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ANOTHER ICON CHANGETH

Quoted Entirely From Wired:

Jack Davis, the legendary EC artist, Mad cartoonist, magazine illustrator and movie poster artist, is finally hanging up his pencils. It’s not that the iconic 90-year-old cartoonist can’t draw anymore — he just can’t meet his own standards.

“I’m not satisfied with the work,” Davis says by phone from his rural Georgia home. “I can still draw, but I just can’t draw like I used to.”

Davis has probably spent more time in America’s living rooms than anyone. Mad was a million-seller when Davis was on the mag, and when he was doing TV Guide covers in the 1970s, the publication boasted a circulation of over 20 million. Yet, Davis is largely unaware of his massive cultural significance. “I never really thought about that, but I guess I’m very blessed,” he says. “I’ve been very lucky.”

Jack Davis original

But his luck paled in comparison to his skill. Davis started his career in 1936, when he was only 12; he won $1 as part of a national art contest and saw his work published in Tip Top Comics No.9. While still a teen, Jack-davis-book-cover-300dpihis cartoons were published in The Yellow Jacket, a humor magazine at Georgia Tech University, where his uncle was a professor. After a stint in the military, Davis caught on with EC Comics in 1950, where he was part of the artistic wave that revolutionized comics with titles like Tales from the Crypt, Two-Fisted Tales, and Mad.

Whereas Norman Rockwell’s images represented Americana of the 1940s and ’50s with his Boy Scouts and pigtailed girls, Davis’ work epitomized the sixties and seventies—the smirking, sardonic face of the emerging counterculture. By the time the Beats and the Hippies (who came of age reading Davis cartoons) took over, he was doing movie posters for Woody Allen’s Bananas, The Long Goodbye, American Graffiti, and others.

“Jack Davis is probably the most versatile artist ever to work the worlds of comic books, illustration, or movie poster art,” Scott Dunbier, a former art dealer and current director of special projects at comic book publisher IDW. “He can work in a humorous style or deadly serious style, historical or modern, anything. His work transcends that of almost any other cartoonist.”

But Davis is done producing new work. “I’m just gonna sit on the porch and watch the river go by,” Davis says. “And maybe go fishing once in a while.”

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

SF SPORTS TOONISTS

 

Mutt and Jeff sports header

 

Eddie Campbell says he’s working on a book about San Francisco sports cartoonists, who, like Bud Fisher and Rube Goldberg, littered the landscape of the City by the Bay in the early years of the 20th century; he says he’s finished the first draft at 70,000 words. “I’m currently restoring old pictures,” he told Chris Arrant at robot6.comicbookresources.com. “It’s full of drama and odd twists and turns. There are race riots and somebody being shot in the head. This is no dusty academic tome.”

 

Rube Goldberg's Foolish Questions

 

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

THE STATE OF MAGAZINE CARTOONS

Magazine cartoons have all but disappeared except in the nation’s two best venues for single-panel “gag” cartoons: they’re holding their own. I was mildly alarmed some months ago when The New Yorker for March 23 arrived with only 10 cartoons, a disastrous drop from its usual 12-17 per issue. But the next issue, with 19 cartoons, brought the average back into its usual range.

Cat dog nyerPlayboy, the other major cartoon outlet, is still printing about 15 cartoons each issue despite the steady decline in the total number of pages. The last two issues (March and April 2015) offered 5 full-page color cartoons (plus the “pin-up” cartoon by Olivia) and 8-9 smaller cartoons and a couple of strips (including Bobby London’s Dirty Duck). Although the number of cartoons in each issue has slowly declined over the last decade or so, the ratio of cartoons to total page count (which has also declined) remains fairly steady. In the March and April issues, taken all together, Playboy averages 1 cartoon for every 8-9 pages; 1 full-page color cartoon for every 25-28 pages.

In the best of all cartooning worlds, the number of pages per cartoon would be fewer. Instead of encountering a cartoon every 8-9 pages, you’d like to come across one ever 3-4 pages, say. But the March-April ratios are about the same as it’s been lately.

Parade, the newspaper Sunday supplement magazine, has apparently given up on cartoons. Several months ago, it published a couple of little booklets, one each week with the usual magazine, with a half-dozen or so cartoons in each of them. That exercise seemingly exhausted the magazine’s inventory of unpublished cartoons: none have showed up since.

