Monday, August 13, 2012

"Alice in Wonderland!" - Jack Davis - Mad Mondays!

December 1954 and issue 18 of Mad THE COMIC BOOK hits the newstands!!

In the first offering of this issue, Harvey Kurtzman and Jack Davis take on Louis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland!"

This is a trippy one for me...not in Davis' immediately recognizable style at all, though it is in there if you dig in.

And you should dig in,'s good stuff!

Talk to you soon.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sunday Funnies - March 12, 1960 - part 4 of 4!

Good Sunday morning to ya, and the last of my postings from the Toronto Star March 12, 1960.

This batch has some more classics/after they were classics.  More of the syndicate squeezing out every penny they could from a once successful strip.  Much of the blame lay with the local editors though, for demanding the syndicates keep the strips on life support.  And of course the audience.

Still, kind of comforting waking up to find the same four-color pals and gals every week...Henry, Nancy, Sluggo and the rest were certainly respites from the daily bombardment of cold war news stories filling the rest of the papers in 1960.

And Blondie and Scamp were enough to forget the sweaty five-o-clock shadowy face of Tricky Dick wanting to beat JFK.

The Sunday Funnies did their job, dangit!


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Blog-meister Birthday!

I turn 49 today...A trifle past half-way-to-dead.

I'll get back to toying with my sketchbook tomorrow, for now it's a blogger holiday.

Go out an have a piece of cake on me...tell 'em "Jeffy said it'd be OK.".

Talk to you soon.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Spontaneous Comics!

I think one of my problems with writing and drawing a comic story to completion (other than finding uncountable excuses of why I can't) is all that fancy-shmancy cleaning up and layout of straight lines for panels and stuff.  I like what color adds, but I don't necessarily enjoy coloring.

Then I thought (as I spent last week posting sketchbook stuff) hey, this is a blog, not a commercial comic.  It's OK to show work at all stages, even if it never goes beyond the working out stage.  And the reason I started this cockamamie thing is, I wanted to work things out and possibly get some feedback.

Part of what I don't like about slick-finished cartoons sometimes, is they loose a lot of the spontaneity of what makes cartoons awesome to me.  They are tweaked so that they can LOOK spontaneous, but they rarely are.

Jules Feiffer's looked spontaneous, but I'm not sure if they were as free-wheeling as they appeared, not knowing how he worked.  Shultz didn't use pencils, except in laying out the placements of characters...any cartooning waited until his inks.

When I get the idea for a story, I want to see it through to it's conclusion.  If I take the time to do it formally, I seem to loose the point by the end.  Again, these are probably things a lot of cartoonists have already worked their way around and I just don't know it yet, forgive me if I'm going over ground that is probably already trail-blazed.

Here's a quick one from yesterday.  Took maybe 1/2 hour to do.  I like the feel of it and only a little time will tell if I like the thing totally or find it something I have to explain.

I know my penmanship is pretty illegible, so I'll type the dialogue before each panel.

TV ANNOUNCER;  And THAT's the news for tonight!

JEFFY:  Incoherent mumbling

JEFFY'S ANGEL:  What's the matter, Jeffy?  Too much bad news in the world got you down?  Penny for your thoughts!

JEFFY:  It's not so much the BAD news, per's the amazing contrast between IT and the GOOD news.

JEFFY:  In the past 2 weeks - amidst all the other horrors that we're accustomed to...war...famine...We've seen 2 mass shootings of innocence in our own back yard...innocent people in innocent places...

...a movie theatre in Colorado....a church in Wisconsin...Innocence lost.

The worst of the worst of what humanity is capable.

JEFFY:  And in the same time frame, we've witnessed the best of the best excel at athletics.  Push the physical boundaries past their limits!!  A man with no legs ran...THE most awarded Olympian dove down and swam o even MORE MEDALS THAN ANYONE EVER HAS...

JEFFY:  Our brightest minds hurled a 2,000 pound robot at the sky and then it landed 352 MILLION miles away, over 8 1/2 months later...RIGHT where we said it would!!!!!

JEFFY:  The BEST of the God damned BEST of what humanity is capable...and a hint that MAYBE we can do more!!!  BE more!!!  That 2 million years of us trying to be better, hasn't been a WASTE!

JEFFY:  The contrast of these things, good and bad, make them seem even MORE extreme I think!  The good makes the bad worse and the bad makes the good seem better. 

I wish we could have the good without the bad...but we can't...the good needs the bad to be better than.  The contrast is what MAKES each side.

