Drawing Hal

hal-and-high-water

This is the first panel of the first reincarnation of “Hal an High Water.” I started it yesterday.

halI kept putting it off until the time was right, there were things that I was working out in my head and on paper and eventually digitally. I wasn’t happy with the Hal I had originally, his nose was too far from his head, it looked great in black and white, but when color was added it had a strange look. And his hair, I thought it was too much, too out there, he needed a haircut. This image here is the previous Hal.

I was also working on boats since boats and particularly sailboats are a big part of the strip.

I know it looked as if I wasn’t doing anything, but I was working it all out in my head and finally it all came together.

But once I felt things were right I got right into it. It’s taking about two hours for each strip to be done from start to final coloring. I need to get that down to an hour, which I will. But I’m into it. I really am enjoying Hal and the actual work. As I stated before, I prefer drawing single panel cartoons but decided at this time a comic strip was the way to go and it’s working out well.

For updates on the progress, you can follow me on social media here:
Hal and High Water Twitter: twitter.com/HalAndHighWater
Hal and High Water Instagram: instagram.com/HalAndHighWater
Hal and High Water Facebook: facebook.com/HalAndHighWater

I visited The NY Herald last week

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The New York Herald in 1895, when it was a new building at Herald Square.

I had to go to Macy’s on Herald Square last week so as I usually do when I’m on Herald Square, I pay homage to the New York Herald. The Herald itself is not there today, it left the location in the early 1920s and a clothing store took over the location until around 1940 when one of the ugliest buildings you’ve ever seen – a square ugly box replaced it.

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Luckily there are some remnants of The Herald at the location. The large statue of Minerva & the Bell Ringers stands as a memorial to James Gordon Bennett, founder of the newspaper.  The statue originally stood right at the top of the building, front and center, you can see it in the top photo. The owls that graced the roof are there today and so is the clock. All at a small park across the triangle.

The Herald stood on the triangle at Broadway and 6th Avenue between 35th and 36th Streets. It originally was downtown on Park Row where most of the newspapers in the 19th century were, but in 1895 it moved uptown to the Herald Square location, named of course, for the newspaper.

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This disgusting building stands in The Herald location today.

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Do these people realize the hollowed ground they stand on?

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One of the clocks stands in the park today across the street from the location. Another clock is on the other side of this column.

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Owls from the original building grace different areas of the small park that holds the historic mementos.

Related photos and stories:
The New York Herald
Visiting the NY Herald again
Revisiting The New York Times
Pulitzer and The World
The Sun; it shines for all

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NY Starbucks are a sitcom onto themselves

Starbucks

There’s always something going on at Starbucks in New York. I guess it’s the same in Miami, at my Miami location, which is home, everyone knows everyone else, and sometimes there is one big conversation going on in the whole store, you know, sort of like an Andy Griffith episode. In New York it’s different, there are the regulars, but so many tourists pass through and there are so many stories.

It’s almost as if any Starbucks in New York could be a sitcom, or a comic strip!

The other night I went to Starbucks which is across the street from where I’m staying and I ended up drinking two wrong coffees! Why? Because there were three Toms there at the same time! There were only a handful of people there, so there weren’t many people to get confused with, but apparently there were three of us!

I ordered on the app as I usually do, I walked in and heard my name called so I took the coffee, but after I tasted it, it didn’t taste right, so they gave me another coffee named Tom; still wrong. Two Tom coffees, both wrong. I told the girl behind the counter what I had ordered – a cafe mocha with extra whipped cream, and she said, oh, this is for another Tom.

I said, “Another Tom? There are three Tom’s here ordering at this very moment?” She said, “Yes, we have a lot of Tom’s here tonight!”

This morning I went across the street for breakfast. I usually go to Pret A Manger every morning and get the same thing – coffee or green tea and oatmeal. But I ended up in Starbucks. And it was a madhouse, very crowded and crazy. I didn’t use the app because I don’t usually order green tea and oatmeal on the app so I thought it would be faster to order at the register rather than look for the items on the app. But it was quite confusing. There were three registers open with people yelling in orders from every direction.

I ordered and the lady handed me my tea. I guess I looked confused, but I was just wondering who was going to hand me the oatmeal. I must have really looked confused because a guy next to me waiting for his order said, “The milk and sugar is over there,” and he pointed behind us. I smiled and tapped him on the shoulder, you know, friendly-like, and I said, “I know, I’ve been here before,” meaning Starbucks, any Starbucks. He got a bit embarrassed and laughed but I explained to him I was just waiting for the oatmeal. It was a nice funny experience early in the morning.

I was handed my oatmeal, said goodbye to they guy who was still waiting, and left.

She doesn’t like the name Hal

halI live in a condo and last night I was at a condo meeting. At one point, my next door neighbor looked over at me, sort of angrily, and she said, “I have a bone to pick with you!” I wondered what I had done.

She asked me, “Why did you name your comic strip what you did?” She was referring to Hal and High Water. I didn’t know what she meant at first. She went on, “You know, Hal!” and she looked over to one of our neighbors by that name, a guy who she despises. He is the type of neighbor who usually throws a monkey wrench into all of our plans, just last night he threatened to sue the building if we didn’t do something he wanted. So he is a despised character around here.

I had to explain that “Hal and High Water” refers to the expressions, “Hell and high water,” or “Hell or high water.” She had never heard that before.

