Bringing Up Father

I’ve been reading a lot of old Bringing Up Father comic strips on Facebook, they pop up daily. If you click on these, they will open larger.

What gets me is the detail. I can’t understand how George McManus, the cartoonist, drew the same characters day after day, multiple times in each strip with such precise detail. His linework is amazing.

Brining Up Father featured Maggie and Jiggs, the two main characters. It ran in newspapers for 87 yeras, from 1913 to 2000.

Jiggs is an immigrant from Ireland who comes to the U.S. and wins $1 million in a sweepstakes. So now he is up in the world but prefers his working class life. His favorite food is Corned Beef and Cabbage, which he gets often at his friend Dinty Moore’s restaurant.

The art has an Art Nouveau/Art Deco design, which makes it stand out. When McManus passed away in 1954, other artists took over the strip until its ending in 2000.

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Wordle showoffs

I love this cartoon because I love the characters. I drew this months ago and it had different text and context. I don’t even remember what it started out as, but I changed it so many times over the past few months.

I didn’t change the drawing, I changed the wording. It reminded me of something someone said on social media about the New Yorker cartoon I wrote about the other day – that “they draw the images and then figure out what they are saying later,” which of course I don’t think that’s the case, but maybe it is, because this Wordle gag ended up that way.

One part of love about the cartoon is that the thought Steve is thinking “Ouch!” as a Wordle answer is not really an answer because it’s only four letters. But it almost makes it seem like his whole life is Wordle, including all his thoughts.

I find it silly that people post their Wordle scores on social media every day. The silly part is that you don’t see their answers or the way they got to the final word of the day, it shows blank boxes. It doesn’t show what the previous word tries are or even what the word is.

Maybe people just hit a “share” button on Wordle somewhere and it posts your final score without you even realizing what it looks like on Facebook or wherever.

It’s like saying, “I’m great!” everyday.

One friend of mine posted his score every morning and I actually appreciated it because it reminded me to play the game. But posting your score without any concept or content is like saying, “I won an award for something,” and not saying what the something is.

It’s annoying when people post this online, but then again, it gave me the idea for this cartoon, so it all worked out.

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My cartooning styles and ideas

A friend came up with the concept of today’s cartoon.

He kept telling me to do something with “intense” and “in tents.”

“Get it?” He asked. Yes, I got it, but I didn’t know how to put it together. It took a couple of weeks and a couple of different drawings, text and concepts until I came up with this. Lots of changes to come up with this.

This one is self explanatory. Not to put down New Yorker comics lovers, but I wonder if they just pretend to get most of the gags just to be part of the “in crowd” or whatever you call them.

Not being sour grapes here, it’s just a gag and I do admire the cartoonists a lot who do work for the New Yorker. I have interviewed many, I have gone to some of their talks and showings, went to a Roz Chast exhibit a few years back at the Museum of the City of New York.

I’ve submitted stuff to the New Yorker and I know it’s a numbers game to get your first cartoon published and then become “one of them.” But the thing is they take too long to respond to your submission – sometimes eight months! And they have first rights of refusal. So imagine me sending them my fresh work, unpublished, and then waiting months for a reply. The work I publish daily would be eight months old after getting the rejection from the New Yorker, and then is it work publishing “rejected” work?

I have two cartoon styles – one was designed to be a “New Yorker style” and the other is the one I have used all my life, I call a Hanna-Barbera style, or “Flintstones style.” So I have accommodated my work to fit in with the New Yorker, and I like it. I go back and forth, depending on the gag, to see which drawing fits.

Like this one here I call the New Yorker style.

And this caveman one is my “Flintstones/Hanna-Barbera style.”

By the way, this caveman one, speaking of Flintstones, has been one of the most shared, viewed and liked cartoon of all of mine, so who knows what style is best. I just go with my mood that day. Same with the borders. Sometimes there is a very think board, sometimes a wild fat freestyle border, other times no border.

I think the fat, freestyle border works with this chicken cartoon.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got to say today!

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Returning to the 1980s

I’m always wanting to return to the 1980s – my favorite decade.

I always imagine that when we die, we can return to any time period we like – mine would be to relive Jan 1, 1980 to Dec. 31, 1989 and then do it over and over again – sort of like a 10 year version of Ground Hog Day.

I saw this picture recently, the Kevin Bacon poster. it’s from 1986 and it’s still hanging in the subway – at one particular station in NYC. Still there, 36 years later!

I’d like to visit it and sort of be in a picture in front of it, transporting myself to 1986. It’s at the 71st and Continental subway station in Forest Hills Queens. I am always at that station, too. I get off at that stop (and get on) when I’m coming and going from the city when I meet my cousins in Queens. I will visit this when I get to NY in a couple of months. Look for it here!

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Filming ‘Funny Girl’ in Hoboken

I was flipping through YouTube one night and this video popped up. It’s the filming of Barbra Streisand and the making of the “Don’t Rain on My Parade” segment in the movie Funny Girl. What caught my attention is that it was filmed at the old train station in Hoboken, which I frequent often. If you get a chance, you should watch this whole segment, it’s about 10 minutes long.

It was closed for renovations back then (in the mid 1960s), so the 1907 station was perfect for a movie set.

I come up from the PATH (subway) from NYC at that station and I sometimes hang around the old historic building at the water’s edge, looking across the Hudson River at NYC. It’s one of my favorite places when I’m in NY and NJ.

I did a story on visiting the Hoboken train terminal here where you can see some current photos of the place.

According to Wikipedia, the station is “served by nine NJ Transit (NJT) commuter rail lines, one Metro-North Railroad line, various NJT buses and private bus lines, the Hudson–Bergen Light Rail, the Port Authority Trans Hudson (PATH) rapid transit system, and NY Waterway-operated ferries. More than 50,000 people a day pass through.

