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LeRoy Neiman, famed for the Femlin he created for Playboy magazine, also drew on baseballs. He drew Babe Ruth on one and Mickey Mantle on another and over a hundred more — all as personal gifts to a Neiman baseball Marilyn Monroefriend, Charlie McCabe. Neiman, “celebrated for evoking the kinetic energy of sporting events,” said Ula Ilnytzky at the Associated Press, “was the official painter of five Olympiads.” Altogether, he drew on 129 baseballs, which McCabe sold at a Heritage Auctions online sale recently. Said McCabe:

“The first ball LeRoy made would have been 1978, when we went to Mets spring training. I gave him a ball and asked him to draw on it. He got a real kick out of painting the baseballs because he hadn’t ever drawn anything on a ball before.” Neiman usually drew with color magic markers.

Over the years, McCabe asked Neiman to draw other celebrities on baseballs. Many of the balls, if not all, are signed by the persons depicted. “A special piece is a 1992 ball of Marilyn Monroe that is signed ‘To Charlie, Best wishes, Joe DiMaggio.’ What makes the ball rare is that DiMaggio, who was briefly married to the actress, famously refused to sign anything related to her.”

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


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


Chester Gould table plusChester Gould’s daughter and other guardians of Dick Tracy memorabilia have donated it all to the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. The collection, which includes more than 850 original daily Dick Tracy strips (among them, the first 30 days of the strip), 64 Sunday strips, and Gould’s drawing board upon which Gould created the strip for 46 years, will be catalogued and made available to students and scholars, just as the rest of the BICL&M holdings are. All these items had been displayed at Woodstock, Illinois (near Gould’s home), in the town’s historic Courthouse on the Square until the town could no longer afford to give up the space.

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


Advance orders for the first issue of the re-launched Amazing Spider-Man No.1, which features the return of Peter Parker who “died” last year in Amazing Spider-Man No.700, topped 500,000 saith Marvel. ... The Easter Sunday edition of Parade resurrected the Cartoon Parade feature with two (count ’em two) cartoons—by Harley Schwadron and Rina Piccolo. Dunno what, if anything, this bodes for the future. The next week, we were down to one cartoon—en route, no doubt, to none, as has been the prevailing mode—no cartoons— which resumed, alas, on May 18.  

Amazing Spider Man #1

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Al Jaffee’s first Mad famed Fold-In was published in the magazine dated April 1964. Explaining his inspiration, Jaffee, quoted in the January-February issue of the National Cartoonists Society’s newspaper, The Cartoonist, said: “Playboy had a foldout of a beautiful woman in each issue, and Life had these large, striking foldouts in which they’d show how the earth began or the solar system or something on that order—massive panorama. ... Many magazines were hopping on the bandwagon with similar full-page spreads. ... So I figured, why not reverse it? If other magazines are doing these big, full-color foldouts, well, cheap old Mad should go complete the opposite way and do an ultra-modest black-and-white ‘fold-in.’”

Interviewed at thephoenix.com, Jaffee explained how he devised the first fold-in: “I thought to myself ... how it’s folded in and I’ve got to have something on the left side here and something on the right side here. And the only thing that popped into my head was that Elizabeth Taylor had just dumped Eddie Filsher and was carrying on with Richard Burton. So I had Elizabeth Taylor kissing Richard Burton, and a cop is holding the crowd back—and just for the fun of it, I put Eddie Fisher being trampled by the crowd. What a cruel thing to do!

“And then, when you fold it in, she’s moving on from Richard Burton and kissing the next guy in the crowd. It’s so simplistic and silly and juvenile! And anyone could have done that!”


Jaffee showed it to editor Al Feldstein, expecting it to be rejected because it mutilates the magazine. But Feldstein was fascinated by the mechanics of it, folding the page this way and that. And when he sought publisher Bill Gaines’ approval, Gaines said: “So they mutilate the magazine, and then they’ll buy another one to save.”                                                                      

Mad Fold-In Collection 2Four weeks later, Feldstein asked Jaffee what he was going to do for the next issue’s Fold-In. Jaffee, who thought one was enough, wracked his brain for another. And for the ensuing issue, another. And another and so on into the night.