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

MAD: Weird Alfred Issue

MAD - Weird Al coverMad, No.353
June 2015

56 pages
8 x 10.5-inches
color
E.C. Publications $5.99 (cheap)

Weird Al Yankovic is guest “editor,” but I wonder what that means. I doubt that he “edited” much of anything. He supplied some copy for a few features in which he is the star, and he may have helped decide some of the other content. Otherwise, Weird Al’s most evident contribution to the issue is his well-known visage on the cover.

His face dominates the opening page’s Weird Al comic strip in which Al talks about editing the magazine; he answers the letters; and he follows the usual “Fundalini Pages” of snippets and squibs with “The Weird Al-ini Pages” — but he didn’t write any of the snippets and squibs thereupon: no, he says he “suckered” famous and talented friends to perform this “thankless job.”

The only big Weird Al feature is a 6-page tour of his Notebook which contains ideas for song parodies. “You’ve Got a Friend” becomes “You’ve Got Depends”; “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” becomes “Belushi Eating Fries with Diamond” (accompanied by a picture of John Belushi having lunch with Neil Diamond).

Weird Al “stars” in Al Jaffee’s “Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions” but only as the visual. Next, a two-page spread depicts a manic Weird Al Concert. And Weird Al, as ostensible editor, chooses a vintage Mad piece from No.93, March 1965, parodying tv kiddie shows. The show here is entitled “Uncle Nutzy Clubhouse.” Al says he loved it. And always has. But since there are no tv kiddie shows of this ilk anymore, I doubt that any of Mad’s pre-adolescent readership will get the jokes. In other words, poor choice, Weird.

Weird Al also picks the movie for parodying, “American Sniper.” But the movie doesn’t actually show up. Instead we have “American Sniping” with Michael Moore and Sarah Palin making snide remarks about the movie.                                                                        

Otherwise, the content is largely the usual gang of features — among them, the eternal Sergio Aragones “looks at California” for 4 pages of his patented pantomime strips; Spy vs Spy; and “The Strip Club” aggregation of comic strips on random subjects; Jaffee’s fold-in.

I don’t see Mad regularly as a doctrinal matter: the comedy is too infantile for even me. But I look in every once and a while, and I’m often shocked (SHOCKED!) by the license Mad’s writers and cartoonists enjoy these days—on sex and profanity and other traditional unmentionables. In this issue, we have a feature called “Things to Ask Your Sex Ed Teacher,” in which a gaggle of young people fling questions of dubious taste at their teacher. One asks about “pulling out”; another, about taking photos of his “junk”; others, about condoms, pregnancy, and so on. Not your Harvey Kurtzman comedy, Aristotle.

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

ODDS & ADDENDA

■ Abrams Books for Young Readers has announced the publication of the 10th volume in Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, which will be released on November 3, 2015. The title has not yet been divulged.

■ Paul D. Shinkman at USNews.com reported: The Pentagon dropped 60,000 propaganda cartoon leaflets over the key Syrian city of Raqqa on March 16. The gruesome cartoon depicts two extremist fighters at a “recruiting office” leading young people toward a blood-splattered meat grinder bearing the scrawled word “Daish” – an alternative name for the Cutthroat CalipHATE (Islamic State group) in the derogatory form U.S. allies in the Middle East prefer.

Exploring Calvin & Hobbes cover■ From Dan Gearino at the Columbus Dispatch: For decades, a 1989 interview with Bill Watterson stood as the best, and close to the only, opportunity for readers to hear directly from the cartoonist about his life and art — until the publication last month of Exploring Calvin and Hobbes. The book — which follows the exhibit of the same title last year at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum at Ohio State University — includes an in-depth interview with Watterson by Jenny Robb, curator of the Billy Ireland, as well as scans of Watterson’s original artwork.

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

FREE SPEECH AND OFFENSIVENESS IN CARTOONS

We had thought, until recently, that the monstrous Charlie Hebdo issue had slipped into a forgotten past, like most matters that are urgent only as long as they sell newspapers or enhance TV viewership — which the Parisian satirical magazine did when murderous Islamic hooligans killed ten of its staff at its offices on January 7. But Doonesbury’s Garry Trudeau, in accepting the George Polk Career Award in early April, said things about Charlie that created no little stir in cartooning circles.

We have posted the entire speech at the Usual Place (RCHarvey.com, Rants & Raves Opus 339), but here below we repeat those of his remarks that most contributed to the stir:

“Traditionally, satire has comforted the afflicted while afflicting the comfortable,” he said. “Satire punches up, against authority of all kinds, the little guy against the powerful.”

