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The image on the left is the cover that The New Yorker planned to run if Hillary Clinton had won the 2016 election. On the right is the cover the magazine actually ran, a somewhat (no — roaringly) ambiguous statement.


The “what if” cover was used in the September 25 issue of The New Yorker to accompany editor David Remnick’s sitdown interview with Hillary upon the release of her book, What Happened.

The image, Michael Cavna tells us, is by French artist Malika Favre and is titled “The First.” It depicts a historic President Hillary Clinton gazing at the moonlight from the would-be viewpoint of the Oval Office. Running with Remnick’s article, the image takes on an entirely different tone — “not of history, but of the poignancy of the hypothetical,” Cavna observes.

“That image brings everything back to me in a flash,” New Yorker art editor Françoise Mouly told Cavna at the Washington Post’s Comic Riffs. “The night of the election, I was at the office late, hard at work with final retouching on [Favre’s] image. I was focused on the technical details, getting the face just right, and on the layout...

“I was trying not to tune in the results coming in. I had not prepared anything else [for the post-Election issue],” continues Mouly, who last winter launched the Resist! cartoon newspaper in response to President Trump’s victory (see Opus 361). “The sense of dread that crept among the few colleagues still in the office eventually overwhelmed me, and I left.”

Favre’s experience on that historic day was somewhat different: “I remember going to bed with a feeling of relief, pride and excitement and waking up the next day to intense disappointment. It was frustrating on all counts.”

The artist notes that the artwork can be read on multiple levels. “There is that moment of glory of seeing her standing in the Oval Office at night,” the artist says of the Clinton figure, “but also that feeling of anticipation and almost loneliness that I wanted to convey. A little bit like a ‘What now…?’ moment.”

Mouly salutes the lasting power of Favre’s image, even when cast in a different historic light.

“The pent-up hope, the sense of accomplishment, the turn toward the future that we embraced up to that day is still in the image. It’s a testimony to the skill of a great artist that she can bring us back to that time of hope,” says Mouly, who has spoken often about her opposition of Trump. “And with her permanent record of that feeling, we’ll find the strength to build a future we can believe in.”

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


Beetle and MortMort Walker’s comic strip about a lazy private turned 67 years old on September 4th. When Walker devised the strip in 1950, the title character was in college; he was based upon a character Walker used in magazine gag cartoons, whose name was Spider. When King Features bought the strip, they dropped the name because another of the syndicate’s features was using it, and instead called Walker’s college kid Beetle. Good choice: as everyone knows, spiders are icky but beetles are intriguing. Walker gave his new creation a last name that gestured gratitude to John Bailey, the cartoon editor at the Saturday Evening Post who had advised the young cartoonist that if he wanted to do a comic strip he should do it about something he knew well — in Walker’s case, college life.

However deep Walker’s insight into higher educational shenanigans, the strip didn’t sell. King was thinking of dropping it. Then inspiration struck. The Korean War was going on at the time, and since men of Beetle’s age were being called up left and right, it seemed logical to take the kid out of college and put him in uniform. So Walker did just that: on March 13, 1951, with the strip barely six months old, Beetle enlisted. Due to the interest in the military during the war, a hundred papers promptly picked up the strip. Thanks to his own military experience at the end of World War II (particularly being in charge of a German POW camp in Italy), Walker knew army life as well as he knew college life.


Walker still draws the strip (he pencils; son Greg inks), making him an uncontested record-holder: he’s drawn the same comic strip longer than anyone else on the planet has drawn the same comic strip. When the strip started, Beetle was probably around 20 years old, which would make him 87 now. Walker's birthday is September 3rd -- a day before Beetle's -- and he this year he turned 94. And I’m a mere broth of a boy at 80.

Happy birthday, Mort. Ditto Beetle. Onward.

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


Hugh Hefner died on Wednesday, September 27. He was 91. Celebrated as the founder of Playboy magazine, which, with fold-out photos of barenekkidwimmin, revved a cultural revolution that freed the sex lives of Americans from their Puritan bondage, Hefner was a wannabe cartoonist whose magazine showcased and advanced the art of the single-panel magazine cartoon, publishing full-page cartoons in sumptuous color. His departure from this vale of tears was, gratifyingly, heralded by many cartoonists (albeit of the political ilk), once potential colleagues.


