More on the End of the Playboy Cartoon…and a little more Peter Arno

Posted on 21st March 2016 in News

2730-1Here’s an interesting piece from  the blog, Muddy Colors  on the recent demise of the Playboy cartoon: “The Passing of an Era”

Great photos accompany the article!

 

 

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And from one of my favorite blogs:

Attempted Bloggery looks at  Peter Arno‘s work in College Humor.

 

Interview: Joe Dator

Posted on 20th January 2015 in News

jdFrom It’s Nice That, January 20, 2015, “Brilliant New Yorker cartoonist Joe Dator talks about his life and work”

Joe Dator’s website

Joe Dator’s New Yorker work (via the magazine’s Cartoon Bank website)

Kliban Cartoons Online

Posted on 4th August 2014 in News

VoiceFrom Lines and Colors, August 4, 2014,“B. Kliban cartoons on the web” — this post with lots of helpful links.

And…here’s part of the Kliban entry on Ink Spill‘s “New Yorker Cartoonists A-Z”:

B.(Bernard) Kliban     Born, Norwalk, Connecticut, January 1, 1935.  Died, August 12, 1990, San Francisco, California. NYer work: 1 drawing, November 30, 1963.

Joe Dator on Drawing Creepy Cat Faces, Cartoon Rubber Ducks and Much Much More

Posted on 16th January 2014 in News

Dator:image #1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Above: a detail from Joe Dator’s “How We Do It” — it appeared in The New Yorker, September 24, 2012)

 

 

Each New Yorker cartoonist brings something different to the pages of the magazine – it’s sort of an unofficial requirement for arriving.  Some are more different than others; former New Yorker cartoon editor Lee Lorenz once said that the best cartoonists are the ones that create their own world.  Since arriving at The New Yorker in the summer of 2006, Joe Dator has done just that.  His work is addictive – I bet you can’t look at just one.  Though his subject matter ranges far and wide, through past and present, this native New Yorker has said that the cartoons he is“most proud of are the ones that are very specific to this city.”

Mr. Dator recently agreed to be part of Ink Spill’s interview series.  Here’s how the conversation went:

MM: So Joe, where in this great metropolis were you born?

JD: The Bronx. The Pelham Parkway area, to be specific. Botanical Gardens, The Bronx Zoo, and so forth. Nice area. Not the burned-down post-apocalypse wasteland you see in pictures of The Bronx from the 70s. That was happening quite a few blocks away, and thus in a different reality.

MM: You say in the New Yorkers film that “the first time I could pick up a crayon, I could draw”  — and then what happened?

JD: After I picked up the crayons – well, immediately after I probably drew some pictures of Sigmund the Sea Monster or Evel Knievel and then watched The Brady Bunch Goes to Watergate or something like that, but if you mean in the years after that’s different. I had a talent for drawing from an early age, but I can’t say I was especially enchanted by comics or cartoons in the way that a Jules Feiffer or an R. Crumb was (the first of many instances in which I will compare myself to living legends and find we have little in common). I loved comedy, that was the main thing. I didn’t read superhero comics and I didn’t like sports and I was indifferent to popular music. I just liked things that were funny.

I watched comedians on TV and my parents would buy me comedy albums. I loved Steve Martin and Monty Python’s Flying Circus and George Carlin and Peter Sellers. My parents had a sense of humor and so they would let me stay up to watch Johnny Carson if a comedian was on that I liked. I remember my dad taking me to see the Marx Brothers film “Animal Crackers” when it was re-released to movie theaters in the early 70s, and that pretty much blew my mind. My mom took me to see Mel Brooks movies like “Young Frankenstein” and “Blazing Saddles” which I know I was too young to see but she was very permissive about stuff like that.

