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Lucy Sculptor, you got some ‘splainin’ to do!

Monday, April 6th, 2015

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I saw a post about a Facebook group lobbying about this this over the weekend, and Mark Evanier mentioned it yesterday on his terrific blog. Now it’s a headline story on CNN. The folks in Celoron, NY, which is Lucille Ball‘s birthplace, want the statue removed because they consider it “ugly” and that it “does not do justice to the “I Love Lucy” star”. Here’s another shot of it:

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Uhhhh…. I have to say I agree. It is pretty hideous. I don’t think anyone in a million years could identify that as Lucille Ball if not told first it was meant to be her. I looked up the artist and much of his other work is far better. Not sure why this one is so bad. The likeness is really poor but worse the expression is not even close to capturing what Lucy was all about. Being funny and charming. This looks like Chucky with a hair bun.

In the artist’s defense, how many cast statues have you seen that really look like their subjects? I have seen some really, really bad ones. We have a bronze statue of another famous female TV icon, Mary Tyler Moore, on Nicolett Mall in downtown Minneapolis. That is, of course, the spot where Mary famously throws her hat in the air in the opening credits of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”. The statue depicts that moment:

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A decent (but not a great) likeness of MTM, but it does capture the spirit of that scene and her character.

It must be incredibly hard to get a good likeness of someone in a cast statue format. I’ve seen very few that really strike me as even good. Part of it is probably the requirement exaggerate smaller elements to make them visible from a fair distance. Things like teeth seem to be made blocky and with too-large and deep spaces between them, I would guess so it doesn’t look like the subject is wearing a mouthguard until you get up close. I can’t understand that thinking myself… bronze catches light and shadow far better than skin and teeth. I would think accurately sculpted teeth would read just fine from any distance. I don’t pretend to know the limitations and requirements to do a statue like this. It would be interesting to learn that.

Anyway, that Lucy sculpture really is awful. According the CNN story the artist is asking $8,000 to $10,000 to redo it, which seems to outrage people. I guess I don’t blame him. Somewhere along the line somebody in charge of the project okayed that statue, and he did what they approved. Why the folks who originally commissioned the work didn’t say “um, this does not look a thing like Lucille Ball” at whatever stage the image above was presented to them I will never know. They are ultimately to blame. That said, if I was the artist who did this I’d be embarrassed by it and want to redo it, even if it meant working on a revision for free or very cheap. This is a lot of bad publicity.

MAD’s Tom Koch- RIP

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

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Tom Koch, a veteran writer for MAD and yet another of the “old guard” I never got a chance to meet, passed away back on March 22nd. I’d have posted about this earlier but I didn’t seen any decent obits about him until today.

Tom was a comedy writer for television and performers, and worked in the 50’s with the well-known comedy team Bob & Ray. His first few assignments for MAD were for the short-lived “Bob & Ray” feature in the magazine, featuring some of the earliest MAD artwork from a young, up-and-coming artist named Mort Drucker, back in 1957. He continued to write for MAD regularly until the early 90’s. He did a lot of TV writing over his career, for shows like “The Lucy Show” and “My Mother the Car”.

Tom’s biggest hit for MAD was easily the classic “43 Man Squamish” article in MAD #95, illustrated by George Woodbridge. It was a parody of the convoluted rules of team sports. The article gained quite a following, with several colleges attempting to play the game by the impossible rules Koch had dreamed up, and sending in pictures to MAD of their teams. It remains one of the most remembered and referenced MAD articles… according to MAD’s post on Tom’s passing, “43 Man Squamish” “remains MAD’s most requested reprint”. If you’ve read any of the MAD parodies of the Harry Potter films, you might have noticed writer Desmond Devlin giving a nod to Tom by replacing “quidditch with “squamish” throughout.

Sorry I never got to meet Tom. He wrote some very funny stuff over a long career.

Art Show Fundraiser in Atlanta on Sat

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

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An old pal of mine, Jeremy “Jert” Townsend is having an art show called “People Ruined the Internet” this Saturday, April 4th, at the Hodgepodge Coffee House and Gallery, 720 Moreland, Atlanta, GA. The show will feature a lot of Jeremy’s terrific, eclectic, whimsical, and sometimes downright creepy, illustrations as well as a selected number of the works of others, including a little piece of mine. A sizable portion of the sales of any originals there will be going to The Center for Children and Young Adults. This is the original I sent down there for the show:

mcconaugheyI wish I was going to be in Atlanta this weekend, because this will be a great show full of awesome art (and one caricature of Matthew McConaughey). If you live in or near Atlanta, do yourself a favor and go see Jert’s show.

