Sunday, November 18, 2018

Sunday With Bugs Bunny


Al Stoffell and Ralph Heimdahl



The MEN BEHIND THE COMICS

In my childhood I used to follow the daily comic strip adventures of Bugs Bunny in my hometown newspaper the Trail (BC) Daily Times. Finding information about Al Stoffell (writer) and Ralph Heimdahl (cartoonist) has always been a near futile chore, perhaps they were unjustly ignored because they were producing a cartoon “property” rather than illuminating original characters. I did, however, find a short article that shed some light on their lives. In the creators’  own words:

Al Stoffell – “Away back thar in 1947, after I had been a freelance writer, hotel publicity man, newpaper reporter and a lieutenant in the Navy, I turned up as a handy man in the editorial department of Western Publishing Co., which had an agreement with Warner Brothers and Newspaper Enterprise Association to produce a Bugs Bunny Sunday page. One day somebody gave me a pat on the back and told me I was going to write the Bugs Bunny Sunday page. My Norwegian friend (Ralph Heimdahl) and I have been at it ever since.”

Ralph Heimdahl – “I had been teaching for seven years in Minnesota, six years in a school for the deaf, when I read about a national competition that Walt Disney was holding to find artists to work for him in California. I drew up some Mickey Mouses and some Donald Ducks and sent them in. I was accepted along with eleven other guys in 1937 and we went through the Disney training.

There was a big strike and I wound up on a farm in Vermont. While on the farm I created a comic strip called Minnie Sue and Little Haha which I finally sold to an outfit in New York after my return to California. It wasn’t real successful but it was a nice little Indian story.”

[1] November 22, 1958
[2] September 1, 1959
[3] May 14, 1960
The Men Behind The Comics: Heimdahl, Stoffell: 
Batty About Bugs, R. Terrance Roskin, 
Desert Sun, July 12 1976




Eminent Victorian Cartoonists



The author of Eminent Victorian Cartoonists is Dr. Richard Scully, Associate Professor in Modern European History at the University of New England, Armidale, NSW, 2531, Australia. The book, a "labour of love," published by The Political Cartoon Society, is a three volume comprehensive social and biographical history of the Victorian political cartoon from John 'H.B.' Doyle to Sir (John) Bernard Partridge. The three volumes are built to last; beautifully printed in solid boards with a sturdy slipcase.

To date the histories of the British Victorian political cartoon have focused rather narrowly on the gentlemen of Punch; a carryover from the class-dominated establishment snobbery that dictated the acceptable in literature, art and theater throughout the nineteenth century. A seat at the Punch Table was an entrée to high society and a distinguished knighthood. The young du Maurier looked forward to the day “when illustrating for the millions (swinish multitude) à la Phiz and à la Gilbert will give place to real art, more expensive to print and engrave and therefore only within the means of more educated classes, who will appreciate more.” 


Nibbling at the edges were the déclassé serio-comic journals, lower-class cousins of the "estimable Punch," embracing "the million" who sought entertainment by the penny or halfpenny: Judy, with her sideline in "Jolly Books", Fun, Moonshine, Figaro, Funny Folks, The Big Budget, Comic Cuts and Ally Sloper's Half-Holiday...

Eminent Victorian Cartoonists widens the scope of study with its emphasis on five of the best of the generally neglected political cartoonists, "The Rivals" of volume II; Matt Morgan, John Proctor, William Henry Boucher, John Gordon Thomson and Fred Barnard. An essential  game-changing reference book filled with insightful biography and caricature history.


Eminent Victorian Cartoonists

is available HERE

JKA





Saturday, November 17, 2018

A Crowded Life in Comics – Stan Lee





“I always thought I’d quit in a couple of years.
 But it never seemed to happen…” – Stan Lee


‘Nuff Said: Memories of Stan Lee

by Rick Marschall

Stan Lee died this week. As if he were invulnerable like many of his superheroes – or the usual superheroes, not the Marvel Universe head-cases – many fans likely thought he would simply live on and on.

He did, in a way that few others in the comic-book field did. Even Steve Ditko, so closely linked to Stan and who also died this year, began his career when Stan was well established. Heck, Stan was a veteran in comics when I was born. Eventual retrospectives will assess his career as spanning the Adolescent Age (of the comic-book format, not only readers’ ages) to extravagant SFX Hollywood exploitation.

There have been a plethora of tributes and appraisals of Stan this week, starting within hours of his death. Media canned obits; fans’ fond memories; critics jumping on his grave before he could even occupy it – carping, criticism, iconoclasm, deconstruction, revisionism.

