Last Thursday America was fascinated to see President Trump pushing one of his medical experts to conduct research on crazy and harmful proposed cures for COVID-19, including drinking or injecting toxic disinfectants and shining light inside the body. I got emails from quacks pushing bleach pills soon after Trumps spectacle. This scary nonsense led to lots of cartoons –see the best of the batch below, with a second installment tomorrow as these cartoons are still coming in.
Support from our fans can make the all the difference as the pandemic/newspaper-crash threatens to kill our profession. Editorial cartoons are an important part of journalism and the world needs political cartoonists more now than ever. Please consider supporting Cagle.com and visit Cagle.com/heroes. Thanks for your generosity! We need you now!
Over the years, I have taught at many art schools including Parsons, Syracuse, Hartford, School of Visual Arts, Fashion Institute in New York, Rhode Island School of Design, Philadelphia School of the Arts and others. My longest sustained teaching was at Parsons in New York for 8 years.
The one common thread I noticed among students was that they didn’t know much of anything about our profession which they were supposedly interested in pursuing. They hadn’t looked at much illustration or cartooning and they didn’t know the names of the star practitioners of those fields. I always have found that to be peculiar. I’m sure that students of say, ballet, know the superstars of ballet; or students of music probably know the major musicians in the part of the field they are studying. I’m sure that students of painting or sculpture have their favorite painters or sculptors. But, not students of illustration. Once you get past Norman Rockwell, they don’t know any of the stars unless they have just had a visiting lecture from one of them. When you teach illustration or cartooning, you start at ground zero; there are no reference points, just a blank slate. I once opened a class at Syracuse with, “Good morning, I’m Milton Glaser.” I didn’t raise an eyebrow.
In my 8 years at Parsons, I generally taught two classes a week. It took Murray Tinkelman, the head of illustration at that time, five years to talk me into teaching. I kept saying,” I’ve only been in the business 10 years, how can I know enough to be able to be a teacher?” But, he wore me down and he had created a special course at that time called “Sequential Illustration” which I was to teach along with a “Conceptual Illustration” course. The conceptual course dealt with the “concepts” or ideas part of the process rather than drawing or perspective or design. At that point in time, illustration was a conceptual business rather than in previous times when it was a narrative, story telling process. We were in the era of illustrating abstract ideas for the business magazines like Business Week, Time, Fortune etc., rather than illustrating Indians attacking a wagon train for The Saturday Evening Post. We were illustrating articles on the falling stock market or the rise in childhood diseases or the latest fad in cooking.
The “Sequential Illustration” course was to be taught by three teachers, each teaching for a third of the semester. The course focused on illustration that was realized in multiple images such as in children’s books, animation, comic strips etc. I dealt with book illustration and multiple- picture magazine or newspaper illustrations in my third of the semester. Dick Giordano (Batman etc.) handled the comics part of the program and noted animator, Howard Beckerman handled the animation part. A little later on they created a third course that I was a part of which was just an animation course wherein Howard and I split the year in half. I did the first part dealing with designing and storyboarding and Howard did the last part and took the students through actually animating and filming animation sequences.
Sometimes I would bring into my classes, actual assignments that I had worked on myself so that students had the real thing to deal with concept-wise. One time, I received an assignment from Emergency Medicine magazine just before going to class so I gave them the same assignment with the same time frame I had to do it in. I told them that I would bring in my finished illustration a week later and they were to bring in theirs. One student said, “What if our illustration is better than yours will you take ours to the client instead of yours?” I, of course replied, “Your illustration isn’t going to be better than mine!” So… even though this particular illustration wasn’t paying very much, I spent all week doing an elaborate, detailed picture just to show the students what they should aim for. Another thing that I did was to bring in some of my art directors from time to time. I tried to give the students a real taste of the business.
This sounds like an exaggeration, but it actually happened. I told the students one day that most of the realist illustrators traced photographs. I made the mistake of mentioning Norman Rockwell in that group. One of my students was so horrified that his idol traced photographs that he went over to the window, climbed out on the ledge and threatened to jump. I calmed him down by explaining that Rockwell was a splendid draftsman who had worked from live models for years before resorting to working from photographs due to the pressures of deadlines. I told him that those pictures could never come out as well if he didn’t know how to draw like a master.
Many of my students went on to stellar careers in illustration such as Victor Juhasz (caricaturist, war correspondent, Rolling Stone illustrator etc.) and Peter de Seve (New Yorker covers, children’s books, character designer for Bug’s Life, Robots, 4 Ice Age films and many others).
I remember one assignment I gave my animation class and that was to design and storyboard an opening for a TV special. I wanted to pick a subject that would be fairly easy for them to research. I picked the Beatles. I figured they’d have no problem finding info, photos and ideas for a project like this. One boy in class said, “You know we don’t know very much about the Beatles, it’s kind of before our time!” Another kid said, “Oh, I know the Beatles, I heard of them; they had a few good tunes!” at which point, I screamed “A FEW GOOD TUNES? A FEW GOOD TUNES?”
A few weeks ago, my son told me that his friend, a guitar teacher, had a student who was shocked to find out that Paul McCartney was in a band BEFORE Wings.
When I would finish my class at Parsons, I often would go across the street and have dinner with a fellow teacher, Burne Hogarth of Tarzan fame. One time, I reminded him of an incident told to me by a friend who had been one of his students way back at the School of Visual Arts before it was called the School of Visual Arts and was called “The Cartoonists and Illustrators School”. One of his students asked him one day why Tarzan was always pointing his finger. Hogarth had this characteristic pose that he would often use of Tarzan with his right arm extended out and his finger pointing. Hogarth answered, “He’s pointing at my critics and saying, can you draw as well?”
We need your support for Cagle.com! Notice that we run no advertising. We depend entirely upon the generosity of our readers to sustain the site. Please visit Cagle.com/heroes and make a contribution. You are much appreciated!
The Famous Artists Schools had five correspondence art courses, cartooning, illustrating, painting, writing and photography; they always wanted to do sculpture too but couldn’t figure out how to deal with the student submissions of assignment work.
Each course was laid out the same way. The school had 12 famous practitioners in each field as their “Guiding Faculty” who were the ones that created the texts and assignments that I and the other “instructors” would criticize by means of written, drawn or painted corrections and advice on the lessons.
The Guiding Faculty, of course, didn’t work in our Westport, Connecticut office buildings but they did visit from time to time and give us lectures on their own work and look at some of our student critiques. Some of them who happened to live locally came over to the school frequently like Robert Fawcett (who got friendly with me and would give me tips on my own work). Harold von Schmidt also came to visit quite often to see his friend Al Dorne our fearless leader and principal founder of the schools. A few of our cartoon course Guiding Faculty like Whitney Darrow lived in Westport.
The cartoonist Virgil Partch (VIP) would come from California to visit and Milton Caniff (Terry and the Pirates and Steve Canyon) and others would come, and when they did, Dorne would take our small group of cartoon instructors and the visitor out to lunch at a very high class restaurant in Westport. I remember going out once with Rube Goldberg and after we had our lunch we all sat there and smoked great long cigars.
One notable visit was from the legendary sports cartoonist Willard Mullin, who decided that he’d like to try a critique of one of the students’ works before we went out to lunch. He sat down at my drawing board and a lucky student got an original Mullin drawing of a baseball pitcher. I watched in awe as the master started with the pitcher’s throwing hand extended forward in the throw and drew a sweeping arm line down to the pitcher leaning into the thrust.
When the painting course’s Ben Shahn would visit, I would show his slides of paintings to invited guests from the Westport Womens Club. I was chosen to do that because I was the only one in the building who knew Shahn’s work so well that I could navigate, looking at and putting each individual slide into our antique slide projector one at a time (it only held two slides). I did the same thing for the famous Chinese watercolorist Dong Kingman who used to make believe he couldn’t speak English well enough to answer the dumb questions from the audience (more about Dong in another story).