JEFFY:  And I'm not the first person to realize this...I can't be.

...But O will be the first to reject it.

I say I CAN see the light without the dark to frame it.  I CAN see the good and it's value!

I choose robots on mars over dead bodies inn our street.

I choose.

Not the most light-hearted of comics as I re-read it.  But a balance will come as I do more.

This is the way we did comics when I was a kid...just doing it, from start to finish, not knowing where it's going to end until you end it.

I like it.

Talk to you soon.

Monday, August 6, 2012

"Julius Caesar!" - Wally Wood - Mad Monday!

Wood is good.  Wood is sometimes extra-ordinary, even for wood.  Wood always makes you glad you read Wood.

Here's Wally Wood in all his glory in satire as he and Harvey Kurtzman take on "Julius Caesar!" and Marlin Brando and all the rest.  Rock solid layouts and cartooning all coming to a head on the last page, where it becomes a surrealists/comic strip dream.

Dig in!

Talk to you soon!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sunday Funnies - March 12, 1960 - part 3 of 4!

Part 3 of my posting of "The Toronto Star" from March 12, 1960.  Thanks to Katherine Collins who in last week's comments, pointed out the city of the paper.

This time around, the "Superman" newspaper strip.  May be the first time I've posted any of those in the ol' blog and it's a Lori Lemuris!  Awesome!

Here's some post-Caniff "Terry & the Pirates" by George Wunder.  This is one of the few examples of a comic strip, where it changed creators hands and became something just as valid, albeit totally different.  The Hal Foster to Burne Hogarth "Tarzan" is the other that come to mind.

"Bringing Up Father" still in his cut-away coat and spats and without George McManus.  The syndicates just won't let a cash cow die.

Harold Grey is still at the helm of "Little Orphan Annie" in 1960, but as crazy old man conservatism gripped the guy, THIS strip became something all together different than in it's salad years as well.  

Splitting the page is Ferd Johnson's "Moon Mullins" another strip from an earlier time that the syndicates kept on life-support too long.  Still with all these aged features short-comings, they were nice to see.

Talk to you soon.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Saturday Morning Cartoons! - Black, White and Silent!

I feel it's cheating on Saturday when all I'm doing here really is linking to other folks' posted videos.  I'm basically just pointing out what you kind blog readers could find yourselves.

Then, I thought, what if they don't go and find them?  Then my readers would miss out on taking a 20-30 minute break once a day to watch some cartoons.

A crime, I here they are!

Since my sketchbook posts have included some very early animation characters, thought I'd focus on those this week.  Enjoy the hell out of these seldom watched classics...I do on a regular basis.

Here's a old blog post with your old Unca Jeffy, watching a Felix cartoon.  One of 3 in a series I did like this way back in the early days of this blog, and maybe one of my oddest ideas...still strangely intrigueing and I'mm wondering if I should do more some day.

Talk to you soon.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Uncle Jeffy's Sketchbook! - 8-3-12

Last peek at my sketchbook for the week.  I flipped back to the beginning (from before I put it away, not getting how sketchbooks work, probably back in 2008-9)

I think my concept here on page 1, was to make the sketchbook an anthropological notebook written in the 1920's and 30's by the worlds dumbest explorer.  See here the hilarity as he discovers an elephant (not knowing that they'd already been discovered) and miscategorizes it as an insect.  Hilarity ensues?

Then I think I got the concept of doing a strip featuring EVERY comic and cartoon character EVER created.  Not thinking about the logistical nightmare of telling an understandable story with 8 million characters, I just thought it would be cool to see.  I kind of did that any way (and will again) with my "A 'Slight' History of Golden Age Comic Book Super Heroes" thingy I do here from time to time.

Here's me attempting (and liking) my take on the Duck's (Donald and Daffy) and then being thwarted by that dang hard-to-draw-for-me-anyway, Mickey Mouse.

My horrible Mickey meeting Daffy Duck, Superman and Ko-Ko the Clown at what ever event I imagined them all meeting at.  Batman and The Yellow Kid look on.

You see, I'd never really drawn other peoples characters before.  I have always (from a very young age) known that it's the cartoonists style that makes the feature cool, the character comes second.  Jack Cole's Plastic Man is awesome.  Joe Staton (who is extremely talented in his own rigth) doing Plastic Man was a bad take on a character and missed the point.  So at 45-6 years old, I was trying to see if I could even draw them, and have them be recognized.

