I know you've said that the strip follows your life. Would you elaborate on that a little?

Schneider: I read a lot-magazines, books, newspapers-about three hours a day with the idea in mind of covering as much ground as I can. I play the piano so there will be some of that in the strip, and 'Eek and Meek' seem to mirror whatever I happen to be doing. My divorce influenced the subject matter, as did the rearing of children. I had two kids in the strip at one time - 'Lovable' and 'Freaky'-and when my children began to take up more time than the comic strip, I stopped including them. I'll read the paper and get incensed at something somebody has said, and this will probably get me off on a strip comment about unemployment, for instance. I try to take something that's obvious and put it in a way that makes a point. Here's one example: When the value of the dollar kept dropping, as the price of gold was going up, it was devastating to a lot of people. I wanted to put this thought in the comic strip in some form that would make a point. I said that the dollar used to be worth 75¢ and now it's worth 55¢, which is really a good thing for the poor because now, when you don't have a buck to your name, you're only out 55¢.

Anything a cartoonist does that gets him out of the studio and gives him some sort of challenge-such as sailing or going on a cross-country camping trip as I did recently-is valuable and eventually productive of ideas. I was part of a crew on a sailboat and this turned me onto sailing, and now I want to do a lot more of it. I think maybe I will live in Barcelona this coming year. Even if I don't do anyuthing specific about Spain in the strip, the ideas just jog your mind. You break certain pieces loose, maybe you start thinking in terms of loneliness if you're away from home, or of alineation if you're dealing in a foreign language. Doing something like spending time in Spain changes your intake and it all helps.

Hurd: Do you read other comic strips?

Schneider: No. If you read the other person's strip, things seep in and eventually you'll come up with an idea that you think is yours-and it really isn't. Of course, I look at them from time to time, to see who's doing what, and so on, but not on a daily basis.