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


...But Charles Schulz Home Is Burned To The Ground

Schulz MuseumWhen Santa Rosa was hit by wildfire, its famed Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center was spared. The Museum was closed briefly due to lack of power caused by the fires, but soon re-opened.

Unhappily, the home of Peanuts creator Schulz burned to the ground. His widow, however, escaped, her stepson told the Associated Press. Jean Schulz, 78, fled her home at about 2 a.m. Monday, October 9, and is now staying with family, said Monte Schulz.

"It's the house my dad died in,” he went on, “ — all of their memorabilia and everything is all gone. Stuff from my dad and their life together, all gone. That time of our lives is now completely erased.

“She is very resilient,” he about his stepmother. “She is energetic and pragmatic and very tough.”

His father had long-standing ties to Santa Rosa and to Sonoma County. He and his first wife, Joyce, built a home in the city of Sebastopol in 1958. The airport in Santa Rosa Airport is officially titled the Charles M. Schulz - Sonoma County Airport and features bronze sculptures of the Peanuts characters. Its logo is Snoopy flying on top of his doghouse.

Note: You can read Jean Schulz's Blog here.

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


Galactus panelsGalactus as envisioned by Jim Davis’ Garfield will make an appearance in Marvel’s Unbeatable Squirrel Girl No.26, out in November. Yes, that’s right: the fat orange cat enters the universe of superheroes. This issue of the Girl, said Christian Holub at ew.com, “will be styled as a zine made by Squirrel Girl and her super-powered peers, with different artists providing styles for different heroes-turned-artists.” Writer Ryan North contacted Davis to do one of the features.

Galactus seemed to Davis like a logical choice for Garfield to produce because Galactus is big and has an appetite rivaling Garfield’s: Galactus, remember, eats planets whole.

North wrote the story which Davis illustrated with the customary help of his assistants Gary Barker and Dan Davis. “The strip basically uses Galactus as a stand-in for Garfield and his herald the Silver Surfer as a stand-in for Jon Arbuckle,” Garfield’s hapless so-called master.

Said Davis: “When you look at the Silver Surfer, he’s 75% of the way there with Jon, all we had to do is give him the big eyes. That was a natural. Jon kind of hangs around Garfield anyway: he’s the straight man to Garfield’s gags and has to get him food. He’s like Garfield’s herald.

“Galactus was tougher,” Davis went on. “We were throwing stuff back and forth, and the initial sketches just weren’t working for Galactus. I said, Okay — we gotta make him fat. The guy eats planets, for godsake! Once we did that, it’s a little less Galactus but certainly a lot more Garfield. It looked more natural. Obviously, Galactus has put on a few mega-tons for this issue.”

Here’s a preview:


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


Tex cover
Drawn by Joe Kubert and written by Claudio Nizzi
240 7x9-inch pages, b/w
2005 SAF Comics paperback

Last winter Dark Horse published Tex: The Lonesome Rider in color, but I like this, the earlier edition: Kubert drew it with black ink on white paper, so this version is closer to the moment of conception. And this edition has front matter — an interview with Kubert and a history of the Italian “Tex” series, which has been appearing regularly for over 50 years, by Ervin Rustemagic, Kubert’s friend, who, trapped in Bosnia during the war there in the 1990s, inspired Kubert’s Fax from Sarajevo.

The story is a simple one: Tex goes to visit some old friends, but when he arrives at their ranch, he finds only their dead bodies. They’ve all been senselessly, brutally, killed by a roving quartet of outlaw thugs. Tex vows to find them and bring them all to justice. He does — one by one. The tale includes a roster of classic Western characters — bullying cattle baron, corrupt sheriff, sleazy saloon bums — plus stagecoach robbery and a one-on-one knife fight with a Native American champion. What elevates the narrative above this catalog of cliches is Kubert’s storytelling.

Kubert varies the visuals rigorously — camera angles shift, panel to panel; ditto distance, from long shots to tight close-ups. Many pages of the narrative are silent, full of visual atmosphere but no dialogue. He dramatically deploys solid blacks in shadows and silhouettes. No pyrotechnics; nothing showy or fancy. Just superb drawings and expert pacing.



Throughout, Kubert’s laconic line prevails: even in tense action sequences, the figures seem at ease, relaxed. And there are numerous sequences with Tex riding through picturesque Western landscapes, lovingly limned.



Whether you find the Dark Horse version in color — expertly applied, by the way — or this one in stark black and white, you’re in for a treat.