I did read some cartoons but it was mostly Peanuts and a hell of a lot of MAD. MAD was huge. Don Martin was my favorite. His stuff had a quality to it that I would describe as “otherworldly.” That was always the feeling I was attracted to. Don Martin, the Pythons, Steve Martin – they all had that in common. They weren’t earthy and relatable or lovable – they were odd. Non sequitur. They could have stepped off a spaceship from another galaxy the day before. Maybe they did – you didn’t know. I attribute this interest to having always felt alienated myself as a child. Anyway, I used to redraw Don Martin’s comics, sometimes mimicking his drawings but sometimes putting my own characters in them. In school drawing became a way to get attention and approval and at the same time I could never quite get the hang of paying attention in class, so I used to fill up my notebooks with drawings, almost to the complete exclusion of schoolwork.

MM: What finally drove you to submit to The New Yorker. Was it a slow realization that this was the place for you or did lightning strike one day when you saw, say, an Arnie Levin drawing or picked up a copy of a Mick Stevens cartoon collection? 122899223.9cXvvAXr

JD: I didn’t think about drawing cartoons for The New Yorker for a long time.  When I was 11 or 12 I read National Lampoon (my parents were very permissive) and Playboy (very, very permissive) and that’s where I first saw cartoonists like Charles Rodrigues and Gahan Wilson and Sam Gross. Also there were books. The late 70s was a time when every gag cartoonist had two or three collections of their cartoons published (I would love it if that time came back. Any publishers interested? Text me). We lived in Manhattan by that time so I would go to the B. Dalton on 5th Ave and hang around the humor section looking at cartoon books, and that’s where I discovered B. Kliban. Kliban had a series of books with titles like “Whack Your Porcupine” and “Never Eat Anything Bigger Than Your Head” and his humor completely blew me away with it’s absurdity and imagination and point of view. It was a kind of Zen-like detachment. He wasn’t making jokes about the world from within it, it seemed to me, but from far above it. Kliban saw the ridiculousness of everything. Life itself. It’s all nonsense. That was what made me laugh, and I felt a kindred spirit.

Kliban

But… getting to The New Yorker: my mother had many doctors and as a child I would often be sitting alone in waiting rooms, so naturally I knew about The New Yorker and was familiar with the cartoons, but the first time I actually thought about being in it was in my mid 20s. Things hadn’t been going so well for me. I knew I wanted to be funny and make a living through my talent but I never had a practical plan for doing so because, well, I’ve never had a practical plan for doing anything, really. I’d gone to SVA, the School Of Visual Arts on 23rd St, but when I left I was kind of lost. The “You’re Very Talented” subsidy checks weren’t coming like I thought they would, and I wasn’t one of those confident industrious guys who would zero in on a goal and beat down doors to get to it. I was eking out a paltry living with illustration jobs and stuff, which I wasn’t very good at.

By chance my girlfriend at the time knew someone who knew Bob Mankoff and arranged for me to meet him. He was one of the cartoonists then but not yet the cartoon editor. I went to work for him at the business he was starting (which eventually became The Cartoon Bank) and he became a kind of mentor to me. I learned an enormous amount about humor and gag cartoons from Bob, and he was always very encouraging and supportive. He thought I could draw cartoons for The New Yorker before I thought I could.

Now is the part where you think I’m going to say “that’s when I started submitting to The New Yorker” but in fact it was 15 years before I did that. Without going into too much detail let’s just say that I was a confused young man and still had a lot of stuff to figure out. I stopped working for Bob and moved to the west coast for a while and then came back and tried all kinds of other things like writing comedy for television, and that old standby “being unemployed and broke.”

You see I still was thinking I was going to find my place as a comedian and not a cartoonist. It seems odd, but I had this talent for drawing from such a young age that I developed a kind of complicated relationship with it. When I was young drawing got me approval and attention and a good feeling of being special but at the same time there were adults all around me telling me “You’re going to be an artist.” and sometimes it didn’t sit well with me. I didn’t like being told what to do, so I resisted for a long time.

When I finally started submitting to The New Yorker it was 2005. I’d just finished making a short film about Willy Wonka, and I got an email from Bob asking if I’d be interested in submitting cartoons. That was serendipitous because at that moment I knew I was ready. I’d done everything else and failed and it just kind of clicked in my head that this was exactly what I wanted to do at this moment, and it felt right. In retrospect I can see that I couldn’t have started doing cartoons for The New Yorker when I was younger. My ideas weren’t as good, my drawings weren’t as good, I just wasn’t ready. The bottom line is, no one can do anything before they’re ready, so it doesn’t make any sense to say “I wish I’d done that sooner.”

