Showing posts with label cartoonist. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cartoonist. Show all posts

Saturday, June 17, 2017


One of my favorite newspaper cartoonists of the WWI era was the great Rube Goldberg. Unfortunately for Rube he's mostly remembered for the "Rube Goldberg Device" where a chain of events eventually causes a bucket of water to tip over and fill the thirsty man's glass. That's all clever and appealing but it's not the man's best work. If you've only seen the inventions, then read on. You're in for a treat! Be sure to click to enlarge!

The poses in "I'm Cured" (above, topmost) are terrific, especially the running pose on the upper right corner. When I first saw it I was so inspired by the jacket that I ran out to a thrift shop and bought one just like it. The thing rides way up in the back and when I raise my hands up the jacket shoulders stay up there, even after I put my arms down again. What a find! I still have it.

And how do you like the thinking poses on the strip above? That's how I feel when I'm thinking. I feel smarter just looking at it.

Aaaah! Refreshed at the fountain of Goldberg! For me these four panels (above) are art, suitable for a museum. I love the running poses on the bottom! Rube's universe is all about ordinary people. Not handsome men and beautiful women, just ordinary people doing the best they can.

Rube, who was tall himself, did great tall people. I love the placement of trees (above) behind the guy.

How do you like the arms on the woman above? The simple staging, deliberately stiff pose, and obsessively horizontal lines in the shadows make the picture even funnier.

That's Rube on the lower left. Goldberg always said that he had a great childhood and this photo bears that out. But where's his mother?

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Like everybody else I get compliments occasionally, and like everybody else I take them with a grain of least I usually do.  For some reason, every once in a while,  a compliment gets past my guard and I regard it as a cosmic truth, a titanic affirmation that something about me is worthy of sitting in a jeweled box at the top of a golden tower studded with elephant tusks.  I have just received such a compliment. and I will now, with shameless immodesty, share it with you...... 

A couple of days ago John K remarked in a blog post on Jimmy Hatlo, that I was the last "man" cartoonist he could think of. That's "man," not "manly," which is probably a superior rank, but I'll take the compliment anyway. Imagine that. The last one. After me a whole species dies. Think of it.

Yes, according to John I'm The Last of the Mohicans (above).  I think the "man" reference has something to do with my life experience being in what I draw. Geez. He's obviously being much too generous, and everyone reading this will have a long list of much more qualified candidates, but I refuse to let truth get in the way.  I expect everybody who visits here to wipe their feet first, and wear a surgical mask lest germs reach the precious throat of this last of his species. 

I'm toying with the idea of doing a Sunday Comics page. Maybe something every other Sunday. I don't have any ideas, and I'm not sure that I know how to color and ink in Photoshop, so I might have to use crayons. Let me think about it. Whatever it is will probably look horrible, but I feel a responsibility to at least make an effort...I mean, being the last man cartoonist and all.

Friday, September 18, 2009


I'm glad the Gillray post was so well-received. That emboldened me to talk about my other favorite cartoonist of that era, George Cruikshank. That's a Cruikshank drawing above, possibly influenced by Gillray.

Cruikshank and Gillray were contemporaries, though Cruikshank was the younger man, and was more likely to go after (in the words of one critic) the "low" kinds of gags (above).

Cruikshank was really funny but his early work shows him struggling with draughtsmanship. He had a mannered, off-kilter way of drawing (above) which he never fully shook off. Amazingly he was able to make it work for him in later years, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Here's (above) a Cruikshank comet. Like so many cartoonists of yesteryear he thought nothing of tackling immense crowd scenes.

Here's (above) Cruikshank in his first mature style. Very funny. You can see the influence of Hogarth and Gillray, but it's still unmistakably "Cruick." Click to enlarge.

Cruikshank lived a lot longer than Gillray, and he experimented with a lot of styles (above).

He became a terrific pen and ink draughtsman. Sketches like these from 1839 were a big influence on the stable of artists working for Punch magazine.

Book illustration became a big deal in this period and Cruikshank morphed once more to adapt to it.

Along with Thackerey (yes, Thackerey the novelist) Cruikshank illustrated a number of Charles Dickens' novels. I don't know if he made much money on it since Dickens was famous for putting his illustrators through Hell.

The illustration above isn't from a Dickens story, but the style is the same. Some of Cruikshank's illustrations from this period look like they were lifted from "Humbug" magazine. The influence of Cruikshank on Kurtzman and Elder is unmistakable.

Remember I said that that Cruikshank had a mannered style when he was young? He eventually shed some of it and became a skilled classical draughtsman, except that he became appalled at how tame his drawings were getting so he re-introduced his youthful, off-kilter style back into his mature work. The blend was incredibly successful...sort of surreal and realistic at the same time... and influenced many other artists, in fact it's still used by illustrators today. If there's a lesson in that, it's "Keep your old drawings, even if they seem primitive; you may need them someday."

Cruikshank had an enormous influence on his field but others benefited from it more than he did. He died in near poverty.

Next post on Monday night.

Monday, September 07, 2009


British artist James Gillray is considered by many to be the father of the editorial cartoon.

Gillray worked in the late 18th and early 19th century, the age of Napoleon. He attacked the French relentlessly, and went at his own countrymen with equal ferocity.

My favorite Gillrays are his fashion parodies (above). Even men went for the wasp waist look, and everybody wanted to appear taller than they were.

Geez, I wish these pictures were bigger. The picture above won't enlarge, but about half of the others will, so give them a try.

He was a terrific caricaturist (above). and you know he would have been a good animator because he loved to caricature walks as well as faces.

It would have been fun to go with Gillray on his sketching tours of the parks (above). His focus was always on the people who visited the park, and not on the trees.

There must have been a lot of fat rich women (above) in Gillray's time.

Fat men, too.

Gillray wasn't the only British cartoonist of his day. Cruikshank and Heath (that's a Heath above) were contemporaries. You can see the influence that Heath had on Edward Lear, who came later.

This (above) is a beautiful picture when you see it large. It's full of movement and nice line. Gillray was an expert at etching, so he didn't have to pass his drawings on to an engraver the way some other artists did.


He could be downright hilarious (above) when he wanted to be.

The Prince of Wales is said to have disliked this picture (above) so much that he paid to have the plates destroyed. It's beautifully composed.

More fashion caricatures (above). Is this picture by Cruikshank or Gillray? The two did park pictures that are almost interchangeable.

Anyway, catch the padded jacket and knee-high boots on the guy on the right. Wouldn't you like to see him do an animated walk?

Boy, Gillray caught that gloomy look that some Englishmen have. The pants of that day framed the crotch like a puppet theater and he caught that, too. But what's with the dainty little shoes?

Here he depicts a wealthy mother (above) who takes two minutes out of her busy schedule to breast feed her child.

Unbelievable (above)! This guy is SO funny!

Poor Gillray. for years he lived happily and prosperously with the woman who published his pictures... then his eyesight began to fail. When he found he couldn't work any more he made a botched suicide attempt which left him with injuries which may have driven him insane.