2014 NCS “Silver Reuben” Divisional Awards Announced!

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

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The National Cartoonists Society just posted the 2014 nominees for the “Silver Reuben” Divisional Awards. Here’s the complete list with nominees in alphabetical order:

Advertising Illustration

  • Kevin Kallaugher
  • Ed Steckley
  • Dave Whammond

Editorial Cartoons

  • Clay Bennett
  • Michael Ramirez
  • Jen Sorensen

Gag Cartoons

  • Liza Donnelly
  • Benjamin Schwartz
  • Edward Steed

Magazine Feature

  • Ray Alma
  • Anton Emdin
  • Tom Richmond

Newspaper Illustration

  • Anton Emdin
  • Glen LeLievre
  • Ed Murawinski

Newspaper Strips

  • Brian Bassett (Red and Rover)
  • Stephan Pastis (Pearls Before Swine)
  • Glenn McCoy (The Duplex)

Book Illustration

  • Marla Frazee “The Farmer and the Clown”
  • Yasmeen Ismail “Time for Bed, Fred”
  • Shaun Tan “Rules of Summer”

Online Long Form

  • Vince Dorse (The Untold Tales of Bigfoot)
  • Mike Norton (Battlepug)
  • Minna Sundberg (Stand Still, Stay Silent)

Online Short Form

  • Danielle Corsetto (Girls with Slingshots)
  • Jonathan Lemon (Rabbits Against Magic)
  • Rich Powell (Wide Open)

Greeting Cards

  • Gary McCoy
  • Glenn McCoy
  • Maria Scrivan

 Comic Books

  • Jason Latour (Southern Bastards)
  • Babs Tarr (Batgirl)
  • H. Williams III (The Sandman Overture)

 Graphic Novels

  • Jules Feiffer (Kill My Mother)
  • Mike Maihak (Cleopatra in Space)
  • Jillian Tamaki (This One Summer)

Newspaper Panels

  • Dave Blazek (Loose Parts)
  • Mark Parisi (Off the Mark)
  • Hilary Price (Rhymes with Orange)

Feature Animation

  • Paul Felix (production designer: “Big Hero 6”)
  • Tomm Moore (Director: “Song of the Sea”)
  • Isao Takahata (Director: “The Tale of Princess Kaguya”)

Television Animation

  • Mark Ackland (Storyboards- “The Void” : “Wander Over Yonder)
  • Patrick McHale (Creator “Over the Garden Wall”)
  • Kyle Menke (storyboards- “Star Wars” parody episode “Phineas and Ferb”)

I’m quite honored to be nominated for magazine illustration this year. I haven’t submitted my work for consideration since I became president of the NCS, but as the awards were voted on by the entire membership, I thought I’d put some of my work in the ring again. This will be my ninth nomination for “Magazine Illustration/Magazine Feature”. So far zero wins. Forget Susan Lucci, I guess I am the Stephan Pastis of the magazine division (Stephan’s on his eighth nomination for the “Reuben” for “Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year”)! I don’t mind… nominations are a big honor in themselves and there will be no shame in watching Anton Emdin go up and accept another award.

Actually a nomination this year is an even bigger honor than usual. Thanks to the online voting process, this was the first year all members got a say in the results as opposed to the old system where a small jury made the decisions. It’s much more meaningful when the process is so much more democratic.

I was also pleased with the results of the “Online Comics” division nominees. Danielle Corsetto’s Girls with Slingshots, Mike Norton’s Battlepug and Minna Sundberg’s Stand Still, Stay Silent are all terrific strips with no ties at all to the NCS, and it’s always great to see work outside the organization honored. The other nominees are also great strips and comics, but are part of “GoComics” or in Vince’s case a past nominee and member. Last year we got (unfairly and wrongly) accused by a few misinformed people that we were biased towards GoComics properties since all of the nominees for “Online- Short Form” were on GoComics. That was complete rubbish of course. The jury that did the deliberating were shown 12 samples of each comic, and not told where they were published online. The jury was biased only for what they considered the best work. The same jury picked nothing but independently published webcomics under the same process the year before. Anyway, this year the entire membership made the choices, and it is nice to see the results.

MAD Gets Even Weirder

Saturday, March 21st, 2015

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MAD cover art by Mark Fredrickson

From the MAD Magazine Website:

At 6 PM on April 20th, the guest editor of MAD #533, “Weird Al” Yankovic and MAD Editor John Ficarra will be at the Barnes & Noble at 33 E 17th St in NYC to sign autographs and meet fans! Mark your calendars! Enter the coordinates into your GPS! Moisturize and manicure your hand-shaking hand!

It will be fun to see this issue. Weird Al got worked into the piece I did for #533, and I am sure other features will have him involved in some way. This “guest editor” thing is a great idea. It would be fun to see an issue a year feature a guest editor. There are a lot of comedians and entertainers that cite MAD as a major influence who would probably love to do it: Stephen Colbert, Judd Apatow and Jon Stewart come to mind.

RIP Lou Silverstone

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

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I just read on Mark Evanier‘s blog that longtime MAD writer Lou Silverstone passed away this past Monday, March 16th at age 90. I never met or worked with him, he having left MAD in the early 90’s and going over to Cracked to write and eventually become an editor there, But I always enjoyed his work on MAD‘s TV parodies. He teamed up a few times with Mort Drucker and especially often with Angelo Torres on many, many classic MAD spoofs. Some of my favorites were “Bats-Man”, “Clodumbo”, “Miami Price” and “The Greatest American Zero”.

So long, Lou. Thanks for the many laughs!

