Sunday, August 31, 2008

Pearls Before Swine

While going through my copy of one of the Pearls books, I came across this drawing of Rat and Pig the creator, Stephan Pastis, gave to me. I think this was one of the first piece of artworks I've ever got from a cartoonist.



Years ago, Stephan allowed anyone who wanted a drawing to send him a SASE, where he would stuff the envelope with a drawing of the characters. I did just that and lo and behold, it came in the mail several months later.

However, I sent that SASE when the strip was still new. As the years went by, the strip became more and more popular; thus, Pastis started to recieve more and more requests. Eventually, he had to stop doing this.

Pastis doesn't sell or donate originals, so this is probably the only piece of Pearls artwork I'll ever own. I'm just grateful that I've sent that letter while I had a chance.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Interview with Keith Knight

Keith Knight, 42, is a cartoonist known for his weekly K Chronicles strip, which was recently collected into a 500 page Complete K Chronicles book by Dark Horse. He also does an editorial panel (th)ink and his newly-launched Knight Life daily strip.

I recently conducted an email interview with him. My questions are in bold.



How is "Knight Life" similar and different to your "K Chronicles" weekly strip?

Both the Knight Life and the K Chronicles have myself, my wife, family and Gunther as characters, but the K Chronicles is more like a blog and the Knight Life is more like "Seinfeld". It's less real.

In the past, you have stated that you recieved offers from editors about doing a daily version of "K Chron." but always turned them down. What made you change your mind when you decided to sign with United?

A couple of things: I'm not running around (touring with my band, the Marginal Prophets) as much. Not taking off to Europe for months at a time. I've settled down enough where I could put in the time. Also, Ted Rall, a friend and colleague, became the acquisitions editor at United, and he gave a passionate argument in favor ofdoing a daily.

It also helped that I talked to a lot of folks who were doing it, and enjoying it. As opposed to before, where I was talking to people who hated it and quit.



How many papers picked up "Knight Life" so far?

I will not divulge the number of papers until it's a number i can boast about.

Will your newborn child ever appear in the daily strip?

Sure. But I want people to get to know and enjoy that other characters first. I don't want it to be a baby strip.



Newspapers, both mainstream and "alternative," have been losing readers for the past several years. Do you think they'll disappear altogether in the near future? Should cartoonists start adapting to the internet presence?

Cartoonists should be adapting a web presence regardless!!

Newspapers are not dying. The business is morphing, much like what the record industry is going through.

People said the same thing about radio and movies when television came about.

There are still things that newspapers do better than the internet. The internet is perfect for short, factual information. But it's a nightmare to read something for longer than 5 minutes.

Newspapers have to hire interesting graphic designers, artists and cartoonists to create exciting layouts. Their stories have to be deeper than just some basic info. Focus locally. USA Today and the New York Times can take care of all the big national and international news. Daily newspapers should also consider picking up weekly cartoonists like Stephen Notley and Ruben Bolling. They should be surprising their readers every day with something a little different. That way, people will look forward to picking up a new issue every day.



How far ahead are you with your daily strip?

5 weeks with the daily. 8 weeks with the Sunday.

Let's see if I get this right: You do THREE newspaper features, contribute to MAD and ESPN magazines, and also do commissioned work occasionally. Yet, you somehow have time to make regular appearances at various organizations and conventions. What's your secret? Do you have a machine that stops time or somethin'?

I have franchisees who pretend to be me at all the conventions. And I have a sweatshop in the garage of my apartment complex.

By the way, I only use U.S. Grade-A American children in my sweatshop.

How did the Dark Horse book came about? How long has it been in the making?

13 years worth of comics. But it only came together last year because Shannon Wheeler turned me on to Dark Horse.



You are now self-publishing your "K Chron" and "(th)ink" books. Is it more overwhelming, managing the books yourself, or is it easier than going through various editors, etc. Will you put out "Knight Life" books once you have enough strips?

There will be a Knight Life collection. And it will be put out be a major publisher. That's all I can say at the moment.

But I will continue to put out the others on my own. It's easier not to deal with editors and publishers and distributors. Just sell em of my site, at conventions and at signings. Nice and easy.

Ever thought about getting your stuff animated?

Yes. That's why I moved down here to Los Angeles. I wanna be where the action is.

