Sunday, January 24, 2016

Larry’s Cartoon Vault: The Cartoonist Cookbook

Long ago, when I was a budding teenaged cartoonist I wanted to know everything about the subject—how to make them and where they came from.

Back then there was, at best, a small handful of books on the history or aesthetics of comic art.

I could count them on my fingers.

The big one was Stephen Becker’s Comic Art in America (published 1959) a popular study that touched on all the various fields of cartooning.

Then there was William Murrell’s A History of American Graphic Humor (published in 1933-1938), which surveyed the early history from the 18th century on—a pretty amazing, book but extremely difficult to find (then and today).  There was also Craven’s Cartoon Cavalcade (1943) and the somewhat dry and curious sociological study The Funnies: An American Idiom (1963).  

During my youth, Jules Feiffer’s The Great Comic Book Heroes was the only book on comic books.

Hard to believe compared to the long lists found in today’s comic art bibliographies.

Now there’s a sort of cottage industry in scholarly works, biographies and life-and-works art surveys. 

There are scores of books on comic strips, editorial cartooning, animation history and probably hundreds on comic books. Titles such as The Aesthetics of Comics, Comics & Ideology, Comics as Culture, The Graphic Novel, Superman on the Couch, America’s Great Comic-Strip Artists, The Art of the Comic Book: An Aesthetic History, Black Images in Comics: A Visual History, A Century of Women Cartoonists, Comic Book Nation: The Transformation of Youth Culture in America and Comic Books as History: The Narrative Art of Jack Jackson, Art Spiegelman and Harvey Pekar and on and on…

Back in the mid-60’s, the bibliography began to grow considerably larger, mostly due, I suspect, to the interest in the Pop Art movement and the openness that it inspired for “lowbrow”, popular art.

Whatever one wanted to label it, I longed to learn more about the subject.

How desperate was I for works on cartoonists and comic art?

Desperate enough to buy this:

No kidding a cookbook.

Published in1966 by the Newspaper Comics Council. Somebody must have thought it just what America was looking for.

Here's a portion (more like a dollop) of what's inside.

One of my heroes Virgil 'Vip' Partch:

The, then, young upstart Neal Adams:

Lank Leonard creator of the long running Mickey Finn:

Rae Van Buren was a fine illustrator during the early part of the 20th century then turned to comic strip work in the late 1930's.  A class act.

Bob Lubbers began as a comic book artist in the 1940's. He drew a number of comic strips and ghosted Li'l Abner for many years.

The grand master of the adventure strip, Milton Caniff

The great Al Jaffee, best known for his decades of Mad magazine "foldies", had a syndicated feature for a spell:

This is a sampling from a total of 45 cartoonists, and ostensibly, their favorite dishes.

The appendix includes 80+ more pages with the actual recipes and appetizers.

Other cartoonists profiles include Al Capp, Charlie Schulz, Chester Gould, Roy Crane, Harold Gray, Mell Lazarus, Dik Browne, Leonard Starr, Jud Hurd, Mort Walker, Bill Holman and heaps more.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Molly has a painting at the Richmond Art Center

Molly had a piece accepted by the Richmond Art Center for their current group show "Family Portraits".  The exhibit runs from January 12 to March 3 in the Community Gallery.

                                          Molly with "Of Mice and Men"

The Richmond Art Center is an incredible place. It was established in 1936 by a WPA artist, Hazel Salmi. The center still thrives today and teaches art to thousands of kids and adults throughout the Richmond area. (They currently have over 40 art instructors ).

The Center has also been host to high profile artist types like Enrique Chagoya, Richard Diebenkorn, William T.Wiley, Richard Shaw, Richard Juan Fuentes, Art Hazelwood, Jos Sances and Mildred Howard.

The Richmond Art Center is at 2440 Barrett Avenue, Richmond
You can find out more at:

Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Troubled Troubadour

Back in the olden days of the Underground Comix scene in San Francisco, Barry Siegel & Bruce Simon were a creative comix team (not to be confused with Siegel and Shuster or Simon and Kirby, or Simon and Schuster, for that matter) who created comic books such as People Are Phony, Savage Humor and Party Comics.

Barry Siegel was also a budding filmmaker, or at a least film student, at the time and decided to make a film short—in the spirit of a 1930’s musical comedy-- employing a mostly cartoonist cast. The result was The Troubadour starring Leslie Cabarga with a supporting cast including Trina Robbins, Bruce Simon, Kim Deitch, Sharon Rudahl, Billy Boop and me among others.

This item was shown here and there. I recall seeing it premiered at some comic con (Bay Con? San Diego? I don’t recall which). But otherwise in the pre-internet, pre-DVD, pre everything-digital era The Troubled Troubadour seemed to disappear for about 3 decades…

And now it’s on Youtube.

