Stephen Kroninger
April 2009
Willard Mullin: Damn Yankees
Earlier today, I was walking along the sidewalk on sixth avenue between 8th and Waverly when I spied this book with a fantastic Willard Mullin illustration on the cover. At first I gave it a glance and kept on walking. Suddenly a voice in my head kept repeating "Larry Ross, Larry Ross, Larry Ross" so I turned around and bought it. The musical Damn Yankees is based on this book. It's a classic, you know. Larry, you huge but lovable Yankees fan, this book belongs in your collection. Next time I see you it's yours. LET'S GO METS!

VIP: How I Work: '56
Some of Virgil Partch's contribution to the Famous Artists School published in 1956.

Simplification: I do not, for each picture that I draw, make an anotomical sketch as I did here. However, the details, through past studies, are stored in my mind and can be trotted out out when needed.
The same pose is simplified, still realistic. Thick and thin lines become important with absence of shading.

 The characters and pose remain, but they are simplified into my cartoon style. The poker paraphernalia seemed a good idea at the time.

On my first rough for this drawing I felt that the car and the child were unnecessary. They didn't pep up the scene. The victim looked as though he were merely tripping. I decided to put him flat on the sidewalk with his hat still rolling to indicate that he just dropped dead.

I wished the speaker to be oblivious to his pal's fate. This, I felt, would let only the public in on the little secret (no one in my picture knows the victim's fate) and would let them imagine what would follow this little scene.

 "Boy! If looks could kill, eh, Steve?"

Once the basic gag is established the process of refining and pointing up starts. My preliminary sketches are done in the simplest possible terms-just enough to tell where I am going. in this case the ring of blank looking natives not only hold the picture together but added to the humor.

"You'd think they'd never seen a guy take a bath before."

1. For a Sunkist trade ad campaign aimed at store managers, I had to put across the idea that something pretty pleasant was going to happen if they followed the client's advice. This is the first rough sketch on bond paper.

2. The second rough, trying for a bit more composition. A child added for a more complete family.

3. A bit of work for my own information-detail worked out for the young lady in the stocking.

4. For the next rough, I "flopped" or reversed, the tracing on my lightbox. This is the rough the agency showed the client.

5. The finished art. The child is really in the act now-her delight is a good contrast to the mother's dismay.

VIRGIL PARTCH: Far from being the zany, haphazard humorist that a look at his work would imply, VIP is one of the most careful craftsman in the business. His mastery of anatomy and solid drawing is refined into his apparently simple style, which gets his mesage to the reader in an hilarious hurry.

Latest Observer Caricatures
 Recent caricatures for the New York Observer Calendar. the art director is Nancy Butkus. Nancy genenrally sends me a few names and allows me to chose who I want to do for the week. These are cut-outs, meaning scissors, magazines and glue. Up top is the Easter Bunny.

Donna Karan

Gwyneth Paltrow practicing Yoga
Rachel Maddow

Wolverton: Culture Corner
 "Here are some helpful instructions on how to perform everyday tasks in a cultured manner, courtesy comic book master Basil Wolverton. This feature ran in Whiz Comics from 1945 to 1952, and I believe they have never been reprinted." Fifty strips have been posted on the Dinosaur Gardens blog. Brilliant stuff. Click Dinosaur Gardens to see them.
Rube Goldberg: Post-War Plan
 Who doesn't love Rube Goldberg? The following images are from THE RUBE GOLDBERG PLAN FOR THE POST-WAR WORLD published in 1944.

all images and text © copyright 1944 Rube Goldberg

Sita Sings the Blues
Sita Sings the Blues is an animated film filled with the strange and unlikely: American jazz age music provides the soundtrack to an ancient Sanskrit epic; the deeds of heroes are brought down to Earth by the nattering of shadow puppets; and a love story that's inspired generations is the backdrop to a modern tale of heartbreak.
Film critic Roger Ebert calls it enchanting.
Dancing moons, monkey musicians, a half-dozen animation styles, all the result of three years of work by Brooklyn-based cartoonist Nina Paley, who wrote, directed and produced the film.
And perhaps the strangest and most unlikely aspect of Sita Sings the Blues is that Paley is giving it away.
For free.
You can download it here.
For the Full Story: Sita Sings the Copyright Blues