Exclusive ComiCon Goodies!

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

I’m off to the Toronto ComiCon! You’ll find me at the NCS booth (117) doing caricatures/commissions and with plenty of original MAD pages, prints, and books for sale.

One new wrinkle: Exclusive ComiCon stuff! I will have an updated James Bond #007 caricature 6×9 postcard print and a MAD Alfred/Joker variant cover 6×9 postcard print for sale for $5.00 each CHEAP!

Bond card 6x9

BatmanSuperman_cover 6x9

These will not be for sale anywhere but when I have a booth at a comic book convention. Not online, not via mail. Zip. Gotta come see me!

Come See Me at Toronto ComiCon!

Friday, March 13th, 2015

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Can you believe I have basically lived my whole live almost a stone’s throw from the Canadian border, and have never been to Canada! Well, that all ends next week when I invade the Great White North for the Toronto ComiCon. I’ll be appearing all three days of the show at the National Cartoonists Society booth, space #117. Also appearing there will be the creator of the syndicated comic strip “Between Friends” Sandra Bell-Lundy, and possibly some other NCS cartoonists.

I’ll have my usual plethora of original MAD artwork, prints, copies of my book, some new mini-prints (!) and other fun stuff… plus I’ll be doing commissions and caricatures!

So stop on by, eh?

March 20-22nd
Metro Toronto Convention Centre

Mort’s JFK Coloring Book Back in Print!

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

JFK

Back in 1962, MAD‘s Mort Drucker illustrated a satirical coloring book about the Kennedy clan called the “JFK Coloring Book”. It was a brilliant piece of satire written by Paul Laikin and Jackie Kannon, making fun of a president who was wildly popular and bucking conventional wisdom. It spent 14 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller’s list. Then came the assassination, and the book was pulled from bookstores and never saw print again… until now.

Actually the reprint took place last September, but I just found out about it through a MAD fan group. I have a vintage copy I got from eBay years ago, but you can now get a pristine, brand-spanking new copy for only $7.99. This is genius and Mort’s artwork is incredible as always.

It’s very cool that this piece of history gets a new audience 52 years later.

2014 NCS Reuben Award Nominees Announced

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

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The National Cartoonist Society just announced the nominees for the 2014 Reuben Award for “Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year” are:

  • Roz Chast

  • Stephan Pastis

  • Hilary Price

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Roz Chast is probably best known for her cartoons in The New Yorker, where she is a staff cartoonist. She attended Rhode Island School of Design, majoring in Painting because it “seemed more artistic”. After graduating, she reverted to type and began drawing cartoons. Her cartoons have been published in many other magazines besides The New Yorker, including Scientific American, the Harvard Business Review, Redbook, and Mother Jones. Her most recent book is a comprehensive compilation of her favorite cartoons called Theories of Everything: Selected, Collected, and Health-Inspected Cartoons of Roz Chast, 1978-2006. She also illustrated The Alphabet from A to Y, with Bonus Letter, Z, the best-selling children’s book by Steve Martin. Her graphic novel “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?”  was picked by The New York Times Book Review as one of the ten best books of 2014. This is Roz’s first nomination for the Reuben Award. You can visit Roz’s website here.

Stephan Pastis is the creator of the daily comic strip Pearls Before Swine, syndicated by Universal Uclick. Stephan practiced law in the San Fransisco Bay area before following his love of cartooning and eventually seeing syndication with Pearls, which was launched in newspapers beginning December 31, 2001. The National Cartoonists Society awarded Pearls Before Swine the Best Newspaper Comic Strip in 2003 and in 2006. Stephan is also the author of the children’s book series Timmy Failure. Stephan lives in northern California with his wife Staci and their two children. This is his seventh nomination for the Reuben award. Visit Stephan’s blog and the Pearls Before Swine website.

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Hilary Price is the creator of Rhymes With Orange, a daily newspaper comic strip syndicated by King Features Syndicate. Created in 1995, Rhymes With Orange has thrice won the NCS Best Newspaper Panel Division (2007, 2009 and 2012). Her work has also appeared in Parade Magazine, The Funny Times, People and Glamour. When she began drawing Rhymes With Orange, she was the youngest woman to ever have a syndicated strip. Hilary draws the strip in an old toothbrush factory that has since been converted to studio space for artists. She lives in western Massachusetts. This is Hilary’s second nomination for the Reuben award. You can visit Rhymes With Orange online here.

The official ballots have been issued to all full members of the National Cartoonists Society for voting to determine the winner. Congratulations to the nominees!

The Reuben Award for The Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year is chosen by a secret ballot of the members of the National Cartoonists Society. The Reuben Award is the highest honor that the profession bestows. As with all the NCS awards, the winner need not be a member of the Society. The award was previously called the Billy DeBeck Memorial Award, and the recipient received an engraved silver cigarette box. The Reuben was introduced in 1954 and is named after longtime Honorary President Rube Goldberg. The statue is based on one of Goldberg’s irreverent pieces of sculpture.

The winner of the 2014 “Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year” will be announced on May 23rd at the annual NCS Reuben Awards dinner in Washington D.C.

 

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