I’m in Columbus, Ohio for a few days attending the OSU Festival of Cartoon Art! Woo-hoo!
It looks like there’s going to be a LOT of great stuff, although it’s gonna be tough topping me and the Mrs. chatting it up with Lynn Johnston at the 2001 festival.
Anyway, I’m looking to pseudo-liveblog this as much as time, available electrical outlets, and wi-fi will allow, so stay tuned and feel free to check back on this post throughout the day.
9:05 – Just had coffee and chatted with Benita Epstein, Stacy Curtis, Kim Warp, Stephanie Piro, and too many other folks to mention and/or remember. Wow! Too much fun! The welcoming thingy is starting now.
9:10 – Brian Walker s talking about comics leading up to Caniff. Lots of amazing slide of early strips and their travel motifs. Now moving into adventure strips. Some great Captain Easy stuff from Roy Crane. There’s so many strips and artists here that I just don’t know anything about. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever really get to dig into all of this. Now onto Caniff. Fascinating to see the original ad introducing Terry and the Priates. And then the first Sunday strip! (Pictures coming soon!) Man, look at all that Caniff inky goodness. Wow! God, I could never do shadows and light like that. Just amazing stuff! I’m so glad I came; I think I’m gonna learn a LOT this weekend!
9:50 – The Caniff panel is taking the stage (Arnold Roth is thought to be out smoking somewhere) Mort Walker is telling a story about doing a caricature of President Johnson with Caniff. Peter Poplaski is talking about (here comes Roth) buying paper with Caniff. Arnold is defending his “lateness” (this panel started a bit early) by saying that freelancers should never send in their work early. I know it’s cliche, but I’m struck that Roth sort of looks like one of his characters. Caniff apparantly used to say “and it all starts with that boy in the attic, drawing and dreaming, and hoping that someday…” So true. Walker remembers a joke about Caniff’s voice and that “it was so high, it could only be heard by a tall dog.” Harvey discusses the Dragon Lady, and her “predecessor,” Moonshadow, a female pirate in Vampires of the China Coast â€“ now that’s a title! Roth remembers an NCS Christmas party with Caniff where they gave an Amateur Cartoonist Extraordinaire (ACE) award to Pete Hamill who read a letter from when he was 15 telling Caniff what he could do to improve the strip. Walker reads a letter he wrote to Caniff when he was 13. Wow! Lucy pipes up that Mort’s letter is on display in the exhibit. Mort says Caniff gave him advice: 1) add a pretty girl 2) don’t draw backgrounds in a fight seen 3) don’t draw a real tank, draw your impression of a tank. Poplaski contrasts Caniff’s heroes to then emerging popular anti-heroes and underground comics. Apparently the strongest language Caniff could use was “bleepin’!” in the strip. Harvey talks about Caniff intentionally provoking readers and gag-a-day comics replacing continuity/adventure strips. This is really a fun panel and I’m gonna have to dig further into some Caniff. Mort talks about Caniff roasting him and presenting him with a toilet seat with Mort’s picture under the lid. Harvey discusses how Caniff would write after midnight so as not to be disturbed doing “the dirty work.” Arnold talks about Caniff chalk talks with pretty girls. Mort talks about Caniff testifying for him in federal tax court. Apparently Caniff read Mort’s strips to the court (to much laughter) and the judge later mentioned that this was the best trial he’d ever had. Harvey talks about Mauldin remembering Caniff leaving poker games, NCS functions and the like to draw Terry. Now some talk about Caniff inking an assistant’s penciling. Mort shows art Caniff sent to him for his 80th birthday. Question time and the panel is finishing up. Harvey answers a question about Caniff and “Dr. Strangelove.” Now a story about Caniff being visited by the FBI because of a strip showing an invasion of Burma that, by coincidence, was happening the next day. Wow! Also a story that ends in Caniff asking the FBI “so where did you get your Happy Valley?!” (Too long a story to explain here, but a great way to end this post.)
11:15 – After a long-delayed flight, and that restless first night in a hotel sleep, I’m takin’ some down time. Can’t wait for the Ted Rall thing at 2:00! Lemme know if you want pics of my lunch.