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


Emma Allen caricatureBob Mankoff, the cartoon editor at the fabled magazine, left last spring after 20 years on the job. He immediately accepted a job as “Humor and Cartoon Editor” at Esquire. Mankoff’s replacement is, surprise, a woman, a young woman — 29-year-old Emma Allen.

She’s been on staff at The New Yorker since 2012, merely five years. Some cartoonists submitted cartoons to the magazine for longer than that before being published there.

Allen has done some editing and whatnot for a New Yorker online feature called Daily Shouts — plus a little Talk of the Town and Shouts and Murmurs. She says she’s an avid fan of cartooning and points to a misspent youth cutting out and filing (in a lime-green folder) all the cartoons in The New Yorker. It’s a dubious credential, and it scarcely matches Mankoff’s decades of experience as a cartoonist and cartoon editor.

Allen’s job is to sift through a thousand or so submissions every week and cull out 50 or so to show to the editor, David Remnick, who makes the final selection. Allen has an assistant who helps.

Offhand, based upon Allen’s age and inexperience, it doesn’t seem likely that she will be able to find and nurture new talent for the magazine, which was one of Mankoff’s signal achievements as cartoon editor. I doubt she has the experience to tell newcomers how to tinker with and improve their cartooning enough to qualify for publication in The New Yorker, something Mankoff was always doing (or so he has told us). But then, I’m just a grumpy old man.

As for the actual cartoon content of the magazine going forward, we’ll wait and see. In interviews, Allen says she likes weird and surreal humor and hopes to have more full-page comic-strip-style cartoons. Even before she officially took office, we saw more whimsy and absurdity in the cartoons, a notable drift away from its traditional snide social commentary directed at the phoney urban snob of the Big Apple and his/her contemporary often trivial preoccupations. The change has already set in.

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


Founded in 1979, McFarland calls itself “a leading independent publisher of academic and nonfiction books.” And many of its titles delve into popular cultureb— and comics. Culled from last winter’s catalogue, here are a few titles, which, in common with most academic titles, are long enough to be annotations:


The Law for Comic Book Creators: Essential Concepts and Applications by Joe Sergi, $49.95

The Comics of Joss Whedon: Critical Essays edited by Valerie Estelle Frankel, $35

Graphic Details: Jewish Women’s Confessional Comics in Essays and Interviews edited by Sarah Lightman, $49.95

Imagination and Meaning in Calvin and Hobbes by Jamey Heit, $40

Soul of the Dark Knight: Batman as Mythic Figure in Comics and Film by Alex M. Wainer, $40


Other titles reek esoterica, learning and high degrees of astuteness:


James Bond and Popular Culture: Essays on the Influence of the Fictional Super-spy by Michele Brittany, $40

Walt Disney, from Reader to Storyteller: Essays on the Literary Inspirations edited by Kathy Merlock Jackson and Mark I. West, $40

The Creation of the Cowboy Hero: Fiction, Film and Fact by Jeremy Agnew, $45

Glastonbury and the Grail: Did Joseph of Arimathea Bring the Sacred Relic to Britain? by Justin E. Griffin, $38

I sent for one — The Art of the Political Swamp: Walt Kelly and Pogo by James Eric Black. Eventually, I’ll review it here. For now, it is perhaps tantalizing enough to note that it seems to be a doctoral thesis (probably like most of the McFarland titles).

You can send for the catalogue at McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, P.O. Box 611, Jefferson, NC 28640-0611 or mcfarlandpub.com; 800-253-2187.

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


Kremos coversEdited by Joseph Procopio
Vol.1—Bodacious Black and White
Introduction by Mario Verger
200 8½ x 11-inch pages, b/w
2015 Picture This Press paperback

Vol.2—Curvaceous Color
Foreword by Jerry Carr

260 8½ x 11-inch pages, b/w
2015 Picture This Press paperback

The best way to review this sumptuous two-volume set is to post a few pictures lovingly torn from their interiors. The set is the eighth production of Kremos drawingLost Art Books from Picture This Press, and it focuses on the Italian cartoonist, animator and illustrator known as the “King of the little ladies” — the provocative women of his cartoons for the weekly humor magazine il Travaso (“the overflow”) and its occasional supplement, il Travasissimo, from the late 1940s through the early 1960s. Ramponi’s career was mostly in animation, and his lively line embodies the dashed-off breezy quick drawing we expect from an animator, but Ramponi’s pictures, while they have all the energy of sketches, have also the appearance of highly polished finished art. In the color work of Volume 2, the color is judiciously applied, then splashed with accenting hues. Whether in black-and-white or in color, his drawings are an unabashed delight, as you’ll see in a trice.

