Thursday, April 24, 2014


"Go that way, really fast. If something gets in your way, turn."

Advice is great. You can ask anyone -- a relative, a friend, a complete stranger -- and usually they will have some on hand to give to you.

Since I draw cartoons full-time, sometimes people ask how they, too, can become cartoonists.

"How can I succeed?"

I have some advice, but first, below is a video. That's not me in the video. No, no, no. It's not me. I found it on YouTube. That's an illustrator named Dan Page. I don't know Dan.

What's YOUR definition of success? I am going to assume that you want to succeed commercially, OK? You want to be paid for drawing.

You want to make a living from being a cartoonist.

Now, Dan is right that you need a portfolio. But the people at ExpertVillage, who, I assume, spent good money to get this fellow propped up in front of the camera, did not get the right guy for their How to Succeed as an Artist video. Here is his sum up:
  • build up portfolio,
  • submit your work to the "different groups or companies,"
  • you will receive "an opportunity,"
  • and from there, it's all what you do with it.

Above: Diane Franklin as Monique Junot from BETTER OFF DEAD.

I couldn't help but think of BETTER OFF DEAD's lead character Lane Meyer (John Cusack) who, when asking for guidance on skiing the difficult K-12 slope in the movie, was told advice so general (see that opening quote from Charles DuMar and Monique Junot above) that it was useless.

You have to seize the opportunity, like Dan says, but -- like one of the commenters on YouTube wrote -- "Isn't that how to become a successful anything? This is so general that it doesn't help anyone."

And that's why I'm here.

First off, talent is cheap. I can walk into any art school and see lots of people better than me. Most of those art students will not succeed. This is because talent has little to do with success.

How do you get that opportunity? You know, the one where Dan makes a fist and "seize that opportunity" right at 1:28?

Your talent may help, but persistence is key.

If you want to draw single panel magazine gag cartoons, draw 20 every week, throw away the weak ones and mail the rest of them out. Do this every week.

When I started I knew NOBODY. No editors, no other cartoonists. And I didn't know what I was doing. I got addresses from the magazines I looked at in the library and the bookstore. I took the addresses from the masthead of the magazine. It took me 6 months, but I began selling.

Do you want to draw comic books? Graphic novels? Comic book conventions always have an "artists alley," where you can meet professionals.

Meeting professionals at conventions is the best. I was just in Portsmouth for a comics convention last month and met a good number of pros and soon-to-be pros who were there. Very friendly get together.

Advice from a friend or teacher can be helpful-- but to meet and talk with a professional is sooo much better. Especially if you are looking to be come like them; to make a living from drawing and writing.

That said, I'll be starting up cartoon classes locally in Southern New Hampshire next month. And if there are snow days and no classes, well then -- we'll all ski the dang K-12 together, OK? Not successfully right off the bat, but maybe by July … ?

-- Originally from ye olde Mike Lynch Cartoons Blog 12/29/08.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

TEE VEE HUMPHREY A Weekly Reader Book

When I was a kid, The Weekly Reader was newsprinty little newsletter we got in our class at Roosevelt Elementary School in Iowa City, IA. This was, as our teacher Mrs. Panje would command, our "silent reading" time; our give-Mrs.-Panje-a-break-time. We would read about world events, do a puzzle, etc. Weekly Reader was dry, but a welcome respite from the routine of second grade.

The Weekly Reader was more than the name of some newsletter. The WR people also pushed books. TEE VEE HUMPHREY, a hardcover children's book that sold for $2.75 in 1957, was one of them.

The cover opens up into a nice gatefold of Tee Vee.

A crummy commercial!

Here is the page that lets you know that there were hundreds of bad books that were rejected before those Weekly Reader Board people (bless 'em!) deemed this tome, TEE VEE HUMPHREY, as the best one to put their seal on -- oh, and by the way, why not tell your friends they should join the Weekly Reader Children's Book Club. Why don't they? Do they hate America? This will not look good on their transcript!

I bought this book last year at the Community Bookstore here in Brooklyn. This divey, dark used bookstore has a lot of junk and, like those Weekly Reader folks, sometimes you have to go through a lot of garbage before your find a treasure there.

Illustrator Kurt Werth has an inky, casual style that I found appealing. It's almost like I'm looking at his sketchbook. Here is Tee Vee asking for a job at the TV station.


Tee Vee gets a job at the local TV Station, show running a program about pets. This is back in the day when a kid could just walk into a TV studio and get a job without a union giving him a thumping.


The sketchiness of the art cloaks Mr. Werth's layout skill. Your eyes are easily drawn to the man at the mike in this one.

Kurt Werth, whose work outside TEE VEE was unknown to me, studied at the State Academy for the Graphic Arts in Leipzig.

"The First World War brought an abrupt end to Werth's studies at the academy when he was drafted into the army in 1915. With sketchbooks in his knapsack, Werth continued drawing throughout the war. Unfortunately, Werth sent his wartime sketchbooks to a girlfriend whom he never saw again, and so the pictorial record of his war years was lost forever." -- from an online bio created by the University of Oregon Libraries
Ugh. I hate it when the girlfriend absconds with a dude's sketchbooks! That's so uncool! Well, Kurt later married an actress, and they stuck together. They moved to the United States in 1939. During WWII, he became a cartoonist for publications like Common SenseThe New Republic, and Harper's.
I hope to find more of his work.

And, in the back flyleaf of the cover, is your own, official Weekly Reader bookmark with silhouettes of horses, a viking ship, 2 musketeers kissing (well, that's what it looks like to me), Charlie Chaplin with a balloon holding his pants up, a witch and a spaceship, all suspended on a clown's nose. You also are being asked to take an oath to tell your teacher and friends about this book, you little corporate schill, you! I think this kind of mentality is what made Mr. Werth move from Germany.

