When I was a little kid I spent a lot of time stretched out on the living room floor, drawing.   It’s where I’d be after school, with a #2 pencil in hand and a pad of paper, the television a few feet away from my face.


Instead of sweating over homework, I’d spend hours attempting perfect renditions of Batman and Superman — getting them right was just about the most important thing in the world (I never did get them right).


The floor remained my work area up until late high school, when I “liberated” an old wooden drafting table (a Lackawanna Drafting Table, to be precise) from an abandoned neighborhood garage. I must’ve seen photographs of cartoonists working at drawing boards, and figured I should work on one too. I was never comfortable there; the angle of the board never made sense to me – in my mind, the floor was the preferred place to work, where I could hover directly over the paper, inches from it.  Despite my “issues” with the board, I diligently worked at it all through college and brought it with me to New York City when college ended.


When I planted roots in upstate New York, I decided to store the drawing board and construct a makeshift desk. I went to the lumber yard and found some boards that looked pleasing enough, took them home, cut them to fit my narrow room, then aligned and supported them with a couple of 2 x 4s. These boards serving as a desk have easily survived a thousand coffee spills, ink and paint spills, innumerable slashes from x-acto blades and decades of the press of elbows.  And no wonder:  they’re floor boards.

Blown Covers — the website; Clowes retrospective; Brunetti speaks

Here’s something I missed until this morning:  a website devoted to the upcoming collection, Blown Covers: New Yorker Covers You Were Never Meant to See, edited by Francoise Mouly.   Due April 30, 2012 from Abrams.  Full details can be found on your favorite online bookstore site/s.


Look for this online: today’s New York Times, March 30, 2012:  “Humanity’s Discomfort, Punctured With a Pen” — a piece (with video) on a Daniel Clowes’s restrospective at the Oakland Museum. No link…you’ll find it on the Times homepage.


And from Hyperallergic.com, March 30, 2012, “Poets, Painters, Cartoonists and Moonlighters” — this post (with Ivan Brunetti content).

NCS Divisional Award Nominees; Polan continues to see things; Sutton on Mad Men’s future ; Paul Karasik curates

From the National Cartoonists Society,  the 2012 Divisional Award nominees include a number of artists from The New Yorker: Edward Sorel, Barbara Smaller, Glen LeLievre, Matthew Diffee, Zachary Kanin, Ben Katchor, and Bruce McCall.  Winners to be announced May 26th, 2012.


Over at The New York Times (online), Jason Polan has posted his second in a series of What I Saw…sorry, no link, just go to nytimes.com and look around.


From Paul Karasik this video tour of an exhibit he curated, “Graphic Novel Realism” (details found on the post).


And at The Village Voice, Ward Sutton gives us an “Unofficial Future History of Mad Men”

Otto Soglow’s Little King: “He just happened.”

Cartoon Monarch: Otto Soglow & The Little King (IDW Publishing, 2012)

Introduction by Ivan Brunetti

Foreward by Jared Gardner



What’s not to like about this handsome volume? If I had my way every cartoonist of note would celebrated thusly: beautifully reproduced work (both black & white and color), with a thorough and informed foreward.  Mr. Gardner takes us through Soglow’s transition from Ashcan school realist to cartoonist, with generous reproductions of the work. Also enjoyable are the reproductions of Soglow’s adwork, illustrations, and commercial products featuring the Little King.


Well before I became aware of The New Yorker, and its stable of artists, I was aware of Soglow’s Little King – what  postwar child reading comics and watching television wasn’t?  The simplicity of his work was immediately appealing as was the subject matter: a King who was human, not to mention comically rotund.

In The New York Times’ Soglow obituary  there’s this passage:

Asked how he happened to create “the Little King,” Mr. Soglow had very little to say. “He just happened,” and then he apologized for having nothing more dramatic to recount.

The Little King began life in The New Yorker in the issue of June 7, 1930 — a full page, no less. If you rewind to the November 14, 1925 issue of The New Yorker, you’ll discover Soglow’s first contribution to that magazine—it sits across the gutter from a drawing by Peter Arno, and believe it or not, it’s somewhat difficult to tell the styles apart.  Arno was still in his early pre-stripped down phase of drawing as was Soglow. Graphically, they make an interesting pair, both at the starting gate in the pages of The New Yorker, about to head off to their distinctly recognizable, and recognized, worlds.

(above photo: Little King toy / Ink Spill’s From the Attic section)