In the past, there have been comic strips that had potential, but in the end, didn't last, getting cancelled after short time (sometimes as little as 6 months). Do you have any favorite strips that was a victim of that?

My good pal Nina Paley had a nice strip about a couple that had a lot of potential. Cannot remember the name, though. [Brubaker's Note: The strip in question is "The Hots," co-created by Stephen Hersh] And I liked the Popeye strip that was out a while ago. And there was another, by this guy whose writing was excellent.

Sorta lame that I cannot remember any of the names.

Are cartoons (in general) lacking diversity, whether its the cartoonists and/or their characters? Should we have some sort of affirmative action for cartoons?

Yes, they are lacking in diversity. No, there doesn't need to be any affirmative action. Editors just need to stop treating the comic page like it's a jury. You can have more than one or two cartoonists of color on the comics page. It's about what's funny.



Cartoons depicting minorities, including blacks, Jews, and Japanese, have been, um...questionable, at best, especially those made during World War II. Should we keep these cartoons locked up, or should we release them, but with historical context? And do you think we will we view post-9/11 cartoons depicting Muslims as racist 50 years from now?

There are cartoons that depict Muslims in an okay way and there are cartoons that depict them in a racist way. It doesn't take 50 years to figure it out.

All those racist cartoons should be available for people to view, just to show how moronic people can be. They should be recognized for what they are so folks can learn from our past misjudgments.

And finally...if you ever get sent to Gitmo, but are allowing you to bring one book, what would it be?

Stephen Notley's latest Bob the Angry Flower book, "Pamplemousse".

All comics © Keith Knight
Interview © Charles Brubaker

Mother Goose and Grimm: The Animated Series

Well, this settles it. Just about every movie made by the human race is on YouTube. As proof, I present to you, the animated Mother Goose and Grimm.



Yes. After the success of Garfield and Friends, CBS decided to look into another show based on a comic strip. This time, a show based on a comic strip created by a Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist, Mike Peters.

The animated MG&G show debuted on CBS's Saturday Morning lineup on September 14, 1991 at 8:30 AM EST.

The show was produced at Film Roman, which also produced the Garfield show, and Mark Evanier was the supervising writer, writing most of the episodes.

Mother Goose was voiced by Mitzi McCall, with Charlie Brill voicing Grimmy. Greg Burson, who passed away just few weeks ago, was the voice of Attila. Hamm, who doesn't appear in the strip anymore, was voiced by Eddie Deezen, using the voice he later gave to Mandark from Dexter's Laboratory.

While the show was better than most Saturday Morning shows produced at the time, it wasn't without flaws. Indeed, there were a few. For one thing, the characters talks WAY too much. I mean, more than in any other cartoons. As a result, the dialogues can get repetitive. Usually, there would be a running gag with a line that would be repeated every 30 seconds. In one episode, where Grimm meets a space alien, the line "I can figure out how to set the [VCR]. It flashes 12:00 all the time" was repeated by other characters so much, I lost count.

There are ups as well, though. For one thing, the designs are very faithful to the strip it was based on. The animation often goes wacky and out of this world, in order to fit the strip's theme. The animators at the Taiwan studio did a good job with that. And some of the episodes are pretty funny. I enjoyed "Ham Alone" in particular.

In fact, here's Ham Alone, posted on YouTube in 2 parts.



Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Editorial cartoons

Whoa. So I made my print debut as an editorial cartoonist yesterday (Aug. 26) in not one but TWO newspapers simultaneously (The Pacer and Weakley County Press)

That is all...

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Heads up...

I'm doing another interview with a cartoonist. It should be up in a short while.

So stay tuned.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Editorial cartoons

In addition to my semi-regular slot at The Pacer, my editorial cartoons will also appear every Tuesday at Weakley County Press.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

GUN CONTROL!

So, the chances of this cartoon getting published is slim.



This is another local cartoon, based on this story.

Speaking of publication, the Soybean Festival cartoon below will be published in UTM's student newspaper, The Pacer later this week.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Soybean Festival

This is what we cartoonists call "local cartoons." Soybean Festival is an annual event that happens here in Martin, Tennessee, and it's probably one of the dullest festivals in the state (I assume. I never went to any other TN festivals). It happens every first week of September. Hopefully, one of the papers around here will publish it (I'll let you know if it does).



