Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Recommended Reading

Pete Hautman is an exceptional writer. He writes the way I'd like to: lean, engaging, and funny. (See here for the story of how I met Pete.)

Pete won the National Book Award for his YA novel, Godless, a tantalizing story about a group of teenagers who create their own religion around a water tower.

I'm working my way through Pete's catalog: I started with Rash, winner of the 2006 Golden Duck Award, moved on to Godless, and am currently enjoying Sweetblood.

I can't recommend Pete's work highly enough. Get thee to Amazon (or your favorite bookseller) and see what you (and everybody who hasn't discovered this wonderful Minnesota author) have been missing!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Caption Contest

I ran across this picture while looking through stock photos for some greeting cards I was writing.

Let's see who can come up with the best caption for this lovely little image of impending motherhood. The more outrageous the better.

Let the hi-larity begin!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Good Grief!

I received my copy of Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography from Amazon today. I stopped at page 31 feeling utterly despondent. Author David Michaelis paints such a morose and relentlessly depressing portrayal of Schulz and his family (at least his mother and her relatives), that it's hard to slog through.

One gets the feeling the author is chronicling the early life of a serial killer rather than one of America’s most beloved cartoonists.

I now understand the Schulz family’s dismay. It's rather obvious that Michaelis has a central thesis that he's painstakingly constructing: the artist as melancholy misfit, unable to achieve or appreciate real happiness, material to the contrary be damned.

Several cartoonists have recently posted on the Internet their personal stories about Schulz; all show a gracious, supportive and generous man. I've no doubt that Charles Schulz had his demons; nearly every great artist does. But the demons weren’t the sum of the man.

I never met Schulz, but I've read enough about him, and talked with people who did know him, to feel that this book -- at least thus far -- is doing him a great disservice.

On a personal, and amusing, note: When discussing Garfield and Jim Davis later in the biography, Michaelis quotes from the Garfield 25th Anniversary book -- a book I co-wrote and co-edited.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Comics Du Jour: The Mighty Small

The Scott Comics Cartel keeps growing: There's Scott Adams, Scott Kurtz, Scott Hilburn, Scott Stantis, Scott Metzger, and now Scott Cummings (if I missed a Scott, let me know).

Mr. Cummings has a new strip on Go Comics. It's just getting started, but looks promising.

Check it out.

Sparky Soprano?

This is very funny. Jim Davis even liked it.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Life Imitates Comics?

Paige (a loyal friend of EEK! and HIS & HERS) posted
this on a comics newsgroup board.

Looks like Martha Stewart is offering tips for turning
skulls into sparkly centerpieces.

Who knew I was tapping into a home decor trend
with my EEK! strip from October 9th?

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Usual Gang of Idiots

Like many cartoonists of my generation, I grew up reading MAD magazine. By the early 1970s, when I discovered William Gaines' subversive publication, MAD was undergoing a kind of second renaissance. Inside a typical issue of the time you'd find work by Mort Drucker, Jack Davis, Al Jaffee, Angelo Torres, Don Martin, Dave Berg, Bob Clarke, George Woodbrige, Antonio Prohias, Jack Rickard, Stan Hart, Tom Koch, Larry Siegel, Frank Jacobs, Arnie Kogen, and Dick de Bartolo -- a veritable hall of fame of American cartoonists and satirists.

The changing social, sexual and political attitudes of the late 60s and early 70s provided great fodder for the magazine, and the Usual Gang of Idiots (as publisher Gaines dubbed his contributing artists and writers) produced some of the best work of their careers.

As an impressionable 10-year-old, I devoured every new issue of MAD, relishing each irreverent page. I copied Jack Davis and Mort Drucker drawings, trying to figure out just how these cartooning titans created their mirthful masterworks. I even wrote my own "MAD-like" comics, featuring such terrible puns as "Broom 222" (after the TV show "Room 222") and drawings of singer Tom "Bones."

I'd long wanted to make it into the pages of MAD, and submitted material sporadically over the years, always receiving rejection slips. A couple of years ago I began to submit again and actually received a response from one of the editors He liked TRIPLE TAKE and invited me to submit more material. Many submissions and rejections later, he finally accepted a piece for publication.

I received my comp copies of issue 483 today -- the "Zombie" issue. Flipping to page 27, I found my cartoon: "Product Placement in Horror Movies." Yes!

MAD may not quite be the same magazine it was when I was a kid: Jack Davis stopped working for it years ago and Mort Drucker contributes material only sporadically. But Sergio Arragones is still there every issue and a new generation of cartoonists has taken up the MAD mantle: John Caldwell, Tom Richmond, Hermann Mejia, Tom Bunk, Drew Friedman, to name but a few. And Al Jaffee continues to do the inside cover fold-in.

One of the usual gang of idiots. Me? I couldn't be more proud.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Silence is Golden...

The band is Greenskeepers. The song is "Lotion."