Friday, August 31, 2007


I was going to go to the beach but I think I'll work instead! 'Hope you have a great holiday!

(Thanks to Rogelio for the Price picture!)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


I'm going to stick my neck out and say yes, they are. Even so, there are some puzzling things about that sex.

Why do girls like kitten-in-the-basket posters?

And what's this thing they have about fetus toys?

And why glass unicorns? A few vile men will buy pewter Gandolfs but you never see a guy with a glass unicorn.

Maybe all these girly tastes have their genesis in the girly bedroom. I don't know of any real estate on Earth where a guy is more uncomfortable and itchy than in these pink and lavender infernos.
Maybe that's where girls learn to cultivate cute.

Or maybe they get it from books like this (above). I deliberately printed the picture small lest readers feel their eyes have been pierced by icepicks.

Girls feel they're on a mission to evangelize the the animal world and convert it to cute.

Someone shoot this poor dog and put it out of its misery.

Some women executives make girly otherness work for them. They tinker together ultra-fem offices, with pink, fuzzy carpeting and magical rainbow posters. When a business guy comes in they seat him in a rickety wicker chair next to a rickety wicker shelf, and the shelf is packed to the gills with glass unicorns. Of course the glassware is on the very edge of the shelves.

If he's lucky the poor guy will bump against the shelf and break just one of the unicorns. If he's not lucky the whole shelf will keel over. Either way he's screwed and will agree to any terms just to get out of the office.

Well that's all we have time for now. I know some of the girls reading this were probably salivating over the My Little Pony pictures. Here's (above) one last look at the beloved horse fetus and his pink friends.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


You can't over-estimate the importance of home decoration. If you're a cartoonist then it's especially important because you need a stimulating environment.

Since I'm an artist myself the first thing that comes to mind when I think of decorating is what to hang on the walls. It's customary to fill the largest wall with an over-sized oil painting and for that I recommend something tasteful, something like this one (above) by Cliff Sterrett. It's restful in it's way but it's also stimulating and manly.

It's also customary to have a small accent painting nearby. How about something something quiet and understated like this (above)?

Males like to have a picture of an undraped woman on the wall (above) and male cartoonists are no exception. It adds a touch of class to a room, reminding us of the great pictures of the old masters.

A sculpture or two wouldn't be out of place. This one (above) is by Brancusi.

Whatever you do, never buy Laura Ashley-type furniture. It's fine for non-cartoonists but it's lethal for people of our breed.

This (above) is more like it. A cartoonist can't think without a certain amount of leather and wood around. And don't forget the stuffed animal heads. I'm an animal lover so I'd substitute fake heads. They get more realistic every year.

Of course cartoonists naturally want a little color and design in their lives. For those who prefer soft, mushy furniture why not use colorful coverings like the kind in Cliff Sterrett comics (above)?

For additional spot paintings I recommend the kind you see on the walls in the backgrounds of Smokey Stover panels (above). Be sure the hanging wire and nail are visible.

Last but not least, I think a framed portrait of some inspirational hero is in order. Something that'll get your juices going when you pass it in the hallway. For me that would be Bob Clampett or Percy Dovetonsils. Ah, giants walked the Earth in those days!

Monday, August 27, 2007


Sid: "You're here for the recipe, right? This burger's for cartoonists only...are you a cartoonist? Do you have I.D.? Hey, put the wallet back! I'm just kidding! OK, have a seat and listen up!

Uncle Eddie got this recipe directly from John K. and I got it directly from Uncle Eddie! This is the real McCoy, the world's manliest cartoonist burger."
Sid: "Start with lean ground beef...not the very leanest, you need a little fat...and an equal amount of ground angus and ground sirloin (That's 1/2 hamburger , 1/4 angus and 1/4 sirloin). Supermarkets keep these already ground and wrapped, right next to the ground beef.
Back at home it's important to have a Frankie Laine CD on while you're working. You can't make manly burgers unless you have manly music playing. And be sure it's the right Frankie Laine disc; the cuts "Wild Goose" and "Bowie Knife" are absolute necessities."
"OK, mix all the burger meats in a bowl, together with a raw egg. Add some spices. John uses chili powder, oregano and red and black pepper. No salt! Add some chopped onions. Mmmmm! Smells good already!
When you shape the paddies be sure they're a little bigger than the rolls you'll be using. Don't be stingy. The rolls, by the way, are bakery rolls with poppy or sesame seeds. "

"Now grill the burgers on the BBQ. Don't put the hood on, that's not the manly way. A real man allows the burgers to quick cook so they get crispy on the outside and mushy on the inside.
While the burgers are cooking you'll want to go back inside and fry some bacon and red and yellow peppers together. Mushrooms too, if you prefer. The bacon will give everything a great flavor. Make sure the bacon isn't over-cooked. You don't want it to be a burnt slab like the kind you get in restaurants. Take a taste. Aaaah!"

