“Rhymes with Orange” Needs Your Vote!

If you live in Cleveland, Ohio, “Rhymes with Orange” needs your help!

Hilary Price’s wonderful strip is in jeopardy with The Cleveland Plain Dealer. It appears the paper is considering dropping “Rhymes with Orange” for another strip.

In the spirit of this evening’s debate, let me put it this way… I know “Rhymes with Orange.” “Rhymes with Orange” is a friend of mine. And you, other strip, are no “Rhymes with Orange.”

So, Cleveland, if you do rock, as “The Drew Carey Show” theme suggests, please vote for “Rhymes with Orange!”

Here’s how from Hilary Price herself:

For Folks with Friends, Family and Associates in Ohio

If you know someone in Ohio, there’s a chance that someone will know a Clevelander, and it’s a Clevelander that we need…

The Lowdown:

The Cleveland Plain Dealer is doing a two-week phone-in survey between Rhymes with Orange and The Meaning of Lila.

The poll began Sept. 27 and runs through Monday, October 11th.

The Meaning of Lila is taking Rhymes with Orange’s slot in the paper for a two week test-run during this survey. People from the Cleveland area are being asked to phone in their preference.

HERE’S WHERE IT GETS UGLY– ALL FOUR of the people working on the Lila strip are from the Cleveland area. The poll is between just the two strips, not all the strips on the page. That means that lots of folks who know the creators will be calling in.

So if, and ONLY IF, you live in the Cleveland area:

Call this number to vote for RWO: 216-999-4733.

I do not have the number to vote for the other strip, but it is available on the Plain Dealer comics page.

If you are NOT lucky enough to reside in the Cleveland area:

Help out by alerting your friends/family/associates in Ohio of this lousy poll. There’s a good chance they’ll know folks in Cleveland.

Again, the deadline for voting is Oct. 11, 2004.

Thanks all!!

BTW, tune in Monday to Inside the Cartoonist’s Studio for Hilary’s answers!

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Naked Cartoons

Occasionally, when I’m feeling frisky, I like to let my cartoons run around in their all-together. I know what you’re thinking, it’s immoral, unsanitary and just plain weird, but sometimes you just have to let it all hang out and go captionless!

Some of my favorite cartoons, and some of the hardest for me to write, are cartoons where there aren’t any captions. Lately though my brain seems to be relatively fertile with them and I thought I’d share some of them with you.

I was really pleased with how this cartoon turned out:

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I wrote this one on a rare morning where the cartoon floodgates opened and about a dozen decent ideas poured out. For some reason the phrase “10 gallon hat” popped into my head and this popped back out. (8/5/11 Edit – Can you believe those old gas prices?!)

naked cartoons 2

The above cartoon had been sitting in my pile of cartoons to be drawn for about two weeks in a different form, but I was never really happy with it. I’d actually sat down to start the sketch when a much better way (at least I think so) just sort of came to me.

I was looking for cartoon ideas in the paper and ran across the standard “fish eating a fish being eaten by a larger fish” illustration next to an article. It seemed sort of a lazy way to make their point so I thought I’d see if the ol’ noggin and I couldn’t come up with something new and this cartoon presented itself:

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This cartoon took a long time to get right:

naked cartoons 4

I was working on Valentine’s Day material and trying to come up with as many different permutations on the “arrow in the heart” idea as possible. Hopefully it’s not too obtuse, but if it is, that’s OK too. Sometimes I just draw ’em for me.

Well, that’s about it. Hopefully this entry didn’t smack too much of self-promotion, but I thought it was an interesting recent trend in my work. I hope you liked the cartoons, because now that I’ve called attention to my captionlessness (call Webster’s, we got a new one!) they’re almost certain to completely dry up.

“The Punisher” Review

If movies were meat, “The Punisher” would be beef jerky – cheap, tasteless, and cut and dried.

Thomas Jane stars in this Marvel comic-to-movie and bulked up sufficiently for the part that I thought the character should have been renamed TorsoMan. For a character whose costume is basically a t-shirt, he spends an inordinately large portion of the film with his shirt off. Considering the audience is almost entirely young males, and mostly teens at that, who exactly is this aimed at?

Jane’s character, Frank Castle, is an undercover cop of some sort and kills the son of crime boss Howard Saint, played tepidly by John Travolta. Saint in turn executes Castle’s entire family tree, and, although being shot directly in the chest at close range, Castle survives thanks to his witch doctor (no, really!) and comes back for revenge wearing the black skull t-shirt his son gave to him in a “so cheesy I thought I was in Wisconsin” piece of foreshadowing.

There is, of course, the requisite ragtag band of ‘losers’ that accept Castle as one of their own. One is some sort of drug addict who’s into piercings, another is your generic fat guy, and then there’s the sexy love interest, supermodel Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, who lives down the hall.