Oh, and UTM = University of Tennessee at Martin.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Randolph Itch 2 AM

I've never been a big fan of Tom Toles. He's OK, but a bit overrated, IMO. However, while going through my tearsheet file, I came across this. The comic ended less than 10 years ago, but I figure that not many people know about this anyway.



Randolph Itch 2 AM was a panel feature Toles drew for United Features. It ran from 1/3/2000 to 7/13/2003, although it continued to appear in reruns until October of that year. Apparently, when Toles got hired by the Washington Post, part of the new deal required him to end this feature. Bummer.

It was Toles' second attempt in syndicated comics. His other feature, Curious Avenue, ran in the early 1990s, through Universal Press Syndicate.

Demagoguery Works

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sibling Revelry

Sibling Revelry, about Stew and his older sister, Lori, and their single mom, was by Man Martin and ran from 1990 to 1995. This was part of the Lew Little Enterprise lineup. Lew Little basically served as an "agent" for comic strips and outsourced the actual syndication work to bigger syndicates, although on some, Little actually distributed himself.

In the case of this strip, Lew Little initially distributed it himself, then later had it "outsourced" to Universal Press Syndicate.

Man Martin all but left cartooning and now focuses on literature. His debut novel, Days of the Endless Corvette, came out in 2007.

I only have these three strips. If anyone has more strips, or basically anything else about the strip, please let me know in the comments.



Monday, August 11, 2008

More Kelly & Duke Sundays

...and here's another set of five Kelly & Duke Sunday strips (see the other post here).







That's it for Kelly for a while. But tune in next time when I post about some other stuff. What it will be about, I do not know.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Captain Vincible

We'll get back to Kelly & Duke in a bit. But first...

Some of you may remember my post on the comic book format that some newspapers used to print their Sunday comics back in the '80s (and, in rare cases, the early '90s). Probably the one blog post that got the most feedback, with Kelly & Duke second.

You may also remember about the box full of Sunday comics sections from the '90s that I've recieved on mail, some of which I scanned. Well, inside the package was another set of Sunday comic books. This time, from Mansfield, OH News Journal.

I've thought of scanning all the pages from one of the books, but I opted not to, because their selection of comics were not as interesting as the Norwich one. However, this set of books did feature one particular strip that I thought was worth posting. So today, I finally decided to get around to do a post about it.

Captain Vincible, by Ralph Smith, was distributed by King Features and ran from 1983 to 1989.

As far as I know, it was about a guy who dressed up as a super hero, along with his sidekick dog, who doesn't do much. The guy has no super power, hence the name. In fact, he doesn't even act like a superhero much. He seems to dress up just for the hell of it. Can't get any better than that.

Smith's bio can be seen here, but basically, he is/was an editorial cartoonist based in Sarasota, FL. He had another strip called Through Thick and Thin, which was syndicated by Copley News Service until 2007 (just about everyone missed its run, because Copley was so bad at syndicating strips). He currently writes for Bill Schorr's The Grizzwells, which is still syndicated through Newspaper Enterprise Association.





Friday, August 8, 2008

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Kelly & Duke Sundays

Continuing the discussion of the 1970s comic strip Kelly & Duke, here are some Sunday samples. See previous posts here and here.

I still have few more unscanned. I'll have them posted within few days.





Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Male Feminists

This cartoon was inked with Hunt 107, including the lettering (the Wal-Mart cartoon was with two different felt-tip pens and some Rapidograph). I'm still rough around the edges with the nib pen, but otherwise I like using them, so I'll probably use those more in the future.



Here's that dark-haired woman again. I can't help but wonder why everytime I draw women in my comics, it's always this one. My Asian background sneaking in, perhaps? Or maybe it's because I don't know how to draw a &%#@! women? You decide!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Monday, August 4, 2008

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Fujio Akatsuka RIP

Japanese cartoonist Fujio Akatsuka passed away today at the age of 72. Sad but not unexpected; he has been in coma for few years now.



Chances are, you have no idea who I'm talking about, but Akatsuka-san was (and is) one of the most influencial 'mangaka' in Japan. His mangas are generally full of comedy and nonsense, which made them stand out in a crowd of "action" mangas that were a norm at the time. This is especially the case in his most well-known creation, Tensai Bakabon (Bakabon the Idiot Genius), which was about an insane father who embraced his idiotness (seriously).

Some of Bakabon stories were translated into English, but those are hard to find; they were only sold in a small number of stores in America. But if you find them, give it a read.