“KREMOS” is how Ramponi signed his cartoons, an adaptation of the signature he employed while in the army, when regulations prohibited his moonlighting in his profession. To avoid a copyright fight with a painter who also signed his work KREMOS, Ramponi abandoned the pen name in 1957 and signed his work with his first name, Niso. But it was his cartoons signed KREMOS that seeped into the U.S. occasionally in the mildly risque digest magazines published in the 1950s by Humorama, Jest, Gee Whiz, Gaze et al.

And now for a sampling of his cartoony good girls, whose embonpoint evokes another (somewhat more celebrated) Italian figure, Sophia Loren’s. KREMOS’ women became somewhat more slender as time passed but no less appealing. They are given generous display in these volumes, one cartoon to a page; and each cartoon is copiously sourced. Visit Lost Art Books website for more pictures and to order your copies.



The captions on KREMOS’ cartoons appear, alas, at a tiny dimension. You can enlarge the pictures to read them, but you’ll discover, as I did, that the ribald comedy of the 1950s is pretty tame (not to say lame) so you’ll better spend your time just admiring the view.


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


Lost and Found coverLost and Found: Comics 1969-2003
By Bill Griffith
392 8x10-inch pages
b/w with color
2011 Fantagraphics

If you think Griffith’s comic strip Zippy is all he’s been doing all these years, this book will convince you otherwise. The content is divided into four chapters: the first three cover the decades (1960s-1970s, 1980s, 1990s); the last, color work from across the years. Everything herein appeared first in underground comix; titles and dates thereof are meticulously cited. The strip started in syndication August 26, 1985, but only a short sequence from the syndicated strip is reprinted here (Griffith’s visit to his childhood home).

Zippy makes occasional appearances throughout the volume, but the first chapter — at 220 pages, the longest — belongs mostly to Mr. Toad. Zippy’s first appearance (in “I Gave My Heart to a Pinhead and He Made a Fool Out of Me” in Real Pulp Comics No.1, 1971) is included, as is the tongue-in-cheek “The True Origins of Zippy the Pinhead,” but the Pinhead takes a back seat to other characters and miscellaneous shenanigans — Alfred Jarry, the Toadettes, Claude Funston, the sex-obsessed Randy and Cherisse, Benny Breen, not to mention the hilariously sexual Young Lust romance comics parodies. There’s much more unabashed nudity and copulation here than you’d expect from the comic strip Zippy.


One of the book’s chief values for historians as well as fans is in the opening 20 pages, which Griffith devotes to telling the story of his debut in comix and his subsequent rise into syndication, full of anecdote and apostrophe — and false starts at turning Zippy into a movie. For a somewhat shorter version of the tale of Griffith’s progress, you can visit the Usual Place (RCHarvey.com) where Harv’s Hindsight for July 2011 divulges the whole sordid story. The Hindsight version is much better at telling how syndicating Zippy was a scheme by a departing King Features factotum who wanted to leave a “time bomb” ticking on the syndicate’s doorstep, and Zippy was the time bomb. You have to read it.

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


Will Eisner PS Magazine: The Best of the Preventive Maintenance Monthly
Edited by Charles Kochman
Selected with Commentary by Eddie Campbell
Introduction by General Peter J. Schoomaker
Preface by Ann Eisner
272 6x8-inch pages, color
2011 Abrams ComicArt

Dunno how this one slipped by me, but it’s the perfect companion to Paul Fitzgerald’s Will Eisner and PS Magazine (just reviewed, below): Fitzgerald’s text supplies a history, and this book provides the illustrative material, showing what, exactly, PS Magazine did that no other instructional publication up to that time had done.

The book includes an ample sample of the comic strips Eisner and his staff devised to entertain while explaining equipment maintenance and safety procedures—plus covers, diagrams, pin-ups, step-by-step guides, and other cartoony maneuvers aimed at supplementing technical manuals.





