Archive for May, 2008

I almost fell off my chair (in fact I did, I’m in traction right now!) when I heard that David Lynch will be exec producing Alejandro Jodorowsky’s next film King Shot. Alejandro Jodorowsky is the filmmaker and comic book writer behind such cult classics as Holy Moutain, El Topo and Santa Sangria. If you’re like me and love relentlessly strange films, less than tangible story lines that go on for hours and wild shenanigans with lots of midgets, than this is going to be like the Oscars for that sort of thing! Read more about the collaboration at Variety

And if that wasn’t enough David Lynch-coated information, included below is the official poster of Cannes 2008 based on a photo by Lynch.

poster cannes 2008

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A few more quick sketches of Hobo Hound. Kind of crummy, but I think his personality is becoming more obvious.

As I continue to work on defining the look of this Hobo Hound character I’ve been toying around with, his personality is now beginning to emerge. Hobo Hound is like Voltaire’s Candide, the innocent, sort of charging through life not really aware of all of the truly horrible things that are going on. To him, Hobo life is kind of honorable; riding the rails, living by your wits (although Hobo Hound is sort of witless). Pussy J. Cat, his friend, (no sketches of him as of yet) is more worldly, more jaded, sometimes psychopathic, but they get along, the classic odd couple relationship.

I’m hoping something will come out of this, because I like the world that is begining to emerge from these initial character designs. If not, I could always go into buisness making velvet hobo paintings.

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Tom Oreb and Ed Benidect were both great character designers who worked at different ends of the spectrum but were forging a common, distinctive aesthetic during much of the 50s, Tom at Disney and Ed at Hanna-Barbara (this is far better outlined in Amid Amidi’s amazing book, Cartoon Modern ). Both strived to give their character designs a mix of angularity and roundness which made for striking combination of shapes that often trumped the resulting animation. They were both superior draughtsman who knew how to create simple, pleasing characters with charm to spare. (Tom Oreb’s redesigned Mickey Mouse for an TV ad never saw the light of day, but it has so much more character than many of latter day model versions of Mickey. Again, check out Cartoon Modern to see the model sheet.)

I bring theses two designers up because their designs are always inspiring to look at. I feel my own characters are the most successful when they are built from angles and curves rather than one or the other.

Growing up in the 70s and 80s I was exposed to a lot of Hanna-Barbara programming as were most people my age, some bad, much of it good, like the Flintstones, a staple of my after school cartoon viewing. Although I didn’t know who Ed Benedict was at the time, his designs made a huge impression, and like the cartoons of MAD artist Don Martin, influenced the way I would draw for the rest of my life.

All of the following illustrations are courtesy Amid’s wonderful Cartoon Modern. If you haven’t checked it out yet, go there NOW! It’s a great companion to the book.

Tom Oreb




Ed Benedict

Ed Benedict commercial designs


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Ragazza di colore arancione

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Mock up of possible Titlecard/Presentation art for a cartoon character called, what else, Hobo Hound. Hobo Hound is a character I recently began toying around with. I’m currently working on defining his look (this is the first time I’ve actually done him up in color). I’m getting closer to something I like, although I’ll probably go through another few revisions before doing any actual model sheets (the presentation art obviously is a bit premature when I’m still working on his character, but I liked the idea for the titlecard and ran with it). Next, I’ll be working on the secondary characters, as well as back-stories etc.

The basic premise is that HH is a hobo circa the 1920s; he’s in love with a flapper, has a loyal pal, another hobo named Pussy J. Cat, and often runs afoul of an Irish beat cop named Shamus O’Faddlefop. President Calvin Coolige may even drop in once in awhile. There’s going to be jazz music, gangsters and, of course, hobos. There might even be a cow with noodely arms palying a ukulele. It’s a cast of thousands, really.

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Kurtzman and Elder Little Annie Fanny

Will Elder, one of the original MAD artists along with creator Harvey Kurtzman, Jack Davis and Al Jaffe, died yesterday at the age of 86. MAD made a huge impact on me from a young age, as it has done with most cartoonists, I’m sure, and Will Elder was a big part of making that impact happen. Like all of the original MAD artists, Elder was an amazing draftsman, who could seemingly do anything and everything, and although his style was not as distinctive as that of Kurtzman and Davis, his artisitic range was far beyond both of the latter artists. Elder’s satiric instincts were impeccable and he produced some of MAD’s best satires and parodies.

