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Let Them Eat Cake…

Friday, May 29th, 2015

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One of the highlights of the NCS Reuben Weekend was the cake we had made as part of the King Features 100th Anniversary celebration last Friday.

Fans of the Food Network’s “Ace of Cakes” show know Duff Goldman and his team of pastry artists at Charm City Cakes. Since the 2015 Reuben Awards Weekend was in nearby Washington D.C., we decided to pay Charm City Cakes a visit in Baltimore with an eye on having a cake made honoring King Feature’s Centennial. What you see is what they came up with. Here’s my original design:

cake design

It was an adventure in more ways than one. First, both The Lovely Anna and my kids were big fans of the show, so there was plenty of geeking out over working with them. Second, Anna and I got stranded in the Baltimore neighborhood where Charm City Cakes is located due to the impossibility of getting a cab or an Uber, and had to walk about 1.5 miles through some pretty rough neighborhoods to the train station all while starving because we hadn’t eaten all day. Fortunately it was the middle of a bright afternoon, I weigh 230 lbs and look like more trouble than it’s worth to try and mug, and we had a box full of flavor-sampler Charm City cupcakes . We got to the train station intact, unmugged, and with full stomachs… but out of cupcakes.

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The cake was a big hit and we ended up eating what was left of it all weekend up in the presidential suite (we had five extra sheet cakes to feed those at the party). My only disappointment with it was that the newspaper strips they used, printed on rice paper for the surface of the “stack of newspapers”, where too small to fill all the cake surface so it really looked like a newspaper… too much space between the strips. I wish they’d realized this and let me know, I’d have gotten them more strips or told them to print some twice to fill up the spaces.

I will post more about the Reubens next week.

The Big Presidential Reveal!

Sunday, May 24th, 2015

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Here is the gigantically disappointing reason behind my series of caricatures of all 44 U.S. Presidents:

The Lovely Anna framed all the originals and used them as the centerpieces for the tables at the National Cartoonists Society Reuben Awards banquet last night. Each table was the “President’s Table”, with the corresponding number for each president, my caricature, a beautiful vase with blossoms, and a hand painted box with the years of the president’s term(s) written on it. Inside that box were little items representing that president (peanuts for Carter, a little baseball for Taft, a old fashioned radio mic for FDR, etc), and fun facts about that president.

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I took these pictures before they had finished the arrangement, which included some ribbon and a dusting of red, white and blue stars, so it looked even better than this.

We didn’t tell anyone that the drawings at each table were originals, but some people figured it out and they all disappeared. That’s what they were there for, we wanted people to take them home.

So that’s the reason for the presidents. Told you it was anticlimactic.

Wyakin Warriors Fundraising Contest

Thursday, May 7th, 2015

Wyakin Warriors FoundationThe last few Decembers I have been part of a group of fellow cartoonists that have traveled to the beautiful city of Boise, ID to help raise money for a wonderful organization called the Wyakin Warriors Foundation. The WW supports wounded U.S. soldiers by not just paying for their post-service education, but by supporting them in every meaningful way to give them the tools to complete their education and get jobs in their fields. According to recent statistics, only 10% of wounded veterans manage to finish school after leaving the service. The WW graduation rate? 100%. That’s because of the incredible support system they have in place to help these heroes.

Right now the Wyakin Warriors organization is doing a fundraiser to help them continue to do this great work. You can head over to my friend, fellow cartoonist, USO tour mate and founder of the Wyakin Warriors Jeff Bacon‘s blog for the details on how you can help out.

Come See Me at Wizard World Minneapolis!

Friday, May 1st, 2015

I’ll be at booth A52 tonight, Saturday and Sunday doing sketches and caricatures, selling prints and books, other goodies, and signing MADs!

On Saturday join me and Simpsons/Muppet Babies artist Phil Ortiz for a talk on doing humorous comics, moderated by Crazy Magazine’s Larry Hama!

C2E2 Sketches!

Monday, April 27th, 2015

The Lovely Anna and I were busy and had a lot of fun at C2E2 in Chicago this past weekend. Here are some of the drawings and “sketch covers” I did over the three day event…

IMG_2595This one was probably my favorite of the weekend…

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IMG_2629Caricature of a guy who wanted to be drawn as Al Bundy… can’t believe I still remember what the living room looks like.

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IMG_2587 2Subject…

IMG_2593 2… drawring

IMG_2586 9Subject…

IMG_2592…drawring.

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IMG_2604Son Tom and daughter Victoria will appreciate this last one…

Monday MADness- Watchmen Wrong Ending!