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


Will Eisner Centennial logoWill Eisner and P.S. Magazine: An Illustrated History and Commentary
By Paul E. Fitzgerald
224 8½ x 11-inch landscape pages, with color
2009 FitzWorld.US

We cam divide the career of seminal cartoonist Eisner into three segments: (1) his creation of the Spirit and the newspaper comics insert in which the character appeared (which did much to shape the comic book medium) and (2) his advocacy for the artform as mature literature in the “graphic novel” are well known; less recognized, however, is (3) Eisner’s role in refining the instructional function of comics in P.S. The Preventive Maintenance Monthly — a magazine intended, as its name suggestions, as “post script” to the Army’s formal manuals and directives about operating and maintaining equipment. This last aspect of his life’s work is the subject of Fitzgerald’s modest volume. And Fitzgerald should know: he was P.S.’s first managing editor from 1952/53 until 1963 — in other words, for the first ten years of Eisner’s 20-year relationship with the project.

The book’s profuse illustrations are exactingly documented, but many of the pictures — of full-page comic strips from the 5x7-inch pages of the magazine — are reproduced much too small to read. While that is too bad, the treasure of the volume is its text, which details the ups and downs, pitfalls and triumphs, of the Eisner contract years. (Besides, lots of the pictures are still readable even at a reduced size — the covers, for example, which the book includes a generous sampling of.)


I should mention that Eisner was not the editor of P.S.; his contract with the Army was to design the publication and to produce the instructional art. Eisner’s impact in the latter effort was seminal: if he didn’t invent instructional comics, he perfected a certain kind of instructional comics.

Eisner and his staff took engineers’ descriptions of how to do something and translated them into ordinary soldier lingo. And the illustrations always depicted the action from the mechanic’s point-of-view, not the manufacturer’s. Hence, the revolution.

This part of Eisner’s creative life is at least as important as the other two parts, and Eisner was proud of it. And so Fitzgerald’s book fills in an otherwise gaping hole.

The 100th anniversary of Eisner’s birth is this year, and in honor thereof, we’ve been publishing our own fugitive interviews with him in Harv’s Hindsight, a department in the Usual Place (RCHarvey.com). We also rehearse the birth of the Spirit and Eisner’s early work in comics.

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


Story of My Tits coverThe Story of My Tits
By Jennifer Hayden
352 8x8-inch pages, b/w
Top Shelf paperback

The title, naturally, drew me like flies on horse pucky. But this graphic novel is much more than the story of the author’s breasts. It is, rather, her autobiography, starting, admittedly, with her flat-chestedness on the cusp of becoming a teenager and the agonies thereof. But she discovers sex despite this disadvantage, sleeps around, learns that boys are attracted to breasts, and hers finally show up. She pairs up with Jim, whom she eventually marries.

But there are other adventures. Her mother has a mastectomy, her father is discovered having an affair (which had gone on for five previous years), she moves in with Jim, and they move around, looking for work. He plays in a band; she writes. They go to Philly where they live with Jim’s mom, who becomes Hayden’s best friend. Then she, Jim’s mom not Hayden, develops lung cancer of which she eventually dies but not until near the end of the book.

Jim gets steady gigs with his band, and, after seven years of living together, Hayden starts agitating to get married. After a long campaign of persuasion, Jim proposes, and they marry (but not until they go through the ordeal of making wedding plans). Then Hayden begins to wonder about having children. More campaigning. Then she gets pregnant and has a baby. A boy. Next she has a girl.

Then she gets breast cancer and has a double mastectomy and implants. Jim stays constant. Hayden discovers graphic novels and starts making one, the one we’re reading.

The book offers ample insights into the various agonies of being female in America and of life in general and “the endlessly evolving definition of family,” as the back cover blurb puts it. “Hayden’s story is a much-needed breath of fresh air, an irresistible blend of sweetness and skepticism—rich with both symbolism and humor.”

The story might be anyone’s and everyone’s. But the pictures in this graphic novel are unique. The story is told in the captions; and the pictures, in Hayden’s quirky amateurish style, comment on the captions — expanding, footnoting, and supplying additional (often superfluous) detail. The panels are crowded, crammed, with visual information, a disorderly jumble of pictorial minutiae. The pictures seldom depict a continuous action from panel to panel. Most often, the panels and captions have the appearance of gag cartoons but they don’t function that way. Sometimes the captions and their pictures blend for meaning, but most often, they run hand-in-hand, carrying Hayden’s story from page to page, endless in their visual variety.

Here, we’ve posted a sample of the book’s visual aspect.



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