MM: When you did decide to go to The New Yorker, did you know other cartoonists (besides Bob Mankoff), or did you go cold?  What was it like that first visit? 

JD: The first time I went in was pretty surreal. I was incredibly uncomfortable. I didn’t know any of the cartoonists. I stood in the crowd waiting to go in to Bob’s office with my head down looking at my feet and not talking to anyone. I think I did that for an entire year, and made many keen observations about my own feet.

MM: I’d heard a number of stories leading up to finally getting into the magazine, but nothing like yours.  I’ve been thinking of what you said in the New Yorkers  film:“To be really creative you have to not know you’re being creative.” I’ve thought for awhile that a part of what makes for a successful cartoonist is the ability to know when to identify an idea that comes drifting by. You sit there, leaving yourself wide open,  not actively seeking an idea, biding your time,  and then suddenly (if you’re lucky): there it is!  Is that what you meant by “not know you’re being creative?”

JD: What I mean by that is that the conscious brain seldom produces good art. The creative part of your brain is very mysterious and temperamental, and if the other part – the part that runs things and gets things done – tries to browbeat it into producing, it just freezes up and won’t do anything. I find my best ideas come when I’m working on lousy ideas, moving things around and drawing them 80 different ways or something. The conscious part is busy so the creative part of the brain is free to do its thing in the background, with no pressure or scrutiny. Once you lose yourself in the process it says “Hey how about this other thing… ” and you don’t know where it came from.

MM: In the film we see you sitting in a diner entering drawings & words into a sketchbook. So many of your drawings look to have come directly come from the Dator Diary.   Drawings such as:  “You look just like your profile picture.” “I died in Buffalo.” “See? There’s no monster in the corner — it’s just a pile of old skulls.” Got any bathtub gin?”  they’re sort of Twilight Zone-ish.   Do you see them that way at all?

JD: It’s funny you mention those four cartoons because almost every one of them fits the model I just described. The profile picture cartoon grew out of something completely different that I was working on for a long time, but I just couldn’t get it right. Then the cat head solution just hit me, and I said “Of course! Why didn’t I think of that?” which makes no sense because I did think of it.  Then, I didn’t want her to look like a cute cartoon cat, so I drew a fairly realistic cat face and made it too small for her body. I wanted her to look creepy and grotesque, like a refugee from The Island Of Dr. Moreau.

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With “I died in Buffalo”, the finished cartoon I ended up with is nothing like what I’d been working on. I was trying to do a cartoon about complimentary hot wings. It just seemed funny to me – that “complimentary hot wings” is a thing. I liked the words and how they could be used to attract anyone anyplace, just the promise of trays of complimentary wings. How far can it go? What will people do for blazin’ Buffalo wings? I still wonder. But I was banging away trying to get that to work when this simple, silly thing appeared whole in my head.

I can’t remember where the skulls cartoon came from except I think I was wasting a lot of time trying to do a twist on a father tucking his kid in to bed and saying “sleep tight don’t let the bedbugs bite” and I had a bunch of those that didn’t work. I also had the image in my mind of a Killing Fields-style pile of skulls. It’s a dark gruesome image but it’s fairly iconic and I didn’t think it’d been used in a cartoon before so I’d been trying to work that in for a while. Somehow the father tucking in his kid and the pile of skulls met and fell in love and got married and there they are.

The one that was different was the bathtub gin cartoon. That was very easy. I was just doodling rubber ducks and y’know if rubber ducks were sentient I’m fairly sure they would spend all their down time in bars, just getting tanked. So then the joke just kind of writes itself. The hard part was making a cartoon rubber duck look distinguishable from a cartoon “real” duck.

MM: I wonder, do you see yourself in any particular school of New Yorker cartoonist? By that I mean, do you ever think of your work as following in the footsteps of say, Addams, or Steinberg, Richard Taylor, Ziegler, etc., etc.? 