GBT Hebdo Sunday 3-8-15 Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons are customarily crude and often tasteless and when the magazine takes on issues involving religions, particularly Islam, it offends Muslims, who, in France, have been marginalized and isolated in ghettos at the fringes of larger cities. And when Charlie ridiculed radical Islam as political rather than religious, the magazine seemed to be attacking all Muslims — including the unassimilated French Muslims, to which Trudeau was sensitive: “By punching downward, by attacking a powerless, disenfranchised minority with crude, vulgar drawings closer to graffiti than cartoons, Charlie wandered into the realm of hate speech.”

What Trudeau clearly believed was his humane and thoughtful re-consideration of the Charlie cartoons — by American standards, unusually gross in flinging their satiric barbs — suddenly looked as if he were blaming the victims: the Charlie cartoonists brought on their own murders by drawing those outrageously offensive cartoons. Trudeau promptly denied he was blaming the Charlie cartoonists, saying he had been misunderstood. But that didn’t stop the debate which quickly coalesced around whether freedom of expression should be limited by ordinary politeness to reduce or eliminate offensiveness.

Cartoonists immediately took sides. Some supported Trudeau; others did not. Generally, they believe that there are red lines that should not be crossed — but those lines tend to be personal, individual, rather than institutional or legal.

Cartoonists reaction to Trudeau’s remarks had barely died down when the American  PEN, an organization that advocates literature’s role as a force in society, revived the foofaraw by planning to give Charlie Hebdo an award for courage that some PEN members objected to, saying it would “valorize” offensive cartooning. (Isn’t satire inherently offensive — to someone? What, then, of the future of satire?)

In most of the ensuing discussion, those opposed to giving Charlie an award focused on the offensiveness of the cartoons, revealing that they didn’t understand cartooning — particularly cartooning in France, which tends to administer satire with a bludgeon rather than a barb, as is the usual practice in the U.S.

Some PEN members, like Art Spiegelman, pointed out that the award was for courage not for the quality of the work:  “It’s hard to be more courageous than going back to work after your office has been bombed and your comrades have been slaughtered. On those grounds alone, one would think, ‘It’s a no brainer. They get the award.’”

Neil Gaimen agreed: “Charlie Hebdo showed up to work in 2011 after they were firebombed, and kept working to put out an issue. And they continued and put out an issue after 12 murders. As far as I’m concerned, this is the [precise criteria for an] award for courage for cartoonists.”

But two days before the award would be given, an anti-Muslim group’s “Draw Muhammad” cartoon contest exhibit in Garland, Texas, was attacked by Cutthroat CalipHATE hooligans of the home-grown sort, who were killed in their attempt. Although the American Freedom Defense Initiative said its event was intended to foster freedom of expression, most observers thought the AFDI, with a long history of opposition to what it calls “the Islamification of America,” was deliberately staging a perversely provocative exhibit. The AFDI leadership regarded its contest exhibit as successful in proving “how much needed our event really was. Freedom of speech is under violent assault here in our nation. The question now before us is: will we stand and defend it, or bow to violence, thuggery and savagery?”

The PEN gala took place May 5, two days after the shootings in Texas. Because of the presence of Charlie staffers to accept the courage award and the recency of the shootings at Garland, security was enhanced: guests passed through metal detectors and a gauntlet of armed police, reported Hillel Italie at the Associated Press. Police cars lined the street outside the museum's main entrance. Despite these encumbrances, the award was presented, accepted, and applauded.

This whole Charlie enchilada is covered in exhaustive detail at the Usual Place (RCHarvey.com, Rants & Raves, Opus 340), should you care to pursue the issues fully.

RCHlogo1

 

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, Iran, of all the unlikely candidates, is running an anti-Isis cartoon competition, reported independent.co.uk, “inviting submissions from around the world that mock the militant group and the atrocities it has committed.

“Mohammad Habibi, the executive secretary of the contest, said 280 works had been selected from 800 submissions, including entries from over 40 countries such as Brazil, Australia and Indonesia. Habibi told the Tehran Times that some foreign cartoonists were attending the contest, but that they had been forced to travel under pseudonyms due to security concerns.”

He told Iran’s Press TV: “Nowadays everyone around the world knows about the parasite by the name of Isis and what crimes they have committed against humanity and art and culture. Artists now have the duty to raise public awareness about this group by participating in such events.”

