Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Robert Youngson's WHEN COMEDY WAS KING (1960) Now on DVD

I had forgotten all about Robert Youngson. 

Youngson was a fellow who was a fan of silent comedy. More than that, he put together retrospectives of these movies, which were quite popular at 20th Century Fox.

Here's Mel Neuhaus:

"Robert Youngson, for those unfamiliar with the name, was a silent-movie aficionado who turned his love of early cinema into a career. Producing/assembling a series of successful shorts at Warner Bros. (Magic Movie Moments, This was Yesterday, When the Talkies Were Young), he eventually graduated to features in 1957 with the release of his slapstick compilation The Golden Age of Comedy. The feature, distributed by 20th Century-Fox, surprisingly (or maybe not, considering the wide appeal Laurel & Hardy, costars in the picture, were then having on TV) made several Year End Ten Best lists. More importantly, industry-wise, the movie made a tidy profit, guaranteeing a further excursion into pre-talker laff-riot."

The Sprocket Vault has restored Robert Youngson's second feature, WHEN COMEDY WAS KING, a 1960 movie that runs 81 minutes and has all of the greats in it: Laurel and Hardy, Chaplin, the Keystone Cops and others. It's a perfect, fast-paced primer to these golden age movie comedians. 

When I was a kid, I specifically recall seeing one of these movies in a real movie theatre in Iowa City, IA. I loved it and I remember laughing. It told me a lot about who these people were, but more than that, it made me laugh out loud. And I was doing it all again now, looking at the preview below for the new restored WHEN COMEDY WAS KING DVD.

So, thanks to my Dad for taking me to the movies in Iowa City and thanks to Sprocket for reminding me of these great Robert Youngson movies!

Monday, April 24, 2017

From the Illustrators' Partnership of America: Copyright Alert

From the Illustrators Partnership  
Copyright Alert 
April 24, 2017

Artists: Write Congress: Urge your Representative to Vote "Yes" on H.R. 1695.
Congress is considering a new bill to change the way the head of the Copyright Office is appointed. Under the new legislation - H.R. 1695 - the Register of Copyrights would be nominated by the President subject to confirmation by the Senate. 
How would this be different from current law? Currently, the Register of Copyrights is appointed by the Librarian of Congress, serves under the Librarian, and as we saw last November, can be removed at will by the Librarian.
Why does this matter? Let's review:
  • On October 21, 2016, the previous Register of Copyrights was summarily removed by the newly-appointed Librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla Hayden.
  • Dr. Hayden is a well-known promoter of Open Access, and appears committed to the goal of making Internet content free.
  • Many in the creative community believe she was appointed because she is a political activist whose views would serve the interests of the Big Internet firms currently lobbying for open access, orphan works legislation, etc.
Both Congress and the Creative Community are legitimately concerned that this Librarian of Congress will appoint a Register from the same anti-author, open-access mentality. This legislation would remove that power from the Library of Congress and transfer it to the President with the advice and consent of the Senate Judiciary Committee. That committee will provide the President with a list of 3 potential candidates from which he can choose.

The proposed legislation would limit the Register to a 10-year term that can be renewed by the same process; and it would give the President the authority to remove the Register at any time.

How do I write my Congressperson? Go to this link and enter your zip code and/or address. It will take you to a site with a picture of your representative and a link for emailing him or her.

Sample Letter 

April __, 2017
The Honorable ________,

Dear Representative __________

As a constituent, I am writing to ask you to vote "yes" on H.R. 1695, the "Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act of 2017."

I ask this because copyright protection is extremely important to me, both as a professional artist and as a private citizen.

As an artist, I rely on copyright law to protect the intellectual property that I license to make a living, as well as to preserve the sanctity of contracts that I enter into with my clients. Without the full protections of current copyright law there would be massive uncertainty in the commercial markets that serve the multi-billion dollar licensing industry I work in.

And as an ordinary citizen, copyright law is equally important to me, because without it, any work I ever put on the Internet - on a Facebook page, church or school website, political website, etc. - would all be in danger of becoming orphaned content, free for unknown parties to harvest, commercialize and monetize for their own profit and benefit, without concern for my privacy or professional interests.