JD:  There are four basic kinds of New Yorker cartoonists: smokers who drive, smokers who don’t drive, non-smokers who don’t drive and non-smokers who do drive. I’m a non-smoker and I don’t have a driver’s license, which puts me in a very exclusive group.

Other than that, I don’t really see myself following anyone’s footsteps. I have certain qualities that I aspire to put into my work, so I suppose that puts me in certain company. I tend to prefer a tight, deliberate drawing style, and strange or dark humor. I feel that something impossible should always be going on in a cartoon. If there’s a school of that, I would like to be in it, especially if it’s convenient to the subway.

MM:  Going back to MAD magazine for a moment –so many of us contributing for the New Yorker these days have MAD  in our cartoon DNA.   I see a direct line from MAD to Kliban to Crumb to Ziegler to a whole school of cartoonists let loose, graphically and otherwise.  With your work, I get the feeling I’m going to be very surprised each time I see one of your drawings  in a new issue of the magazine. For instance, your full page color piece in the 2012 Cartoon Issue, “How We Do It”  which purports to examine a typical week in the life of  New Yorker cartoonists. is almost like a page ripped out of MAD or The National Lampoon. Do you remember when the idea for that hit you?

JD: Yes, at 4:30 in the morning. That was the result once again of spending a lot of time on something else and when I wasn’t looking it just appeared. I wanted to come up with a full page piece for the Cartoon Issue, and I had this other idea that I thought would be hailed as a work of genius. I slaved over this stupid thing for days and days and it was just becoming painfully obvious to me that it had no chance at all, but I’d invested all this time and it was close to the submission deadline. That’s when “How We Do It” occurred to me, and I had to crank out the rough in record time. Bob Mankoff gave me one or two notes for small changes but the first submission was pretty much what you saw.

That’s the weird way my brain likes to screw with me: it’ll give me a great idea, just serve it on a silver tray, but it’ll wait until I’ve suffered good and hard and I’ve got almost no time left. There’s no reward without suffering. I’m an Agnostic but my brain is Catholic.

MM: Peter Arno thought of himself as a reporter (obviously, he meant a graphic reporter). Syd Hoff called himself The New Yorker‘s Bronx correspondent. I suppose that we cartoonists are all, in our own ways, reporters. Agree, or disagree?  

JD: I don’t know. I like to draw monkeys, so far be it from me to claim membership in the Fourth Estate, however if I’m going to be a reporter then I want a little card I can wear on my hat. And I want a hat.

 

More Dator:

You can visit Joe Dator’s website by clicking here.

You can see Joe Dator’s New Yorker work  by clicking here

See Joe Dator’s New Yorkers video profile here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cartoon Bibles, Pt.2

Posted on 3rd January 2014 in News

Wall Cartoon bks 2

 

 

 

 

Welcome to Part 2 of Cartoon Bibles. Part one appears at The New Yorker’s website, NewYorker.com. Click here to go there.

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When I asked my colleagues to name their Cartoon Bible they  generously and enthusiastically replied. There were so many responses they all couldn’t fit on the magazine’s blog.  So, as a bonus, you can read the bulk of them here.  Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 Bruce Eric Kaplan (BEK)

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with all the New Yorker cartoon collections in my local library.  I took out all of them over and over again.   The one that meant the most to me and still does is “My Crowd” by Charles Addams.

My Crowd

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jack Ziegler

I don’t know that I have a cartoon bible, but seeing “Turk,” a B. Kliban spread that appeared in the old National Lampoon really turned me on.  It subsequently appeared in his collection Whack Your Porcupine, from 1977. 

Kliban

Mysterious, funny, & mysteriously funny.  Also R. Crumb’s Head Comix, from 1968.  That one opened the door to all sorts of possibilities.  But the most important thing about both these guys is that they made me laugh out loud.

 

 

 

 

 

Felipe Galindo (Feggo)

Andre Francois’ books “The Tattooed Sailor” and “Half-Naked Knight”: they’re my Old and New Testament.

Francoise

He worked captionless and exploiting the human drama with gusto! I later learned he was from Rumania, as Steinberg, and his real name was Andre Farkas!  He was a regular New Yorker contributor, mostly with his covers. A great artist in many ways as he did paintings and sculptures as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Farley Katz

One of my favorites is “Amphigorey” by Edward Gorey. It’s dark and weird and taught me at a young age to never talk to strangers.

