Robbed in Times Square!

July 31st, 2006 | Posted in General

Don’t be alarmed by the header. I’ll get to the robbery part in a minute…

Visiting New York is always a fun time. When you are from quiet and pleasant Minnesota, the hectic craziness of New York is always like drinking a triple expresso… a total rush for a while, followed by a crash and a headache. I can handle about four days in NYC before I am on overload. Those four days are a blast, though!

Today we swung by the MAD offices to hang out and bum a free lunch. The editors and art staff at MAD are always really good at pretending they like me, and that makes it pleasant to visit. Recently MAD moved from the fifth floor to the fourth floor of the 1700 Broadway building, and I had not seen the new offices. They are smaller but they have some nice displays of originals and other goodies. They also started a ‘Wall of Shame” for contributors to draw on, and I added a little doodle to it. Here’s a few pictures from the visit:

My kids Victoria, Tommy and Gabrielle in the MAD conference room.

Original Norman Mingo painting, including the
definitive Alfred painting from issue #29

MAD’s hard(ly) working art dept! From left: Sam Viviano,
Ryan Flanders and Doug Thompson

Now for the part about being robbed. We are staying right in Times Square, and spend a lot of time seeing shows and walking around the area. There are a lot of street vendors here selling everything from bad knock-off handbags (the good knock-offs are on Canal St. in SoHo) to cheap knick-knacks and awful photo prints. There are a number of street artists as well, including caricaturists. They are all over the streets, but on 42nd St. between Broadway and 8th is a concentrated number of caricaturists and portrait artists (I have to give props to MAD editor Charlie Kadau for informing me of this). I love going down there and looking at the different artist’s displays of “samples”… not because they are any good, but because the majority of them are prints of other artist’s work ripped off from the internet. Anna and I walked down there tonight, which was bad timing because Broadway is “dark” on Mondays (no musicals or shows) so there were fewer artists on the street than usual. Still, I was not disappointed. I saw lots of rip-offs of Kruger and Jan Op de Beeck, and one or two of colleagues of mine like Joe Bluhm and others. I spotted the following two of mine:

My Marilyn Monroe. Nice print job!

My Will Smith PhotoShopped onto a cheesy lollypop body

I’ll go back tomorrow night and see if more are up. I didn’t confront the artist… no point. These guys are trying to earn a few bucks, and this kind of thing happens all the time. I’ve always said nobody gets anywhere in life doing that kind of thing, it’s bad karma. Beside, only an idiot would look at the multitude of vastly different drawing styles on a display board and then at the actual drawing the artist is working on and think that artist did those samples… but then again there is no shortage of idiots walking around Times Square.

This last one is a riot. I walked past one artist who’s display samples were mainly prints of Jan Op de Beeck’s work. Generally these guys pick celebrity faces to display, but his guy got at least one image from Jan’s website page containing his drawings of other caricaturists. This is a drawing of Orlando artist and former NCN president Keelan Parham, on display in the heart of Times Square!

Keelan’s famous!!!

Keelan and his family were actually planning on joining us in NYC until personal plans got in the way. It would have been hilarious if we all would have walked up together and he would have seen his own face staring back at him from some artist’s display board! Maybe next time…


  1. Matt. says:

    I found this post very amusing.

  2. Hey Tom. One of the first things that struck me when I cam eo the US recently, particularly New York was the sheer amount of Caricaturists on the street. And they were yelling out at people to come sit down too! A lot of them were pretty average, but I walked up to one guy who was drawing a couple and it really looked awful. He’d clearly buggered this one up, and he had every intention of continuing with it and charging the couple for it.
    It was then that I looked at his sample board and saw samples from you, Jan OpDe Beek, Court Jones, Henri Goldsmann, Keelan Parham!! (yeah, copy HIS style guys) and heaps more – including a few of yours. I asked the guy – “Hey these are great.. are they yours?”
    The guy actually had the audacity to look me in the eye and nod his head.
    I said.. “Hm.. right, they look really familiar.. you must be really well known then huh. Say that one looks a LOT like Jan Op De Beek’s work.. and that one’s gotta be a perfect copy of Court Jones’ stuff..”
    He just looked up at me and gave me the evil eye and continued drawing the sceptical couple.
    Initially I’d felt sorry for the guy as he was just trying to make a few bucks, but when he actually said that they were his it was a different story”
    I said to him before I left “You know your friend there in the stall next to you has a whole bunch of his own samples up, why don’t you just put some of yours up instead of showing other peoples’ stuff?”
    He just got all flosutered and said – it is mine! Rah rah rah and so on..

    So I just had a chuckled and walked away. Poor guy was probably completely exhausted, the last thing he needed was for some young Aussie twit to come up and bug him about his samples.

    Incidentally, as you probably know this is very common among the street caricaturist crowd around the world. Check out this video of Douglas Pledger’s springing a street caricaturist in Leicester square in London.

  3. late Bloomer says:

    Are you sure you didn’t just ripoff this aesthetic genious years ago and try to take the credit? That sounds just like you, OpDerBeech, Krugger, Bloom… All hacks.

    But I wish you had said something. I’m fantasizing about the day… the day that will come, and I can be creative about it. Oh yes, it will come.

  4. Tom says:

    Probably the best thing you could do is sit down to have one done, then when it\’s finished stand there for a second holding it and looking at it… and then take off running as fast as you can with the drawing. See how far he chases you.

  5. zwallenfang says:

    I saw a few Kruger samples in Battery Park, and was this close (sorry, can’t demonstrate how close in writing) to pointing to Kruger’s Michael Jackson, and saying, “I want THIS guy to draw me! Is here today?”

  6. Keelan says:

    Oh, my gosh. That is hilarious! I SOOOO wish I could’ve been there with you when you saw it! AARRGGHHH!!!! What a riot.

  7. Eddie says:

    ” …and then take off running as fast as you can with the drawing.”

    Hey! That’s my bit! Besides, I know how far he’ll chase you.

  8. Tom says:

    Ha ha! Yes, Eddie Pittman pulled that very gag at a State Fair we drew together about a million years ago. Turns out they’ll chase you quite far.

  9. Zieglar says:

    That was a great story – too bad Keelan missed it.

    Of course they can say “Yes, that’s mine.” they took all the time, effort, and expense to make a copy and print it. So it’s theirs!


New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550

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