-- This originally appeared on my blog on June 7, 2007.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

TV Space Riders Coloring Book (1952)

Little kids and even puppies get to go to space and drive spaceship and space helicopters (!) in the 1952 TV Space Riders Coloring Book via the Dreams of Space blog today.

FACE TO FACE Portraits by Feliks Topolski

FACE TO FACE is a coffee table book of interviews with 35 people "some likable, some not, each famous in America or England, each revealed in such a way as to make them better known to us in a few minutes than people we've known all our lives."

Hugh Burnett edits, with outstandingly loose and gripping portraits by Feliks Topolski. It's copyright 1964 by both men.

Pretty much every person in this book gets a gatefold with a portrait and maybe another, smaller drawing. John Huston's crew and its boom mike overlap with the text. Each piece is only takes a few minutes to read.

These kind of books are not produced now. And if they were, it would be actors and pop stars -- people who have fans who would buy. And there would be no Topolski drawings.

John Huston:

The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.:

Otto Klemperer:

Video: Doug Reina Paints LIVE While The Hidden City Orchestra Plays

My friend Doug Reina, who's is a wonderful artist, walks a tightrope. Not for real --  figuratively speaking. In this video he creates a painting, live on stage.

The Hidden City Orchestra plays along too. If you like to see people draw and create right in front of you in real time, then this is a treat.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Easter Egg Hunt by Stacy Lynch

A bit late on this. A true story!


See you soon ...

Friday, April 18, 2014

Mike Lynch is "Mr. Comics Smarty-Pants" by Brian Fies

I talked about how there's a Walt Kelly quote on the wall of a grocery store, and how none of the employees know who on earth he is. So, I have been lecturing them, there in the checkout line, about Mr. Kelly; that he's a famous cartoonist, the creator of POGO, etc.

My pal, the award winning graphic novelist and writer Brian Fies, in the comments section (see link above), imagined the employees' reaction when I am around.

So, I drew it up.

Here ya go:

Thursday, April 17, 2014

William Hanna on TO TELL THE TRUTH Game Show (1975)

Garry Moore hosts, with Bill Cullen, Peggy Cass, Nipsey Russell, and Kitty Carlisle on the panel.

Hat tip to garrison skunk:

Watch for the Dick DeBartolo cameo.

"Little Orphan Annie" Cartoonist Tex Blaisdell on TO TELL THE TRUTH Game Show

Bill Cullen hosts, with Tom Posten, Kitty Carlisle, Gene Rayburn and Peggy Cass on the panel.

Hat tip to garrisonskunk:

World's Fastest Cartoonist Nino Falanga on TO TELL THE TRUTH Game Show (1971)

Bill Cullen hosts, with Kitty Carlisle, Durwood Kirby, Gene Rayburn and Peggy Cass on the panel.

Vid posted by garrisonskunk:

More on Mr. Falanga here.

Perry, IA: The V.T. Hamlin Room at the Hotel Pattee

One of the pleasures of this year so far was being in Perry, Iowa, where I got to teach cartooning classes at the elementary school and then give a keynote address to the annual Chamber of Commerce dinner.

It was a celebration of cartoonists from Iowa, and seeing as I was born in Iowa City, I qualified! Also joining me was my friend, fellow cartoonist Dave Carpenter, who lives and works in Iowa.

I stayed at the Hotel Pattee in the V.T. "Snick" Hamlin room. Hamlin (1900-1993) was the creator of the Alley Oop comic strip and was born there in Perry. The room, appropriately, has Oop's dinosaur "Dinny" on the wall and the name of Alley Oop's residence, the "Land of Moo." As you can see, above Dinny is a row of comic book pages from some Alley Oop comics. These were made into a wallpaper mural that lines the top of the walls of the bedroom/living area.

The walls are decorated with Alley Oop memorabilia and articles.

I read from my Library of American Comics Essential ALLEY OOP book while there.

ALLEY OOP by Jack and Carole Bender on GoComics
R.C. Harvey: "A Stretch in the Bone Age: The Life and Cartooning Genius of V.T. Hamlin"
University of Missouri V.T. Hamlin Collection one and two

Build Bob Staake's Bookmobile Model

Build Bob Staake's paper bookmobile: print, cut and fold!

As Bob says:

"Fun for schools, librarians, kids, adults, and bibliophiles -- because you CAN'T make a 3-D paper bookmobile on an iPad or a Kindle!"

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Walt Kelly Lives

"Food for thought is no substitute for the real thing." Walt Kelly

You can see this quote on the wall from any checkout line at the North Conway, NH Hannaford's grocery store. I've been in there a couple of times. Every time I ask the checkout person about it:

Me: Who's Walt Kelly? 
Checkout Person: Who? 
Me (pointing to quote on the wall): Walt Kelly.  
Checkout Person: Oh. I don't know who that is. (Smiling.) They don't tell us anything here. 
Me: Oh. (Pause.) I know who it is. 
Checkout Person: You know?  
Me: He was a cartoonist. He did POGO. He died in 1973. 

And then they hand me my change and I go away.

Yeah, it's too bad that the publicly held Hannaford's store, which probably had many meetings about what appropriate quotes to put up on their wall, did not bother to let any of its workers know who the heck this Walt Kelly guy was. This should have been a chance to keep POGO alive, guys! Then I wouldn't have to be Mr. comics-smarty-pants at the checkout!


We have met the enemy and he is us.

Dramatic Movie Score

Because there are certain dramatic moments in life when you absolutely need this sort of thing.

I think I am going to assign this as a ring tone to all my major clients!