A masterpiece of comedic art had been born and it incestuously inbred again and again until it became a national institution. The whole magilla was published three years ago in The Mad Fold-In Collection 1964-2010, 842 pages, a four-volume slip-cased set, reproducing 410 Fold-Ins at their original size with digital representation of the folded image on the following page so collectors won’t have to fold their book’s pages to get the gag (originally $125 but now available through Amazon and elsewhere for considerably less; used copies at Amazon were going for $11 in mid-April).

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


The Comics Arts Council sent out a press release recently detailing how the Finger Estate definitely does not agree with a DC representative’s remark that the comics company was “all good” with Finger and his family. Here’s the full press release:

During a recent WonderCon Anaheim panel for Batman’s 75th anniversary, an audience member asked panelists for opinions about the fact that writer Bill Finger does not get a creator credit alongside Bob Kane, who is credited as the legendary character’s sole creator even though Finger came up with defining qualities for this character before Kane ever signed his first contract to produce the Dark Knight’s adventures.

Finger wrote the first Batman story, his tragic origin, and hundreds upon hundreds of comic book stories for more than a quarter of a century. He named both Bruce Wayne and Gotham City, he created Commissioner Gordon, he developed many other supporting characters, he created or co-created one fantastic villain after another, and yet he died broke and relatively unknown more than 40 years ago.

After a moment of silence following the audience member’s question, panelist Brian Buccellato joked, “Crickets.” The panel’s moderator, DC Comics’ Larry Ganem, then said: “We cherish what Bill Finger did and his contribution to creating Batman, and we’re all good with Finger and his family.”

The aforementioned Finger family, which consists only of Bill Finger’s granddaughter and her son, later learned about this exchange and did not agree with Ganem’s “all good” assessment.

Athena Finger Responds: 75 years of Batman! No one could have predicted the longevity and the continued relevance of this comic book hero that has become a cultural icon when my grandfather, Bill Finger, collaborated with Bob Kane back in 1939. My grandfather has never been properly credited as the co-creator of Batman although it was an open secret in the comic book industry and is widely known now. It is now my time to come out of the shadows and speak up and end 75 years of exploitation of my grandfather, whose biggest flaw was his inability to defend his extraordinary talent. Due to what I feel is continued mistreatment of a true artist, I am currently exploring our rights and considering how best to establish the recognition that my grandfather deserved.

In his autobiography, Bob Kane acknowledged: “Now that my long-time friend and collaborator is gone, I must admit that Bill never received the fame and recognition he deserved. He was an unsung hero.” Regarding the issue of giving Finger official credit, Kane specifically said: “I often tell my wife, if I could go back fifteen years, before he died, I’d like to say, ‘I’ll put your name on it now. You deserve it.’”

This fall, the Warner Bros. television series “Gotham” will feature many Bill Finger creations, including the city itself. Will the series that carries the name he gave to Batman’s city credit him in any way?


Bill Finger

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Aaron McGruderAfter a 4-year hiatus, Aaron McGruder’s “The Boondocks” is returning to Adult Swim television for a fourth season but without its creator, who also created the newspaper comic strip upon which the animated tv show was based. McGruder commented publicly on his departure only through press releases and official posts on the Facebook page of his new show “Black Jesus,” reported Rich Goldstein at thedailybeast.com. 

On March 16, McGruder posted this: “Just found out someone has hijacked The Boondocks Facebook page. This was done without my permission and I have absolutely no control over the content being posted as of Friday, March 14.”

Then on March 27 McGruder posted the following statement (in italics):

As the world now knows, “The Boondocks” will be returning for a fourth season, but I will not be returning with it. I’d like to extend my gratitude to Sony and Adult Swim for three great seasons. I created The Boondocks two decades ago in college, did the daily comic for six years, and was showrunner on the animated series for the first three seasons. The Boondocks pretty much represents my life’s work to this point. Huey and Riley Freeman and their Granddad are not just property to me. They are my fictional blood relatives. Nothing is more painful than to leave them behind.

