Thursday, November 1, 2012

Reading the Comics

Found in a Time Capsule

Once, many years ago, children read comics. Here's a picture of just such a scene, taken from a book called A Nation of Nations by Louis Adamic (1945). Adults read comics, too, of course, although some may have looked upon comics the way this Greek grandfather seems to be looking at his granddaughter and her curious American habits and tastes. 

That's Dick Tracy on the front page and Little Orphan Annie on the back. Both were syndicated by the Chicago Tribune-New York Daily News Syndicate. The paper says "Sunday News." Maybe the paper is in fact the New York Daily News. An assiduous researcher might even be able to figure out the date. I should point out that Harold Gray, the creator of Little Orphan Annie, though born in Illinois, grew up in Indiana and graduated from Purdue University. Few cartoonists in history have had more words written and spoken of him than Harold Gray.

Photograph by Alexander Alland
Text copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley

Sunday, October 7, 2012

James Whitcomb Riley on Abe Martin

Today is the birthday of the "Hoosier Bard," James Whitcomb Riley (1849-1916). Born in Greenfield, Indiana, on October 7, 1849, Riley was one of the most popular poets of his time and contributed to what is called the Golden Age of Indiana Literature. Another contributor was Frank McKinney "Kin" Hubbard (1868-1930), creator of Abe Martin. Hubbard would have objected to being called a cartoonist, for he preferred the term caricaturist. Nonetheless, I would like to remember the two on the anniversary of Riley's birth with a poem Riley wrote in praise of Hubbard and his just-barely fictional character Abe Martin.

Abe Martin
by James Whitcomb Riley

Abe Martin!--dad-burn his old picture!

P'tends he's a Brown County fixture--
A kind of a comical mixture
Of hoss-sense and no sense at all!
His mouth, like his pipe, 's allus goin',
And his thoughts, like his whiskers, is flowin',
And what he don't know ain't wuth knowin'--
From Genesis clean to baseball!

The artist, Kin Hubbard, 's so keerless

He draws Abe 'most eyeless and earless,
But he's never yet pictured him cheerless
Er with fun 'at he tries to conceal,
Whuther on to the fence er clean over
A-rootin' up ragweed er clover,
Skeert stiff at some "Rambler" er "Rover"
Er newfangled automobeel!

It's a purty steep climate old Brown's in;

And the rains there his ducks nearly drowns in
The old man hisse'f wades his rounds in
As ca'm and serene, mighty nigh
As the old handsaw-hawg, er the mottled
Milch cow, er the old rooster wattled
Like the mumps had him 'most so well throttled
That it was a pleasure to die.

But best of 'em all's the fool-breaks 'at

Abe don't see at all, and yit makes 'at
Both me and you lays back and shakes at
His comic, miraculous cracks
Which makes him--clean back of the power
Of genius itse'f in its flower--
This Notable Man of the Hour,
Abe Martin, The Joker on Facts.

Abe Martin, Kin Hubbard's caricature of a wry observer of the Brown County scene.
Abe Martin ran in the Indianapolis News for years, even after Kin Hubbard's death. He was also the subject of more than two dozen books.
In an age when seemingly everybody had his own brand of cigar, even Abe Martin got in on the act . . .
Not once but twice.

Text and captions copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley

Thursday, September 20, 2012

In the News-John Hambrock

Art of Hoosier Cartoonists Goes on Display in Wisconsin

The Kenosha Public Museum of Kenosha, Wisconsin, is hosting an art exhibit called “More Than Funny: Cartoons and Comics From the Kenosha Festival of Cartooning.” The exhibit will run through Saturday, September 29, 2012, and includes work by Indiana cartoonists John Hambrock, Dave Coverly, and Michael Jantze, among others. A blog called "KenoWi" carried the story of the exhibit and of Mr. Hambrock in "John Hambrock at the Kenosha Public Museum," a posting of September 9.

