When Worlds Collide: The Edward G. Robinson/Dick Van Dyke Show SNAFU

Oh yeah, the Gold Key DICK VAN DYKE comic book. And there’s Millie and Jerry and Mel and Buddy and Sally and Mary and Edward G. Robinson! Say wha —? Above Mr. Robinson’s head is a real cover of the real comic book. The one and only Mark Evanier has written a great story about how Edward G. Robinson wound up in the world of Dick Van Dyke here. Please read for lots of large laughs!

And join me next week when Pickles will be played by Judy Holliday!

The Explaining Hand — A Cartoonists’ Obsession

I was chatting with some cartoonists and we were talking about the over-reliance on this gesture. Once you start looking for it, you see it a lot. A character is talking, usually some kinda expository dialogue, and the cartoonist draws him/her with this hand out, palm out “explaining hand” gesture.

Above, kind and sweet syndicated cartoonist Stephanie Piro and slob magazine cartoonist Mike Lynch demonstrate the technique used.

There are some other choices, more interesting choices that the cartoonist could have made, but the explaining hand is old reliable. Here are examples from 6 syndicated features dated March 29:

I see it a lot and it’s getting cliched. Or maybe I’m the only one seeing it. Maybe I’m the only one obsessing over it. Maybe I need to get out of my Brooklyn apartment and live life. Oh, who the hell am I kidding? It’s gorgeous out there today, but blogging about all things cartoony must continue! I apologize for mentioning the outside world. Let’s get another cup of coffee and continue to ruin our posture hunched over the computer. Onward!

The king of the gesture’s gotta be the new strip GIRLS AND SPORTS, using the EH a dozen times in the 5 strips below.

And I’m guilty of it too …

Glad that’s outta my system. Maybe you’ll all start obsessing about it now. Yeah, that’s it! If I passed my obsession on to you, then this has all been worth it!

From the Guy Who Gave You BATMAN: TIRED AND CHEESED OFF in the 1980s …

Frank Miller’s graphic novel series SIN CITY opens April 1st. Everyone knows about it since it’s being promoted up the wahzoo, or, depending on your location, the ying-yang. I don’t know that much about the movie, but I’m an American and that means that that won’t stop me from giving some my ill-formed opinions:

Robert Rodriguez insisted comic book auteur Frank Miller direct. This is against the Director’s Guild rules. So, Rodriguez resigned. The last guy I know who did that was George Lucas. For a big-time director guy insist that the visionary comic book guy direct is reason enough to see this one.

And look what they did to that sweet Gilmore Girl (above). They turned that nice fast-talking pastel-wearing cutie all gothy!

And, more importantly — Chicks in S&M gear: much more interesting than a guy in a bat suit!

Yesterday, I saw a bus on Adams Street, in downtown Brooklyn. It had this big “John Travolta in THE PUNISHER” advertisement. The poster was worn and peeling, but it was still hanging on to the side of the bus. Bad comic book movies can be so bad … I hope that SIN CITY is “Internet buzz”-worthy.

“A Comic Strip Reveals a Secret to a Pretty Girl Artist in DEATH DRAWS THE LINE”

“Death mysteriously strikes down top-flight cartoonist — twelve unpublished comic strips disappear — a nude woman holds a supernatural rendezvous in a dead man’s studio — a blue sedan roars down upon two persons in a cab … purpose: death for two — and murder strikes again and again in this exciting mystery which reveals some unusual trade secrets of the men who create newspaper comic strips.” Ooh! Yup, just another day in the life of a cartoonist!

Now, why isn’t this old Dell paperback still in print? It’s got a wonderful cover by artist Harry Barton. Dig her pearls and nice hairdo! She’s high maintenance. This guy’s strip must’ve been in 2000+ papers for her to be that well-coifed!

From Chapter 3, “Cartoonist in a Tailspin:” ” … it got so he was too drunk most of the time to do the drawing.”

You see? One of the trade secrets revealed! “Drawing While Drunk” is one of the regular symposiums at the Cartoonists Association. Why, this tale is as contemporary a story as when Mr. Iams wrote it in 1949!

OK, now I know. It’s right there on the back cover. Cartoonist “Zeke Brock’s” apartment is in the West Village. This ruins the believablity! This is back when a cartoonist could afford to live in Manhattan!

Lo Linkert — 1923-2002

Lo Linkert was born in Westphalia, Germany. He served in the German army. Lo was a paratrooper and almost became a “dead duck when on August 26th, 1944, at St. Lo, Germany, a grenade blew my left lung out.” He spent a couple years in a Wittmundhaven, a Canadian POW camp. He drew caricatures in the hospital. The going rate was one caricature earned one carton of cigarettes. “I … became the richest soldier (in cigarettes) because if you had cigs you had everything!”

After the war, he returned home. Lo had lost touch with his wife, but through the Red Cross, found her in the Russian sector in 1946. The next decade, Lo was a freelance artist, drawing posters for MGM and 20th Century Fox. He also did a nightclub act, drawing caricatures in nightclubs for US troops.

In 1956, he moved his family to Canada. He had little knowledge of the English language. “Looking back now, we don’t know how we did it.” It took him seven years of perisistant submissions before making his first North American sale to the Saturday Evening Post. But thru hard work, and the support of his wife Inge, he managed to be in all the major gag markets of the day, produce 24 books, as well as 1500 greeting cards.

There is a story that my cartoonist colleague and friend Dave Carpenter (www.carptoons.com) tells. I’m going to relate it here with his permission. He and Lo would chat about the state of the cartooning business, the diminishing magazine markets, and so on. After complaining about a particular editor, Lo said in his German accent, “Well, still, this is nothing to complain about compared to the jerks I used to work for!”

“So if you want to be a cartoonist, be sure that there is nothing else in the world that you want to be, work hard and practice self-criticism to the utmost. Make sure every new cartoon you draw is better than the last one. Be sure that it will seem funny to most people. You can’t please them all. Work fast because speed gives you a distinct style. Slow lines look stiff.”