I think Stan’s contributions were enormous, and I can avoid hagiography to say so. His personality was enormous, and so were his talents and instincts and ego and modesty. With great power comes great contradictions.

Instead, I will offer some aspects and anecdotes that might not be found elsewhere. And they can be added, perhaps, to the assessments other will make in the future. They are personal, but not mine alone.

I met Stan when I was Comics Editor of Publishers Newspaper Syndicate in the mid-1970s. It was in Chicago, in the Sun-Times Building, across the river from the virtual cathedral known as Tribune Tower. Stan was in town I think as a guest of Chicago Con, but also to speak with my syndicate’s president Dick Sherry. Not about a Spiderman strip; another syndicate, another time, would do that. No, Stan and Dick had been discussing a European-style magazine, along the lines of Linus, Eureka, or the original Charlie – new contents, international material, articles, interviews, news, reviews, all about comics.

I don’t remember whose idea it was, originally, but Marvel (or Stan himself?) and Publishers Syndicate would co-produce. A major investor would have been Johnny Hart (BC and Wizard of Id), who did not join us for lunch or back at the office. My familiarity with European comics and cartoonists was a major reason Sherry hired me, and I would have been the editor. The working title (appropriately random and only vaguely germane) was to be GROG! after the strange beast in BC. He would have been the magazine’s “mascot.”

We made dummy copies and got to second base, but never to third or home, for various and sundry reasons.

But Stan and I kept in touch. A couple years later, with Chicago (and the third of the syndicates where I edited comics) in the rear-view mirror, I wrote to Stan about working for Marvel. I had never been a particular fan of superheroes, which I did not, um, stress in our correspondence. It seems that it would not have made a difference, however, because I was indeed hired, but initially to handle the magazine line – black and white comics, one-shots, “Super Specials,” movie adaptations, and such. The Hulk was a hit on network TV then, and the process-color magazine stories I hatched or edited were supposed to be “more like the TV Hulk.”

Eventually I was given the privilege of conceiving (with many Stan conferences), designing, naming, and charting the course of what became EPIC magazine.

This brief column will correct some of the conceptions and misconceptions about this Marvel period, and Stan. The Editor in Chief at the time was Jim Shooter, and he has written some memoir about my hiring, and the birth (and birth-pangs) of EPIC. I would like to say that I have read and enjoyed these. I would like to say that, but I cannot, because they are mostly tripe. He wrote that I was hired “cold” by him, yet I had known and (almost) worked with Stan previously, as I have related.

The same with EPIC: it was to be more like Heavy Metal than GROG!, of course; and I took the position that, like HM and the European magazines, we would have to grant creators’ rights and sign royalty agreements.

This argument was resisted in higher echelons at Marvel, of course. Shooter came on board but was not father to the idea, despite his revisionist history. And it did happen: in the Marvel Universe, EPIC was the entry-way to royalty deals. Stan eventually sent me to Europe, to the Lucca Festival principally, to scout for artists. (Shooter was steamed, just as he complained about my invitation to lunches and meetings when European publishers came to New York. But. I had previous relations with many of them; and as one executive said, “We don’t want to scare them off.”)

Back to Stan, and some more pertinent things to share. He was, in the office, just what people saw in conventions and TV commercials. Dashing about in warp-speed. Gregarious. Yes, nicknames. There were many meetings, and chats, in his office; but he often came into the office of me and Ralph Macchio, my assistant. Sometimes business, of course, but – this was cool – sometimes to talk about nothing. Not quite like Seinfeld, but… old comics, newspaper strips, “what ever happened to this-or-that old cartoonist” who I might have known. Once when Burne Hogarth came up to visit me, I took him down to meet Stan, who acted (and surely was) blown away to meet the Tarzan artist.

If memory serves, when Tom Batiuk visited New York once (I had edited Funky Winkerbean at Publishers) he was awed to be in the Marvel offices, and met Stan. My Connecticut friend Chad Grothkopf (who was my first landlord after I married Nancy) requested that I arrange an audience with Stan. They had worked together decades earlier, and were friends whose wives shared the same first name.

