Monday, March 26, 2007

G.I. Joe Hair

Went in for a haircut Friday and, for some unknown reason, decided to go really short. I ended up looking like a G.I. Joe Talking Commander-- just needed the scar. (I had one of these figures, and the whole G.I. Joe Adventure Team, back in the early 70s.)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Syndicate Roulette Update: Universal Press

I just heard from the editor at Universal. He sent me a nice email and we discussed HIS & HERS. He offered some very insightful feedback (for which I'm very grateful), but he's passing on the strip. I have two other submissions out right now. We'll see how those fare.

United Media
Universal Press -- email from editor: NO
Creators Syndicate -- form letter: NO
Washington Post Writers Group
Tribune Media -- form letter: NO
King Features -- call from editor: NO

Friday, March 16, 2007

Jay Kennedy Has Died

Jay Kennedy, Editor-in-Chief of King Features died in a drowning accident yesterday while on vacation in Costa Rica.

This is sad and shocking news. I, like everyone else, am completely stunned.

As he did with many cartoonists, Jay wrote me personal notes with each submission I sent in, and I eventually became syndicated with King Features in 2005.

Sadly, I never got the chance to meet him in person. His wife died the night before our sales meeting and he wasn't able to attend.

I didn't know Jay well; in fact, I found him a bit of a mystery. But I respected his opinion immensely and I always wanted to please him. When Jay complimented your work you knew he meant it.

Here's the official press release from King Features.

Jay was a big fan and collector of alternative and underground comix and quite a knowledgeable comics historian. If there's Rock 'n' Roll Heaven, maybe there's Comics Heaven, too, and Jay is hanging out with E.C. Segar, and George Herriman, and Windsor McCay, and Charles Schulz and Will Eisner and assembling the best comics page ever.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

So Long, BIG TOP

I was saddened to hear that Rob Harrell is ending his comic strip, BIG TOP. Rob's a great cartoonist and the strip had a wonderfully quirky, off-balanced feel to it.

I especially liked Dusty the poodle. One of my favorite "arcs" is the series of strips in which Dusty kidnaps Oprah (who's never seen "onscreen"). He has her down in a dungeon a la Silence of the Lambs and even says the line: "It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again." Too funny.

I was fortunate enough to trade originals with Rob a couple of years ago. His BIG TOP hangs proudly in my family room right below an original Bud Blake TIGER strip from 1968.

Besides being a top-notch funnyman extraordinaire, Rob is also an outstanding painter and illustrator, and I wish him well in whatever he chooses to do.

We'll miss ya, man.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Spring Forward

We started Daylight Saving Time this morning. I live in Indiana, an odd and backward place that, until last year, resisted this practice.

I moved here in 1995 and thought it was weird that we didn't follow DST, considering that almost everyone else in the world did. I didn't understand why Indiana resisted. It would've been much easier because every year you had to figure out if you were two or three hours ahead of California or on the same time as New York or an hour off.

There was often talk about changing; but if there's one thing Hoosiers hate, it's change. Of any kind.

So nothing was done, until last year, when the governor decided to bring the state kicking and screaming into the mid-20th century. And scream they did.

There are hot-button issues out there, like abortion, gay marriage, and gun control. In Indiana , the hot-button issue that trumps all others, apparently, is Daylight Savings Time. Oh, how the Hoosiers hate it. One letter writer to the local paper called it "the plague that is now upon us." Plague? Dude, you just turn the clocks ahead in spring and back in fall. It's not like you're being forced to give up your firearms or anything.

I guess I don't understand all the consternation. I grew up in California, and never thought twice about DST. I guess we were focused on other, less important issues, like the environment and immigration. Somehow, this "plague" never bothered us.

The good news is, that even though they hate it, it shows that change, however small, is possible in Indiana. Who knows? In another 50 or 60 years Hoosiers may even pass some meaningful environmental regulations; or maybe even give up their unhealthy fixation with pork.

Okay, I admit it. That last one is just crazy talk.

Super-Top Secret Part 2

The new project I hinted about a while back is almost ready to go. I'm working with a big-time cartoonist on this one. We should be submitting it for consideration within the next few weeks. More later.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

What's In A Name? (Cartoonist vs. Web Cartoonist)

I'm not trying to turn this into and "us vs. them" situation, because I hate that kind of stuff. Unfortunately many "print" cartoonists use "web cartoonist" as a pejorative, implying that the majority are wannabes and amateurs who can't sell their work to legitimate markets and thus create cartoons for the Internet. Unfortunately, they're mostly right. For every Scott Kurtz or Penny Arcade, there’s a zillion badly drawn and horribly written web cartoons. Web cartoonists can disagree with this and accuse the print cartoonists of being snobs, but it doesn't change the reality of the situation. Don't believe me? Go look at a hundred web cartoons. Go look at a thousand. Go look at a million (because there are at least 6 billion web cartoons currently online). The vast majority are just plain bad.

Web cartoonists are guilty of their own snobbery. They fashion themselves as the creative visionaries of a bold new medium, and sneer at the "boring and mediocre" work of traditional cartoonists. In some respects, they have a point. A lot of print cartooning (especially syndicated comics) is created to appeal to a mass market; it's not particularly innovative. But if you look outside newspaper comics (magazine cartoons, greeting cards), there is a lot of very good stuff being done by traditional cartoonists. It's just as "edgy" and "fresh" as any web comic. And odds are it's drawn a million times better and is much funnier.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Guest Blog

Editor's note: My 12-year-old son Bobby provides today's "unusual" blog. Enjoy!
Check out Bob's blog at