The bill is scheduled for a Rule's Committee meeting tomorrow and will likely be voted on by the House in the next few days. From there it will move to the Senate. Please act now. ___________________________________________________

Please post or forward this artist alert to any interested party. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Dick Buchanan's Cartoon File: The Years of Al Ross - 1947 – 1968

Here, from the heart of Greenwich Village, is Dick Buchanan, with a bunch of old cartoons about one of the best in the business: Al Ross.

As ever, thanks for sharing your cartoony toys, and take it away, Dick!

Al Ross was born Abraham Roth. He was always referred to as “one of the cartooning Roth brothers.” The oldest brother was Ben Roth; the other two were Salo and Irv Roir. They attended the Art Students League and began cartooning in the 1930’s. Their cartoons appeared in the major magazines of the day, Colliers, Saturday Evening Post, This Week and many others. Their work also appeared in many of the pulp cartoon magazines which proliferated at the time. According to all reports, they were a wacky bunch of guys, the cartooning equivalent to the Marx Brothers. Al was considered the most talented draftsman of the brothers. Few would disagree.

In the early days of gag cartooning, most if not all cartoonists made preliminary sketches, and inked over the penciled work to obtain the finished product. Not Al. Al famously quickly sketched the whole shebang. Others did not adopt this approach until the 1960’s.

Over the years his work evolved, like an older jazz musician who play few notes and use space to achieve their sound, Ross utilized this same minimalist technique in his cartoons, becoming freer and increasing minimalist over time.

His gags were always solid, and even in the earliest days, tinged with an intellectual bent.

1.   For Laughing Out Loud, 1963.

2.   Judge.  March, 1947

3.   Collier’s. December 18, 1948

4.   True.  August, 1949


5.   1000 Jokes Magazine Summer, 1950 1953

6.   Gags. February,1951

7.   American Legion Magazine. December, 1953

8.   Collier’s. August 20, 1954

9.   Collier’s. July 8, 1955

10.   For Laughing Out Loud. July-Sept. 1957

11.  American Legion Magazine. December, 1958

12.  1000 Jokes Magazine Mar-May, 1959

13.  1000 Jokes Magazine. Mar-May, 1960

14.  Look. June 18, 1963

15.  1000 Jokes Magazine.  Sep-Nov, 1964

More of Dick Buchanan's great gag cartoon collection: 

Dick Buchanan's Cartoon Files: New Yorker Cartoonists Abroad 1966-1968
Dick Buchanan's Cartoon File: 1945 - 1962 

From the Dick Buchanan Files: "How I Create Humor" from 1950s - 60s Gag Cartoon Insider Journal "The Information Guide"

Dick Buchanan's Cartoon File: 1950s Color Magazine Gag Cartoons

Dick Buchanan's Cartoon File: Funny Vintage Magazine Gag Cartoons 1946 - 1963

Dick Buchanan's Cartoon File: Wordless Gag Cartoons 1944-1964

1953 George Booth Drawings for American Legion Magazine

Dick Buchanan: Winter/Christmas/Holiday Gag Cartoons 1940s-60s

Dick Buchanan: Some PUNCH Magazine Cartoons 1948-1963

Dick Buchanan: Gag Cartoon Clip File 1946-64

Dick Buchanan: Gag Cartoon Clip File 1947-62

Dick Buchanan: Some Favorite Magazine Gag Cartoons 1940-60s

Dick Buchanan: Gag Cartoon Clip File 1931-64

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Video: Tom Toro of The New Yorker at the San Francisco Public Library

April 18, 2017: Litquake's evening of political cartoonists. Part of "No Shadow Without Light," a series of talks responding to the current White House administration. This evening featured: Lalo Alcaraz (“La Cucaracha”), Khalil Bendib ("Zahra’s Paradise"), animator Mark Fiore, Tom Toro (The New Yorker), and Don Asmussen ("Bad Reporter").

More at the San Francisco Public Library's YouTube page.