"Now turn the burgers over and put the cheese on top. No crummy American cheese, it has to be sharp cheddar or Swiss. Toast the rolls. When the paddie's cooked take it inside and heap on the bacon and peppers. Add some lettuce, maybe the deep green kind with the red tips. It has to be lettuce with flavor -- no iceberg! Serve it up with fresh, sliced onion rings. Put on the roll.
If you've done it right you should have a burger rich in flavor nuggets. As your teeth travel through the juicy little masterpiece you should experience a succession of textural delights. All it needs now is the right beer: LaBatt 50s or Pilsner Urquell if you can get hold of them."

"And there it is, The Manly Cartoonist's Burger. A meal fit for a king!

Sunday, August 26, 2007


Funny magazine cartooning goes way back, maybe to the 18th century. If I wanted to include funny pictures from other sources like books and pamphlets I could have gone farther back than that.

Here are the earliest funny magazine drawings that I have. They're from a bound collection of Punch, the British humor magazine. The date is 1842. They're still a bit primitive and they're not as funny as Punch would print only a few years later, but they beat most of what you can find now. Click to enlarge.

Man, looking at these makes me want to draw something with a coquille pen! You know, the kind of pen that has tiny, cylindrical tips with flexible points.

How do you like those thin, horizontal lines?

I wonder why there are no refillable coquille pens? Wouldn't it be great to have a pen like that when you're out sketching? You'd be all ready when you encounter people like the ones above.

This (above) is Punch's spot illustration style. The pages are full of funny little drawings like this one.

Here's a nice one that emphasizes foreground/background contrast. The original was reproduced tinier than what you see here.

Just for contrast, here's a strip, as much of it as I could fit on my scanner, from last week's Sunday Comics section in The Daily News. What a difference 165 years make!

Saturday, August 25, 2007


The guilt is eating me alive! I know I promised not to do another "Mildred Pierce" post, and I know that fewer than 1% of the people reading this have access to the film...or even care about it. I'm sorry, but I've just gotta write about this thing anyway. I can't help myself! I'm obsessed! Pity me!

Anyway, as I may have said in a previous post, the story is about a mother who works her fingers to the bone to give her daughter a highbrow education, then the daughter rejects her for being low class. It doesn't sound like much, but the screenplay is terrific and James Cain, who wrote the novel the film is based on, is a really significant writer who even now is underappreciated. Maybe that's because some of his books are so flawed.

I read "Double Indemnity" and was amazed to see to see that Cain gave his brilliantly-conceived characters the short shrift and spent most of his time on trivial details of the crime. I also read the novel of "Mildred Pierce", and that had the same problem. Once again the characters and situation were brilliant, but Cain didn't know what to do with them. That's OK. He was still a brilliant writer.

Jerry Wald, who produced the film, wanted to flesh out the talky Cain story and add a murder. He'd just seen "Double Indemnity", which was a wildly successful Cain adaption, and since that had a murder in it , Wald figured Mildred should have one too. He also had the notion that you can combine women's melodrama with noir crime, something no one else had done before (though D. Indemnity and "Laura" came close). Wald was trying to create a new genre.

He had six famous writers (one of the was Faulkner) take a shot at it before he got what he wanted. It was frustrating because combining two separate genres isn't easy and he didn't know how to go about it. He just had a feeling that he'd know it when he saw it.

Sometimes he had three writers working simultaneously and completely separately on the same project, a practice that makes writers furious. One writer "broke the spine" of the improved story, but was too slavish to the book in the details. Two others added too many fantastic and implausible elements, and made the story too long. One made the story too violent. Wald believed melodrama couldn't support too much violence. One murder was enough.

Finally he had enough interesting scenes to make a good story. Every writer contributed something of value, but it was still too long. With the shooting date approaching he took the bold step of getting a radio writer to condense the story. Radio people were experts at telling long stories in short formats. The radio guy, Ranald MacDougal, accomplished miracles and tied it all together deftly.