Amphigorey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Liza Donnelly

The book that changed my life was James Thurber’s The Thurber Carnival.

Thurber  Home sick from school one day at age 7, my mother handed me the book and some paper and a pencil. I began tracing, and soon thereafter developed my own style and never looked back.  There are many cartoonists that influenced me along the way, however: Crockett Johnson, Charles Schulz, Dr. Seuss, Saul Steinberg, William Steig,  Sempe.  But another cartoon book does stand out in my mind.  Not long after I sold my first cartoon to The New Yorker,  I discovered Jack Ziegler’s Hamburger Madness.  I knew Jack by then, and was fascinated by his work.  I would study Hamburger Madness over and over –it showed me what a cartoon could be.  It showed me the old rules were not necessarily necessary. Jack’s cartoons opened my eyes to a different approach to humor, he showed me the wonderful world of whacky.

 

 

 

 

Kim Warp

I would have to go with a cartoon collection from around the 40’s, Colliers Collects Its Wits, which I discovered on my parent’s bookshelf when I was just old enough to read.

Colliers

It was filled with work by ‘New Yorker’ cartoonists and my first introduction to artists like Charles Addams and Whitney Darrow,  Jr..  Love at first sight. The book also included a section of bios and self-caricatures by the cartoonists, including some women. I had somehow had gotten the impression from 1960s TV that women could only be mothers, nurses, secretaries or teachers, so I kind of loved that too.  A few years ago this book walked away at a school talk I was giving, I can only hope it’s inspiring a new cartoonist. These days I’m always looking for books that talk about cartooning in a way I hadn’t thought about, the last one that blew my mind was Aesthetics by Ivan Brunetti. In terms of having a ‘Bible’ I try to read all points of view on cartooning and on religion for that matter.  As an aside, my husband just pointed out a cobweb in my studio window so guess I’m still carrying a little Charles Addams with me.

 

 

David Borchart

I started thinking of myself as a cartoonist pretty early on — maybe second grade or so. That, combined with my family’s penchant for garage sales, meant that by age twelve I had a lot of yellowing old cartoon collections up in my room. “The Half-Naked Knight” (Andre Francois) and “Ho Ho Hoffnung” (Gerard Hoffnung) were near the top of the stack, but the one I kept going back to (and still do) was “This Petty Pace” by Mary Petty (intro by James Thurber).

Petty Place.

The drawings fascinated me — I didn’t realize until much later how funny the cartoons were. I promised the book (first edition, some foxing on the edges) that if I started selling to the New Yorker I would take it in to look around, and two years ago I did.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carolita Johnson

I can’t think of any other bible for me than Little Nemo’s Adventures in Slumberland, though they are completely unrelated to The New Yorker or my style.

Nemo

I suppose I am more interested in seeing stuff that I can’t do, that I could never do, that I’m incapable of because of temperament, time, and artistic ability (I’m terrible at perspective! I can marvel at McCay’s perspective all day long, and have). Also, his subject matter is inspiring: socially conscious, ironic, fantastic, surreal. One of my favorite “episodes” is the one where everyone has to pay for the use of words, and only the rich can express themselves. And I do have the entire New Yorker cartoon library at the magazine to peruse when the librarians are in a good mood and are happy to let me browse. In those cases, Helen Hokinson is a favorite because she’s so subtle.

 

 

 

 

 

Bob Eckstein

Gahan Wilson’s I Paint What I See is my Bible.

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It was my first introduction to gag cartoons and created some of the best memories of my life–of my younger brother and I laughing together until we cry or have something shoot out of our noses. We were around twelve but the book still makes me laugh today. (I think I’ll bring it out for Christmas when I visit his family.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

P.S. Mueller

Predictably, I have a number of New Yorker cartoon collections on hand at all times, whether I’m hard at it here in my studio or off duty and hang gliding with wolves.  The cornerstone, of course, is that monster collection that Bob Mankoff put together in 2004.