John Hambrock, creator of the daily comic strip The Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee, was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and like Dave Coverly (Speed Bump), attended Indiana University. Mr. Hambrock received a degree from the Ringling School of Art and Design. (Cartoonist and fine artist Rob Harrell, creator of Big Top, also went to the Ringling School.) Before becoming an artist, Mr. Hambrock aspired to a career in marine biology, which happens to have been the vocation of SpongeBob SquarePants creator Stephen Hillenberg. In any case, marine biology's loss is cartooning's gain. (Mark O'Hare, one more in a seemingly endless list of Hoosier cartoonists, has also worked on SpongeBob.) In addition to drawing a syndicated comic strip, John Hambrock works in advertising. Among his clients is Keebler, maker of cookies and crackers. (If I can squeeze in just one more parenthetical statement and one more Indiana connection, the Keebler Elves were co-created by advertising executive William Harty, an alumnus of the University of Notre Dame.) Check out the blog posting, and if you live close enough to Kenosha, check out the exhibit, too.

Copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley

In the News-Bill Holman

Bill Holman, Foo-lish Creator of Smokey Stover and Foo, in Traces

Traces, the magazine of the Indiana Historical Society, has published a biographical article on Bill Holman, creator of the comic strip Smokey Stover, in its Summer 2012 issue. The eight-page article includes three full-page photographs of the Indiana cartoonist, plus several pieces of his art. Holman's zany strip ran in newspapers for almost forty years. Few readers of Smokey Stover could have known that the physical violence visited on Smokey, Chief Cash U. Nutt, and the strip's other characters probably originated in Bill Holman's own life story. You can read more in "Foo! Bill Holman and Smokey Stover" by Terence E. Hanley in Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History, Summer 2012. To order a copy or a subscription, go to the website of the magazine and the Indiana Historical Society, here.

Courtesy of Traces.
Text copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

In the News-Tom Armstrong and "Marvin"

Marvin, World's Oldest Baby, Turns Thirty

Thirty years ago this week, readers of the nation's newspaper comics got their first look at a chubby little baby with a mop of red hair and a sly and knowing look on his face. The baby was and is named Marvin and he was created by Evansville native Tom Armstrong. When Marvin began on August 5, 1982, Mr. Armstrong and his wife were "a struggling couple living in Indiana." Now Marvin appears in 300 newspapers and the little red-haired baby was recently added to the attractions at Universal Studios Toon Lagoon in Orlando, Florida. You can read more about Marvin in an article entitled "Nationally Syndicated Cartoon Strip 'Marvin' Turns 30" by Richard Dymond, dated August 3, 2012, and appearing on a number of websites, including that of the Kansas City Star, here.

Happy Birthday, Marvin!

Copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley

In the News-Joel Pett

Joel Pett Returns from China Trip and Gives a Presentation on Editorial Cartooning

Joel Pett, editorial cartoonist for the Lexington Herald-Leader, recently traveled to China on a low-level diplomatic mission. You can read about his trip in an article entitled "A Not-So-Innocent Abroad Recounts His China Tour, Connects with Fellow Cartoonists," dated July 8, 2012, on the website, here.

A couple of weeks later, Mr. Pett gave a presentation on editorial cartooning at the Danville (Ky.) Community Art Center, where he gave thanks for having "two of the best senators for cartoonists," Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul. You can read more about it in the article "Editorial Cartoonist Has Tongue as Sharp as His Pen" by Todd Kleffman, dated July 19, 2012, on the website of the Central Kentucky News, here

Copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Z - z - z - z - z - z

For almost forty years now, Cecil Adams, the world's smartest human, has been giving readers "The Straight Dope" on their strange and seemingly unanswerable questions. What does "The Straight Dope" have to do with cartoonists? Well, this week in his column, Mr. Adams answers the burning question: Why does the letter Z signify sleep (as in "Catching some Zs")? Mr. Adams' assistant, Sam Clemens, found the answer: Zs are used to signify sleep because that's how cartoonists have done it for over one hundred years, beginning with Harold Knerr and The Katzenjammer Kids. In fact, today--August 2, 2012--is the one hundred and ninth anniversary of Zs in the comics. Just one more example of how cartoonists have enriched American culture.