Monday, April 6th, 2015

Monday MADnessLast week I posted about how we got the ending of the parody of “X2: X-Men United” wrong thanks to working from a script in advance of the film’s release. When we used to try doing that, we’d occasionally have a panel or so with a scene that didn’t make the final movie, but I thought X2 was the only movie we got the ending wrong. An astute e-mailer pointed out we also got the ending of the parody of “Watchmen” wrong. Forgot about that one. It wasn’t as drastic a difference as X2, but they did change things a bit from the script Desmond Devlin worked from.

In the movie, Nite Owl and Silk Spectre square off against Ozymandias after he convinces Dr. Manhattan it would be better not to reveal the truth about his killing millions of innocent lives by destroying major cities, since it had already happened and the results are a US/Soviet Union alliance against the framed Dr. Manhattan. They beat Ozymandias and leave him to consider his choices.

In our parody, the same sort of thing happens but with one difference. In the original script, Ozymandias beats Nite Owl and the Silk Spectre until Nite Owl remote-controls his Owlship to crash into Ozymandias’ lair and crushes him under its hull. I believe Ozymandias actually dies in that script, although that is not clear in the parody’s last panel:

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Here’s the full last page for your enjoyment (clicky to embiggen). See the full article in MAD #499!

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File that under: “Useless trivia no one cares about”.

TMAoC Throwback Sketches!

Saturday, March 28th, 2015

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I’ve been posting individual caricatures from my book The Mad Art of Caricature! the last few months on Instagram and on my Twitter feed, but they don’t show up here on the blog. Usually it’s a sketch a day, either an original or a golden oldie. If you don’t follow me on Instagram or Twitter, get on the bus!

Comic Con Print Hustlers

Friday, March 27th, 2015

My pal Scott Shaw! started an interesting dialog on Facebook the other day about the plethora of artists who go to comic-cons and sell prints of copyrighted characters. This is an old topic, but I admit I have seen a huge growth in the number of vendors hawking prints of the same old characters… Wolverine, Batman, just about any female superhero/villain in a porn star pose, etc.in the last few years. Some of these booths are HUGE and have literally a hundred different prints for sale. It’s too easy to print these things off on your home computer. What I’ve really noticed is a large increase in the number of artists doing this that have either no actual credits in the comic book world at all, or very minor ones. Some of this work is actually pretty good, but a lot of it is bad, amateur work.

Before I go on, I want to address the people who right now are saying “you are such a hypocrite! You sell prints of copyrighted characters at comic cons!” Well, yes and no. I do sell prints that feature characters from films or TV, but I do not believe I am infringing on any copyrights by doing so for several reasons. First, I am making fun of these characters. Parody is a well protected first amendment right and fair use in using copyrighted content when doing it. Second, these are limited edition prints, printed by a real printer and not on somebody’s inkjet. That’s actually an important distinction. The venue in which you present your parody needs to be an acceptable vehicle of free speech. Fine art, including limited edition prints, is recognized as an acceptable vehicle of free speech. Mass produced posters, T-shirts and especially ink-jet prints are not. Finally, This is representative of the work I do professionally. I do movie and TV parodies for MAD. Doing my own caricatures lampooning films, TV shows, genres or the characters in them can arguably be said to sell because of the nature of my best known work. I am careful not to do caricatures of single individuals, include any trademarks, nor draw anything that cannot clearly be construed as a caricature. End of digression.

So why do the big comic book companies let these artists do this sort of thing? I think they are simply picking their battles. It would cost them quite a bit of money in time and energy to send representatives to all the comic cons and squash this. Then they’d have the inevitable backlash from fans about their perceived corporate greed. Fans don’t comprehend that it isn’t so much any money they are missing out on as that they don’t want shitty drawings of She-Hulk showing off her camel toe selling at conventions where legitimate merchandise is also being sold. That point is lost on the average comic book geek.

What anyone would want to buy some of these bad (or even the good) bootleg prints of characters is beyond me. I mean, I could understand buying a print of Catwoman by Darwyn Cooke because he worked on the character for DC and is incredible, but who cares about a print of Catwoman (even if it’s pretty good) by some artist whose never done anything but sell prints at a convention? In the end it’s the consumers that are creating the market. Obviously these things must sell, so therefore there are people willing to sell them. Marvel, DC or other companies do not have booths selling officially licensed prints of their characters. If they did, they might be able to reduce the profitability of the bootleggers so they stop doing it.

