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Illustration for GQ Magazine

Friday, January 30th, 2015

0215 Parting Shot 2Clicky to Embiggen…

I did the above piece a month or two ago for an issue of GQ Magazine that just hit the stands—it’s a gag article about how the NFL is trying to make the Superbowl more woman-friendly. Some of the gags:

  • Players have to wear Spanx rather than football pants
  • Susan B. Anthony painted on all the game balls
  • Mood lighting and aroma therapy in the bathrooms
  • Katy Perry doing the halftime show

Fun project and cool new client. Hope to do more work for them in the future.

2015 Reuben Awards Cover Art and Speakers

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

2015 Reuben cover ArtClockwise from far left: Nick Galifianakis, Mort Drucker,
Brian Crane, Doug Mahnke, Mark Anderson, Jeff Keane,
Ann Telnaes and Juana Medina- (Clicky to Embiggen)

Members of the National Cartoonists Society will be receiving the official brochure for the 2015 Reuben Award Weekend in their mailboxes in the next week or so. My cover art above. With it goes the announcements of the speaker lineup and special award winners:

  • Mort Drucker- First recipient of the “NCS Medal of Honor”; Speaker
  • Jeff Keane- Recipient of the NCS “Silver T-Square” for outstanding dedication to the Society
  • Brian Crane- Reuben winning creator of the syndicated comic strip “Pickles”; speaker
  • Doug Mahnke- Superstar comic book artist; speaker
  • Mark Anderson- Gag cartoonist, “Andertoons.com”; speaker
  • Juana Medina- Illustrator, first recipient of the Jay Kennedy Memorial Scholarship; speaker
  • Nick Galifianakis- Cartoonist, author, illustrator; speaker
  • Ann Telnaes, Pulitizer prize winning editorial cartoonist; moderating a panel on “Cartooning and Free Speech”

Great line up. Hoping everyone will still be talking to me after they see these caricatures I did of them. Pastis still won’t return my phone calls.

TMAoC Sixth Printing!

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

websiteimage

As I speak… uh… type, my book The Mad Art of Caricature is running its sixth printing since its release in November of 2011. Copies will be arriving here sometime in early March, depending on the shipping strikes on the west coast. The book will definitely sell out both with me and Amazon before the new printing arrives. Your mileage with bookstore stock may vary.

I am truly floored by the staying power of this book. I figured I’d sell a ton of them to caricaturists right away and then see it trickle into obscurity with continued but small sales levels for years after. Instead, sales both in bookstores through my distributor and via Amazon, have settled into a respectable and steady level. This sixth printing will bring the total number of copies of TMAoC in print to over 20,000. That’s a lot of books.

My thanks to everyone who has bought a copy. I get many positive comments about it from friends and strangers alike… the best compliment being “I really learned something from your book”. It took me a long time to get off my ass and write this thing, and I am very glad I did.

 

The Grand Comic Con Experiment

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

Comic ConThe Lovely Anna at NYCC, ready to help you!

I tried a bit of an experiment in 2014… doing a lot of comic book conventions. This is something I hadn’t ever done in the past because, well, MAD is sort of the red-headed stepchild of that kind of crowd. Yes, everyone’s heard of it and the magazine has a core group of devoted fans, but it isn’t the sort of thing that gets people to stand in line unless your name is Drucker, Jaffee, Aragonès or others of legendary stature. Still, in the last few years I did start to have something I did not have before… stuff to sell. I have my book, and the LE prints I have been doing. I also bring along original MAD art, which I only occasionally sell any of because I charge a lot for them as I’d rather keep it than sell it for cheap. It does give people something to look at, though. Of course I also do drawings, caricatures of people and commissions of celebrities or whatever. So, in the last year or so I’ve done conventions big and small. I did smaller cons in Dallas, Grand Rapids and Pittsburgh last year as well as big ones in Chicago, New York and San Diego.

What I discovered is that, while often more fun and interesting to be a part of, the smaller conventions don’t pay enough of the bills to make sense doing. It was great meeting people and the folks who run these conventions are very hospitable and take great care of their guests, but at the end of the day it’s time away from the studio and that only makes sense if the dollars roughly match up. Sad, but basic economics. In most cases I was a guest at these cons where they generously paid for my travel and lodging expenses, and even then sales at the end of the day just didn’t make sense. That is not their fault, it’s mine. I don’t have what their attendees are looking for. As much as I appreciated the invitation and the generosity, I won’t be doing many (or any) of these smaller cons anymore. I cancelled my appearance in Monterrey, Mexico next month and turned down a few offers to be a guest at other cons. I feel like I’m taking their money and not bringing any people in for them, besides not making enough myself for it to be financially viable.

That’s the bad news. The good news is several of the larger cons I did were terrific. I drew my ass off and we did great in book, print and even some original art sales. So here are a few comic cons you’ll see me at in 2015:

New York is not guaranteed because, unlike most comic cons, you are required to reapply and get approved for a space there every year. That is actually a really cool policy, because it means you don’t have “squatters” who keep taking up space and not giving anyone else a chance to get in. I gave up trying to get into conventions like Megacon or Emerald City Con because the waiting lists were ridiculous.

The even better news is I will have my own booth this year at San Diego. Look for me in space G-04! There will be more news about commissions and other new stuff when the new website debuts here in the next few weeks.

Hope to see you at one of these shows!

Comic Riffs: After Charlie Hebdo

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

Michael Cavna with the Washington Post’s Comic Riffs writes a great piece about satire on this side of the pond and the effects (if any) the Charlie Hebdo massacre may have on it. Interviews with MAD‘s John Ficarra, editorial cartoonists Matt Bohrs, Jack Ohman and Jen Sorenson, and me.