Here's a sketch of me looking bad-ass with my posse:  Goofy, Donald, Mickey, A horrible Bugs Bunny, the Golden Age Green Lantern and being evesdropped on by a very Bob Clampett-y Tweety Pie and a sloppy Sylvester.  Over all a decent Mickey there.

Which brings us back to the present as I doodle myself some more.

Sketching trying to find a new avatar for facebook and Twitter and the like.

Not the way Van Gogh spent his time...but I am a cartoonist...and that's a wonderful thing.

Thanks for sifting through this with me this week.

Talk to you soon.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Uncle Jeffy's Sketchbook! - 8-2-12

Playing with a fat black pen on bright white paper drew me to doodling (I mean that in the most polite way possible) a few black and white era animated cartoon characters.  And if I was going to start there, I might as well delve straight back to the silent era - thought me to myself.

Otto Messmer's Felix the Cat.  Long before that new fangled Felix the Cat in the 1960's with his bag-o-tricks, Paramount produced the biggest cartoon star for the next decade Felix...

...and here's my sketch of style?  When it comes to animated characters in particular, I have an extra block against getting loose with them and still keeping them recognizable.  Something keeps wanting me to try, though.

Meanwhile, Max Fleischer was doing his own "Out of the Inkwell" series and doing a lot of innovations, such as combining live action and animation and even sound.

Here's his first big star, "Ko-Ko the Clown".  Often rotoscope over brother/director Dave Fleischer. 

I have never ever ever gotten the knack for drawing Mickey simply eludes me.  Turns out I do the same "fall-short" job when attempting Walt Disney's earlier star, "Oswald the Lucky Rabbit". 

I like the one on the bottom, but it doesn't look much like Disney's character.  Or Walter Lantz' later version either.  But I do still kind of like it.  The top one looks like an "Animaniac".

After 1928, when Mickey Mouse did his sound gig in "Steamboat Willie", suddenly all the studios wanted their own little black and white cartoon-y star.

Here's Van Beuren's "Cubby Bear" and Harman & Ising's "Bosko the Talk-Ink Kid", the very first Looney Tune.

Ub Ising's "Flip the Frog" and Fleischer's "Bimbo".

The 8 major studios each started off the 30's with a diminutive black and white anthropomorphic cartoon star.

Except Paul Terry.  "Farmer Al Falfa".  Is there a sketchbook story in there?


Talk to you soon.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Uncle Jeffy's Sketchbook! - 8-1-12

Is I firmly stand at middle age (49 and rising) and am just learning to do the things I should have done when I was a boy, I continue with my sketchbook.

I think when I first pick up a clean sketchbook, I try and emulate what I've seen other people do when they draw.  NOT copy what they draw or the style in which they dray it, but the sketchy/draw over things style that is very foreign to the way the process works for me.  I try and work looser like the way I see "rough sketches" from artists look.

I've spent a lifetime drawing straight in ink though, and worked at a cartooning style that appealed to that seemed spontaneous and unplanned...illusional improv in cartoons.

So when I see me being sketchy in a sketchbook it right away feels false.  I gotta stop doing that.  If the sketchbook isn't true to the person filling it, then what is.

Baby steps, Jeff.

Here's a few animals.  The zebra started as examining a simplistic style and I liked it, so I proceeded to the elephant and I liked that a lot.  Then I drew the tiger and it all looked wrong...too short a snout/muzzle.  Then I grazed my pen against the page and made a line that sullied the remaining blank white space.  The line looked like the top of the spectre's cowl, so I finished it.  success...I reached the flowing sub-conscious, if only for a second.

I wondered what an ant would look like leaning on a bar.  All six appendages having to find a slumpen home.  Then I thought I'd draw a woman from a rear 3/4 view, because I think girl's butts are cute...the face turned into one of those sketchy things I don't like, but I knew if I drew just a headless butt, I'd be picked out as a perv.  Then I drew a circle and charlie Brown wanted to get out.

I thought pulling a random common noun generator up on the Internet would give me some words that would make me draw out of my comfort zone.  All it did was make me skip over words I didn't want to draw.  Then I got to "breakfast" and got hungry.  I also thought I'd work on my sloppy lettering and filled up the depression-era parents would be proud of me for not wasting.  I think it reined my eggs though.

Thanks so much for the encouraging comments yesterday on my thoughts and use of sketchbookery.  I know working out ideas on paper instead of in my head would be good, I wasn't confident in what I was doing for sure until I got some input.

Thanks for validating me, outside world! - Maybe that's another issue.

Talk to you soon.

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