HUMBUG! April 14 Strand Books
An Evening with HUMBUG Featuring Arnold Roth and Al Jaffee in conversation with Gary Groth Tuesday, April 14, 7:00PM The Strand Bookstore 12th St. & Broadway, New York, NY
Jack Davis
In 1957, five artists — HARVEY KURTZMAN, WILL ELDER, ARNOLD ROTH, AL JAFFEE and JACK DAVIS -- hot on the heels of creating MAD magazine, pooled their money and their talent and entered into the creative, exuberant folly of a lifetime by creating the greatest satirical magazine of their careers. Join HUMBUG co-founders Arnold Roth and Al Jaffee in a book signing and discussion about this historic publication with Fantagraphics Publisher and editor of the collected HUMBUG, Gary Groth. Attendees will also enjoy an exclusive screening of a documentary short film about the late Will Elder.
Harvey Kurtzman changed the face of American humor when he created the legendary MAD comic. As editor and chief writer from its inception in 1952, through its transformation into a slick magazine, and until he left MAD in 1956, he influenced an entire generation of cartoonists, comedians, and filmmakers. In 1962, he co-created the long-running Little Annie Fanny with his long-time artistic partner Will Elder for Playboy, which he continued to produce until his virtual retirement in 1988. Between MAD and Annie Fanny, Kurtzman’s biographical summaries will note that he created and edited three other magazines, Trump, Humbug, and Help!, but, whereas his MAD and Annie Fanny are readily available in reprint form, his major satirical work in the interim period is virtually unknown. Humbug, which had poor distribution, may be the least known, but to those who treasure the rare original copies, it equals or even exceeds MAD in displaying Kurtzman’s creative genius. Humbug was unique in that it was actually published by the artists who created it: Kurtzman and his cohorts from MAD Will Elder, Jack Davis, and Al Jaffee, were joined by universally acclaimed cartoonist Arnold Roth. With no publisher above them to rein them in, this little band of creators produced some of the most trenchant and engaging satire of American culture ever to appear on American newsstands. At last, the entire run of 11 issues of Humbug is being reprinted in a deluxe format, much of it reproduced from the original art, allowing even owners of the original cheaply-printed issues to experience the full impact for the first time.
R. O. Blechman
Will Elder
Will Elder
The covers posted here are from my personal collection of "original cheaply-printed issues" and don't reflect the quality of reproduction in the Fantagraphics collection.
All Text © copyright Fantagraphics Books
Recent Joe Klein: TIME
Recent pieces for Joe Klein's IN THE ARENA column in TIME magazine. Cynthia Hoffman is the art director.
"The Quiet American: How the World Sees Obama." Mr. Klein's theme in this piece was how foreign policy has moved from Bush era bellicosity to the Obama administration's pledge to listen.
"Don't Panic — At Least Not Yet: The Obama agenda is ambitious and complex, but he still deserves time to make it work."
"How Israel's Anger Issues Hurt Us All: The election has strengthened anti-Arab forces who are isolating the country from the world"
"Obama on the World Stage: What Power Means"
"Why Legalizing Marijuana Makes Sense: Legalizing marijuana may be politically risky. But the economic benefits are becoming difficult to ignore"
NY Observer Caricatures
I don't consider myself a natural caricaturist like Philip Burke, Steve Brodner, David Levine, Miguel Covarrubias etc. I have to work at it. Collage is the perfect medium for me. If a likeness doesn't come on the first pass I can keep cutting and moving things around until I get close. In that way, collage is something akin to painting in oils. Recently I began creating weekly caricatures for the calendar section of the New York Observer with Art Director Nancy Butkus. Here are the latest.
John Updike
Tinsley Mortimer: I have no idea who this woman is. From what I could gather in researching her photo, she's a rich girl who goes out and gets photographed a lot. I could be wrong and someone out there may have more info.
Britney Spears Circus Tour
Sir Paul McCartney
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