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.

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