Why is it that big news always seems to happen when I’m bogged down in year-end syndicate accounting muck? This is an important time for editorial cartoons even when I’m facing a bunch of tax filing deadlines – so here are a couple of quickies. I revamped an old cartoon with a new speech balloon for today’s revised GOP sedition sedition cartoon that is much better than the oldie that got little ink.
I don’t revise cartoons very often, but this one seemed nice, and I labeled it so the few editors who printed the oldie years ago, can avoid being embarrassed by printing a similar cartoon that some readers might remember.
I have another old favorite that I drew when Barack Obama won his presidential election. This is Republican elephants showing their anguish in the form of Picasso’s Guernica.
What is old is new again – except that it seems to get worse the next time.
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Her name was Tecla Maria Marguarita Kolodziej. She was born in 1913 of Polish and Bohemian/Gypsy parents. When she was 15 years old, she was sent to live in a Catholic girls’ boarding school. She read everything she could lay her hands on. She was a bit of a loner.
She married Jim Walker (English, Irish, Dutch descent). As a young man, Jim was a champion amateur boxer whose trademark move was to rush out at the bell of round one and fell his opponent with one solitary blow. He never lost a fight… not particularly popular with fight fans who perhaps wanted to see a little more action. During World War 2, he was in the last Texas Cavalry troupe which was formed into a tank destroyer unit while Tecla worked as an airplane designer for North American Aviation. Later on she became an assistant to a medical illustrator. She had her own cadaver.
They had one child, Leann ,who I married in 1956. If they had had any other children, I would have married them too.
After the war, Jim worked for the Texas Pacific Railroad as a dispatcher. Tecla had always wanted to be an artist and when she made her first oil painting (shown here in article) which won the first prize at a Dallas Museum of Fine Arts show, an art teacher at the convent told her that someday she should study with Jerry Farsworth. So, she finally made the journey from Texas to Cape Cod to study with the well known painter/teacher. She appeared with their outdoor painting class that summer on the cover of Life Magazine.
While there on the Cape, she made some friends who invited her to visit them in Westport Connecticut. There she found a community of artists, illustrators, cartoonists, actors and writers. She fell in love with Westport and told Jim all about it. He quit his job, packed up a few belongings, left his car parked on the street in Dallas and took the train with his little daughter across the country to start a new life.
They had decided that since there were so many artists in Westport plus the fact that Jim had been successfully framing Tecla’s paintings, that a Walker Frame Shop might be in the offing. And so it came to be and for many years, it was the only frame shop in town and a fixture on downtown’s Main Street.
By the time I came into the picture, Leann’s parents knew all the famous illustrators, writers and cartoonists in town. Jim used to tell me about his friendship with Orphan Annie’s creator, Harold Gray.
Aside from being a framer and restorer (Tecla was very knowledgeable about old master techniques), she was an outstanding cook who would never let anybody in the kitchen while she was creating her culinary delights. We even got some off-beat appetizers like chocolate covered ants and fried grasshoppers. I couldn’t resist getting her dander up sometimes by proclaiming that, “Food is just fuel!” Regardless, she loved me and I, her. She introduced me to my favorite childhood illustrator, the little known, Martin Burniston who was one of her best friends and she had kick-started my career by hooking me up with Popeye’s Bud Sagendorf, another of her close friends, who hired me into the Famous Artists Cartoon Course thus starting me on the road to cartoonery.
Tecla did lots of self portraits, portraits of friends and portraits of me. I’ve included one of myself here that was painted without my knowledge as she sat on the floor outside my garret studio while I was trying to create a comic strip. At this point in our life we all lived together in a big house. Later we had our own houses but only about a hundred yards apart on the same street. Our kids, on the way home from school, would go through her back yard into her back door, past the big bowl of candy and out the front door and down the street a little ways to our house.
Tecla knew that I kept long hours at the drawing board in those days and often in the middle of the day, I’d get a call. When I answered the phone, all I would hear was one word “STRETCH”! So, now I keep a photo of her in my studio with a word balloon saying “stretch”.
She would never say “hello” when you answered her calls. She would just start in on whatever she was calling about. She was fond of calling me from parties with questions. I’d be in bed and the phone would ring with “What’s the capital of Ecuador?” It’s not that she thought I was particularly smart, but she knew I owned a set of encyclopedias.
When Tecla died in 1993 of cancer (Jim had already passed on), we put her very first oil painting, a self portrait (shown in this article), in the newspaper instead of a photo.
Tecla only painted for herself with only a very occasional commission like the painting of Simone Bolivar’s mistress Manuella Saenz for a book cover… and the fake Gainsborough she did. She had an opera singer friend who owned a Gainsborough and had fallen into hard times… she had to sell it. She loved it so much and had gotten so used to living with it that she had Tecla paint an exact copy of it for her. Tecla spent weeks and weeks on the woman’s screened- in porch, meticulously imitating the painting to perfection. She had to paint it at the woman’s house because, of course, she couldn’t let anything that valuable off her premises until the sale.