Video: San Francisco Public Library: Litquake Cartoonists Q&A Panel -- Lalo Alcaraz, Khalil Bendib , Mark Fiore, Tom Toro, and Don Asmussen

April 18, 2017: Litquake's evening of political cartoonists. Part of "No Shadow Without Light," a series of talks responding to the current White House administration. This evening featured: Lalo Alcaraz (“La Cucaracha”), Khalil Bendib ("Zahra’s Paradise"), animator Mark Fiore, Tom Toro (The New Yorker), and Don Asmussen ("Bad Reporter").

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Rina Piccolo: Musings On Keeping A Sketchbook Journal

Rina Piccolo writes honestly about her sketchbook and how your sketchbook can be

" ... a type of time machine. In place of dials, there are pages. This time machine has boundaries, though: you can only go backward, and not forward in time. The future—your future—is yet to be composed."

You know Rina's work from newspaper comic strips (Tina's Groove, Six Chix) and The New Yorker and she also does books (Fun With Physics). How she has the time to do all of her work AND sketch as well is amazing to me.

The nice thing is that this great professional cartoonist can also relate to the fear of the new sketchbook. The fear of making that first mark in the new beautiful sketchbook:

"So, you sit at your table, or on your couch, and stare at the bare, blank first page, and you decide that it is a job and a half just to stare at the page, let alone make that first mark on it. More staring. If you were a robot, there would be an attempt to try to reboot you. And to carry the robot-thing further, the idea of making a mark on the page makes you feel like a robot unable to fix a target for its much-anticipated first step. What do I write? What should I draw?"

 There's more. I really liked to hear all of her opinions on a sketchbook and keeping it. I agree that it's a great record of your life in some ways. Seeing an old drawing that I did in one of my sketchbooks helps me recall the day and what I was feeling then.

Go read!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Rare Video: "Grin and Bear It" Cartoonist George Lichty Draws (1953)

Here's a link to a great 1953 kinescope of a KPIX TV program. (The site won't allow it to be embeded here.) It's an interview with George Lichty (1905-83) wherein he talks about his work in very honest terms. He uses gag writers, for instance. Lichty talks about sending a gag writer an item in the news that he was interested in covering, and getting a gag in return (which he says he didn't like).

We get to see him draw. So far as I'm concerned, this is the only time I have seen him talking and drawing on film. He specifically talks about his "senator" character and why he draws him the way he does.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Cartoonist Photos Part 14

This is one of a continuing series of occasional blog entries of photos of cartoonists from the 20th century. (Honestly, one of them is exclusively from the 19th this time around.) Most of these are sourced from newspaper archives, and I post these when I have enough JPEGs for a blog entry. Links to even more photos to more cartoonists are at the end. There must be hundreds by now.

Art Young, circa 1910-1915, when he was co-editor and cartoonist for The Masses (along with John Sloan):

Art Young as caricatured by James Montgomery Flagg:

 Another photo of Mr. Young:
 Bruce Bairnsfather, creator of "Old Bill," 1930:

Chester Gould, from a 1938 profile of the Dick Tracy creator:

Chuck Jones:

My late friend Eldon Pletcher, or "Pletch," the Times-Pacayune editorial cartoonist from 1966 - 1984:

George Du Maurier, known for his Punch magazine cartoons and his novel Trilby, 1890:

Hank Ketcham:

Great closeup of Herblock:

Gag cartoonist Irwin Caplan, 1977:

James Thurber and his wife, Felicity Hall, Somerset, Bermuda, 1939:

Tank McNamara's creators: Jeff Millar and Bill Hinds:

Johnny Hart, creator of B.C and co-creator of The Wizard of Id:

Jules Feiffer:

Cartoonist Michael Berry in Stockholm, 1949:

Believe It or Not's Robert Ripley:

The one and only, Thomas Nast:

William Steig, 1972:

More Cartoonist Photos:
Part one
Part two
Part three
Part four
Part five
Part six
Part seven
Part eight
Part nine
Part ten
Part eleven
Part twelve
Part thirteen