Friday, July 31, 2009

Abner, Archie and fabulous babes

As noted in a previous post -- sometimes cartoonists just like to draw pretty girls -- 'course Al Capp drew 'em smudged with pig dirt and smoking a pipe - but look beyond that and "hubba hubba!"  Bob Montana gives us Betty and Veronica lounging around the pool -- no pigs or pipes to be seen.

Free vintage comics with early purchase of Big Funny -- details HERE.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Swordfight! Violent Valiant!

Today it's  Prince Valiant  by the great Hal Foster -- a half-page strip from the mid '60's and a full page entry from a decade earlier.  It's a shame the strip ever changed format -- the full page versions look so good....

A new hardcover reprint series of the complete Val has just started -- more info HERE.

Big Funny will be here soon!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Forgotten Funnies

Not every vintage comic strip is fondly remembered and destined for the complete hardcover treatment.  Here are two forgotten funnies that will likely never be collected for posterity.  That's unfortunate -- as these two examples have me, at least, wanting to know what happened in the weeks preceding and following.  So enjoy this particularly wacky sample of Stanley Link's Tiny Tim and a smoke-filled episode of Little Joe.  You might not ever see too many more examples. 

If you think Little Joe looks a lot like Harold Gray's Little Orphan Annie, you're right.  Joe's creator, Ed Leffingwell, was Gray's cousin and had assisted on LOA.  Some speculate that Gray contributed some writing and art to Little Joe as well.  Links here will take you to entries in Don Markstein's Toonopedia, a great website chock full of information about comic strips and books. 


Milton Caniff  of Terry and the Pirates and Steve Canyon was one of the all time cartooning greats.  Here's a pic of me meeting the man back at the 1982 San Diego Comic Con (photo by Alan Light).  Below is a classic publicity shot of a younger Milt, working on a Steve Canyon Sunday page.  The strip samples shown are a Terry from '35 and a Canyon from '54.  If you'd like to see more of Milt's work on line, check THIS.  If you're a serious comics fan, you should make room on your bookshelves for IDW's wonderful six volume Complete Terry and the Pirates -- available from various booksellers.

My posts about vintage comic strips continue, as we lead up to the publication of Big Funny!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Dick Tracy -- 1935!

From the same 1935 Sunday section as the ads in my previous post, it's Chet Gould's Dick Tracy.  Dig that classic profile! One of my favorite comic strips -- though, truth be told,  I prefer the '40s and '50s -- great villains, great stories -- and really cool cartooning! Thankfully, we're currently getting a classy hardcover reprint series of the strip -- just now getting to the really good stuff from the mid '40s.  I had the pleasure of visiting Chet at his Woodstock, Illinois digs in the '70s -- thanks to my pal Max Collins, who'd just taken over the writing of the feature upon Chet's retirement.  

And now a word from our sponsors -- 1935 style.

Stepping into the wayback machine for some even older comics scans -- here are a pair of Sunday comics ads from The Chicago Tribune of December 1, 1935.  Some of the Mr. Coffee Nerves ads were by the remarkable art team of Noel Sickles and Milt Caniff -- this is not one of them.  I'll be posting some of the actual comic strips from this section as well.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Do I really need a reason to share this wacky Nancy Sunday with you all...? Love that hillbilly hat!

Sgt. Snorkel in Slumberland? Part Two!

Mort Walker dreams up some more comic-related adventures for Sgt. Snorkel -- Superman and Snoopy get spoofed.

Hold on for Big Funny!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Comics in the comics!

The Archie gang rescues some vintage comic books and Fred Flintstone is distracted by the Sunday funnies.  The comic book titles mentioned in the Archie strip are real comics at one time published by MLJ (also the publisher of the Archie titles) -- except for "Captain Biceps" -- that's just silly.  

I'm told that Gene Hazelton was the primary artist on the Flintstones and Yogi Bear strips. Click on his name for more info.

 Big Funny is still on the way!

"He HATED me in the tunnel of LOVE!"

I love seeing advertisements in comic strip form.  This beautifully drawn piece might be the work of Tom Sawyer (Scheuer) who specialized in strip format ads. If anyone knows for certain -- or even has a better guess as to who drew this, please let me (and my readers) know. 

Big Funny is still on the way!

Yogi Bear and Boo-BOO!

Batman wasn't the only pop culture craze of the '60s to worm its way into the comics -- monsters were a big deal for the boomer generation.  With The Addams Family and The Munsters making a big splash on television, why not give Yogi Bear some funny monster neighbors?  Again -- some really good cartooning.  And dig that scary logo lettering! So who drew this?  At least one of you toon-heads knows, so give with the info, will ya?

More Batmania!

The world was Batman crazy in the mid-60s, thanks to the twice-weekly television series (which I love, by the way).  Ads in these Sunday comic sections I've been scanning tend to run to appliances, furniture, breakfast cereal and sugary drinks for kids.  But once in a while, you get a doozy like this one! POW!  Batman toys for FREE!?! Why, oh why, was there no Mister Donut in my neighborhood!?!  I had those Batman trading cards -- and wanted that helmet awfully bad -- but, alas, I had to make it through childhood without one.  

And dig this Yogi Bear strip goofing on the Batman craze.  I don't know who drew this -- but there's some mighty good cartooning going on here!

