Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Interview with Kevin McCormick

Kevin McCormick, 56, was a cartoonist behind Arnold, which ran in newspapers from 1982 to 1988. Afterwards he became a Paws Inc. (Garfield) staffer. He is currently a pastor and principal of Bread of Life Christian Academy in Rochester.

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



When and where were you born? What are your cartooning background?

I was born in 1952 in Jamestown NY. The only cartooning background I ever had was consuming every strip or comic book I could get my hands on. I also carved Woody Woodpecker into my mothers coffee table once.

How many strips did you submit before coming up with Arnold?

There were three strips before Arnold. The first one was an animal strip. The second was a deranged youth with a Mohawk (this was before deranged youths were wearing mohawks).

How did the editors react to your strip?

Whenever a paper would run a readers poll on comic strips, Arnold would always be on the “most hated list” and the “most loved” list. There didn’t seem to be any middle ground. Most editors hated the strip. One reason they gave me was that the strip “didn’t show the best of human nature” if there is such a thing.



How did you come up with Arnold? Was he or any of the characters based on somebody you know?

I needed a vehicle to fit my humor and the one that was finally accepted by the syndicate was Arnold. This was after a lot of tries and gradual toning down of the humor.

Ultimately, how many papers ran the strip? Which one was the biggest?

I think it was in fifty six papers at one time. LA Times was one of the big ones.



What did you do after Arnold ended?

I did some ghost writing for some strips for a while. I became a Christian and now am a pastor and administrator at our church’s school.

What are your favorite comics, past and present?

Too many to name in the past. I’m not really up on what is out there today although it’s really sad to see what the comic pages have become.

With you being a principal now, do you know any students that act like Arnold?

Yes but they have been executed.

Do you still come across people that remembers your strip?

It’s weird but every once in a while someone will track me down and send me an email. The local paper where I live never ran the strip so I’m safe here.



Are your students impressed that you used to have a nationally syndicated comic strip?

Some of the older kids have found old Arnolds on the internet. They really liked it.

Do you still draw cartoons? Any thoughts about coming back with a new strip?

I teach Bible class in our school. So I make up these little stories to convey the spiritual concept we’re covering. I draw them out and it’s been fun in that it really keeps the kids attention. I have a lot of ideas for new strips and I’ve drawn some up for some handouts for the kids at school. The latest was a sociopathic cow but I don’t have the time and I guess I don’t really have the desire any more. I ‘m happy doing what I’m doing.



Interview © Charles Brubaker
Arnold © King Features Syndicate

Special thanks to John Kovaleski for getting me in touch with Kevin.

Chowder


I'll admit that I've been out of loop in animation for quite a while. Alot of the shows don't interest me and quite frankly I didn't see much improvement coming. There are some animations I watch but they're few.

Lately I've been hearing about Chowder, a comedy series from Cartoon Network that began about a year ago. I decided to check it out, and after several iTunes downloads, I think I'm officially hooked.

The show is about a little chubby boy named Chowder (Nicky Jones) who wants to be a great chef one day, so he becomes an apprentice for a catering company run by an elderly chef named Mung Daal (Dwight Schultz) and his overbearing wife, Truffles (Tara Strong). The kitchen also employes Shnitzel, a rock monster who can only speak in "radda" (voiced by John DiMaggio, who also did the voice of Bender in Futurama).

Unfortunately Chowder has flaws: He has an incredibly short attention span and a BIG appetite. Throughout the show's year-old run, Chowder have eaten a giant bowl of grease, an entire marching band, all the junk being sold at Mung's garage sale, and well, just about anything, whether its edible or not. I wouldn't be surprised if he commits cannibalism in future episodes.

Supporting characters include Gazpacho (Dana Snyder, using his Master Shake voice), a wooly mammoth who runs a fruit stand Chowder and Mung frequently get their goodies from; Panini (Liliana Mumy), a girl with a huge crush on Chowder. She is an apprentice to a rival catering company run by Ms. Endive (Mindy Sterling). Newer episodes feature Gorgonzola (Will Shadley), a green mouse who apprentices for a candle holder. He's the complete opposite of Chowder: he hates being an apprentice, is unfriendly toward others (especially Chowder and Panini), and just plain hates his life.



The humor in Chowder is light-hearted and rarely cynical. Not a bad thing, personally. Most of the jokes in the show are bizarre non-sequiturs (almost everything Chowder says is just that), puns, and fourth walls. It's doubtful that they ever rebuilt it after they broke it the first time in the very first episode.

The show's humor can be compared to Rocko's Modern Life in that it sometimes features double entendre. In one episode, Mung announced dramatically to his wife that he needs more spice (for the recipe). Truffles responds "Well at least one of us acknowledged it."

The real heart of the series are the visuals. The character designs are fun and loose, especially in newer episodes where most of the characters were redesigned. The Dr. Seuss inspired backgrounds are very colorful and often times beautiful to look at. And of course let's not forget the patterns. The show's full of them. The characters move around alot but if you look at the patterns on their clothing (or in Shnitzel's case, their skin), you'll notice that they never move at all. Some people have complained that this is unsettling but if you watch enough episodes you'll eventually get used to it and forget that it's there.



In short, the show is fun and corny. Hopefully it'll stick around for a while.

The creator of the series is C.H. Greenblatt and he has a blog.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Dirty Fuck

A clip from Bosko's Picture Show.

So, what the fuck do you think he's fucking saying?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Spooner


Spooner was a daily comic strip created by Ted Dawson that ran from 2000 to 2002 in a "modest number" of newspapers. It started under Los Angeles Times Syndicate, which was bought out by Tribune Media Services. Spooner moved to United Media, but after few months it switched to self-syndication before coming to an end. Spooner was unique in that it was the only syndicated strip to be part of the Keenspot lineup.

