Sunday, January 26, 2020

A Crowded Life in Comics –


By Rick Marschall.

Gene Hazleton, who could – and did – draw anything and everything. Animator at Disney, Warner Bros., MGM, Hanna-Barbera, where he created characters and drew the Flintstones and Yogi Bear strips for two decades. A California friend, introduced by the wunnerful John Province.

Cartoonists do sketches for each other, and of course for fans too. It is rumored that cartoonists, at conventions especially, will charge a fee for sketches.

I first met Bob Gustafson when I was a kid taking buses and subways to New York City on school vacations, visiting cartoonists and syndicates. I introduced myself in the front office of, I think, the Hall Syndicate. Bob was the last artist on the Tillie the Toiler strip, and probably was pitching a new creation. I was there to mooch originals or promo material, or get pointers on my own work if cartoonists showed up. As he waited for his own appointment, “Gus” indeed looked over my work, and sent me inscribed Tillie originals the following week. Later we became good friends; his last gig was as one of Mort Walker’s army of assistants and idea men. He drew this sketch at a Cartoonists’ Golf Tournament at Silvermine CT.

It is their right, of course, to seek compensation. I have to admit that in my drawing days the flattery often outweighed what one might want to charge. There were a number of  cartoonists at my wedding, and when the word spread among my wife’s relatives, my friends’ tables were mobbed by old aunts and distant cousins with cocktail napkins, asking for sketches. I was mortified, but the cartoonists loved it. They said.

The GREAT Don Orehek, magazine gag cartoonist.

It has always struck me that a dentist, let us say, casually will expect a professional cartoonist to custom-draw and give away artwork… but never would offer someone, and not that cartoonist, a complimentary dental cleaning in exchange. Nor plumbers, nor carpenters, nor landscapers. Nor hookers, from what I have heard…

Marty Murphy, Playboy cartoonist. I met Marty through Bob Weber, a friend and fan of his work.

Which brings me to the topic. Risqué, the French say. Some cartoonists make their livings by serving what in good old days were called “purple” publications. Others will confine their naughty artistic moments to parties and banquets where they can blame it on the drinks. Others don’t care one way or the other – or, these days, the other other –  and I hope readers here will not have the kids hide their eyes. Nothing X-rated; they are probably watching ruder things on TV anyway.

Reamer Keller managed to slip sexy women into every gag he drew, from Judge Magazine in the 1930s to fillers in the New York News sections and a syndicated panel Oh Doctor! (I was his editor) in the 1970s.

So: good fun, a little off-color. Sketches done for me through the years by cartoonists in varying stages of… abandon.


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