To quote a great white man, “Hollywood is a business.” And to quote another great white man, “Don’t hold grudges.”

What has never been lost on me is the enormous responsibility that came with The Boondocks — particularly the television show and its relatively young audience. It was important to offend, but equally important to offend for the right reasons. For three seasons I personally navigated this show through the minefields of controversy. It was not perfect. And it definitely was not quick. But it was always done with a keen sense of duty, history, culture, and love. Anything less would have been simply unacceptable.

As for me, I’m finally putting a life of controversy and trouble-making behind me with my upcoming Adult Swim show, “Black Jesus.”

Goldstein continues: McGruder’s absence from the fourth season of “The Boondocks” is a sore point for fans of the show, but if anyone is equipped to explain the pain and loss it is unironically Aaron McGruder. In the first year of the comic strip’s syndication, he told Baltimore’s CityPaper.com,

“This is a strange job. The combination of talents that you need to be a daily cartoonist is weird. And we are weirdos. Charles Schulz has this really dark streak that comes out in Peanuts ... Lynn Johnston talks about dealing with depression. [Calvin and Hobbes creator] Bill Watterson is up in a cabin somewhere. And I have my own head stuff. Doing this day in and day out is hard.”

The comparison to Watterson and Schulz is particularly poignant given each creator’s approach to media rights. Watterson never authorized his characters for reproduction in other media, and yet the place most people see Calvin these days is stuck to the back windows of trucks peeing on things. And as for Schulz, last Christmas ABC aired the Charlie Brown special for the 40th year, not shown were the lesser known cartoons produced direct-to-video after Schulz’s death. [Being a blithely ignorant old gaffer, I don’t know about any of these and, in fact, doubt that there are any.]

Black Jesus celUnlike those post-Schulz Peanuts, McGruder has not disappeared. He will return in Adult Swim’s “Black Jesus,” which Boondocks fans will recognize as the title of Boondocks protagonist Huey Freeman’s play from Season 1. That show received a “twenty minute standing ovation” and was called “a stunning revolution in theater” by the completely unbiased Woodcrest Post Gazette. This incarnation of Black Jesus is live action and features a modern day Christ, complete with apostles, healing the sick and the lame on the pavement of Compton, California.

Concludes Goldstein: The real Jesus, if he existed at all, only preached for about two years before he was crucified by Rome. Aaron McGruder's The Boondocks has been around for almost 20 and it's come back from the dead more than once. And besides, what is walking on water and feeding the masses some meager loaves and fishes besides parlor magic and Judaic frugality. But getting a show with an all-black cast on American television? That's some kind of miracle.

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


Less than a month into his new job at the Web’s PandoDaily, Ted Rall, the ever-outspoken gadfly of editorial cartooning and Internet columning, was fired. His PandoDaily gig was the first regular job with a predictable paycheck that the notorious freelancer has held in his cartooning career (see our entry from July 11th, below). No reason was given for the termination, but Rall’s dismissal was accompanied by another, that of columnist/reporter David Sirota, known, like Rall, for his aggressive journalism.

According to Nitasha Tiku at valleywag.gawker.com, “Sirota recently broke a big story about Chris Christie's administration awarding pension contracts to hedge funds, private equity groups, and venture capital firms whose employees donated to the governor's reelection.” Rall had similarly ruffled feathers by reporting that “some Uber drivers made less than minimum wage, contrary to the company’s claims.”

The general supposition swirling around the news was that PandoDaily’s investors were uncomfortable with the direction these two were taking in their reporting. Pando factotums denied any such thing. And Tiku quotes Rall as saying: “"I loved working for [editor] Paul Carr. I had complete editorial freedom. When I wrote stuff that he disagreed with, he not only posted them without comment, he promoted them. I thought, 'Here's a guy with a lot of integrity.'"