But I was glad to see that she knew about my new comic strip which I’m working on now, hopefully ready for a New Year’s Day publication date. The more readers the better!

My brush with cartooning greatness

Lee Salem passed away earlier this week. I had conversations with Lee about cartooning and also Jay Kennedy, both heads of the big cartoon syndicates – Lee ran Universal Press Syndicate (now known as Andrew McMeel and GoComics.com) and Jay ran King Features.

In the mid 1990s I had sent them my work and they both liked it and both engaged with me. In other words, I didn’t receive form letters of rejection, which is usually the case, they were both nice enough to reject me personally.

In Lee’s case, he felt that my work was too much like The Far Side, which I believe had just ceased publication around that time. Today there seems to be many panel cartoons in that vein, but I guess right after Gary Larson left the scene, they didn’t want copies cropping up. I didn’t realize I was doing the same thing, but I must have been influenced enough by Gary that I was drawing weird single panel comics.

far-sideBut look at this famous Far Side comic panel; still hysterical today, just as it was the day it was published. I felt it was a compliment to be compared to him.

I’ve always loved single panel comics. I’m not sure why, but I was always drawn to them more than comic strips. Maybe it’s the concise nature, where you only have the one space to tell your story in the most economic way. I’m really not sure. I still love Hazel and Charles Addams, Out Our Way, They’ll Do It Every Time, Flubs & Fluffs, Dennis the Menace and so many more. But that’s not to say I don’t enjoy comic strips, but I do find myself drawn the less wordy ones, so maybe that’s why I like panels; they’re less wordy.

In Jay’s case, I remember receiving a personally written note from him, I have it somewhere and I’ll share it some time when I find it, but he encouraged me to continue my work and he asked to buy some of the current submissions and for the next few years I was part of “The New Breed,” which featured single panel cartoons by various cartoonists each day.

I would send the syndicate a bunch, maybe 20 or 25 at a time and they would purchase maybe five of them. They would send back the ones they wanted edited (change this word, move that shading, things like that) and I would make the changes and send the comic back and it was published in about 300 daily newspapers a few weeks later. Many who are published today started cartooning for The New Breed feature. It was a way for them to groom cartoonists before the internet.

I regret not continuing with them after a couple of years. I had started a business and that took off and I guess I became too busy to continue with the comics on a regular basis. A less than smart decision on my part at the time, although I’ve lived a very good life thanks to my business.

I’m ready to start publishing again. I’m preparing comics for daily publication, I keep going back and forth between a strip and my single panel Tomversation comic, which I tend to love more.

Madison Square; the Flatiron District

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I love this old photo. I’ve seen it many times over the years. This is my favorite area of NYC these days. I fell in love with it a couple of summers ago where I spent a few weeks. I’ve always had favorite parts of the city over the years and now it’s the Madison Square/Flatiron district. I like that it’s a few blocks from another favorite area of mine – Union Square, which you can get to by walking down Broadway a few blocks.

When I look at this photo I see almost everything that is still there today. The Victory Arch was temporary, it’s made of wood and it’s something they did at that time to commemorate things – this was a tribute to New York soldiers who fought in World War I. It was erected in 1918, over 100 years ago. It’s at 24th Street and 5th Avenue in the photo.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked on that exact spot. Broadway is to the right of the photo and 5th Avenue is to the left. That’s where they meet and form Madison Square, at the Flatiron Building, which is straight ahead. That’s Madison Square Park to the left (I recently stood there to watch a parade this summer). On the other side of the park is where the original Madison Square Garden was built in the 1800s. It’s now the site of the Met Life Building, which was built in 1909. So many times I sat across from that building on Madison Avenue, where it’s a quiet area of the park/city.

In this photo you can see the building to the right which has Eataly in part of the first floor now and to the right almost out of the photo is a place where there is a chicken restaurant that I like. I think that’s it.

What’s great about this part of Broadway is that it’s a very small street – the original Broadway and it doesn’t get much use. Traffic takes 5th Avenue instead. There’s a Starbucks on Broadway at 26th that I use a lot. And that gold dome behind the Flatiron Building at 170 5th Avenue is known as the Sohmer Piano Building because they were an original tenant there. It was built in 1897. It’s condos now.

The photo is taken from the Porcelanosa Building, which I love, too. It wasn’t there at that time, but it’s a great building now that faces the Flatiron Building. And that obelisk in the photo is still there today. It was installed in 1856. There’s a body under it! It’s General William Jenkins Worth’s mausoleum. he fought in the War of 1812.

Anyway, that one photo says so much to me. It tells so many stories.

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A comic on the subway wall

subway-comic

I took this photo on the NY subway on Saturday. Do you see what I see? No. Not the girl, not the filthy walls outside the window, either. I’m talking about the comic strip on the wall. It’s an ad, but still, it’s a comic.

For years I’ve had this idea of a comic panel, or possibly strip, on this square box ad space on the subways. I always imagined my own comic, Tomversation, in that space. It would be changed out a couple of times a week, maybe weekly, I don’t know how convenient or inconvenient it would be to change the image regularly.

I also had an idea about Amazon. What if there was a daily comic strip panel on their homepage? It would give people a reason to visit the site daily.  I love Amazon and I shop there all the time, but I haven’t been on the site in weeks (yes, even with their Amazon Prime Days). I can picture it now, a daily Tomversation comic panel, right at the top of the Amazon home page. I wonder how I could pitch this to Jeff Bezos. Hmmm.