Ralph thought these visits to my desk were out of the ordinary, by Marvel standards; usually editors were called to his large office if at all. But these were social calls. One thing he shared I never forgot. Out of the blue, one day he talked about his early, and surviving, dreams for Marvel: he always held up Disneyland, the theme parks; and what they represented. Not so much the characters except “the way Disneyland, the whole Disney thing, is tattooed on everyone’s brain... There are other cartoons, but Disney is first. There are other funny animals, but the Disney ones are what people think of. Mickey Mouse is the most famous character in the world! Disneyland! A whole city!” I wondered, years later, after Marvel was swallowed by Disney, how ironic that was to him – maybe bitter, since Stan was long-gone by then.

More than that, is something I can share, and it seldom is mentioned about Stan. His instincts. He loved comics as an art form, but never got artsy about it (believe me, friends here and in Europe can and do) (so do I). By the end of my time at Marvel, Stan knew little about the Marvel titles or new characters. Enough – no; actually, not enough – to answer fans’ questions at conventions. That was the real reason he gave talks with no questions, or arranged signings alone, with no presentations.

But he never lost his technical-editing (if I can use that term) chops. As I said, I had been a cartoonist, had edited comics, churned ‘em out at Marvel after all; and studied strips. The “Language and Structure,” as my course would be called as a teacher at SVA. Stan, however, held “classes” every day.

– How to construct a page? He would explain how to lead the reader’s eye through a page.

– Balloon placement? He was brilliant, seeing designs like parts of jigsaw puzzle, making the reader look here and notice that, via balloons, sound effects, visual elements, “camera” angles. 

Covers and colors? This was what Stan held onto longest – approving every single cover. The drawing, usually roughs AND finishes, and especially the colors. Contrasts and values, logos and figures. He would never merely reject out of hand; he would correct and show and discuss. By my time, the assembly-line of cover roughs had Marie Severin execute the final versions for Stan, and her own talent as well as years-with-Stan, virtually assured their OKs. But there was almost always one little tweak, at least, and spot-on irrefutable.

Every chat was like going to school.

Whatever is said, or speculated, about Stan Lee’s collaborations, what is seldom said and less often acknowledged is the undeniable effect that such “lessons” – his instincts, not just about what would make young readers flip – but how to do it, in a million subtle ways… could not have been lost on Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and others. Even Drawing the Marvel Way does not give a full impression of the passionate love affair Stan had with the comic-book page. And his visceral analyses. I would ask John Buscema if he realized the same things about Stan. “Oh, sure,” he would wave his hand. He acknowledged picking up countless tips from Stan.

Memorable characters? Stan created or wet-nursed them; all with his DNA. Strips? He loved comics, so launched several newspaper strips. Other genres? He loved humor, as well as teenage, girls, parody, fumetti, and romance themes. Merchandising, movies, theme parks… we know them all. Astounding, really.

In one dynamic man, he was what other publishers needed staffs for. He always seemed a bit uncomfortable in person, however affable, as if fighting eternally blocked nasal passages; and – during my time – I used to wonder how painful those hair plugs were. Yet nothing slowed him down. I even remember hearing that when he moved to Los Angeles, his place was so big that he skated around on roller skates, even answering the door with them on. True? Even if not, it fit the man perfectly. Legends imitate life.

In that regard, finally, one time he bounded into my office, and related an idea he had for a Silver Surfer story in the planned EPIC. He was full of life, gesticulating, doing action poses, loudly building to a crescendo ending. After he left, Ralph Macchio and I looked at each other, rolling our eyes and stifling laughs. We had the common impression – the story hung on the sort of speculation that we both had as kids, young kids, and therefore many readers probably would too; and therefore the pitch seemed mundane, not special.

Eventually I realized that the story idea, I won’t recount here, was pure Stan. If it was juvenile… it touched on ordinary fantasies. A good thing. If it was simple… it meant it was universal. If it was child-like…

… well, that was Stan Lee. A brilliant child – maybe several brilliant kids rolled into one – who never lost the joy of childhood. Everything could be fun, if you dreamed it right, planned it right, told it right, drew it right, and sold, or shared it, right. At the root of it all, whatever the genre or project, Stan Lee asked “What if…?”

And I ask: What if there had been no Stan Lee?


Topper: Jack Kirby, Fantastic Four, Marvel Treasury Edition, 1976
Bottom: Stan Lee, 1969

16

Friday, November 16, 2018

Oesterheld and Breccia — Mort Cinder



“He [Héctor Oesterheld] had a literary background and was a great reader, like me and most of the young people of the time, novelists such as Jack London, Melville, Conrad, Alexandre Dumas, Jules Verne, Victor Hugo ... And Hector began, with that same style, to produce his own personal stories…” Francisco Solano López, illustrator of the science-fiction comic El Eternauta
.
by john adcock

In 1955, with his brother Jorge, Héctor Oesterheld, who left behind one of the saddest stories in comics, founded the Argentinian comic periodical Frontera, and wrote over 150 comic scripts for fifty artists. Among them were some of the finest adventure comic artists to ever walk the earth; Alberto Breccia, Hugo Pratt, Francisco Solano Lopez, and Arturo del Castillo. Author Jorge Luis Borges was a great admirer of Oesterheld’s imaginative storytelling abilities. Frontera declared bankruptcy in 1963

MORT CINDER, now released in English for the first time, was written by Héctor Oesterheld with art by Alberto Breccia. The bookish antiquarian, Ezra Winston (Breccia was his model) is summoned by supernatural forces to resurrect the immortal Mort Cinder from the grave. Shell-shocked at this turn of events he soon turns enthusiastic; there is some nice black humor when the sedate antiquarian gives in to his violent atavistic impulses against the unsettling leaden-eyed men who try to prevent the resurrection.
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Breccia’s expressive black and white drawings were influenced by Alex Raymond and other noteworthy illustrative American newspaper cartoonists. Mort Cinder began in the weekly magazine Misterix in No. 714, July 20, 1962 and ended with No. 800 on March 3, 1964.

Breccia’s Rip Kirbyish comic art is haunting and unforgettable, panels filled with brilliant light exploding out of the velvet blackness, sometimes splitting the panels in two, sometimes erasing the lines where light meets light, as in the cover image shown above. The only artist I can think of who came close to this spotlight-style of imagery was Angelo Torres, with his drawings for the Creepy and Eerie horror magazines, and he was basing them on photographs. Mort Cinder was the creation of an artist at the peak of his powers, spinning out masterful panels with pen and ink, brush, acrylic, sponge and paint-spattered razor-blades. Breccia added grays in wash and tint for effective contrast.
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Mort Cinder has long been considered a classic of world comics, widely known in Europe, but inaccessible to Canadians and Americans. Mort Cinder is brilliant, disordered, and un-nerving narrative fiction pondering timeless questions of death, decay, control and memory. This timely English edition is highly recommended. Fantagraphics plans further additions to the magnificent Alberto Breccia LibraryMort Cinder is one for the ages — get them while you can.

MORT CINDER. Héctor Oesterheld and Alberto Breccia, Fantagraphic Books Edition, November 2018, 224 pages, HERE



Sunday with Little Willie and Bad Mans!


Bad Mans Takes Willie
to the Circus!
Jimmy Swinnerton
Chicago Examiner
July 21910
Little Willie looks to be the younger brother of Swinnerton's more famous Little Jimmy. Every Little Willie strip contained variations of the same joke, ending with slapstick violence wreaked by Willie's pug Violet, and the repeating "BAD MANS!" to finish.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Sunday with the Chicago Examiner


COMIC SECTION
of the 
Chicago Examiner
July 24, 1910






Friday, November 9, 2018

A Crowded Life in Comics – Bob Lubbers


A special drawing by Bob Lubbers following the ExpoCartoon festival
 in Rome, Italy, 1998, that honored him with the Yellow Kid Award.
“When In Rome…”

By Rick Marschall

I have attended the comics festivals in Lucca since 1978 (and, in fact, those in Rome, ExpoCartoon; and Angouleme, Prague, and elsewhere – and the American rep, at one time or another, for Lucca, Angouleme, and Rome) and the friendships I made at those salons is precious to me. The cartoonists, scholars, and fans who attend these have yielded some of the closest friendships I have formed over the crowded years.

There will be stories from each, but one of the most special was ExpoCartoon, a complicated offshoot of Lucca, in 1998. I took each of my children, separately through the years, to one symposium or another, and that year it was my eldest daughter Heather.

She has said she was surprised at the tomfoolery among the otherwise august and dignified scholars from around the world. Gulio Cesare Cuccolini from Bologna was representative – clipped beard, Saville Row suits, a pedant. When we got together aside from roundtables and speakers’ lecterns, we could be the Katzenjammer Kids. That year (excuse me if I forget some of the guilty parties) but Carlo Chendi. Luca Boschi, Feliciano Rovai, Bartolo Bartolomei, Andrea Felice, Alberto Beccatini, and a few others – just to name the Italians! – were pranksters in our free time.