Neither Rall nor Sirota had any advance notice of their impending dismissal. Rall told Tiku that the decision was “really truly out of a clear blue sky. I literally never got anything but A-triple-plus reviews.” At first, neither of the newly unemployed would comment on their firing. Later, Rall reportedly said: “Reason given was my work was too political, strayed from core mission, covering tech.”

But, said Tiku, “that complaint about the lack of tech coverage seems tenuous considering that Sirota and Rall both cover the intersection of tech and politics, taking a broader perspective than your standard press release reblog, which is what the NSFWCorp acquisition [by Pando] promised. The flow of tech money into politics is an increasingly vital topic. Earlier this month, for example, Chris Christie traveled to Silicon Valley for fundraising.”

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


Political cartooning’s most vociferous gadfly and pain in the tukus, Ted Rall, has, after decades of walking the high wire of freelancing, found a job. He posted the news at his website:

Ted Rall PandoPando Daily, a web publication that offers technology news, analysis, and commentary, with a focus on Silicon Valley, has hired me as a full-time staff cartoonist and writer. I will be drawing editorial cartoons, spot illustrations and comix journalism, as well as writing both short-form as well as feature-length commentary and journalism about politics, tech and the intersection between politics and tech — in other words, tech as politics. Whatever feels smart and right; we’ll do it.

This is exciting.

Having witnessed the disintegration of print media since before there was an Internet, mostly due to terrible management decisions, I’m thrilled to join a news organization that is forward-looking, gutsy and smart. It says a lot about Pando’s understanding of the value of visual media that, while newspapers and magazines fire cartoonists, they’re hiring them. [One at least.] This will be my first full-time job as a cartoonist, and I couldn’t be happier.

Editorial cartooning has been dying/getting killed, so my hiring — coupled with that of Matt Bors at Medium last year — points to a possible way out of the print newspaper trap. Lots of websites that can obviously afford to hire writers — Salon, Slate, HuffPo, etc. — can easily afford to take on cartoonists—and they should, because cartoons are popular online, and provide a type of commentary no other medium can replicate.

All you have to do to see that this is a good fit is to spend a few minutes reading stories at Pando. They do what I care about: go after the truth, and kick ass.

If you’re a fan of my syndicated political cartoons and columns, don’t worry — those will go on. I will also continue my cartoons and blog for The Los Angeles Times. I will continue to work on new book projects, including international conflict reporting.

Congrats, Ted.

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


Awesome Con gatewayIn its second year on April 18-20, Washington, D.C.’s Awesome Comic Con grew 250%, from last year’s 7,000 participants to this year’s 40,000. This overwhelming growth may be attributed to Kickstarting $56,000 that organizers used to reserve larger space at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center and for promotion. While the event was rich in cosplayers, big publishing players — Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Image — had no “real or official presence,” reported Hashim Hathaway at bleedingcool.com

On the same weekend in Salt Lake City, reports Alan Gardner at DailyCartoonist, the inaugural Salt Lake Comic Con FanXperience (FanX) attracted over 100,000 attendees. “A sister Con to the Comic Con that started last summer, the event was more geared toward connecting fans with entertainment celebrities, but it was still a comic con,” said Gardner.

Gardner goes on to quote Bryan Brandenburg, Salt Lake Comic Con Co-founder and VP of Marketing: “The fact that we exceeded attendance expectations proves that Salt Lake City is a focal point for Comic Con and pop culture and is further proof to the comic con world that Salt Lake is a major player in the industry. The increased success will SLC Con crowdserve as evidence moving forward that will attract celebrities, vendors and production companies, which in turn will help increase the overall fan experience as well as the visibility of Salt Lake Comic Con and Utah in general. Our aim is to offer a complementary convention to the annual San Diego Comic-Con International.”

Noting that he has no financial interest in promoting this event other than to strengthen it locally, Gardner adds that tickets go on sale this month for the larger Salt Lake Comic Con slated for September 4-6, 2014.

In Denver over Father’s Day weekend, June 13-15, the Denver Comic Con convened for the third year. Last year, attendance soared beyond the previous year’s. Maybe again this year. Unlike Gardner, I have a financial interest in promoting the Denver Con: I was there, in “Artists Valley” (between the peeks), selling books and drawing caricatures.