More vintage comics posted here regularly as Big Funny looms large....

Steve Roper

Steve Roper (later called Steve Roper and Mike Nomad) was a terrific strip drawn by WIlliam Overgard.  I picked this example for the carnival background.  Is it just me, or does the Dog Faced Boy have a bit of a Pee-Wee Herman vibe...?  I have some Dell Western comics drawn by Overgard that are just fantastic -- I ought to post a sample page or two one of these days....


Walt Kelly messes around with comic strip "reality."  More vintage comics in anticipation of Big Funny to come....

Friday, July 24, 2009

Alex Raymond's "Rip Kirby"

One of my favorite things to do is to browse through the original comic art, illustration art and vintage movie posters offered up by Heritage auctions.  Most of my cartoonists pals agree that it's a real treat to see the large art scans posted on the site.  If you're a student of cartoon art, it's the next best thing to actually seeing the originals.  Anyone wanting to learn pen (and brush) and ink techniques will have a field day just studying the Alex Raymond Rip Kirby strips that show up fairly regularly.  If my budget allowed, I'd be bidding on this lovely example below! 
Thankfully the wonderful folks at IDW will be publishing collected editions of this long-neglected strip starting in September.  This is a GREAT time to be a fan/collector of classic newspaper strips -- with gorgeous hardcover collections of  the great strips being offered by various publishers.  I just hope my bank account and bookshelves can keep up!

Prince Valiant Feature Book cover

Sorry to say I don't own a copy of this great comic book -- this is just a scan that I cleaned up to look brand spankin' new.  What a great Foster illo!  Enjoy!

Juliet Jones by Stan Drake -- and Neal Adams?

As the countdown to the release of Big Funny continues, I'll keep posting vintage strips from the Sunday comic sections we'll be giving away (with purchase of Big Funny) at the gallery opening.  First up -- the gorgeous linework of Stan Drake on The Heart of Juliet Jones.  I was not a fan of the "soap opera" strips when I was a kid -- but I always stopped and looked at Drake's beautiful drawing and beautiful girls!  First up is a particularly nice example.

The second Juliet Jones strip posted here looks to me as if it might be "ghosted" by a young Neal Adams.  Lovely -- but clearly a different hand at work here.

One of the things that strikes me when looking through these '60s vintage comics, is the high level of craftsmanship, even in the "lesser" strips.  Mary Worth, a long-running strip, has never been a huge fan favorite -- but just look at how solid the drawing is in this example!  Few current newspaper strips (though there are barely any story strips left) are drawn this well.

(Update: My fellow cartoonists have confirmed what I've suspected -- this Mary Worth example seems to have been ghosted by none other than Alex Toth! ) 

Keep stopping by for more vintage "funnies," as the countdown to Aug. 7 continues....

Thursday, July 23, 2009


With all this fuss over Big Funny, I don't want to ignore the impending release of my Monsterwax Urban Legends and Shock Stories trading card sets.  Here's a  look at part of the creative process behind the cards.  

After getting script and a rough concept sketch from Kurt at Monsterwax central, I'd draw pencil prelims (see examples below) at print size.  Once approved, I'd enlarge them in Photoshop, print them, lightbox them onto bristol board and refine the drawing (still in pencil) -- and then do the final inks.  At that point, the art was shipped off for color and/or 3-D conversion.  Most of these went to final with little change -- some went through several revisions (see "Biological Barrier" below).

If you'd like to see more, leave a comment or send me a message!

Sgt. Snorkel in Slumberland?

Mort Walker spoofs a variety of strips as Sgt. Snorkel follows in Little Orphan Annie, Little Annie Rooney and Little Nemo's footsteps....

Snuffy Smith in Slumberland?

Sometimes a cartoonist just wants to draw pretty girls!  Dream on, Snuffy....

The Big Funny big giveaway!

OK -- here's the news.  The first 70 (or so) folks who purchase a copy of Big Funny at the Altered Esthetics gallery show opening, will also get ABSOLUTELY FREE a 1960's vintage Peoria Journal Star Sunday comics section!  Pics below show some of the strips that were running in the Star at the time -- Prince Valiant, Li'l Abner, Nancy, Blondie, Juliet Jones, Steve Roper and sometimes even Pogo! The giveaway only lasts as long as the comic sections last -- and is only available in person at the gallery.  The show opens Aug 7th.  Be there!

Oh -- and if you're one of the artists with a strip in Big Funny, you get one too!  

More vintage strips scanned from these sections to come.... 

Hal Foster's "Prince Valiant"

As a kid, I lived for those weeks when Hal Foster would draw one of these "big panel" Prince Valiant Sunday pages -- what drawing!  All of the Peoria Star Sunday comic sections I have feature a half-page format Val.  And what do these vintage comics have to do with the opening of the Big Funny gallery show?  All will be revealed SOON!

By the way, check out how off register the color is in the second strip shown here.  Gorgeous drawing -- not so great printing!  I made sure the color for my Big Funny contribution was a little off register -- just for that authentic Sunday funnies look!


The countdown to the Aug. 7th Big Funny gallery show continues with more mid '60s vintage comics.  This time we see the influence of "Batmania," as the Batmobile shows up in The Family Circus and Mort Walker spoofs Batman in Beetle Bailey.