I’ve contemplated posting this a number of times with more than a few reservations but what the hey. It’s a piece of history now....

Saturday, December 26, 2015

A 2015 Recap of Gallery Shows from the San Geronimo Valley Community Center

Here’s a recap of some of the art shows I organized this last year in the Maurice Del Mue Galleries at the San Geronimo Valley Center (Below is a slightly edited version of a piece I wrote for Stone Soup, the SGVCC newspaper).

In my time spent as the Center’s Visual Arts Coordinator, organizing and hosting our monthly art exhibits, I can’t think of a year more gratifying and personally enriching than this one.
I’ve had the chance to work with some truly fine fine artists and the opportunity to offer the community some exciting shows

Here is a brief, incomplete survey:
This last October we hosted a memorial art exhibit for the master artist and Lagunitas resident, Art Holman.

Over his long career, Holman exhibited at the Whitney Museum, the Smithsonian, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art as well Stanford University, Legion of Honor, Oakland Museum, diRosa Art Preserve, Mills College, Des Moines Art Center, Eureka College, Illinois and the De Young Museum.The show was a mere glimpse of a 50 + year dedication to art. Art Holman’s work most likely will not be seen (especially in a solo exhibit) for some time to come.

In April we presented the work of Zhaohui Liu and Song Feng Liu--two brothers with prestigious art careers steeped in two diverse artistic traditions.

Zhaohui's work looked like the paintings of an old European master but the Lagunitas resident was born in Ningxia, China in 1963. Before coming to the United States, Zhaohui exhibited at the Beijing National Gallery. In the US, he studied at the National Academy and exhibited at the Dahesh Museum before coming to Marin.

His brother, Song Feng, visiting last spring from Ningxia, has a very long resume of art associations and awards including the "Ministry of Culture Bronze Award" and “Outstanding Chinese Artists Exhibition Gold Medal”. His playful work has a contemporary take on traditional forms of Chinese artwork.  Song Feng brought his work over from China specifically for this family exhibit.

Moonalice performing at the International Day of Peace Festival

Festival host Wavy Gravy

Last September the Center took part in The United Nations’ International Day of Peace by celebrating with an all day festival to recognize the efforts of those who have worked hard to end conflict and promote peace.

                                       Art by Helen Webber, Sam Parry and Donn DeAngelo

In conjunction with the Center’s International Day of Peace Festival we presented a group art exhibit -- What Does Peace Look Like? --showcasing works by local artists on the subject of “peace”-- tolerance, respect, compassion, reconciliation, justice, equity, communication, equality, kindness; peace-building activities, creating food and shelter and inner peace.

                                       Helen Strang

                                       Donn  DeAngelo

Artists included Alexandra Adu, Jeffrey Beauchamp, Veronica Buros Kleinberg, Donn DeAngelo, Gaetano De Felice, Art Holman, Michel Kotski, Laura Kradjan Cronin, Dahlia Kamesar, Richard & Judith Selby Lang, Alejandro Lopez, Anne McClain, Sam Parry, Molly Rea, Sharon Skolnick-Bagnoli, Helen Strang, Tot Tatarsky, JeanA Warner, me and Helen Webber.

                                       Ernesto Hernandez Olmos

In June the Latino Photo Project & Canal Welcome Center art shows were held in conjunction with the Latino Arts Festival. A special highlight of the exhibit were the extraordinary murals of Ernesto Hernandez Olmos.
                                       Bea Benjamin

Just last November we celebrated Pressing Matters VI: Printmakers Group Show. The 6th annual event featured the etchings, woodcuts, linocuts, silkscreen and monotypes of over 20 print artists including Bea Benjamin, Fred L. Berensmeier, Geoff Bernstein, Martha Cederstrom, Diane Cokely, Danielle Fogel, David Getz, Art Hazelwood, Elan Kamesar, Veronica Buros Kleinberg, Sophie Larsen, Katya McCulloch, Cindy Miracle, Elaine Nehm, Larry Rippee, Gabriele Schwibach, Susan Shannon, Connie Smith Siegel, Sam Vaughn, Xander Weaver-Scull and Melissa West.

Other remarkable shows included The Third Annual Photographers Group Show

                                       Two photos by Michel Kotski

Gaetano De Felice

Matt Tasley

and Elan Kamesar.

The Valley has the special distinction of possessing a local, primarily community focused, gallery in its own neighborhood.

I urge anyone who may make their way to the San Geronimo Valley, west Marin county
to take advantage of this remarkable resource and drop by for a gander.

(For more about the 2015 gallery shows see this blogs archives)

Friday, December 25, 2015