Saturday, July 28, 2007


Just received a large envelope from PEI (Playboy Enterprises International).

In it was my latest batch of cartoons and a typed letter stating that "Mr. Hefner reviewed the batch and didn't find any cartoons suitable for the magazine."

Hugh Hefner personally reviewed my cartoons?


Never have I been so excited by a rejection letter.

Friday, July 27, 2007

A Peek Behind the Curtain... the comic strip Lio.

Very interesting read.

Bonus points to anyone who knows who Lew Little is.

Summer Reading

I'm about halfway through Koji Suzuki's Ring, the novel from which the Japanese and American horror films sprang. The translation is a little akward here and there, but the pacing is excellent.

I've dangled a toe into the giant Essential Ellison pool as well. Interesting stuff.

So, what are we reading this summer?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

More Confessions

A couple of comments on my "confession" entry got me thinking...

Besides never reading any Harry Potter books, I have also:

Never watched an episode of "American Idol." Seriously.

Never watched an episode of "The Sopranos," even though Steve Van Zandt (longtime E Street Band guitarist) is in the cast. I may check out the series on DVD. Or not.

Never watched any of the various "CSI" or "Law and  Order" permutations.

Never read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Never ate escargot.

However, I have eaten duck tongue, duck feet and ox stomach.

p.s. I just received my copy of The Essential Harlan Ellison in the mail. It clocks in at just over 1000 pages. Wish me luck.

p.p.s. I can now cross off "Never read any Harlan Ellison."

Monday, July 23, 2007


Okay, I admit it. I've never read a Harry Potter book. Not even the first one.

Does that make me a lesser human?

Monday, July 16, 2007

There Must Be Some Way Out of Here....

I’m a child of the 1960s. I mean that literally. I was a year old when JFK was assassinated, five during the Summer of Love, and seven when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. I was too young to really appreciate the music and culture of that turbulent decade, but its influence lasted through the early 70s, and I soaked up the sounds and sights of the sixties like a sponge.

I was a weird kid raised by weird parents. I was eight when my dad took my 12-year-old sister and me to see the movie Joe in 1970. I begged to see The French Connection in 1971 (my sister eventually accompanied me), and my mom and I watched The Godfather at a local theater in 1972.

As for music, FM radio in Los Angeles in the early 70s was heavily into its “album-orientated-rock” phase and played all the classic 60s songs, sometimes entire albums.

What I didn’t get from movies and the radio, I got from MAD magazine, which, at the time was going through its second gold age. Everything you needed to know about current events, politics and entertainment could be found in those well-drawn pages of parody.

Why do I bring this up? I’m glad you asked. Sunday night I saw Bob Dylan in concert at a local Indianapolis venue. Dylan was one of the most famous symbols of the 60s counterculture, and his songs had a huge impact on his fellow musicians and the youth of the day. Arguably, his best music is from that decade. His output in the 70s, 80s and beyond was uneven at best.

At 66, Dylan’s future as a touring musician is uncertain, so I figured this might be my last chance to see the man perform. I’d never seen him live, but I had watched numerous concert films over the years.

Nothing really prepared me for the Bob Dylan of 2007. He took the stage with his band at about 8:30 p.m. and launched into “Rainy Day Women #12 and 35.” Next he lurched into a strange arrangement that turned out to be “It Ain’t Me, Babe.” From there, Bob was growling through song after song: some I recognized; some I didn’t. Most were older songs, I guess, with radically different arrangements.

At no time during the concert did Dylan speak to the audience. No “hello, Indianapolis, it’s good to be here,” no “this next song is from such and such album,” no “thanks” after the applause. Nothing. Dylan careened through each odd arrangement, almost daring the crowd, “Hey! Try to recognize this one.”

As odd as the show was, the real entertainment was not onstage; it was in the audience. I had a crappy lawn ticket, and a group of women arrived shortly before the concert and sat in front of me. They were middle-aged and were consuming a shocking amount of Coors Light. Barb, dressed in a tye-dye T-shirt, Diane, a heavy woman in shorts and a tank top, and Shelly, the sober designated driver, were celebrating Karen’s 52nd birthday. I know all this because Barb told me and everyone else within a twenty-foot radius. As the show went on, Barb and Diane drank more Coors Lights, danced, chatted, and disappeared for minutes at a time.

