Monday, December 31, 2012

Friday, December 28, 2012

Excelsior Stan!

Happy Birthday today to Stan Lee (90).

It's the birthday of comic book writer Stan Lee (books by this author), born Stanley Martin Lieber in New York City (1922). He spent most of his childhood watching Errol Flynn movies and reading boys' adventure stories. He decided to be a writer at an early age, and won a writing contest sponsored by the New York Herald Tribune three weeks in a row.

He got a job just out of high school as a gofer for a publishing company called Timley Publications, which put out comic books. At first he got people coffee, swept floors, and ran errands, but eventually he began to proofread, and then write the occasional script, because he said, "I knew the difference between a declarative sentence and a baseball bat."

When he began to write scripts regularly, he chose to write under a pseudonym. He said, "I felt that those simple little comic books weren't important enough to deserve my real name. I was saving that for the Great American novel that I hoped to write one day. So I just cut my first name [Stanley] in half and called myself 'Stan Lee.'"

Lee was just 18 years old when the editor of the publishing house quit, and he got the job as head editor and writer. It was supposed to be temporary, but he wound up staying for more than 30 years.

At first, Lee wrote comic books without taking them very seriously. He said: "I was the ultimate hack. I was probably the hackiest hack that ever lived. I wrote whatever they told me to write the way they told me to write it. It didn't matter: War stories, crime, Westerns, horror, humor; I wrote everything."

But in the 1960s, Stan Lee began to regret all the time he'd spent writing mindless entertainment. At parties, he was embarrassed to admit that he wrote for comic books. He told his wife that he was fed up and he was going to quit. She suggested that if he had nothing to lose, he should try creating a comic book he could be proud of, since it wouldn't matter if he got fired anyway. He agreed, and decided that the most important thing lacking from comic books was complex characters. All the good guys were entirely good, and the bad guys entirely evil. Stan Lee said: "[I decided to create] the kind of characters I could personally relate to. They'd be flesh and blood ... they'd be fallible and feisty, and — most important of all — inside their colorful, costumed booties they'd still have feet of clay."

Instead of creating just one new comic book series, Lee created more than half a dozen, including The Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk, the X-Men, Thor, Daredevil, and Dr. Strange.

But his most successful character of all was The Amazing Spiderman, about an awkward teenager named Peter Parker who develops superpowers after being bitten by a radioactive spider. He was the first superhero to be filled with self-doubt, the first superhero to struggle with the question of whether he wanted to be a superhero. Stan Lee's boss hated the idea, but the first issue featuring Spiderman sold every copy that was printed, and Spiderman went on to become one of the most popular superheroes ever invented.


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Brad Anderson to Recieve the NCS Milton Caniff Award

Brad Anderson, the creator of the comic strip Marmaduke, will be honored with the National Cartoonists Society's Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award at the 21013 NCS Reuben Award Weekend, held this year in Pittsburgh, PA on May 24th-26th. Brad's amazing career spans 60 years and includes cartoons for many magazines and publications in addition to Marmaduke, which is syndicated by Universal Uclick. In 2010 Marmaduke became a major motion picture from 20th Century Fox, featuring a computer animated Marmaduke alongside live actors.