Recently, all the dailies were put out in a 200+ page book collection. You can buy it from Lulu here.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Just a reminder...

...that I have an Amazon.com store. Lots of comic strip goodies here. And, might I add, a certain blogger who provides you good times will get a referral fee for every items sold (hint hint). Here are some of my recommendations

Pearls Before Swine: The Crass Menagerie
The Complete K Chronicles
Asay Doodles Goes to Town
The Best of Mutts
Dog eat Doug: It's a Good Thing They're Cute
Greetings from Prickly City
Cul de Sac

There are more on that link, but these are just my recommendations.

I also have this store, if you'd like to check it out.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Kitties!


Just to have something to post today, here's a picture of my cats.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Bo Nanas


I've enjoyed reading a comic strip called Bo Nanas, which ran for several years in only a small number of newspapers. It ended about a year ago.

Recently, the creator, John Kovaleski, put together a new book called APPEELING: The Best of Bo Nanas, which collects the best of the strip from its run. Get it from the cartoonist here.

Get the other book, Monkey Meets World, while you're at it. I hear John's place is stacked with hundreds of pounds of paper that he's willing to get rid of for a fee.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Let's Vote for John McCain!


This cartoon was drawn back in late August, but it wasn't published until the 14th of this month (explaining why there's a joke on John McCain's houses two months after it became an issue). I left to Pittsburgh last weekend, leaving my deadline short, so I went through the pile and figured this was relevent enough, so I sent it to the Press.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sydney

I've posted Sydney before, a short-lived comic strip created by Scott Stantis that ran for a year in the '80s. Here are more samples.





Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Nutheads

Famed MAD Magazine cartoonist Don Martin attempted a daily strip with this offering from Universal Press Syndicate called The Nutheads, which ran from 1989 to 1993.

The strip was about a family, including mom, Hazel, dad Nutley, daughter Macadamia and baby Nutkin.

The strip, unfortunately, is not Martin's highmarks. Many papers picked it up based on the fact that it's drawn by Martin. However, it was clear that the strip had none of what made his work at MAD memorable, so newspapers began dropping it. Apparently, even Universal Press dropped it, because Martin switched to self-syndicating toward the end of the run.





Friday, October 10, 2008

Arnold

The most bizaree, screwed up comic in general, surprisingly, was not published in alt-weekly newspapers. It ran in a small number of mainstream daily newspapers in the mid-1980s. Move over, Bob the Angry Flower! Up yours, Maakies! Let Arnold through!

Arnold was by Kevin McCormick, and ran from January 3, 1983 to April of 1988. It was syndicated by Field Enterprise, which was bought out by Rupert Murdoch and renamed News America Syndicate, until it became North America Syndicate, which was bought out by King Features (the North America name is still used in some of the KFS comics). Phew!

The star of the strip was Arnold, a kid who constantly spouts random statements out of nowhere. His friend was Tommy, who is probably the only "normal" character the strip, and I mean that loosely. Their teacher was Mr. Lester. These three characters were the only ones to actually appear on-panel in the strip, until about few months before the strip ended, when Arnold gained a younger brother named Sid. Every other characters, including Arnold's parents (also equally weird), only spoke off-panel.

The strip is fairly well-known despite its short life in a small number of papers. Chances are, if you got the strip in your paper, you would've remembered it.

Kevin McCormick joined the staff of Paws Inc. (Garfield) after the strip ended, but eventually left cartooning behind. He's apparently running a school somewhere now.










You can see more strips here.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Boomers Song

Seattle Post-Intelligencer cartoonist David Horsey attempted to do a comic strip for Tribune Media Services called Boomers Song, which lasted from 1986 to 1989.

As to what the strip is about is anybody's guess. True, I only looked at a few strips (I looked about 20 of them), but even with these samples I can't get what the characters are. It's apparent that Horsey has little understanding on how to work around comic strips compared to doing an editorial cartoon. So its short life is understandable.





Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Google News Archive...

...is awesome. So many cool stuff there. And alot of them are in readable shape!

I'll be posting some interesting discoveries within a few days.

Here's Kelly again

Google proves itself more useful when they began putting up archives of old newspaper microfilms. If you want to see how comics looked decades ago, this is the place. It's a bit of a pain to use, but it's worth it.

One of the papers Google is archiving is St. Petersburg Times. One of the strips they were running was Kelly & Duke (back then, the title was just Kelly). Here are some daily samples.

Note how the artwork has more detail than the later run.





Tuesday, October 7, 2008

AAEC oh yeah!

Starting today, I'm officially a student member of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonist (AAEC), through my student paper, The Pacer.

You can see my bio here.

Pinkerton vol. 1


In this economic time, it's obvious that people have to start cutting back, leaving only bare essentials and maybe a small personal joy every now and then.

I've been doing that lately myself. My small personal joy is in the form of Pinkerton vol. 1.

I've been reading Pinkerton for a while. It's a good strip. Wish it gets more exposure, hence this post. The comic book is only $3.99 (plus shipping). You have to be completely homeless or a raging cheapskate to not be swayed by THAT deal!

You can purchase it here.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Animation

I've been looking at animation, both old and new, lately and I'm wondering: what do you think about the state of the animated cartoons you see on TV? Whether it's whatever Cartoon Network/Adult Swim, or FOX, and the like is airing. Any personal favorites? Post your thoughts on the comments below.

Oh, and you still have one day left for the auction of the cartoon original.