1:45 – I strolled about the lobby before the upcoming presentation and looked at name tags. I have to assume a lot of other folks are doing it too, but it still feels weird. Looking forward to Ted Rall…
2:00 – Ted Rall is starting out showing some of his editorial cartoons. Mentioning “Idiocracy”‘ Ted’s reading some more of his cartoons. Now discussing switching over to longer form graphic novels. I’m gonna have to check out some of Ted’s books. Talking about Joe Sacco and graphic journalism. Suggests that work like Sacco’s is “more real than real.” this sort of thing would be fascinating to do, but I dunno how you’d even start. I wonder if I have a graphic novel in me. What would I talk about?! Bio comics have been done to death… Anyway… I love the look of Ted’s stuff. Now he’s discussing “Silk Road to Ruin.” Looks fascinating, if a little intimidating. Mentions again how he feels drawings come across as more real to him than photos. I’m still thinking about what sort of graphic novel I might write. Probably a good idea to wait until the kids are in school, but I sorta want to strike while the iron is hot. Ugh… I’m so off topic again. I like how Rall uses photos in this book amongst and, in many cases, inside the cartoons. Ted’s showing a page from an upcoming more autobiographical book with a Spanish artist. Questions now… I always feel stupid a question time. Stephanie Piro’s husband is asking a really good question right now (I just met him a bit back, but I’m pretty sure it’s him). Man oh man, so much of this goes right over my head. I think I’m kinda a simple guy, which makes me wonder about my graphic novel possibilities again. Ted’s talking about not putting his cartoons on the covers of his book to help it not be banished to humor sections in bookstore. Making a note of that! Discussing Mauldin, Thurber, Feiffer a bit now… Really good talk, and lots to think about, consider, and even plan.
2:45 – Jessica Abel is on now with Notes on Storytelling. Discussing “Junkie,” her first real story and finding things to write about. Mentions she was an English major. Says an Archie Double Digest helped her decode some basic narrative techniques. I think I’ve heard this before, maybe from Mike Lynch(?). Note to self – get an Archie comic sometime soon. I’m hoping this talk will inspire me or give me some sort of graphic novel idea. She’s discussing a book called Radio that she did with Ira Glass. Cool! I definitely have to check out this one! I LOVE This American Life! Mentions she has a new books coming regarding narrative structure. 3:07 and now she’s asking for questions.
3:45 Note – the liveblogging shuts down here as we all head over to campus for tours and the reception. More later…
4:00 – The Cartoon Research Library – Wow, what a great bunch of Caniff stuff. I particularly liked liked seeing letters he’d received and cartoons he’d be given by other cartoonists. Took a really nice tour of their collection in back too. What I wouldn’t give to have that place to myself for a day.
Went over to the reception and got to see a ton of Caniff originals. OK, this stuff is well before my time, and I can’t say the stories grab me particularly, but man oh man you gotta love all that ink. There’s just something amazing about seeing original art like this, warts and all. OK, especially the warts.
Got an opportunity to talk to Hilary Price for a little while (who very kindly informed me I had something on my lip) and tried to answer some website/database questions for her. Not sure how clear I was, but I mailed her some details later. She’s always so nice.
Seeing her reminded me of meeting Jay Kennedy for the first time at OSU six years ago. What a great guy. I think a lot of folks are missing him today.
Also got a couple of good chance to hang out with Stacy Curtis and his wife. We talked about cartoonists we admire, what we’re sending clients for giffts, etc… It’s so nice to finally meet him and get a chance to talk.
Had a really fun chat with New Yorker cartoonist Michael Shaw on the bus back to the hotel. What a great guy. It’s so funny when gag cartoonists get talking, because invariably, at some point, they start shooting gags back and forth. I don’t know what that is, but it’s always a hoot.
I gotta say, this first day has just been wonderful. I’ve been surprised again that people know who the heck I am. Most people seem to associate me with the blog first and foremost, but I got a lot of “oh, Mark Anderson. I see your stuff everywhere” too, which was fun.
I’m so glad I came, and it feels so different from six years ago when I was a walking bundle of nerves. I dunno that I’m ever gonna be a big name in cartooning, but I think this is the most accepted by the community at large that I’ve ever felt.
OK, off to bed. More tomorrow.