Archive for the 'General' Category
Monday, April 6th, 2015
Last 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:
Here’s the full last page for your enjoyment (clicky to embiggen). See the full article in MAD #499!
File that under: “Useless trivia no one cares about”.
Saturday, March 28th, 2015
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!
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?
Thursday, March 26th, 2015
I’ll post a couple of these a week I think… not just on Wednesdays. Here’s a young Paul McCartney.
Tuesday, March 24th, 2015
Me, 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:
- Canadians really do say “eh!” at the end of certain sentences.
- Canadians will deny this, shortly before saying “eh!”
- They have a lot of really good beer
- The dollar coin is called a “loonie”
- The two dollar coin is called a “twoonie”
- Neither of those will buy you much in Canada
- They don’t pronounce the second “T” in “Toronto”. It’s “Torono” there.
- “Poutine” is a thing. It’s french fries and cheese curds drenched in brown gravy.
- I have significantly less arterial function today thanks to poutine.
- Attendees of Toronto ComiCon don’t buy much stuff
- Soft drinks like Coke or Pepsi are called “pop” rather than “soda”
- The sales tax in Canada is about 100%, or at least seems like it
- I think the government might tax the second “T” in “Toronto”, which is why Canadians don’t pronounce it
- “Back Bacon” is a thing. It’s cured bacon sort of like dense ham often rolled in cornmeal
- I don’t know what back bacon tastes like since I never found any… might be a myth
- “Tim Hortons” is the “McDonalds” of Canada
- Do not disparage hockey within earshot of a Canadian
- A “kerfuffle” is a commotion, dust-up or confrontation of some kind
- The “Metric System” is a thing
- 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 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.
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!
Friday, March 20th, 2015
If you are attending the Toronto ComiCon this weekend, stop by and see me at the National Cartoonists Society booth #117! I’ll have copies of my book, my Sherlock and Batman LE prints, exclusive comic con print-cards and original art pages from MAD for sale, and I’ll be doing caricatures and commissions! Also meet “Between Friends” cartoonist Sandra Bell-Lundy, and on Saturday cartoonist/illustrator Mike Cope! The NCS will have some of it’s fantastic comic con T-shirts available as well, with art from the likes of Sergio Aaragonés, Jack Davis, Garry Trudeau, Mike Peters, Patrick McDonnell, Bill Ameca, Jim Borgman, Rick Kirkman, Jeff Keane and others!
Just stop by and say hello!
Tuesday, March 17th, 2015
Sunday, March 15th, 2015
Q: I just watched the NCS awards banquet on your site (thanks for posting!), and just attended my forth International Society of Caricature Artists convention. How do these organizations differ regarding choosing award recipients, if at all? At ISCA members vote for the winner of the coveted Noseys. Is this the same with NCS–do members vote or are Reuben recipients chosen by elected board members?
A: They are very different. The questioner knows all about the ISCA awards, but I’ll fill readers in on both.
The International Society of Caricature Artists (ISCA) hold an annual convention and competition each year. At the event, competing artists set up in a huge ballroom and draw each other for four days. Each person has a designated wall space on which to post the work they did (or at least the pieces they liked). At the end of the weekend, each competing artist gets a ballot and spends hours going around looking at thousands of pieces of art, voting for various categories like “Best Black and White Technique”, “Most Humorous”, and many others. They also choose their top individual pieces which are honored as the top ten “Caricatures of the Year” and their top overall artists, the top three of which are awarded the bronze, silver and gold “Nosey”, the last of which is “Caricaturist of the Year”. Once you win the “Golden Nosey” you are no longer eligible to it win again. This method is very immediate, and makes for a dynamic and interactive week culminating in lots of honors and accolades.
The National Cartoonists Society has an annual awards weekend called the “Reuben Awards”. At a black tie awards banquet and show, cartoonists are honored with “Silver Reubens” in divisions like “Gag Cartoons”, “Newspaper Comic Strips” or “Online Comics- Short Form”. The top honor is “The Reuben Award”, named for cartoonist Rube Goldberg, for “Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year”. The NCS awards are voted on before hand, with the top three in each division and “Cartoonist of the Year” named as nominees, and the winners announced at the awards banquet. The process for these awards changed greatly this year for most divisions.
Previously the NCS would call for submissions in their various divisions, and the divisions were assigned to different local chapters to jury. The chapters were supposed to go outside the submitted work and seek out other work for consideration, just so the field would be more representative of the industry as a whole, and not just NCS members or non-members who would submit (you do not have to be an NCS member to be eligible for consideration, you just have to be eligible for membership i.e. a professional cartoonist). The chapters would then jury and vote on the work, choosing their top three including the winner. The Reuben Award itself is done via a call for nominations from all membership, with the top three nominees then being voted on again by full membership via secret ballot. Some divisions like “Feature Animation” or “Graphic Novels” are done via specialty jury because of the time or complexity involved in being familiar with the work.
The process has changed this year in that voting in the various divisions is now open to all membership via an online voting program. This year members could log on and can see the work of 238 competing artists in 10 divisions, with 2,388 images to view. Then they can cast their choices for first, second and third place in each divisions. There are still some divisions that use specialty juries for the same reasons they were before (can’t upload animated films, TV shows, entire comics, graphic novels and books to compare), but most are now being decided not by a small group of people but the entire NCS membership. What’s cooler is that the entire membership gets to see all the work being considered.
That’s the basic difference. The ISCA awards are for work done onsite, the NCS awards are for work done professionally for the previous year. Both have their merits and disadvantages. Both, I think, reward outstanding work and reflect some of the best in their respective fields.
Thanks to Erik Johnson for the question. If you have a question you want answered for the mailbag about cartooning, illustration, MAD Magazine, caricature or similar, e-mail me and I’ll try and answer it here!
Friday, March 13th, 2015
Image courtesy madmagazine.com
It’s a MAD dual birthday today… in fact it happens on this day every year! Yes, today is the birthday of both legendary “MAD fold-In” creator Al Jaffee and longtime MAD artist and current MAD art director Sam Viviano. You see above Al accepting Sam’s award for picking such an excellent date for his birthday, and Al thinking how nice it is to know he could still crush Sam’s hand like a rotten egg despite having been born 32 years earlier. Al is 94 today, and still delivers his completed MAD assignments to the offices by hand, and they are still as sharp and witty as ever. Sam is 62, and continues to cause me to lose sleep with his ridiculous deadlines, and we all wish he was doing more drawing for the magazine.
Happy birthday, gentlemen!
Tuesday, March 10th, 2015
I’m trying to make some room in the studio, and I ran across a small stack of this MAD variant cover I did last year from DC Comic’s Batman/Superman #10, which I just listed in the Studio Store, signed and everything. These were made in very limited quantities.
There were no MAD variant covers this year, which was a real bummer. Those were very fun to do. Maybe DC will do something like that again in the future.