At one point, Barb returned with a large pretzel, which she handed to me, introduced Diane as her “better half” and asked if I’d like to come with them after the show “to ‘play’ and eat acid.”

I thanked her for the offer, but politely declined. Barb and Diane careened off, apparently to ask Bob Dylan to sing “Happy Birthday” to Karen.

Karen hadn’t had quite as many beers, so she was in a little better shape. We started talking and she expressed concern over the whole “eating acid” thing. I was amazed that anyone even made acid anymore and asked Karen about this. She wasn’t sure where Barb and Diane got the acid, but was worried about its purity and made it clear that she was not going to partake.

She also told me that she thought Diane was upset with Barb for flirting with me and asking me to join their “acid party.” I always hate to come between two drunken lesbians, so I assured Karen that I only talked with Barb and took the pretzel to be polite. No home wrecker me.

As Dylan played a perfunctory two-song encore, Barb and Diane were still nowhere to be found. Shelly was dispatched to find them, while Karen stayed on the lawn.

I packed up my lawn chair, bid Karen a happy birthday, and wished her luck with her friends.

Driving home, I remembered Barb telling me she was as a nurse at a geriatric center. God help those old people when she stumbles into work, hungover from beer and acid.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Friday the 13th

I had a flat this morning (which I had to change on the side of the road) and ended up getting four new tires (I was long overdue).

How was your day?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Free Range Association

A few posts back I mentioned an overabundance of strips with kids. Well, that's nothing. Check out the number of "offbeat" single-panel-type comics currently on the market: Over 20 (not counting the new FR)!

The list:
Ballard Street
Close To Home
Flight Deck
Flying McCoys*
F Minus*
Fifth Wave
Frank n Ernest
Go Fish
Moderately Confused
Natural Selection
Non Sequitur
Off the Mark*
Pardon My Planet*
The Quigmans*
Reality Check
Rhymes with Orange*
Six Chix*
Speed Bump*
Strange Brew

(I've put an asterisk next to ones I read regularly)


A tip of the hat to The Daily Cartoonist for this item.

Creators is offering a funny new single-panel strip by cartoonist Bill Whitehead.
I've met Bill a few times in my capacity as writer/editor for Paws. Bill works for Hallmark and writes some very funny cards.

A group of Hallmark creative types came out to Paws late last year, and Bill was among them. We chatted at lunch and he mentioned he'd been working on a strip that he was trying to get syndicated. I'm glad he made it.

Congratulations, Mr. Whitehead!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Actually, I Read it for the Cartoons…

A few months back I wrote about a conversation I had with Super Cartoonist Jerry King. Jerry sells a lot of cartoons to Playboy and told me that the one-and-only Hugh M. Hefner, founder and publisher of the famous magazine, personally approves and initials every cartoon rough that gets accepted. I thought that was pretty cool. Hugh started out as cartoonist and truly loves the medium.

I’ve sent batches of cartoons sporadically to Playboy over the years, and received a couple of nice letters from Michele Urie, the late, great cartoon editor, but no sales.

This May, I pulled together a batch of single panel gags and sent them off to the new cartoon editor, fully expecting another polite rejection.

Last week when I received the large manila envelope from PEI with a California return address, I knew something was up. Playboy’s editorial offices are in New York, but the Mansion is in L.A. There was even a cryptic "AW/HMH" typed on the label.

The enclosed letter was written on stationery embossed with the ubiquitous bunny logo, and paper-clipped to that letter was something even better. That’s right: one of my cartoon roughs with "OK HMH" written in blue pencil. Holy shit! I thought. I JUST SOLD MY FIRST CARTOON TO PLAYBOY! Yeah!

It was so cool. I was grinning like an idiot for over an hour.

The cartoon should appear in the December issue (I’m guessing) because it’s a Christmas gag.
I’ll let everyone know when it’s published.

I have to thank Jerry King for inspiring me to submit material to the magazine again. It's long been a dream of mine to be published in Playboy.

Now to work up another batch – and face the likely rejection. But that’s okay. I won’t take it personally, Hef.