There is a lot of history at this train station.

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Wallace the Brave

Click on the images for larger version.

Almost five years ago, I interviewed Will Henry, the cartoonist who does the comic strip Wallace the Brave. The comic strip was new at the time, but I saw something I loved about it and reached out to Will for the interview. Today Wallace the Brave is syndicated in newspapers around the country and it’s just as charming as ever.

Wallace the Brave is reminiscent of Calvin and Hobbes, yet it’s unique.

PBS did a short interview here. with Will recently, right out in his muse – the Rhode Island waterfront (and his liquor store, where it all started)

I often ask people I interview, which comic strip they would like to crawl into and visit for the day. Wallace’s world in Rhode Island is where I think I would like to visit.

You can read Wallace the Brave online daily at GoComics.com here.

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The changing, and shrinking, comics

I saw in The Daily Cartoonist today, that cartoonist Jim Keefe, cartoonist for Sally Forth, who previous was the writer and artist of Flash Gordon, wrote in his blog a few years ago, about the size, or rather, lack of size of the printed comic strips today.

A few years back I showed this example here, the comics in the Miami Herald – smaller than postage stamps!

I think this is the time I realized that my dream of being a published newspaper cartoonist was not my dream anymore.

I know people read the newspaper comics, but not many. I haven’t read the actual newspaper comics for years, and by years, I mean a decade or more. I think I gave up with The Far Side, Calvin and Hobbes and Bloom County left the comics pages. Today I read them online, where you can pick and choose your favorites and sort of make up your own comics page at GoComics.com and Comics Kingdom and other sites like Webtoons.

I think one of the best places these days to publish and to read comics is Instagram. You can follow the comics you like, flip through them one panel at a time and they easily come up in your daily feed, you don’t have to look for them. I publish there Monday thru Friday.

I’m enjoying reading old “Our Boarding House” comic panels featuring Major Hoople, from the 1920s and ’30s, on Facebook. A couple of groups post one Major Hoople panel a day, it has a lot of devoted fans.

In the past I always felt that I had to be published in the newspapers – it was why comic strips were created – to be in the newspapers. Just like movies – created to be seen on the big silver screen. But today big features show up on streaming services and most comics show up online or on social media.

And with both of these situations, you can control what you see, when you see it and how you see it. You can watch a movie on your 3 inch phone or 65 inch tv – same with the comics and those tiny, postage sized comics can be easily blown on on any screen for easing viewing.

By not being confined to daily newspaper publication, you can vary your schedule, you can change the size of the panels – make them longer, shorter, etc. Not be edited, which can be a good or bad thing depending on how you look at it, and probably the best part – publish instantly without a four to eight week lag time. I can’t imagine these days completing a comic strip or panel and then waiting eight weeks to see it in print.

Of course, publishing online rather than with a syndicate in newspapers has one major drawback – no money – you don’t get a salary. But times are changing. NFT’s seem to be something interesting to look at these days along with other money-making ideas for artists and cartoonists.

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With one foot in the past, just how long will it last?

The last few months I’ve been driving a different direction than usual and I pass a school that I dealt with for many years. I used to print school newspapers (well, I was a print broker, and handled printing the newspapers) and I drive by one of the schools I had as a client for 20 years. They were the longest running school client I had.

Now each day as I drive by, the 1980s and 1990s flood into my mind, mostly the 1980s – and I go back in time. I can picture myself in the office, speaking to the ladies there, picking up the job, delivering the completed newspapers – for 20 years! The ’80s flash by in my mind.

The other morning I saw a report on Tears for Fears, who to me, was the sound of the 1980s. The report was about them getting back together and going on tour this summer with a new album. So of course I dug around for one of my favorite albums, “Songs From the Big Chair,” which I couldn’t find, so I download my favorites from that album.

To me “Shout,” “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” and “Head Over Heels” scream 1980s – the best decade for music and just about everything!

I’ve been listening to this in my car and yesterday, as I drove by the school with the song on, I went back in time – like a time machine. I was back in time. It was surreal.

There are so many great songs from the 1980s, but for some reason, these three songs from Tears for Fears bring me back to that era and shout, no pun intended, 1980s.

I had it blasting so loud in the car, that I couldn’t hear a truck driver yelling at me and calling me names because I passed him on the road. I was in stuck 1985 anyway, out of his realm.

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Winter Arts Festival time

We did our local arts festival yesterday and will go back again today. When I say did, I don’t mean we showed our art, I mean we walked around, ate, drank, kibitzed and enjoyed the show. For one thing, the town is mobbed with people and it’s impossible to get in and out so it’s best to just stay put and enjoy the event.

It is getting a bit out of hand with the $25 entry fee and $15 gyros and $18 taco dishes, but it is what it is.

This weekend every year is the busiest weekend of the year in Miami. There are a few arts festivals, the boat show and some other things. They say it’s impossible to find a hotel room or rent a car – they’re all booked for the weekend.

Oddly enough, it was cold all winter, where I love, but yesterday and I guess today, when a bunch of us go back, it will be very hot.

I ran into my nephew’s friend, he told me that he and his wife got in for free. He said to the people at the gate that they forgot to stamp him when he left and then he rubbed the wet stamp on his wife’s hand after they stamped him – sort of like we used to do at the clubs. So he saved 50 bucks.

I used to be part of this as a sponsor when I did the daily news around here so I would get lots of tickets to give out free. But not anymore, I’m now a peon like everyone else (which I love being by the way), but people didn’t know and I got so many texts and calls from friends and family asking me for tickets. Even the UPS guy was hounding me for tickets. How he got my phone number I’ll never know.

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