Hardly any of the customers who brought their homely little watercolors into Tecla’s frame shop knew of her extraordinary talent in painting. She never entered shows or exhibited anywhere. She was very modest and didn’t discuss her own work with anyone outside of the family.
After she died, we decided that the citizens of Westport should see her work (she would have hated this). Leann and I put up a show of a ton of paintings, drawings, sketches and sculpture in the hallways and corridors of the town hall. The show was up for months and months and hundreds of locals stood agog with their jaws dropped open while they looked at these paintings by a woman they thought they knew.
The one story about Tecla that sticks in the mind was the time that we (Leann and I, our two sons and their girlfriends) were all skinny-dipping in a small river one evening. A police car pulled up near our vehicles up on the road at the top of the river bank. A young cop, large flashlight in hand, descended the bank coming toward us. No one was supposed to swim here… we knew that. He pointed his lamp at Tecla who was emerging from the water stark naked. He said, “Y’know you all have to take off!”
“TAKE OFF WHAT?” Tecla raised her hands in a shrug.
He just laughed and got back in his car and drove off.
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Here’s a new batch of my old TRUE cartoons. This first one is a self-portrait of younger me, sitting on the toilet, talking on my land-line rotary phone. Looking at the old True cartoons makes me feel young again, until I notice details that make me feel old.
This is Donald Trump as King Henry VIII, from the famous portrait by Hans Holbein the Younger, shown in the image at the right. That Henry was quite the dresser. Notice that Trump, and Henry VIII have tiny hands and a little purse. I may do a series with more famous king portraits as Trump.
One thing that I have to keep in mind as a newspaper cartoonist, is how the color cartoons look when printed in the papers – the cartoons darken up, with heavy details filling in and cyan (or blue) coming in heavy; this is why I lighten and warm up the colors, which is especially apparent in Trump’s brown, furry vest. I also feel I need to make the flesh tones lighter and I’m always getting mail about how I should make Trump look more “orange.” I added a little white feather on Trump’s cap, which wasn’t in the painting – surely this was an oversight by Holbein the Younger as the feather seems to be necessary!
This isn’t the first time for me with Holbein the Younger and Henry VIII. Ten years ago I did a similar take on George W. Bush as Henry VIII in the 2006 cartoon below. I see that I took even more liberties with the king’s outfit in this earlier, cartoonier version.
There are always a lot of cartoons depicting presidents, and presidential candidates as kings (or queens). During the Obama years the few conservative cartoonists enjoyed drawing Obama as a king as their vision of Obama was vain, self-absorbed and autocratic.
At the beginning of the last campaign there were lots of cartoons with Hillary and presumed GOP frontrunner Jeb Bush as dynastic royalty, including this one I did below …
We saw lots of “Trump Card” cartoons, but Trump was always the Joker in those cartoons, not the King.
There is horror and anguish in the ranks of the Democratic Party these days. Pablo Picasso’s Guernica is probably the best known visual icon for horror and anguish.
Here’s a detail …
Eight years ago I drew a similar cartoon when Democrats won the presidency and congress – to the horror of Republicans.
I’ve had the GOP version up as the top image on my Facebook page for years, And I’ve gotten lots of complaints about it, usually from very literal conservatives who write things like, “Guernica is about the Spanish civil war – it has nothing to do with Republicans!” I also got lots of criticism from conservatives who wanted to point out that I’m not as good an artist as Pablo Picasso. Here’s an image of the real “Guernica.”
This David Fitzsimmons oldie about George W. Bush painting Iraq is a nice one.
Worldwide cartoonists like to use flags in their cartoons – the problem is that the American audience doesn’t know their flags. Here’s our Greek cartoonist, Michael Kountouris drawing a combination of the Syrian flag and Guernica.
Here’s my Cuban cartoonist friend in Mexico, Angel Boligan, with Violence in Video Games …
Here’s another nice one from Boligan, simply titled, “Insurance.”
When I was drawing this Trump – Hillary/Hitler cartoon I was thinking it was pretty silly, but looking at Trumps recent comments about Hillary the bigot, it isn’t too hard to get to the bottom of Godwin’s Law and jump straight to Hitler. That’s Hillary’s official State Department photo from when she was Secretary of State, with her hair made a little but blonder, and blacker.
I recently wrote a column noting how so many cartoonists have been drawing Trump as Hitler. I guess it was time for me to jump on the Hitler bandwagon. I love drawing Trump, but I haven’t quite found the shorthand caricature of Trump that I’m happy with and I struggled a bit before deciding on this face. I’ll get used to Trump before long. Or maybe not.
I had some tech problems with the video of my drawing this one – but I have the coloring video! Take a look below and check out all the cartoons and videos in my archive at DarylCagle.com.