Neither Harold Knerr (1882-1949) nor Rudolph Dirks (1877-1968)--the original cartoonists on The Katzenjammer Kids and The Captain and the Kids--was lucky enough to have called himself a Hoosier. So what does "The Straight Dope" have to do with Indiana? Well, from its beginnings in the murky past, "The Straight Dope" has been illustrated by Slug Signorino, a Hoosier by residence and possibly also by birth. Why only possibly? Because little is known of Mr. Signorino, just like little is known of Cecil Adams. Even Slug's real first name is a secret to everyone but his closest associates. (I have an idea what it is, but I'm not telling.) In any case, today Slug Signorino has provided his usual illustration for Cecil Adams' column, and it shows the Captain emitting a trail of Zs as he is thrown from an ejection seat. Compared to many of Slug's pictures, this one is pretty normal.

You can see the website of "The Straight Dope" here and Slug Signorino's website here.

Copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

In the News-Bob Englehart

Bob Englehart, Indiana-born cartoonist for the Hartford Courant, has channeled another Bob--Bob Kane, co-creator of Batman--for an editorial cartoon published earlier this week. The cartoon shows Batman with tears in his eyes in response to the massacre at the first showing of the newest Batman movie in Aurora, Colorado. The massacre took place on July 20, 2012. Mr. Englehart's cartoon is dated two days later. You can see the cartoon on the website of the Hartford Courant, here.

Copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley

In the News-David Horsey

Editorial Cartoonist Weighs in on the Aurora Massacre

David Horsey, Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist formerly with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and now with the Los Angeles Times, has weighed in on the recent shooting at an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater. Mr. Horsey's cartoon and editorial, "Despite Colorado Theater Massacre, a Discussion of Guns Is Off Limits," dated July 24, 2012, appear on the website of the Los Angeles Times, here. We should note with some irony that David Horsey's most recent collection of cartoons is entitled Draw Quick, Shoot Straight (2007).

By the way, David Horsey, who was born in Indiana and drew cartoons for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer for many years, moved from that paper to the Los Angeles Times in January 2012. You can read a press release about the move, dated December 19, 2011, on the website of the Northwest Progressive Institute Advocate, here.

Copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley

Sunday, June 17, 2012

In the News-Joel Pett

Joel Pett in China

Joel Pett, editorial cartoonist for the Lexington (Kentucky) Herald Leader and a native-born Hoosier, is in China for a visit with the U.S. Consulate General in Shanghai. The Global Times, a daily Chinese newspaper, has posted a profile of Mr. Pett on its website. You can read the article, "Quick on the Draw" by Li Yuting, by clicking here.

Copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Cartoonist of the Month-May 2012

Pat Vidan (1914-1983)

This is the month for the Indianapolis 500, the largest single-day sporting event in the world. For seventeen of the 101 years since the race was first run, the chief starter of the 500 was a broad-shouldered and nattily dressed Oregonian by the name of Pat Vidan. In addition to being a flagman, Vidan was a police officer, bodybuilder, businessman, and cartoonist. Bill Marvel of the Indianapolis Speedway collected Vidan's cartoons in a souvenir booklet called KarTuned for Racing. Scroll down for a look at the front cover, a profile of Pat Vidan, and one of his cartoons.

Now, ladies and gentlemen, start your engines!

Text copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley

Saturday, May 19, 2012

In the News-Steve Sack

Steve Sack, editorial cartoonist for the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune, recently posted a cartoon about the Republican primary defeat of Indiana Senator Richard Lugar. Those who follow the political scene in Indiana might be interested in Mr. Sack's take on the development. Fans of Hoosier cartoonists should know that Steve Sack, a native of St. Paul, cartooned for the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette for three years before returning to his hometown. You can view the cartoon, dated May 11, 2012, by clicking here.

Copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley

In the News-Joel Pett

Kentucky Basketball--The Cartoonist Responds to the Response

Cartoonist Joel Pett of the Lexington Herald-Leader has responded to outraged fans who have cancelled their subscriptions, fired off angry emails, and voiced threats over his May 8 cartoon about Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari. In his response, released on May 13, 2012, by the website of the Herald-Leader, Mr. Pett discussed the issue, then closed with an irony:
For all the demands that I apologize, what I really regret is that of all the subjects we cover--in news, editorials and cartoons--UK basketball is the only one, with the possible exception of the you're-with-us-or-the-terrorists Iraq war, that has inspired this level of genuine outrage and passion.
A further irony: Joel Pett issued his response following his return from Washington, D.C., and a meeting with the Cartoonists Rights Network International. Attendees at the meeting discussed cartoonists who have been beaten and threatened with death by foreign dictators and about newspapers that have been bombed by terrorists, all because of drawings on paper. The website of NBC Sports' College Basketball Talk also weighed in on the controversy, attempting to put it all in perspective by writing, "As much as we all love the games and the bragging rights that come with them, at the end of the day they’re just that: games." You might similarly say that cartoons are just funny pictures, yet time after time they have shown themselves to be a powerful force and a continuing threat to those who would practice violence, oppression, corruption, and graft.

Text copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley

Thursday, May 17, 2012

In the News-Rube Goldberg Competition at Purdue

Purdue Teams Win the 30th Annual Regional Rube Goldberg Machine Contest

In the category of better-late-than-never news, the Purdue Society of Professional Engineers and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers won the 30th annual regional Rube Goldberg competition at Purdue University on Saturday, February 25, 2012. The task this year: to inflate and pop a balloon. The winning team broke a world record for most steps for a Rube Goldberg device to complete its task. This year's winning machine took 300 steps and not only inflated and popped a balloon, but also completed tasks from twenty-four previous competitions. Anderson High School won the competition for high schools. Both winning teams went on to national competitions. You can read the full story at the website of the Purdue University News Service, here.

Purdue Teams Earn Second Place in the Rube Goldberg National Competition

The 25th annual national Rube Goldberg Machine Contest was held at Purdue University on Saturday, March 31, 2012. A team from Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, won the event. The Purdue teams finished second in a competition that "rewards machines that most effectively combine creativity with inefficiency and complexity." The winning machine had an end-of-the-world theme, fitting for the last year of the Mayan calendar. The website of the Purdue University News Service has the full story here. Rube Goldberg (1883-1970) by the way was a cartoonist famous for his overly complex machines used for completing simple tasks. He is also the originator of the Siberian cheesehound.

Text copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

In the News-Joel Pett

Cartoonist Joel Pett Involved in a Basketball Brouhaha

Joel Pett, editorial cartoonist for the Lexington Herald-Leader, has landed himself and his paper in hot water over one of his recent cartoons. Entitled "Coach Cal's Trophy Case," Mr. Pett's cartoon displays the meager trophy case of University of Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari. Sure there's a trophy for the March 2012 NCAA championship, but flanking it are two vacated spaces (for vacated Final Four appearances at the University of Massachusetts and the University of Memphis) and a deflated basketball representing the coach's desire to play basketball arch-rival Indiana University on a neutral court. Kentucky basketball fans, angry over the cartoon lampooning their coach, have threatened to cancel their subscriptions and otherwise boycott the Herald-Leader.