NYer Complete

I think of material from the Ross years as The Old Testament, populated by the likes of Sts. Peter (Arno), James (Thurber), George (Price), etc. I should stop here before the analogy cops impound my hang glider.

I take some small comfort upon encountering the occasional artist of yore who drew as badly as I draw today, and I marvel at the once-common practice of assigning written gags to artists, or that whole business of cartoonists, nameless here, who purchased ideas from writers or other cartoonists. But I also take far greater comfort in the discovery and rediscovery of, say, a perfect timeless silent by Chon Day, Otto Soglow, or the current reigning master John O’Brien. In my case a cartoonist’s Bible has less to do with any single influence and more to do with the possibility of a brand new hang glider.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Robert Leighton

I had three books of the Cartoon Bible. My Matthew, Mark and Luke were the paperback reprints of the first Mad comics: The Mad Reader, Mad Strikes Back and, in particular, Inside Mad.

INSIDE_MAD_35_CENT

The first of these had “Starchie,” which to me, at about age ten, might as well have been pornography–my eyes couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Mad Strikes Back had the parody of my favorite comic strip, “Pogo,” and Inside Mad had that great “Mickey Rodent.”  Each of these comic strip parodies were dead-on copies of the original, while at the same time filled with all that Bill Elder and Wally Wood “chicken fat” in the background.

 

 

 

With these perfect models as inspiration, I grew up trying to ape every cartoonist I admired. (It took a long time before I knew that there were different brushes and pens behind these various styles.) I can’t put a number on how many times I’ve read through these books, but they are still as funny and subversive as they were, what, sixty years ago?

 

 

Michael Shaw

My cartoon bible is one I reach for in the darker moments when the muses have departed to party with Zach Kanin in the city. Turning to “Amphigory” by Edward Gorey never fails to re-ignite my spleen.

Amphigorey

How can you not be inspired by lines that read like scripture….”E is for Earnest who choked on a peach. F is for Fanny sucked dry by a leech.” Amen!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peter Steiner

I guess my cartoon Bible would have to be Steig’s The Lonely Ones. 

Steig lonely ones

It was published in 1942 and somehow found it’s way into our home.  I came upon it when I was six or seven and was immediately taken by it.  Many of the images are still burned into my brain.  It was, I’m guessing, my first introduction to cartoons that were more than jokes.  I started making cartoons not long after that.

Thomas Cheney

My Cartoon Bible was actually a carefully selected stack of New Yorkers, National Lampoons, and MAD magazines that ended up being about 3 feet high. 

NY-albums

They were issues which I felt showed some of the best work by the best cartoonists currently in the business, and I regularly consulted it to keep myself apprised as to where cartooning was going, or, where it could potentially go.  I reluctantly disposed of it before moving to Hawaii in order to conserve space in our shipping container.  Big mistake.  There were many gems in there that I will never see again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ben Schwartz

I feel like this is cheating for some reason, but mine would be the Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker. 

NYer Complete

I received it as a holiday present several years back, and it’s become a true gift that keeps on giving–I discover new gems each time I flip through it.  When I first decided to submit to the magazine, I tried to use this collection not just as a bible, but as a textbook, too.  I thought maybe I could reverse-engineer the secret formula to successful New Yorker cartoons if I studied them hard enough.  No such luck, but I did inadvertently uncover the secret formula for Coca-cola and the recipe for the Colonel’s chicken in the process, so it wasn’t a total loss.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Klossner

As a teenager, I was given two cartoon collections – “Cartoons Even We Wouldn’t Dare Print” from the National Lampoon (edited by Sam Gross) and “Now Look What You’ve Done” by Lee Lorenz.

Cartoons We Dare

Lorenz(Interestingly, these were given at the same time by different people. Kind of like the cartoon angel and cartoon devil perched on my shoulder.) While I wouldn’t exactly give these Bible status, as my list of influential cartoon publications is disgustingly long, these were my first exposure to single panel gags, and the wide range of possibilities the medium could cover.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ward Sutton

I’m not sure I’d classify this as my “Cartoon Bible,” but I think it gets to the idea that you are talking about.