About Brad Anderson (an excerpt from an America Profile article from 2010):
     Putting pen to paper, cartoonist Brad Anderson, 86, sketches the playful pooch he’s created for 56 (now 59) years, starting with the big dog’s pointed ears, elongated nose, sloppy grin and cheerful eyes before tackling his sizeable torso and long, clumsy legs.
     “Marmaduke is very expressive and very active, and he’s always doing something funny or ridiculous or crazy,” says Anderson, adding accent lines that suggest a dog in motion. “He’s always jumping over the couch, chasing after a cat. In the car, he wants to take over and drive.”
     Working in his home in Montgomery, Texas (pop. 489), Anderson chronicles the amusing antics of the awkward but loveable Great Dane, creating six single-panel comics and one Sunday strip each week to add to his collection of 20,000 Marmaduke-inspired comics, two dozen books, a 1970s animated TV show and a new feature film.
     Universal Uclick distributes Marmaduke to more than 500 newspapers in 10 countries. Every day, people can read Marmaduke and expect to get a little chuckle.  
    These days, nobody chuckles more than Anderson, who never dreamed he’d still be drawing the canine character that he introduced to the comics pages in 1954. “Every day, I go to work still enjoying the challenge of creating expression and body language,” he says. “It’s never a burden, never a job. It’s just fun.”
     Born in 1924 and raised in Portland, N.Y., Anderson nurtured his artistic talent whenever he wasn’t helping his mother garden or his dad in the family’s farm machine business. “My mother said I started drawing before I could talk,” recalls Anderson, whose first words included a repeated request for a “pentil” and whose first vivid memory was using a pencil to draw on the sidewalk at his grandparents’ house.
     During high school, he sold his first cartoon to Flying Aces, an aviation magazine. The $3 paycheck was enough to buy a hamburger, a milkshake and a ticket to the movies, where silent films of the day featured visual action and written gag lines—the same approach he’s used for decades in Marmaduke.
     After serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, Anderson married his high school sweetheart, Barbara, and studied art at Syracuse University on the GI Bill, graduating in 1951 and eventually working for a public relations company in Utica, N.Y. All the while, he sold cartoons to Collier’s Weekly, The Saturday Evening Post and other magazines. Commanding payments of $100 and up for his drawings, he became a full-time freelance cartoonist and, while featuring a shaggy dog in a farm magazine series, came upon the idea of a dog as the center of a family comic strip.
     “I didn’t want to do another shaggy dog, though, because I had no interest in drawing all that floppy hair,” Anderson recalls. “I wanted a short-haired dog similar to this big boxer that my mother and stepfather had at the time. He was kind of a funny, clownish dog that I used as a model, but I wanted an even bigger dog.”
     He initially drew Marmaduke as a large, menacing animal but soon realized that an unfriendly dog wouldn’t win friends. “I took away the scowl and began to give him more body movement and expression, and the whole drawing changed. He became a very happy dog,” he says.
     Anderson developed Marmaduke while working five to seven days a week at home in Vista, Calif....

About the Milton Caniff Award:
THE MILTON CANIFF LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD is awarded by unanimous vote of the NCS Board of Directors. It is given for a lifetime of outstanding and accomplished work to a cartoonist who has not previously won a Reuben. It is considered one of the highest honors the Society can bestow.
Congratulations to Brad! This is a great honor, and his contributions to American pop-culture and cartooning cannot be overstated.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas from The Joneses

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to all my great North Central Chapter friends! My wife created our card...and for those of you that know us, me,'ll know it is quite fitting :-) My best to everyone!___Bucky

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Winter is here...

Here in the heart of the Midwest, it snowed last night. From what I've been seeing on, the storm is making its way to the northeast toward the Great Lakes, Chicago, etc. We got something near to 6-inches. Shoveling is sooo much fun... NOT! Keep warm, my friends.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The passing of a true legend...

Taking a moment away from cartoon subjects to remember one of my inspirations.

Jazz pianist and composer, Dave Brubeck dies at 91, just shy of his 92 birthday. Take some TIME OUT to remember this incredible artist today.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Disney Toonfest 2012 analysis

Paul Fell and I made our way south to Kansas City (metro) to put in our two-cents at the annual post-Disney Hometown Toonfest meeting where we review the pros and cons of the year's Toonfest and then look forward to the next year.
Conclusion: the 2012 Toonfest was a big success, thanks in part to our guest speakers, C.F. Payne; Paul Coker, Jr.; Bucky Jones; and Kelly McNutt.
A number of ideas were thrown about for the 2013 Disney Toonfest. As they develop, I'll post them on the Chapter blog.
Thanks to all of those who help to make the Disney Hometown Toonfest such a success each year.

— ME