I’d read a review on Amazon that suggested Travolta’s performance was ‘over the top.’ Please! Over the top would’ve been welcome (unless of course we’re talking about the 1987 arm-wrestling vehicle for Sylvester Stallone). Howard Saint is evidently supposed to be a coolly detached criminal who kills both employees and family at the drop of a hat with steely resolve, but Travolta just ends up looking bored. I’m with ya there Johnny boy!

(The music major in me would also like to note that I noticed an eerie similarity to the Travolta character’s musical theme, and that of Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers movies. Listen closely and you’ll know I’m right.)

The movie is entirely predictable. Here’s an example of the trite dialogue that makes me want to write director Jonathan Hensleigh and ask for my $3.69 back:

Punisher to leggy supermodel – “Read your newspaper every day and you’ll understand.”

Leggy supermodel – “Which section?”

(Can you hear it coming?)

Punisher – “The obituaries.”

The whole movie is like that! It’s like it was penned by some teenage boys in detention who were forced into some sort of group creative writing assignment.

But here’s the thing that bothered me the most – for a movie about a deranged revenge seeker who’s stockpiling guns like Charlton Heston is coming to dinner, the “hero enters with guns blazing” moment doesn’t come until 1:43:42 into the movie. And it’s only a two-hour movie!

No no, our hero brings down the bad guy by convincing him that his wife is sleeping with his right hand man. Travolta then kills both himself while laying on puns usually reserved for the muscle-bound hero. Of course Castle gets everyone else in the end and saves his 21 car-bomb salute for Travolta.

Listen, if you want to see a good revenge flick, rent “Kill Bill”. Both volumes! But if you want to see angry guys in dark rooms lit only by the neon filtered through the fan in their window, people being thrown to their deaths through rickety railings (honestly, note to bad guys in movies – stay away from the railings!), and thunder and lightning punctuating “dramatic” turns of phrase, even when it’s not raining, then “The Punisher” is the movie for you!

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Save “the Norm”!

I’ve been a fan of Michael Jantze’s “the Norm” for some time now. It’s one of the very few strips out there that impresses me daily with not only its wonderful art, but its sharp writing – a combination that’s getting harder and harder to find these days.

So I was more than a little distressed when I heard that Jantze was ending his contract with King Features. Good strips are hard to find as it is, and to see such beautifully crafted work voluntarily riding off into the sunset just breaks my heart.

But here’s the good news – it doens’t have to be that way! Michael’s intrepid wife, Nicole, has convinced him to try to keep the strip going on a membership/subscription basis from their website! (If there were an emoticon for Snoopy doing his happy dance I’d include it right here.) The thing is they need 4000 subscribers to make it work. That’s where we come in…

If you value good comics please check out The Norm and subscribe! We only have until October 31st to reach our goal, so don’t delay! Please subscribe now!

Here’s a note from Nicole, who can probably make a more elegant plea than I can:

Dear Norm Readers,

By now you know that Michael, after years of working with syndicates and newspapers, has decided to retire THE NORM. It was not an easy decision, trust me. You have probably also received a message from me asking you to consider becoming a member of TheNorm.com to help convince Michael to continue drawing THE NORM, new strips beginning November 1, 2004.

Many of you are asking why I am doing this. The reason is simple, to see if the idea is viable. My only goal is to find the people who love THE NORM and want to see it continue. I’m not trying to create a new paradigm. I’m just trying to see if all the fan mail I’ve read holds true.

So, if you are a fan who loves this comic strip and wants to see it continue, then ask yourself the following questions:

1. What quality of creator will be drawn to syndication with the decline in newspaper readership, the shrinking of the comics pages, and with the latest move by newspapers to try and lower the price they pay for comics? Where will you find your favorite comics?

2. If you really love THE NORM, what is it worth to you? The price of a book? The price of 3 Starbucks mocha, coca, frosty, yummy coffees? The price of one pizza dinner? The price of 2 movie tickets?

If you feel it is worth something, then join today. We need 4000 subscribers to keep the strip going. Will you be one of them?

aka “Reine”

Leigh Rubin – Inside the Cartoonist’s Studio

This week ITCS is thrilled to have Leigh Rubin of the comic panel “Rubes” answering our questions!

Let’s get down to it, shall we?

1) If you were to cast a movie entirely with cartoon characters, what movie would it be and who would star in it?

It would be a live action flick starring Bush and Kerry. I’d call it Looney Tunes… Oh wait, I think it’s already been done.

2) You’re a syndicate editor launching a new comic strip. What’s the worst possible title you can think of?

Don’t tempt me with a question like this… My goodness there are so many possibilities. How about “Filler” or “This Space for Rent”

3) A light bulb over a cartoon’s head signifies an idea, while a string of random characters denotes swearing. Invent a new cartooning icon and what it means.

I’m not sure how to do this, but how about some sort of symbol that subliminally commands newspaper editors: “BUY THIS STRIP!”

Thanks Leigh! I’d love to see Bush and Kerry doing Looney Tunes – “Democrat season!” “Republican season!” “Democrat season!” “Republican season!”

Make sure you check out “Rubes”! And be sure to pick up the 2005 Rubes calendar as well as any of the wonderful Rubes books!