Below is more info about Will Elder as it appeared on the Comics Journal blog.


          Recent Memories of Will

Will moved into a nursing home in September of 2005 after the love of his life, Jean, passed away. He had been battling Parkinson’s disease for a number of years and had stopped drawing late in ‘05. He was still a powerful source of uncontrolled laughter for his family and the nurses caring for him. He loved to watch old movies and the Yankees but was mostly concerned with the well-being of his family — Nancy, his daughter; her husband, me (Gary); and Will’s grandchildren Jesse and Lara; and Will’s son Martin. Will was known as a crazy artist who created some of the funniest cartooning of the twentieth century, but he was humble and quiet with his family — but also hysterically funny. He saw humor in almost everything and could diffuse a tense situation with a crack that would send the room into gales of laughter. There was a time recently when an old acquaintance wanted to come by and visit. We knew Will did not really want to see him but the person persisted and we relented. We told Will that this person might show up and he got very, very quiet. We asked, “Will? What are you doing?” He replied, “I’m praying.” “Praying?” we asked dubiously, because Will was not really a praying man. “Yes,” he replied, “Praying he doesn’t show up.” Needless to say we guffawed our way home that day.

A Few Personal Observations About my Father-in-Law

Willie just overdid everything naturally, in his work and in his life: In his work with “chicken fat” and in his personal life with love. He gave of himself in everyway you might imagine when it came to his family. He taught me how to install a hardwood floor. He showed my kids every Marx Brothers movie and every monster movie and every classic movie he knew. He was very musical. He played the mandolin when he was younger. He could dance but he would rarely do it seriously because he felt silly dancing. But even dancing as a comic you could see the raw talent of this guy. He was a natural engineer. He built extremely detailed model homes for a time. He finished his basement better than any contractor could ever imagine. He was gifted and he was something that we rarely see any more: he was humble. He always let others bask in the glory of his work without ever grabbing the spotlight for himself. Will was always: Selfless. Funny. Beautiful. Funny. Humble. Funny. Serious. Funny. Hard working. Funny. Talented. And funny.

Thanks to Will’s Fans

Will Elder has passed away. Many of you have written over the years to say what an influence his work was. You have showered him with loveand appreciation for the laughs he selflessly offered with no expectation of even the slightest reward. He did it because that is who he was — a selfless, giving human being with a wise, old, and hysterically funny soul. Many of you wrote and asked for an original and he always complied when he could. He gave you a signed original because he felt that if you took the time to write and express your love of his work then you certainly deserved, what he would call, a little sketch. I’ve seen what some of those little sketches go for on ebayand I would say that Willie always gavemore than he had to. He taught, he lived life to the fullest and he will be sorely missed by all who knew him as well as all those who knew him only through his work. He was almost as appreciative of your love of his work as you were and are of his work.

I just got off the phone with a cousin of ours and she said it better than I could ever hope to, she said, “Will and Jean were just pure love. No matter how much you gave them you never felt that you gave enough because you always got so much more in return.” She hit the nail on the head, or, as Willie would say, “AND HOW!” I could go on and on and on… but I think you get the idea.

On behalf of Will’s entire family THANK YOU.

– Gary VandenBergh

Will ElderWill Elder

Still more on Elder: Let me first point you to Will Elder’s Wikipedia page, which has a rather good biography of the artist, as well as his Lambiek page and of course Elder’s homepage, where you can see a videoin which Harvey Kurtzman, Al Jaffee, Terry Gilliam and Jerry Garcia discuss Elder and his work. Scott Edelman has the official press release from DC Comics, current owners of Mad Magazine. Here are news reports from the New York Observer’s Matt Haber and French-language site ActuaBD (Google translation), and here are tributes and remembrances from Tom Richmond, Mark Evanier, Will Pfeifer and Evan Dorkin.