The Adventures of…ORC STEVE

Once there was an orc named Steve. He was a cool orc. He liked to kill stuff like boars and what not. But once he got lost and ended up in a big city called Orgrimmer. IT WAS HUGE!!! It was probably like 400000000000 feet long, dude! It had a Bank, Hobo Mall, Auction House, Food Market, Walmart, Pizza Hut, Domino's, and a 18-story TOYS R US!!! It was the hugest city ever. But one day Steve found himself lost in Orgrimmer. But he just found the exit and went out. He then saw a huge flying boat thing. He asked a guard to tell him what it was and he said, “UHH WELL IT'S USED TO TRANSPORT PEEPZ TO UH….LIKE A CITY…”

So, Steve went on the boat and he went to the city. The new city he went to was called the Under City! It wasn’t as big as Orgrimmer but it was still big. It was only 2000000 feet long but that was still good. It had a Pizza Hut, Dominos, Papa John’s , a Dead hobo…eww, and a Toys R Us/Walmart/Marsh thing. It also had a Hotel called“The Undead Inn” but Steve didn’t really like the city so he went outside to adventure.

He adventured east until he went to a place called “The Scarlet Monastery” Steve was surprised that it was 1000000000 feet long. Not as big as Orgrimmer but bigger than Under City. It only had 1 thing….a Tailor Shop! Steve bought new clothes there to make him look like a red knight. He bought red shoulder blades, a red helmet, a red shirt with a Canada flag on it, and a red axe.

Then he went outside of the monastery. He went back to the Under City and went on a boat ride to Thunder Bluff, a city of cows. Thunder Bluff was 3000000 feet long. But it was still good. It had 7 Walmarts, Pizza Hut, and a 6 story mall with a Toys R Us, a Marsh, a Tailor, and a Hunter Training Guidebook store.

Steve bought the hunter's guide. He started to read it.

Chapter 1. How to train a wolf to be your friend.

1st -- Walk up to the wolf or lay meat in front of you.

2nd-- Pet the wolf until it falls asleep.

3rd-- Attack the wolf and put a saddle on it to make it rideable.

4th -- Jump on it and ride away.

So Steve followed all these steps and in no time he had a pet wolf. He rode away into the sun...

The End!

Who Are You?

I went with my 14-year-old son to The Who concert in Indianapolis Tuesday night. On the drive over we got behind a white stretch limo. The limo was heading towards the arena in which The Who was playing, and my son and I speculated that the car’s occupants were indeed the legendary English rockers. We’ll never know, of course, but I can fantasize, right?

I wasn’t quite sure what to except from the concert. I’d seen a short video clip of the reconfigured band playing a small hall in England in late 2006. The footage was great and showed guitarist/songwriter/mastermind Pete Townsend wind-milling away and Roger Daltrey enthusiastically belting out songs. But would the group bring it’s “A” game to Indianapolis? Would the physical strain of touring dampen their enthusiasm and take the sharpness off their performance? I mean, these guys aren’t youngsters; both Pete and Roger are in their early sixties. Would this show live up to the group’s legendary past and high audience expectations?

The answer, of course, is a resounding “OH YES!” The Who rocked the hell out of the Conseco Fieldhouse Tuesday night.

The show opened with the crisp guitar chords of “I Can’t Explain” (1964), and rocked through “The Seeker” (1971) and “Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere” (1965).

Between old classics, the band tossed in new songs from “Wire and Glass,” the first new Who recording in 25 years.

The new material was very good, but suffered a bit in comparison to the older songs. I mean, how do you compete with “We’re not Gonna Take It” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again”?

Townsend ruled the night and rocked harder than seemed possible, especially on songs thirty and forty years old. No rote playing here. No going through the motions, slogging through the hits. Pete attacked his guitar with passion and urgency, showing a freshness and conviction that would put musicians a third his age to shame. To put it a little indelicately, Pete made that guitar his bitch.

Singer Roger Daltrey is a true soldier of rock ‘n’ roll, his voice battle worn and raw, but ultimately beautiful…every rasp and growl a hard-won badge of honor in an amazing career spanning four decades.

The rest of the band was in fine form as well, with excellent support by keyboard player John "Rabbit" Bundrick, guitarist Simon Townshend (Pete's younger brother), bassist Pino Palladino, and drummer Zak Starkey (Ringo’s son and a fine successor to the inimitable Keith Moon).

The show’s intensity kept building until it exploded with a near atomic version of “Baba O’Reilly,” truly the highlight of the night. After a standing ovation, an obviously appreciative Townsend thanked the audience and remarked that the song had become a sort of soundtrack to a lot of people’s lives, and it meant a great deal to the band that the song meant so much to the fans.

Pete’s words were quite touching and showed that Townsend understands that the songs ultimately belong not just to the artist but to the audience as well. Tuesday night’s music – and, in fact, The Who’s entire catalog – belong to the fans who treasure the songs and keep them alive.

During an extended version of the classic “My Generation” (interspersed with 1982’s “Cry If You Want”), images of young people from the 1950s through today flickered on the video screen behind the band, transforming a song about youthful rebellion into a universal anthem: “My Generation” is your generation and every generation. The children of the 60s make way for the children of the 80s, and so on.

The line “hope I die before I get old” takes on new meaning 42 years after Townsend first wrote it. It seems less about physical aging and more about maintaining a youthful outlook by staying passionate about life. If this is the case, Tuesday night’s show proved that it’s going to be a long time before Pete Townsend gets old.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Favorite Strips?

Here's your chance to plug your favorite comic strip. Doesn't have to be syndicated, but if it's not, please provide a link. I've posted some of my preferences in the Comics Du Jour section, but I want to hear what others think. And I want to find out if I'm missing some really good stuff out there.

So let's put some comments on this blog, people!

Comics Du Jour

Real Life Adventures by Gary Wise and Lance Aldrich has been around since the early 1990s and always provides a good chuckle. A lot of strips aren't actually funny, but RLA consistently is.