If I was running the major comic book companies and I really wanted to stop this, I’d contractually allow artists who do work for me to do their own prints of characters they have worked on if they are so inclined, and then create a series of prints commissioned by the publisher for retailers to sell. Then I’d inform all organizers of comic book conventions that they must refuse to allow unlicensed prints and merchandise vendors in their shows or they might be named as defendants in any copyright cases. That’s what keeps Cafe Press and such in line. Then sue a couple of people to show I mean business. There would be plenty of fan backlash.

In the end, I don’t think the big publishers actually care much. They mainly exist these days to develop properties for TV and movies, and that business has never been bigger than it is now. The film and TV rights to characters and storylines, and the toy and merchandise tie ins, are far more profitable for them than the actual comics. Fan art and that sort of thing only helps promote the product. That’s probably their thinking. It’s small potatoes for them, and I guess they can stomach the really bad stuff floating around.

One thing I definitely think should be okay is for an artist who has been known for working on a certain character, even if they did not create it, to do prints of their art of that character. Let’s face it, many comic book artists have worked their whole careers on other people’s characters, and have brought their own vision and style to those characters. If the publisher they work for does not see fit to create a print of their art for sale, why not allow the artist to do it? That’s certainly a lot more appealing to all parties… the artist gets a nice perk in having a secondary stream of revenue from their work, the publisher knows their characters are being presented in a professional way by an artist familiar with them, and the fans can buy awesome artwork from an artist that is known for that character.

Don’t get me wrong, I do not begrudge anyone from eeking out a living on the fringes of the comics world by doing this sort of thing. If the owners of these copyrighted characters don’t seem to care, why should I?

 

Classic Rock Sketches #2- Paul McCartney!

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

Paul McCartney ©2015 Tom Richmond

I’ll post a couple of these a week I think… not just on Wednesdays. Here’s a young Paul McCartney.

Twenty Things I Learned About Canada

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

toronto comicconMe, Mike Cope and Sandra Bell-Lundy at Toronto ComiCon

Just returned from Toronto after spending a long weekend manning the National Cartoonists Society’s first-time booth there with freelance cartoonist Mike Cope and the creator of the syndicated daily comic strip “Between Friends” Sandra Bell-Lundy. Despite living within 400 miles of the border, I’ve never actually been to Canada until now. I learned the following twenty things while there:

  1. Canadians really do say “eh!” at the end of certain sentences.
  2. Canadians will deny this, shortly before saying “eh!”
  3. They have a lot of really good beer
  4. The dollar coin is called a “loonie”
  5. The two dollar coin is called a “twoonie”
  6. Neither of those will buy you much in Canada
  7. They don’t pronounce the second “T” in “Toronto”. It’s “Torono” there.
  8. “Poutine” is a thing. It’s french fries and cheese curds drenched in brown gravy.
  9. I have significantly less arterial function today thanks to poutine.
  10. Attendees of Toronto ComiCon don’t buy much stuff
  11. Soft drinks like Coke or Pepsi are called “pop” rather than “soda”
  12. The sales tax in Canada is about 100%, or at least seems like it
  13. I think the government might tax the second “T” in “Toronto”, which is why Canadians don’t pronounce it
  14. “Back Bacon” is a thing. It’s cured bacon sort of like dense ham often rolled in cornmeal
  15. I don’t know what back bacon tastes like since I never found any… might be a myth
  16. “Tim Hortons” is the “McDonalds” of Canada
  17. Do not disparage hockey within earshot of a Canadian
  18. A “kerfuffle” is a commotion, dust-up or confrontation of some kind
  19. The “Metric System” is a thing
  20. Canadians are extremely nice, friendly, and charming people

Sadly the NCS booth had a bad location at the con. Our neighbors included two of the roughly 20 booths selling swords and other stabbing weapons, a fetish wear vendor, the promoters of a low-budget action movie which looped the film’s trainer endlessly driving us crazy, and T-shirts sellers. The good news was that the few who did happen by us were great.

sandra and fansSandra talking with some of her many fans

Sandra had many people get excited to meet her, “Between Friends” has a huge following there. It was fun to hang out with her and the talented Mike Cope for a few days, even if we didn’t sell much stuff. If one super-fan of mine hadn’t attanded specifically to buy a couple of original MAD pages, I might have had to hitchhike home.

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Me doing a caricature

Ah well. I had a great time and even got to have dinner one night with a bunch of Canadian cartoonists… all of whom were female except for Mike. I had a very tasty shank of lamb and learned as much about menopause as I care to know. Also had a lot of laughs.

Thanks for the fun times, Canada! Who knows, I may be back, eh!

 

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