The Saturday Satchel

Ernest Lawrence Thayer with Brian Nelson and Harvey Kurtzman and Jack Davis, Garfield, Steve Brodner and The Herblock Prize, Jay Stephens’ homage to EC, AI gag writing, a centennial Annie-versary, and Dan Piraro and Wayno and Bizarro.

Batter up!

Brian Nelson, at The Worcester Telegram, offers a brief history of Casey at the Bat in his Laurel comic strip.

Extra innings: Jeff Overturf presents the Harvey Kurtzman/Jack Davis 1953 MADcap adaptation of the poem.


I’ve written before about my fascination with what I like to think of as ‘factory-like’ art, and Garfield is definitely up there (almost literally, given it has a team of artists churning out the strip). One of my favourite observations I’ve heard about art is someone who said there was a whole generation of kids who thought they were smart for liking Garfield only to grow up and realise how trite it is, because that’s definitely true for me.

Tristan Nankervis, for The Solute writes of his Strange Respect For Garfield.


Extra! Extra! Steve Brodner’s Brilliance Recognized by Herblock Prize

Brodner, a frequent contributor to The Nation, is both a great caricaturist and a great portraitist.

Jeet Heer, at The Nation offers an appreciation of Steve Brodner while reporting on his Herblock Prize win.

… The secret of Brodner’s art is that he recognizes no such division. A successful caricature combines a plausible likeness of the subject’s visage with some element of fantasy or exaggeration that brings out the inner life. Brodner learned to unleash his wild imagination not just from Nast but also from more recent masters such as Ralph Steadman (whose hallucinatory visions rivaled those of his collaborator Hunter S. Thompson) and David Levine (whose elegant caricatures defined The New York Review of Books for decades). As with his influences, Brodner’s wildest flights of fantasy are undergirded by a portraitist’s sense of composition and attention to telling detail.


Cartoonist Jay Stephens Honors EC COMICS with Homage Variants

Jonathan James. at Daily Dead, reports on EC Comics return from the grave.

Earlier this year, the surprise announcement that Oni Press is resurrecting EC Comics delighted horror fans around the world, but that was only the begining! More series and creator announcements have been teased, and we’re excited to exclusively reveal a new line of variant covers, which you can check out right now! Eisner Award-nominated and Emmy Award-winning artist Jay Stephens, the creator of Dwellings, is honoring EC Comics with a new, continuing line of “EC Homage” variants…

EC comic book covers from the Grand Comics Database


University of Sydney researchers have used an AI-assisted application to help people write cartoon captions for cartoons published in The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest.

Twenty participants with little to no experience writing cartoon captions wrote 400 cartoon captions. 200 captions were written with the help from the AI tool, and the remainder were written without assistance.  

A second group of 67 people then rated how funny these cartoon captions were. The researchers found jokes written with the help of the tool were found to be significantly funnier than those written without the tool. Comparatively, ratings for the AI assisted captions were almost 30 percent closer to the winning captions in The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest.

The University of Sydney reports on the results of the AI application to gag writing.


The “Annie”-Versary: A Hundred Years of Little Orphan Annie

Affectionately dubbed the “Annie-Versary,” the Lombard Historical Society (LHS), Village of Lombard, and the DuPage Convention & Visitors Bureau (DCVB) are excited about a series of events that will run from April 27 through December 23, 2024, commemorating Little Orphan Annie’s enduring legacy and paying tribute to Harold Gray, the creative genius who brought her to life.

Annie art, Annie actresses, and Harold’s homes. More information at the Lombard Historical Society.


Dan Piraro & Wayno: 15 Years of Comical Collaboration

It’s a story right out of a comic book: the Bizarro cartoonists remember their first meeting with a mix of humor and nostalgia. It wasn’t just a meeting of minds but of hearts, too, setting off a partnership full of creativity, laughter, and the kind of friendship that only comes from drawing together.

Bizarro cartoonists Dan Piraro and Wayno have fun talking about their collaboration.

above: the first Piraro/Wayno joint Bizarro from April 3, 2009

8 thoughts on “The Saturday Satchel

  1. Am I the only person who thinks the non-AI caption is funnier than the AI version? I think it’s more like the New Yorker style–strange but fitting. A company that once had a bunny division is, I think, better than confusing soup with suit, even if it is rabbit soup.

    1. I’ve never heard of “rabbit soup.” Rabbit stew, yes. And I suppose if you can make chicken soup, you could make rabbit soup. But who in the real, non-AI universe, ever has?

  2. I agree that the AI caption sucks. “I meant this word, not that word,” is a first-year amateur’s formula for an unlimited number of unfunny jokes. Cheney, on the other hand, is a genius.

  3. Maybe rather than New Yorker cartoons, an AI could write new Garfield captions. Although I certainly wouldn’t want to put Jim Davis out of a job.

  4. “the AI assisted captions were almost 30 percent closer to the winning captions”

    Wow. I had no idea that humour could be quantified that way. Would be interested in seeing the mathematical formulae behind that process. That must have been covered in the Advanced Statistics class.

    1. It is the ratings that were compared, not the caption text… “A second group of 67 people then rated how funny these cartoon captions were.” If those ratings were captured as something like a 1-5 scale, then numeric comparison would be a simple calculation (even though the individual ratings themselves would be completely subjective).

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