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

NEW YORKER CHAST WINS REUBEN

At the Reuben Banquet on Saturday evening, May 23, New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast won the National Cartoonists Society’s highest honor, the Reuben, as Cartoonist of the Year. This is only the third time a woman has collected the heavy metal trophy named after the first Prez of the NCS, Rube Goldberg; the other two, Lynn Johnston and Cathy Guisewite. It is just the second time that a magazine gag cartoonist has won; the other, Charles Saxon.

In Chast’s case, she doubtless earned points for her stellar graphic novel, Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant, a chronicle of her parents’ last years. And if the award was made chiefly for Chast’s graphic novel, then this is the first time a graphic novelist has been honored. Comic books have never finished first in the Reuben race.

The other two finalists for the Reuben were Hilary Price (Rhymes With Orange comic strip) and Stephan Pastis (Pearls Before Swine comic strip). This was Pastis’ seventh nomination and Price’s second; for Chast, it was the first. Chast was not present to accept the award: her acceptance speech was made via video recording. Pastis wasn’t there either.

The three nominees were determined by a vote of the entire membership conducted online. The nominees for most of what were once termed “Division Awards”— cartooning endeavors in various modes, as indicated below, now dubbed “Silver Reubens”—were also determined by a membership-wide vote via an online ballot box rather than distributing the nominating function to “jurying” by various NCS chapters around the country. And, judging from the results unveiled below, this new process has produced a list of nominees that is more representative of cartooning in its assorted modes than before.

In the Editorial Cartooning category, for instance, we have both liberal and conservative editoonists represented. The online voting has at least one obvious benefit: the winner, Michael Ramirez, is a conservative, and in previous years, if a conservative editorial cartoonist won, the win might be attributed to the region in which the chapter resided — if, say, it was a southern region, infamously conservative. This year, thanks to the online balloting, no such sneer can be proffered. (In fact, because the voting was membership-wide, we may conclude that the membership of NCS is more conservative than we might otherwise have supposed.)

And Comic Books and Graphic Novels reflect, for the first time in these categories, an actual knowledge about those enterprises and what’s going on in them. Alas, not all is golden: magazine Gag Cartooning seems restricted to New Yorker cartoonists as if Playboy did not exist.

Herewith, the list of Silver Reuben nominees and winners; we’ve include both winners (marked with an *asterisk) as well as nominees because even being nominated is a distinction):

 

Editorial Cartoons

Clay Bennett

*Michael Ramirez

Jen Sorensen

 

Newspaper Illustration

*Anton Emdin (an Australian)

Glen LeLievre

Ed Murawinski

 

Feature Animation

Paul Felix (production designer: “Big Hero 6”)

*Tomm Moore (Director: “Song of the Sea”)

Isao Takahata (Director: “The Tale of Princess Kaguya”)

 

TV Animation

Mark Ackland (Storyboards- “The Void” : “Wander Over Yonder)

*Patrick McHale (Creator “Over the Garden Wall”)

Kyle Menke (storyboards- “Star Wars” parody episode “Phineas and Ferb”)

 

Newspaper Panels

Dave Blazek (Loose Parts)

Mark Parisi (Off the Mark)

*Hilary Price (Rhymes with Orange)

 

Gag Cartoons

*Liza Donnelly

Benjamin Schwartz

Edward Steed

 

Advertising/Product Illustration

Kevin Kallaugher

*Ed Steckley

Dave Whammond

 

Greeting Cards

Gary McCoy

*Glenn McCoy

Maria Scrivan

 

Comic Books

*Jason Latour (who drew Southern Bastards)

Babs Tarr (Batgirl)

J.H. Williams III (The Sandman Overture)

 

Graphic Novel

*Jules Feiffer (Kill My Mother)

Mike Maihak (Cleopatra in Space)

Jillian Tamaki (This One Summer)

 

Magazine Illustration

Ray Alma

Anton Emdin

*Tom Richmond

 

Online – Long Form

Vince Dorse (The Untold Tales of Bigfoot)

Mike Norton (Battlepug)

*Minna Sundberg (Stand Still, Stay Silent)

 

Online – Short Form

*Danielle Corsetto (Girls with Slingshots)

Jonathan Lemon (Rabbits Against Magic)

Rich Powell (Wide Open)

 

Book Illustration

*Marla Frazee “The Farmer and the Clown”

Yasmeen Ismail “Time for Bed, Fred”

Shaun Tan “Rules of Summer”

 

Newspaper Comic Strips

Brian Bassett (Red and Rover)

*Stephan Pastis (Pearls Before Swine)

Glenn McCoy (The Duplex)

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

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For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com