Being the native Minnesotan that I am, I drew much inspiration as a kid from a local, Minneapolis cartoonist: Richard Guindon.

Guin

He created regular, usually single panel cartoons for the Minneapolis Tribune (which later became the Minneapolis Star-Tribune). His cartoons were very insightful towards the mannerisms and quirks of Minnesotans, and his drawing had a unique style that captivated me. I still go back to those cartoons and read them and get so much out of them.

As far as I know, he never had any cartoons appear in the New Yorker, but his use of the cartoon format to comment on Minnesota life is parallel to the way cartoonists comment on New York in the New Yorker.

There are three Guindon books that I know of and own, and I cherish them. Part of the appeal for me is that they reflect so much of the Minnesota experience from the 1970s and early 80s. The early years seem most about deconstructing the experience of living in the Twin Cities as a young adult. By his later Minnesota years, Guindon verged into weirder territory, almost “Far Side” in a way. I loved it all.

Suddenly sometime in the early 80s, Guindon left Minnesota and moved to Detroit. If memory serves, the Star-Tribune kept running his cartoons for awhile, but it wasn’t the same anymore. He wasn’t Minnesota’s cartoonist anymore and his work didn’t reflect our world.

I lost track of him after that. I met a guy who said he’d known Guindon (or his father had known him) and I always meant to try to track him down, but have not done so. Maybe this blog exercise will inspire me now …

 

 

Marisa Marchetto

When I was eight years old my parents took my brother and I on a family vacation that wasn’t the usual Port-O-Call Hotel in Ocean City NJ. (I’m from said state.) We went to Bermuda, to the Lantana Resort. It was pink and green and beautiful, but our room was really tiny and my mother asked the owner of the resort for something bigger for her, my dad, brother and I. The resort owner said there was nothing else available except a pink elephant of a house on the fringe of the resort. So, we took it. Me, armed with my sketchpad filled with my drawings of women wearing wonderful shoes I’ve drawn since I was three (my mother was the shoe designer Delman, I was inspired by her) surveyed the house. On its walls were these wonderful drawings with captions below them! It was my eureka moment: I could give voice to the women I was drawing.

“Marisa, this was James Thurber’s house. These are his cartoons.”

I studied every framed cartoon, looking at the walls as if I was in the hallowed halls of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

That night, I fell asleep at 4 in the morning reading everything James Thurber: The New Yorker, his books, The White Deer, and the one book I fell in love with that would become my cartoon bible: THURBER CARNIVAL.

Thurber

I woke a couple hours later, at six in the morning with the sensation of things crawling all over me. My bed was infested with red ants. It was then that I was bitten by the cartoonist bug. And I’ve loved James Thurber ever since.

This story is 100% true.

 

 

Ken Krimstein

Well, there are bibles and there are bibles. I have a bunch, and I tend to prescribe them to myself when I’m feeling stuck, or blah, or just want to be amused in a certain way. “Oh, I need a dose of Kliban’s “Two Guys Fooling Around With The Moon,” today,” or, “Look at the crap you’re drawing, take two Sempe’s and call me in the morning!”

But to find the real, true scripture, I have to ask myself, what tome invokes such awe, such power, I can only unveil, reveal its majesty in LIMITED doses? Which scripture so overwhelms that it fairly glows, kind of like that thing at the end of the Steven Spielberg movie with Harrison Ford and the Nazis? And then, the answer becomes clear.