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


Paige Braddock photoThe University of Tennessee gave one of its alums, Paige Braddock, its Accomplished Alumni Award, conferred upon notable alumni for their success and distinction within their fields. Braddock is executive vice president and creative director of the Charles Schultz Studio. Schulz met Braddock at comics conventions and, impressed with her work and philosophy, hired her to work with him at his studio in Santa Rosa, California. At Schulz’s death, Braddock was selected to take his place as head of the creative arm of the Studio. The UT press release reports:

“Braddock and her team are responsible for the worldwide production and quality control of the Peanuts and Snoopy brands. The enterprise is global, with more than half its sales revenue coming from outside the U.S.”

Braddock also produces Jane’s World, a comic strip about a young lesbian living in a trailer with her roommate, Ethan. Wikipedia reports that Braddock created Jane's World so that women, particularly lesbians, would have a comic strip character that they could relate to, though it's meant to be accessible to a wider audience of many genders. Braddock devised Jane’s World in 1991 but it wasn’t until March 25, 1998 that the strip appeared on the Web. In 2001 United Media's Comics.com website picked up reprints of Jane's World, making it the first gay-themed work to receive distribution by a national media syndicate. Freshly concocted strips began appearing in 2007.

These days, we can find the strip online at GoComics.com, where Jane has just learned that her mother knows she’s gay.


In addition to web and newspaper publication, Braddock publishes the strip in a comic book format through her own publication house, Girl Twirl Comics. The trade paperback versions feature covers created by different artists.

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Jack Ohman, editorial cartoonist at the Sacramento Bee, was named Best of the West, a journalism contest for papers, magazines and news websites operating in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. Ohman was cited for cartoons on NSA spying and government shutdown. Second place went to Mike Smith of the Las Vegas Sun; third, to John Pritchett of Honolulu Civil Beat.


Ohman worst job

Ohman Obama


Ohman NSA


Ohman flag

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The eleventh Herblock Prize for excellence in editorial cartooning was awarded to altie-cartooner Jen Sorensen. “Winning the Herblock is one of the finest moments in a political cartoonist’s life,” Sorensen told the Washington Post. “Being the first woman to win the prize makes it an extra-special thrill.”

Jen Sorensen photoSorensen, a former Charlottesville alt-weekly cartoonist who now draws for the Austin Chronicle, was a Herblock finalist in 2012 according to Michael Cavna at his ComicRiffs blog. That year, she told Cavna: “It’s so nice to see our genre of political cartooning acknowledged after so many years in the wilderness.”

In announcing the winner, the judges issued a statement about Sorensen: “Her strong portfolio addresses issues that were important to Herblock, such as gun control, racism, income inequality, healthcare and sexism. Her style allows her to incorporate information which backs up the arguments she presents. Her art is engaging and her humor is sharp and on target.”

The Herblock Prize consists of a silver Tiffany trophy and $15,000 after-tax cash award.

Sorensen is the fourth editoonist to win who is not a full-time staffer on a major daily print newspaper, joining Tom Tomorrow and Matt Bors (the first of the three alternative publication cartoonists to win) and Matt Wuerker, who’s gig is Politico, initially a mostly online newspaper.

The seeming flood of alties may be explained in part by the presence on each year’s panel of judges of the previous year’s winner. In addition to Tom Tomorrow (aka Dan Perkins), this years judges included editoonist Tony Auth and Sara Duke of the Prints and Photographs Division at the Library of Congress. But Sorensen stands amply qualified before any panel of judges.

In addition to receiving several Alternative Newsweekly awards, last year she won the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award and the National Cartoonist Society’s Award for Best Editorial cartoonist. And this year (Jen Sorensen’s Year), in addition to the Herblock, she won the Sigma Delta Chi Society of Professional Journalists award for excellence in editorial cartooning in newspapers with circulations over 100,000. Here are four of her recent cartoons.


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