At one point in the story Mildred marries a guy and one minute later -- one minute! -- she decides to divorce him...and it works! Now that's compression! MacDougal did it by making the audience hate the guy and want to see Mildred divorce him. We're actually impatient to see Mildred dump him and when she does it, after only a minute of screentime, our only reaction is "Well, it's about time!" MacDougal actually makes the guy appealing in certain other parts of the film, he just emphasized the negatives in this section to smoothe over the story compression. Wow! Is that expert writing or what!?

I forgot to add that Wald hired Curtiz to direct the film, which was a brilliant choice. Curtiz injected humor into the story to smooth over the sometimes fuzzy logic, and it worked beautifully.

I'm not aware that Jerry Wald did anything else that was particularly distinguished, but in 1944-5, when Mildred was made, he was definitely cooking with gas. The womans' film/noir synthesis he created is now one of the most common types of film.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


Wednesday, August 22, 2007


WARNING: Pictures of naked artist models below.

I wish I could recommend a book of anatomy for artists but I can't. There are a few passable books on the subject but no great ones. Some of the manga books are good for cartoony girls' anatomy, some of the older books are good for illustration reference, but no book I know of discusses the human body the way it really is.

Where a lot of books fail is that they rely on simplified muscle charts like the one above. Nobody has a split calf like the one in the drawing above. I'm sure the drawing is accurate but in real life some additional muscles, ligaments or fat must cover the two parts of the calf and make them seem like one.

Look at the drawing of the sternomastoid muscles on the left, above. According to the drawing charts they form a big "V" in the neck. You can only see half of them here but you know what I mean.

Now look at the photo on the right (above). The "V" is clear enough when the neck is normal but when it's strained as it is in the picture, or the face grimaces, the V becomes an "A." That's because muscles the drawing doesn't show cover the sternomastoid and they also have an influence on the way the neck looks. The muscle charts are incomplete. They leave out muscles just to have a tidy drawing.

Before I leave the subject here's a couple of photos (above) to prove that most people have long torsos in relation to their legs. You could almost say that long legs are an invention of artists.

My guess is that less than 20% of adults have long legs. A lot of women who appear to have long legs seem that way because they're wearing heels. Or maybe they have long legs but even longer torsos.
Do you disagree?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


I won't bother talking about my present getting-to-sleep fantasies because if they were known I'd be arrested for sex mania. In other words I'm a pretty typical male in that respect. What I want to describe here is the fantasy that got me to sleep when I was a kid, starting when I was...mmmm, maybe in third grade and ending in my last year of high school. It was my flying saucer fantasy.

In this fantasy I had my own flying saucer in the garage. After a hard day being chased by bullies I'd come home, lock myself in my room and, when I could be sure no one was listening, push a button that would cause the wall to slide open, revealing a part of the garage known only to me. Inside, almost touching the wide walls on either side, was the awesome powerhouse crouching tiger sting chord of a real flying saucer.

Of course the saucer recognized my approach and put out its ramp to meet me. Naturally the door slid closed when I was inside. From this point on all was seriousness and protocol. I'd settle into the black leather seat and flick switches on the high-tech control panel. The saucer would vibrate into life and I'd take a moment to see if the comic book and root beer dispensers were in good working order. They were. A few more switches and the roof slid back and then came the magic moment when the humming saucer slowly rose into the sky.

Once in the air I'd take a couple of turns around the higher trees then head straight up into the clouds. Satisfied that the city looked OK from up there I'd then dive down to ground level where I'd careen around the streets just above the cars. People had to duck and run away but they didn't resent it. They admired me for having such a way cool machine. Finally I reached the school where I'd strafe bullies with my machine guns and bask in the admiration of adoring girls.

After a couple of years it dawned on me that I might invite one of my girl admirers to take a ride. You know, give her a thrill. I was too young to think of doing anything else with her. Of course the girl oooed and ahhhed at everything and was much impressed. I even would let her look at my comic books and drink my root beer!

As the years slipped by it seemed that the admiring girl more and more wanted to sit on my lap, the better to see me work the controls. It was getting hard to concentrate with all that hair and body parts next to me. I began to think that a kiss wouldn't hurt. Hmmm, that wasn't bad. Maybe if we...well, it wasn't long before we were enacting the whole Kama Sutra.

And the saucer? What saucer? Who needs a saucer when you've got hot girls like this!?