Clearing the Queue – Tales From Hither and Thither

The Evolving Art of Ruffling Feathers

© Steve Nease

Most newspapers had a full-time cartoonist on staff. Now, the juice just isn’t worth the squeeze. Steve Nease, one of Canada’s premier cartoonists, isn’t surprised. A lot of papers no longer run, not just his, but any cartoons.

“Sometimes, it’s a cost-cutting matter,” he admits.

Cartoonists aren’t expensive, but “when papers are facing difficult financial times, they’d rather not take risks that might hurt their bottom line.” Upholding a longstanding journalistic tradition doesn’t override fears of alienating advertisers and upsetting readers.

The Oakville News talks to freelancer Steve Nease about ed-op cartooning.


Maverix and Lunatix of Comix 

© Drew Friedman

John Peck, Buckwheat Florida, Jr., Robert Armstrong, Hurricane Nancy, Everett Rand, Evert Geradts, Dennis Kitchen, and Bobby London are some of the Icons John Kelly talked to about the book for The Comics Journal.  Including Maverix and Lunatix: Icons of Underground Comix (Fantagraphics, 2022) creator/portraitist Drew Friedman:

Also I wanted to draw them all in their prime… drawing them as older folks wouldn’t have worked because quite a few died young, obviously Vaughn Bod? and Rory Hayes, among others. The prime of UG comix was the late ’60s… the publication of Zap #1 to the mid-’70s, when thanks to the Supreme Court head shops were shutting down, so much sub-standard work was being published, and distribution became far more difficult. I expanded that a bit for the book to the demise of Arcade as the official UG downfall, but the UGs were essentially over in their original incarnation by, say, 1975…


Avery’s Animated Antics

Avery often said, “In a cartoon, you can do anything.”  He thus encouraged writers and animators at the studio to be creative and appeal to both adults and children in the audience.  While children enjoyed the vibrant imagery and slapstick comedy, adults could enjoy the subtle political and social satire that was often on display.  While he worked well with his fellow animators, he often clashed with his own superiors.  He left Warner Brothers in 1941 and began working for MGM.

For the Amarillo Globe-News Ken Bridges profiles Fred “Tex” Avery. 


The Big Blue Pencil

© EC Comics

One day, a few years ago, as I was watching a small boy busily defacing a subway poster, the thought occurred to me, “that kid’s going to grow up to be an art director!” It was only much later that it occurred to me that what I’d said was based on a glimpse of the truth.

Wally Wood, in 1982, sounds off on editors. (h/t A Moment of Cerebus)


The Sweet Story of an Obituary Portrait

© USA Today

A million years ago when I was starting out, after being hired by USA Today, I learned that the artists were obligated to choose noteworthy people and create their obituary portraits in the USA Today Style, generally a large, central portrait surrounded by a couple of smaller ones from key moments in that person’s life. The illustrations were entered into the system and ready to be published when a celebrity or historical figure died, usually years later.

I looked at the list of people who still needed an obituary portrait and was surprised to see Charles Schulz available. I made this illustration, but the response, both from some artists and some editors, was tepid because it wasn’t in the USA Today style.

NIck Galifianakis tells of his obituary illustration for Charles M. Schulz.


A Comic Strip of Today Reader is Introduced to Krazy Kat

© King Features Syndicate

All I knew about “Krazy Kat” was its status as an influential great among early newspaper comic strips, so when I encountered a large, coffee-table-worthy volume entitled “Krazy Kat: the Comic Art of George Herriman” at my wife Honey’s new (used) book store, I gleefully snatched it up.

Fred Miller on today’s funnies and the newly discovered Krazy Kat.