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“Monster Rally,” by Charles Addams, Simon and Schuster, 1950. This wrapped copy is so sacred I dare only open it once, at the most twice, a year. But why? Here are three reasons. 1) It’s the book that got me into wanting to be a cartoonist, and not just the MAD magazine kind. My pal Scott Daube’s dad had it on his shelf — I don’t remember any other books from any adults book shelves — and every time I went to Scott’s to play, I shot straight to book and pored over its drawings, page by page. Slowly. Only after an hour or so of this could we play with Matchbox cars. 2) Just looking at it now, I can see why it appealed — it’s a kid’s book about adults. Or is it an adult’s book about kids? Everybody was just doing such horrible things to each other, in beautiful black and white paintings! So knowing, so grim, so funny. 3) I still can’t flip through it all in one sitting. It is just too awesome, in the true, non-slacker usage of the word. It invokes awe, and then some. Or, put another way, each page, each drawing, each gag is like getting hit upside the head — but in the most delightful, albeit humbling fashion. By the time I hit the cartoon of the husband being berated by his harridan wife for even botching his own suicide, (“For heaven’s sake, can’t you do anything right?,” page 36) I am out of breath, panting, begging surrender. If I can power on, I often find it impossible to carry on past page 48, the forlorn editor of Boy’s Life preparing to off himself with a slingshot. (Understand, I was an avid reader of Boy’s Life at the time I saw this, and next to seeing R. Crumb Comix on the bus to camp, this was as close to making sense of Boy Scouts as I could ever hope for.) So I still cherish this tome. Thanks for giving me this opportunity to bring it down from its altar — well, up from its bookshelf, and wash myself in its twisted, healing waters.

Andy Friedman

For me it’s William Steig’s “The Lonely Ones.”

Steig lonely ones 

As a visual artist, cartoonist, and musician, the book gave me the idea that a song could be a drawing.  I like to think of William Steig with his ink pen and poetic reflections about life as that of a country blues singer with a shaky voice and an acoustic guitar.  In each drawing, Steig expresses a universal truth.  He embraces the art of subtlety to get his message across, and he does so with simple, direct, and honest strokes.  It takes the combination of the drawings, which play the part of the guitar, coupled with the captions, which represent the lyrics, to make it happen.  Neither the pictures or the captions could stand alone.  They could, but they wouldn’t mean the same thing as they do when they work together, and wouldn’t be the visual song that they become when they do.  It is that aspect of these particular drawings that I have found to be the most inspiring, and which have led me to create visual art, cartoons, and music that attempts to do the same thing, which is why I consider it a Bible.  As a side note, and apropos to portraying Steig as a genuine country blueser, it is interesting to consider the fact that he sold his first cartoon to the magazine in 1930, about six years before Robert Johnson, “The King of The Delta Blues Singers,” made his first recordings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Corey Pandolph

Anything by Elmore Leonard.

elmore

Yes, I know he’s not a cartoonist. No, I’m not drunk.  I love character development through dialogue. When I was drawing daily cartoon strips, I was always trying to pepper in subtle jokes based on the idea of the reader already knowing the characters so well.  Elmore Leonard was the king of conjuring the most comfortable and familiar characters from thin air. Better than The Bible, even.

 

 

Michael Crawford

‘All in Line’ was my book of genesis.

Steinberg : All in Line

My dad brought it home one day when I was 7 or 8 and it started me drawing immediately. William Steig’s ‘Male/Female’ became my new testament from the getgo. sly, loose, elegant, erotic, funny.

 

 

Liam Walsh

I probably resort to The Cartoons of Cobean most frequently.

Cartoons of Cobean

I’m a big fan of captionless gags, of which Cobean was a master. A lot of his gags are not so much laugh-out-loud (to me) as they are witty or clever and his sense of humor has a swagger and wink to it that charms me. His style of drawing looks effortless, breezy, as though he’d just skidded his Jag to a halt in front of the house, jogged up the stairs, and dashed off his batch with a cocktail by his side. The foreword is by Charles Addams and it’s edited by Saul Steinberg; heady company!

 

 

Roz Chast

Monster Rally, a collection of cartoons by Charles Addams would be my Cartoon Bible.

Addams : monster rally

When I was a kid, my parents and I spent almost every summer in Ithaca, New York. During the day, my parents often went to lectures or concerts at Cornell University, some boring thing that was of no interest to me. Instead of dragging me along anyway, they would park me in the browsing library in the Cornell student center. This library had an entire section devoted to cartoon collections. It was there that I discovered all of Charles Addams’ books, but Monster Rally was my favorite. I looked at it obsessively every time I was there. So horribly dark, and so horribly funny.

 

 

 

 

P.C. Vey

The World of George Price: A 55-Year Retrospective.

  Price

  I always loved this book when I was starting out. The characters looked like members of my family.