Joel Pett walks a fine line as an editorial cartoonist. Born in Bloomington, Indiana, home of Indiana University and its storied basketball program, Mr. Pett attended IU and cartooned for his hometown Herald-Telephone before landing a job across the river at the Lexington Herald-Leader. He has tackled difficult and controversial issues before and was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 2000. Many of those issues may pale in comparison to the subject of Kentucky basketball, though. In any case, you can read more about the controversy and see the offending cartoon in the following articles:

Text copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley

Friday, May 4, 2012

In the News-David Fitzsimmons in Indiana

Arizona Daily Star Cartoonist to Speak at Hammond Event

Humorist and editorial cartoonist David Fitzsimmons will the be keynote speaker at the the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority's annual Tourism Week luncheon next week. The event will take place on Wednesday, May 9, 2012, at the Indiana Welcome Center in Hammond, Indiana. The theme is the future of tourism in northwest Indiana. Mr. Fitzsimmons is the staff cartoonist for the Arizona Daily Star and a popular speaker at conventions and meetings. You can read the full story on the website of the Northwest Indiana Times, here.

Copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley

In the News-Michael Jantze

Michael Jantze Fills In on the Comic Strip Cul de Sac

In the category of better late than never news, Michael Jantze, creator of the well regarded comic strip The Norm, was one of six cartoonists to fill in on Richard Thompson's award winning Cul de Sac for five weeks earlier this year. Mr. Jantze was first among the six to try his hand on Cul de Sac, with an initial offering on Monday, February 20, 2012. Children's book author Mo Willems, Stephan Pastis (Pearls Before Swine), Lincoln Peirce (Big Nate), Corey Pandolph (Elderberries), and Ken Fisher (Tom the Dancing Bug) each took his turn during March and April while Richard Thompson underwent treatment for Parkinson's disease. I'm happy to report that he is now back on the job. You can see Richard Thompson's blog, Cul de Sac, by clicking here.

Michael Jantze is a Hoosier by the slenderest of threads. Born in Middletown, New York, the cartoonist grew up in Normal, Illinois, and attended Goshen College in Indiana for a spell. He received his degree from California State University-Northridge and worked in New Orleans and at Industrial Light and Magic in California. His comic strip The Norm went into syndication in 1996. Mr. Jantze now lives, works, and teaches in Savannah, Georgia. You can find his website here.

Finally, to read the original article about fill-in cartoonists, see "'Cul de Sac' Guest Artists Move in Monday: On Hiatus, Thompson Asks 6 Top Cartoonists to Take a Shot at His Strip" by Michael Cavna on his Washington Post blog, Comic Riffs (Feb. 17, 2012), here.

Copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley

Thursday, April 26, 2012

In the News-Dave Coverly

Speed Bump Cartoonist Reflects on College, Art, and Life

Dave Coverly, author of the syndicated comic panel Speed Bump, will speak at the commencement of his alma mater, Eastern Michigan University, this weekend, Sunday, April 29, 2012. In an online article published today on the website of The Eastern Echo, Mr. Coverly offered a preview of his comments for the graduation ceremony to take place on the Ypsilanti campus. You can read the article by following this link. In case you're wondering what this could possibly have to do with Indiana: after graduating from Eastern Michigan, Dave Coverly went on to receive his master's degree from Indiana University and to work as a cartoonist for the Bloomington Herald-Times.

Copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley

In the News-Abby Gross

University of Indianapolis Editorial Cartoonist Wins Award

Abby Gross, a cartoonist with the University of Indianapolis student newspaper The Reflector, has been awarded first place for her editorial cartooning in a recent competition sponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Awards. The awards were for the society's Region 5, which includes colleges and universities in Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky. The Reflector staff came away with ten individual and group awards all together. You can read more at the website of the University of Indianapolis News, or UIndy News, here. For a look at Ms. Gross' cartoons, see the opinion section of the online Reflector, here.

Copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley

Friday, April 6, 2012

In the News-Dave Coverly

Cartoonist Dave Coverly To Speak at Commencement Ceremonies

Indiana University alumnus and cartoonist Dave Coverly, best known for his nationally syndicated comic strip Speed Bump, will be the commencement speaker at the graduation ceremonies of the Eastern Michigan University College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Technology on the morning of April 29, 2012. Mr. Coverly earned his bachelor’s degree in philosophy and imaginative writing from Eastern Michigan University in 1987 before going on to complete his master’s degree in creative writing at Indiana University in Bloomington. Mr. Coverly worked as an editorial cartoonist for the Herald-Times in Bloomington while attending graduate school, and his early cartoons appeared in The Saturday Evening Post, The New York Times, Esquire, and USA Today. In 1994, Speed Bump was picked up by Creators Syndicate. The panel quickly gained popularity, running in nearly 100 papers by 1995, at which time Coverly left the Herald-Times to concentrate on his daily cartoon panel. Today the feature appears in more than 200 newspapers and in Parade Magazine, which reaches more than 73 million readers each week. Mr. Coverly’s other accomplishments include a line of greeting cards for American Greetings and a number of books, including Sue McDonald Had a Book, Speed Bump: Cartoons for Idea People, and Caution Speed Bump: A Collection of Cartoon Skidmarks.

In addition to giving the commencement speech at the morning ceremonies on April 29, Mr. Coverly will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from his alma mater. You can read more in the following article:

Written by Bridget Hanley, Proficient Pen
Copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

In the News-Ryan Germick

Merrillville Native Designs Addams Family Logo for Google

Merrillville native Ryan Germick recently created a logo for Google in which the members of the infamous Addams Family spell out the name of the world's most famous search engine. The altered logo appeared on the January 7, 2012, in honor of the 100th birthday of the late Charles Addams, creator of the eponymous family. Mr. Germick designed the logo after Google had secured permission by the estate of Charles Addams to re-create his characters. The Indiana artist was thrilled by the prospect of working on the project and coordinated his efforts closely with representatives from the estate, ensuring he did Addams’ work justice through his illustration. 

Ryan Germick has been a member of the Google Doodle Team since 2006. The team is the creative force behind special logos that appear on the Google search engine website on holidays and other special occasions. The Addams Family logo includes the major characters from Addams' long-running series of cartoons, which appeared in The New Yorker between 1938 and 1988, when Addams passed away. The Addams Family have also appeared in hardbound collections of cartoons, on television, in movies, and on stage. Addams never named his characters. The creators of the ABC-TV series gave them the names we know today, Gomez, Morticia, Uncle Fester, Lurch, and so on.

Mr. Germick, who graduated from Merrillville High School in 1998, received his early arts education in Merrillville and at the Center for Visual and Performing Arts in Munster, Indiana. (There's a small irony in the fact that a cartoonist who was educated in Munster has come to draw The Addams Family.) He went on to earn a liberal arts degree from Parsons Art School in New York and spent time in Tokyo, Japan, before joining the Google Doodle Team.

You can see the Google Addams Family logo by clicking here.

You can read a more detailed story, “Google This: Merrillville Man Has Dream Job as Search Website's 'Altered Logo' Illustrator,” by Philip Potempa (March 15, 2012), at the website of the Northwest Indiana Times and Merrillville Community by clicking here.

Written by Bridget Hanley, Proficient Pen, and Terence E. Hanley
Copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley

Thursday, March 22, 2012

In the News-Nikko Elliott

Cartoon Controversy at Purdue University Calumet

A recent editorial cartoon by Nikko Elliott, appearing in the Purdue University Calumet Chronicle, has become part of a larger public discussion on the subjects of religious tolerance, racism, free speech, professor-student relations, and the point at which personal opinions, when expressed in a public forum, cross the line. If it sounds complicated, that’s because it is. To learn more about the issues inspiring the editorial cartoon and the larger controversy of which the cartoon has become a part, follow these links:

"PUC Professor Calls Cartoon Anti-Semitic" by Carmen McCollum, Northwest Indiana Times, March 8, 2012.

"Professor's Facebook Comments Draw Protests from Students" on NBC Chicago.

"PUC Students Protest Professor's Comments, Facebook Page” on Hammond

Written by Bridget Hanley, Proficient Pen
Copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley