Look! Up in the sky! Umbrellas!

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Umbrella Sky is now part of Giralda Plaza in Coral Gables. I attended the ribbon cutting on Friday night where there was food, live music and lots of neighbors.

I’ve seen this project online over the years and it’s so cool to have it right in my neighborhood.

The umbrellas will swaying over Geralda Plaza until the end of summer.

Coral Gables is the first city in South Florida and the third city in the U.S. to host the Umbrella Sky art project, an internationally recognized public art display that has taken part in Paris and Lisbon.

“This captivating art project is a great example of our commitment to increase art and cultural experiences in the City Beautiful,” said Coral Gables Mayor Raúl Valdés-Fauli. “Umbrella Sky will undoubtedly drive more people into our downtown, but we hope they stay to dine and shop while here.”

Umbrella Sky is the creation of Portuguese Company, Sextafeira, which means Friday in Portuguese.

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Selling my comics out of the blue

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So I sold some cartoons this week and I didn’t even try. In fact, it all came out of the blue – twice! Being a Gemini, things happen to me in twos and that happened this week.

I’m in New York for a couple of weeks. I received a couple of emails from a couple of different people. Both had seen my cartoon panel, “Tomversation” online, one lady said she was doing a Google search and the other,  I’m not sure, I think she was just going through my work on Huff Post and Medium.

Ironically, they both reached out to me asking to purchase some comics! One lady was a realtor and she was interested in a real estate “House Hunters” comic I did, she wanted to purchase the rights for a newsletter or something. She also asked for more real estate related comics, which I’ll send her once I return home to Miami from New York.

The other lady purchased a bunch of comics for a magazine, I believe. I billed them both through Paypal and I sent them high resolution comics to reprint. They paid right away and that’s that.

Not bad. Here I am on vacation, minding my own business and my comics are selling!

I’m thinking of starting daily publication of “Tomversation” starting in the fall. I think I’ve gotten enough of the run-around from syndicates, newspapers and the rest. I was just told by the head of one syndicate that he didn’t like my work or my drawing style. Yet, this is the guy who runs stick figure and crayon-type drawn comics with no imagination of  any kind. The Universe has better plans for me.

Drawing at the Met

 

I met my cousin Michael at the Metropolitan Museum of Art today in New York. He texted me to tell me he would be there – drawing. He was with a friend and he said they both do that together – draw. You may remember Michael was the one who took me around the Spider-man exhibit that time at the Society of Illustrators.

It sort of reminded me of that time I came upon the school kids drawing at MOMA and I ended up doing a story for the Huff Post about that. In this case, I knew the artists.

I went over and it was nice. They took a break after awhile and we walked around exploring the new exhibits. What’s funny about that was that Michael marked his spot so he could go right back to it to continue his drawing in one of the sculpture courts. But when we went back there was someone in the exact spot – the resident artist! Of all the places in that whole huge museum, they resident artist sat in Michael’s spot! We didn’t say anything, we just went on to look at more exhibits.

We are supposed to go to the David Bowie exhibit this weekend at the Brooklyn Museum, but I canceled to go to The Hamptons instead. Priorities. Guess we can go to Bowie next week.

Great comics I just discovered

I came upon Off the Leash Dog Cartoons by Rupert Fawcett on Facebook.  I love social media for finding new comics. Rupert posts all over the internet, on Facebook alone he has almost 1 million fans! you can see his work at his website here: http://offtheleashdogcartoons.com/

I love how true and close to home the comic is and I love that it’s in black and white. Not enough comics are in black and white these days. Rupert has Off the Leash animations on YouTube, too.

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Another comic that I came upon on Instagram is Meeting Comics by Andrew Neal.  This first comic is so close to home that its sad, but excellent. As of yesterday these poor kids were being taken away from their parents and locked up in cages. As of yesterday that effed-up policy has changed.

I like that Andrew posts the comics as a photo image of the drawn page, also in black and white, and I love where he adds post-it notes to make changes or cover up mistakes. It’s such a common practice with cartoonists, but Andrew just puts it out there in glorious ultra yellow.

You can see his website here: http://www.meetingcomics.com

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Ivortoons by Ivor Healy are mostly puns, but so funny. His work has appeared all over from the Wall Street Journal to Woman’s Weekly. He’s quite clever, I found him on Instagram.

You can see his work here: http://www.ivortoons.com

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He says my style is rushed

I had sent my work to one of the heads of one of the major newspaper syndicates. He gave me a lot of good advice, which I appreciate.  He did say something quite puzzling, he said my work looked rushed – that I drew too fast. These three drawings are samples of my style.

First off, he is right, I do draw fast, I’m not sure how he knew but I guess its his job to know. But is it a bad thing that I draw fast? That’s just my personality, I do things fast. I don’t think it diminishes the drawings. I see so many comic strips that look as if they were drawn fast, I mean people can’t even draw hands for gods sake, but that is the cartoonists’ styles, in fact many of them draw other things that I’ve seen that are totally different than their comic strip style.

Just this morning I was looking at a blog of a cartoonist who draws his comic strip very simply but he had other drawings on his blog, greeting cards, or something like that, which I really enjoyed, they were quite detailed and sort of a fine-line drawing style which is nothing like his comic strip style. And there is a woman cartoonist who does the same thing, when she draws things other than her comic strip, the drawings are quite different, more refined and detailed.

I don’t like to pick on other artist’s styles because art is art. Who am I to judge, which did make me wonder about this comic head who judged my art. I mean, I can understand him judging the comic as a whole, but since when is a cartoonist’s drawing style judged by an editor? There are so many comic strip and comic panel artists in the newspapers and magazines like The New Yorker, who have a very simple, fast style, but the finished work is perfect.

Backstage at the strips

backstageI started reading “Backstage at the Strips” again, by Mort Walker. I bought the book when I was a kid in the late ’70s and every few years I look at it.

I love that whole idea of the cartoonists being in their own little enclave in and around Westport, Connecticut. I like that life. I’m always tempted to move to New London or Mystic CT, but the cold is too much for a Florida guy. Vanity Fair did  a story not too long ago called, ‘When Fairfield County was the Comic Strip Capital of the World“, which describes exactly what Mort does in his book.

It seems like a perfect life – living on the waterfront in Connecticut and waking up in the morning and cartooning. I like the way Mort describes living an 80-year-old house at the time, in a shore community and working in an old barn.

I notice that in the book Mort says that Bob Gustafson handled his fan mail, so that letter I received so many years ago that I wrote about here, probably came from Bob and not Mort.

Backstage at the Strips, written in 1975 describes there being over 300 newspaper syndicates at the time and 1700 daily newspapers in the US, but still describes how hard it was to break into daily newspaper syndication. Now it’s almost impossible.

The book is really a great look at a cartoonist’s life with lots of valuable information about the cartooning industry at that time and before that time. The book is timeless. But it also encapsulates a time back then, in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s when things were different and times were simpler. It’s a place you want to go back to and just the fact that I first read the book when I was a boy it sort of does take me back to that time because as I read it, a lot of the passages remind me of the first time I read them back in the ’70s.

What did your teacher think of you?

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I was reading a Q & A column in Hogan’s Alley magazine (the printed issue) where cartoonists were asked, “What did your high school art teacher think of your cartooning proclivities?”

I found that to be interesting. I remember all through school, even high school, I was usually the best artist in art class as I am sure most young cartoonists are. I would cringe over this. I was proud and good enough to do my best and not dumb my work down, but it was quite embarrassing for me year after year being known as the best artist.

I remember one year my teacher told me that she told my mother at a parent-teacher night that I was a great artist and I asked my teacher, “What did my mother respond?” And she said, with a sort of wry look, “She said she knew!” She was almost mocking my mother as not being humble. But what was my mother to do, feign ignorance? That always has bothered me to this day. I’m sure my mother was proud but a bit embarrassed as I was when I was pointed out for my art.

I do regret one thing about my art class days. I remember drawing a whole, full color Sunday comic strip of “All in the Family,” the tv show. What I regret is that I gave it away. A classmate liked it and I just gave it to him.

It was excellent as I remember it. I remember the characters, Archie and Edith and the rest and also the layout of the living room as I drew it and it was quite a large size and full color, colored with water color paint. I would love to see that piece of art today.