Me on MPR

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

blah

I was a guest on “The Daily Circuit” morning show on Minnesota Public Radio with Kerri Miller this morning. They brought me in to discuss cartooning in the U.S. vs other parts of the world, and to address the issue of “how far is too far” when it comes to satire and editorial cartooning. I’m hardly the guy to ask about that… after all a typical example of my “hard hitting” satirical work would be making fun of Jennifer Lawrence and the latest Hunger Games movie. However, you don’t have to be a practitioner of that type of cartooning to understand it and its social/cultural effects.

While we were discussing how editorial concerns about consumer reaction to more extreme cartoons like Charlie Hebdo routinely publishs curtails the publishing of similar cartoons in mainstream media here in this country, a caller ambushed Kerri on the air saying she thought Obama was a Muslim. In a way that caller demonstrated exactly why editors and publishers might be afraid to push buttons too hard–these are the kind of idiots you have to answer to. That’s the downside of free speech… you have to defend the rights of morons to spout their idiocy with the same force as you do those with something constructive to say. The good news is you don;t have to listen to it, and you can call them idiots.

If they ever post an audio clip of the interview, I’ll edit it in here. Here’s that NPR appearance.

Stay Calm and Keep Cartooning

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

My Workout Secret

Yesterday’s horrific events at the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo threw the world’s cartooning community into simultaneous disbelief, mourning, and anger. As president of the National Cartoonists Society, I spent the day fielding phone calls, emails, posting responses and comments on behalf of the NCS, and doing radio interviews for ABC in Australia and a station in Seattle. For a while I was scheduled to do a live TV interview on “FOX and Friends” this morning but they ended up booking an editorial cartoonist instead (not sure who but I bet they had one of those overrated Pulitzer prizes). Too bad, I was going to try and get one of the FOX anchors to say it was Obama’s fault. My day was so derailed that I had to beg for an extension on my current MAD job, which was due tomorrow but is now getting turned in on Monday. So, I guess the terrorists won that one.

I was asked two questions over and over again amid all these interviews and calls for comment: Do I think this attack will cause cartoonists to think twice about doing cartoons criticizing Islam, and do I think the work Charlie Hebdo was doing was really free speech or just senseless provocation?

Taking the second question first: Was the work they did at Charlie Hebdo really worth the risks? I have had a chance to see some of the cartoons that are being singled out as ones that probably angered Muslims most, particularly several showing the Prophet in sexual positions. Frankly I don’t see any point or commentary in them other than “look, we can do this just to make you angry”, but I saw only a small sampling of probably the worst of the cartoons the magazine did. It had a reputation of ridiculing all religions, not just Islam, and I’d give them the benefit of the doubt that many of their cartoons and articles had more salient points to make. That said, it really does not matter. Free speech is free speech. If you believe in it, you have to allow people to say things you may not agree with… or even think are despicable. That’s the price of freedom. What these cartoons said does not matter, only the rights of the cartoonists to say them. Were some of these cartoons bordering on racism and hate speech? Maybe… that’s debatable depending on your point of view. Did the cartoonists who penned them deserve to be gunned down like animals in a cage by a bunch of cowards? Absolutely not, and that is not debatable.

Do I think this attack will cause cartoonists to think twice about doing cartoons criticizing Islam? Absolutely not. Cartoonists are a fearless lot. Most that I have talked with are incensed about this and determined NOT to let a bunch of terrorists silence their pens. If they find they have something to say about Islam, or any religion or topic for that matter, they are going to say it. They make take a few more precautions for their personal safety, but I don’t think anyone is going to stop doing what they do, or more accurately, let someone else stop them from doing what they do. Most of the cartoonists I know aren’t about senseless provocation… they have points to make and they will continue to make them, and no one is going to stop them from doing that.

The cartooning world is hurting today but far from cowed. If anything, they are more determined than ever not to let their voices be silenced by the acts of a few hate-filled zealots. The ink will flow and the pens will speak.

NCS Divisional Reuben Awards Submission Call

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

National Cartoonists Society

The National Cartoonists Society posted its call for submissions for the 2014 Divisional Reuben Awards. There are lots of changes in the awards process this year:

  • Electronic (PDF) submissions are not just accepted this year for most divisions, but encouraged
  • All NCS members will be able to nominate creators for consideration via an online nomination process for certain divisions
  • All NCS members will be able to vote for the winners for most divisions via an online voting program where they can compare the nominated artists work and vote.

As always, the work being considered must have been published (either in print or for some divisions online) in 2014, and while the creator need not BE an NCS member, they must be eligible for NCS membership (i.e. make their primary living as a cartoonist)

Visit the NCS website for all the details!

We (May) Interrupt This Blog…

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

Posting on Tom’s MAD Blog for the next week or two might be a little spotty as we get ready to launch a brand new, redesigned website in early 2015! I’ll still post here and there, but regular posting activity won’t resume until after the launch of the new website.

Goodbye Colbert, Hello Colbert!

Friday, December 19th, 2014

colbert

Unless you live under a rock, you know that last night was the final episode of “The Colbert Report”, and that host Stephen Colbert will be taking over “The Late Show” from David Letterman in 2015.

Whenever anyone asks about MAD magazine’s influence on pop culture, invariably how it shaped today’s satirical comedy becomes part of the conversation. The three things I always point to are “The Onion”, “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report”. All three of those shows are benchmarks of modern satire, and all three publicly cite MAD as a major influence on their work and comedic sensibilities. Colbert even celebrated Al Jaffee’s birthday on the show.

The Colbert Report in particular is satire at its most biting and effective. He created a persona that pointed out the absurdities of extreme right-wing conservatism so brilliantly that not a few Tea Partiers probably still think he was serious.

It will be very interesting to see Colbert no longer in character behind Letterman’s old desk. Best of luck to him in his new gig!

 

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