Hey… it’s comics. One thing I did to crack Heather up was, during some evening’s award presentations, or something, I was lined up before the stage, a few feet in front of the first row, where Heather sat next to her new best friend Bob Lubbers (who I shall get to in a moment). On the back of every page of the papers I was supposed to be looking at I wrote words of a continuing nonsense-message to her. She could see it, but people in the back of the room and balcony could not. I am sure they wondered, however, why that American college student was laughing like crazy all evening.
 
We arrived in Rome a couple days early because I was to serve on the awards jury and I had to go through submissions from around the world. Bob Lubbers was a special American guest. He was given two tickets but his wife could not make the trip; he invited a lifelong friend and neighbor from Long Island whose name I forget right now.

Al Capp and Bob Lubbers, 30 May 1954
None of those three had been to Rome before. And there they were. Strangers in a strange city with two days to kill. So they decided between themselves to be accidental tourists, armed with maps, curiosity, and a bit of confidence.

Success! The teenaged college girl and two white-haired gents conquered the Eternal City. They visited monuments, got lost, tasted snacks, had great meals… and even found their way back each evening.

A few days later, during the conference, I encountered Bob Lubbers leaving out hotel to walk the few blocks to the Fiera di Roma, where the salon was held and which I was leaving for a break. He “had to tell me” while he had the chance what a fine daughter I had, mature and funny and kind. Of course I was prouder than any other things that week could have made me, even the outrageous practical jokes with my Italian friends.

Bob Lubbers received the Yellow Kid Award (which was a “fix,” but surprised him) and that evening I asked him if he would draw a sketch – maybe of his three famous “girls,” Daisy Mae, Long Sam, and Robin Malone – for me. He demurred, assuring me that he would send something to me after he got home.

This color sketch of those famous characters, in Rome, with a nice inscription, arrived in the mail soon thereafter. A treasure.

The sentiments he offered about my daughter on Rome’s shady streets, and the compliments in the inscription, could be said about Bob Lubbers – dignified, sincere, friendly… and one of the great talents of the comic-strip field.

15

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Monday, November 5, 2018

The Journal Kinetoscope


𝅘𝅥𝅰
The Lady And The Mouse
by Carl Anderson

New York Journal

𝅘𝅥𝅰



[1]
[2]
Taken At The Rate of A Million A Minute

The Journal Kinetoscope

Sept 5, 1897
[3]

𝅘𝅥𝅰


1

Sunday, November 4, 2018

A Crowded Life in Comics – National Cartoonists Society

Rick Marschall

My One Evening As the NCS Attorney

CARTOONIST SKETCHES - NCS poster for RM 1961

::

            Another anniversary just passed. For me, anyway; my personal Crowded Life. October 25 was my parents’ birthday and will always be tattooed on my “brain.” This year I flew to New York City on Oct 25 to deliver a speech to the Theodore Roosevelt Association’s annual symposium. The next evening, on TR’s birthday, the keynote banquet speaker was Conan O’Brien, Harvard history grad and enthusiastic Theodore Roosevelt acolyte – a true Ted-Head – whom I had been helping over the past couple months with research and images. For this little work he called me “the brilliant Rick Marschall” in his speech.

Rick Marschall & Conan O'Brien, TRA Symposium
We all know that comedians like Conan are always kidding, and historians like me are always desperate for attention, hence this shameless self-promotion. I returned from New York with a deadly head cold, but actually I think it was a swelled head. Hashtag-Confession-Is-Good-For-The-Soul.

Back to the past. October 25 will always be preeminent in my mind because it was the date, in 1961, of the first National Cartoonists Society meeting I attended. I was 12, and Al Smith invited me. He was the artist of Mutt and Jeff, lived in Demarest NJ, the next town from ours, and briefly attended our Lutheran church. I always suspected that he was chased away by the pastor’s requests for drawings for church publications and posters, but anyways he introduced the young cartooning nut, me, to the legendary cartoonist in the fullness of time.

I subsequently visited Al enough times, seeking drawing tips and peppering him with questions about comics history, that he was convinced I was some sort of true-blue aspirant, or little freak, or something in-between, safe enough to be exposed to the pros. Or vice-versa.

He picked me up early in the afternoon because, as NCS Treasurer, his attendance was required at the Board meeting before drinks and dinner. The monthly meeting was as big as any other chapters’ around the country, because New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Long Island was still the nexus of American cartooning. The meetings were held in the Lambs Club, ancient and old-world elegant clubhouse of the legendary actors’ association. Wood-paneled rooms, overstuffed leather chairs, and cigar smoke presented me a picture of Heaven; several old actors (I believe I spotted Brian Aherne) snoozed in easy chairs and corner sofas.