I think the funniest visit was from our superstar Guiding Faculty member … the one and only Norman Rockwell. He visited about once a year but the visit I remember best was when my friend and car-pool buddy, Zoltan raised his hand to praise Mr. Rockwell’s work. Zoltan was the schools’ staff photographer. He shot stuff for the text books mainly; it was pretty pedestrian stuff. Zoltan was a nice, simple soul, not very well versed in the art that surrounded him at the school.
Zoltan stood up and said that his favorite work of Rockwell’s was his annual Santa Claus in the Coke ads. Rockwell answered that he didn’t do the Coke ads. Zoltan’s reply was, “Yes you do … you know those great Santa Clauses… I love them!” Rockwell reiterated that he was not the illustrator that did the Coke Santa Clauses. To which, Zoltan replied, “Yes you do… the Coke ads!” Now, Zoltan was arguing with Rockwell. Finally after a few more back and forths, Zoltan quietly sat down.
I know that Zoltan was never convinced, like so many other Americans, that Rockwell didn’t do Haddon Sundblom’s Santa Clauses.
This is a classic oldie showing dinnertime at Guantanamo. The Gitmo prisoners go on hunger strikes and there was lots of news about how they were force-fed “Ensure” through tubes in their noses. I thought that was fun when superimposed on Norman’s Rockwell’s famous dinnertime painting.
When the new Senate report on CIA torture came out we learned that these guys are also fed rectally, and they drink rectally too, with “rectal hydration.” I thought I had to issue a correction, so here it is …
Click to see a larger view of the Guantanamo force-feeding kit. Dinner. Mmm.
Here’s my weekly update on my new cartoons.
The most recent one is this riff on the famous Norman Rockwell painting, “Freedom from Want.” I thought it would be interesting to juxtapose American values at the dinner table with the dinner table at Guantanamo.
(Added 5/5: OK, from my e-mail box I see that I need to explain this cartoon a bit further as, apparently, it has gone over some readers’ heads. The idea of the cartoon is to show that juxtaposing traditional American values at the dinner table with the “dinner table” at Guantanamo is obviously ridiculous, making the visual point that force feeding the Gitmo prisoners, who are hunger striking and holding the prisoners indefinitely without charge is inconsistent with American values. I can have some fun with injustice, that’s what cartoonists do. Lighten up, people.)
I was intrigued to find that force-feeding the hunger-striking Guantanamo inmates has its own Wikipedia page. That is a picture of the force feeding kit on the right.
I think Ensure is funny too. It is all the food anyone needs to eat; elderly people, who don’t eat enough, drink yummy Ensure – so, like adult diapers and funeral expense insurance, Ensure is advertised extensively to the geriatric audience on Fox News and CNN. The elderly are the only ones left buying newspapers, and reading editorial cartoons too. Maybe my audience doesn’t think Ensure is so funny.
The previous cartoon, below, was this one about Texas Governor Perry and that big fertilizer plant explosion. Perry is a vocal champion for cutting regulations – and it turns out that more regulations were sorely needed in the case of the exploding plant.
Cartoonists have been clucking about this issue because Perry complained about one Perry bashing cartoon, demanding that the cartoonist be fired for being insensitive to the people killed in the explosion. In fact, many cartoonists jumped on this bandwagon drawing similar cartoons that Perry would have objected to if he had read more newspapers – like the two below by our own Pat Bagley and John Cole.
… but I digress! My previous cartoon this week was another Syria red line cartoon. There have been a heck of a lot of red line cartoons this week, but they are getting lots of ink so I thought it was time for another one. I used a real crayon to draw the red lines.
I also noticed, after I drew this, that I put John McCain’s big eye on the wrong side – his big eye is really on our left, his right. This got me to thinking, I drew the face that McCain sees when he looks in the mirror, and he’s the only person who sees that face – so he might think this is the only caricature ever drawn that actually looks like him. That thought makes me smile.