Al Hirschfeld, Algonquin Round Table
The Lambs dignified clubhouse is on East 44th Street – and in a pleasant coincidence, the Harvard Club is on the same block, and that where the Theodore Roosevelt Association met, and I delivered my speech almost exactly 57 (gulp) years later. The Algonquin Hotel and Restaurant – home to many celebrities in ages past, and bon mots first uttered at the Round Table – and I lunched there last week too, a matter of obeisance. Holy ground, West 44th Street.

Al Smith took me up to a meeting room in an otherwise dark upper floor, and one by one Board members filtered in. Emerging from the darkness was a white head with absurdly large ears and a large cigar to match. I knew it was Rube Goldberg and I felt in the presence of royalty. He was kind enough to engage me in conversation, and spontaneously invited me to visit his studio off Central Park, when and if (as if not!) I could make it back to Manhattan. Before the evening was over, he asked for my address, if (as if not!) I would like an original drawing. Before the week was out I received an inscribed Inventions and Mike and Ike from the ‘teens.

One of the agenda items for the Board meeting was to meet, or vet, a new legal representative for the NCS. He never showed, so for the remainder of the Board meeting, and the entire dinner and program downstairs, I repeatedly was introduced as the New Lawyer. I sat on the dais for the dinner, between Al Smith and Dik Browne. I watched Dik, later a great friend who attended my wedding, for clues on dinner etiquette… but eventually noticed he didn’t touch his food. I gobbled my salad, and don’t remember whether he actually ate or not.

Bill Holman
          Bill Holman was president, or anyway presided, as only he could – yes, everything you would imagine from him was delivered. He actually asked me to the microphone; I answered some questions; and I demurred when invited to say something on my own. Believe it or not I had anticipated this crazy eventuality, and prepared some lame joke about a missing cocktail at the bar, and guessing that “Bob Dunn it,” and I thank God that my tongue hath cleaveth to the roof of my mouth in such moments.

Meetings in those days – I wound up attending a fair number of meetings till I went off to college, the guest of Al, again, and Harry Hershfield, Vern Greene, and others – featured “Shop Talks,” which were panel discussions rather sophisticated. Business and tax topics, cartoon history, interviews, were fodder of the excellent sessions. I think Jerry Robinson conducted them; and I think Stan Lynde was the guest that evening.

Many cartoonists were stewed to the gills, a rite of passage in those days. I somehow knew that would be the case (hence my prepared Bob Dunn pun). I was unable to have a rational conversation with Walt Kelly, for instance, despite hopes to engage him about T S Sullivant (what a ridiculous scene, actually); on the other hand I was an impromptu audience for one of the funniest men I ever met, Al Kilgore.

I met Mell Lazarus and Mort Walker and Jay Irving and Irwin Hasen and Allen Saunders and legends like Frank Fogarty and editorial and sports cartoonists I admired. And – as much of a legend as Rube – the iconic cartoonist, illustrator, designer, muralist Russell Patterson. Like a face from Mount Rushmore, with longish silver hair (then marking men as actors or artists) and clipped moustache.
 
Al Smith, flanked by Mac Miller and Fred Waring, holding the NCS self-caricature jam.
After dinner Al Smith unrolled a large sheet of Strathmore. Back in his studio he had inscribed greetings to “the Richard Marshall Comics Club,” a weekly gathering of my friends who liked to draw. And at the bottom he drew Mutt and Jeff saying “Carry on, m’lads! The future of NCS may one day rest in your hands!” Among the cartoonists who signed and drew their characters (or caricatures of me) were Holman, Greene, Patterson, Saunders, Fogarty, Irving, Hasen, Lynde, Mell, and Dunn; and Jack Tippit, Bill Lignante, Bill Crawford, John Pierotti, Al Liederman, Jack Rosen, John Lehti, Matt Murphy, Mac Miller, Irma Selz, and Tom Gill.

I could have floated home, but Al Smith drove me through the late night out of Manhattan, over the George Washington Bridge, and along Route 9W to my house. My parents had waited up, of course; and I think their best anniversary present ever was seeing that poster and hearing my stories. My father was a lifelong comics fan, and he ate up the stories about some of his own favorite names.

Eventually many of these cartoonists became better friends; others besides Dik attending my wedding; and I became Comics Editor to more than a few at three syndicates several years later. In a “crowded life” in comics… that October 25th was one crowded evening.
  
::
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