Incidentally: During Will Elder’s run on the ill-fated Help! Magazine — one of three such publications upon which Elder collaborated with Mad founder Harvey Kurtzman following the latter’s exodus from the magazine that made him famous — a story starring Kurtzman and Elder’s naïve leading man Goodman Beaver attracted the ire of Archie Comics for taking their signature characters and grafting Hugh Hefner’s “Playboy Philosophy” onto them. That story was “Goodman Goes Playboy,” and it resulted in waves of lawyers raining upon the strip’s creators, ultimately leading to Kurtzman and Elder handing the copyright to the story over to Archie and signing an agreement promising never to reproduce it again.

Some 40 years or so later, Gary Groth or someone close to him discovered that Archie had forgotten to renew the copyright to the strip, and that it had fallen into the public domain. Armed with a copy of Myron Fass’ underground zine Portzebie Illustrated, which contained a copy of the strip, we reproduced it in The Comics Journal #262 — and here it is again, Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder’s “Goodman Goes Playboy,” available either as a PDF file (5.9MB) or, if you’d prefer to use your comics-reader software to read it, as a Zip file(also 5.9MB). Next Friday, we’ll present a copy of Gary Groth’s 2003 interview with Elder for TCJ #254 here on the website, so there’s more Elder on the way, don’t you worry.

Kurtzman and Elder Little Annie Fanny


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Dateline Hollywood U.S.A. (AKA MagicTowne): Will Ferrell will star in yet another pseudo-sports movie, this time an animated feature called Spleens of Glory, in which he’ll play a cartoon spleen named Charlie who must win back his son’s affections by participating in a shuffle board tournament in a giant rectum. Jack Black will also star as Will Ferrell’s off-beat sidekick, Jerry Jerkface, another spleen with limited musical talent but a knack for being a complete asshole. Jim Carrey and Steve Carell will have supporting roles as a couple of gun-toting fart clouds.

When asked why he keeps doing these inane movies, Ferrell answered only by bursting into a mélange of characters from that touchstone of pop culture annoyance, Saturday Night Live, after which he jumped through a second-story window, screaming that his career was “out the window”, whatever that meant.

Spleens of Glory will be going up against some stiff competition this summer, in the form of Pixar’s latest cute-extravaganza, Sammy’s Giant Balls a movie about two irregularly-sized cartoon bowling balls who go on a cross-country journey in search of the man who created them, an ex-circus clown/muskrat porn star named Sammy. Jim Carrey and Steve Carell star as the two loveable bowling balls and Jack Black stars as Sammy, the clown with limited musical talent but a knack for being a complete asshole.

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Scott Brothers of Scott Brothers and his Catalogue of Curiosities and Bravo TV’s Top Hillbilly will finally be battening down his hatches and doing that which will make all Americans proud: something! When asked what this “something” might be, Scott was elusive at best, saying only that, “It’s going to be good. Really good. Full House kind of good. I’m talking the S&M episode, that kind of quality.” When pressed even further to reveal details, Scott began throwing large quantities of pickled herring at interviewers. Over the hail of herring, Scott jettisoned catchy phrases like, “Capital!” and “Good Show!” Pop Culture-stained phrases aside, Scott recently took the opportunity to make a short promo piece about the fact he is doing “something” which can be found here.

Anticipation is high, as doing “something” in the past has produced sumptuous results. For example: the music video for Nordic death metal band Cannibal Crotch, “I Stab Your Brains Then Eat Them Then Eat Some Lutefisk Then Stab Your Brains Again” and the gala TV benefit Crocheting For Peace in which inebriated host, Jerry Lewis, pretended he was retarded, dropped his pants and proclaimed that his penis was the Senator from the Great State of Rhode Island and that he was passing a bill for March to be Dean Martin month.

Although, by the end of the impromptu Q&A, Scott’s pessimism had gotten the best of him, proclaiming that this “something” will probably be a train wreck and that he should give up now because, “the universe is meaningless, it has to be. Why on earth would my gray slacks be labeled as both dry-clean only and machine washable?” Scott eventually fled on foot and was found days later in his home pantless and watching that show about midgets while eating peanut butter straight from the jar.

So now the question is: will this “something” remain “nothing” and why does anyone care when there is Piggyback Pontiff Racing on TV?

In the meantime, here is a recent photo of yukster Carrot Top, who looks to have ingested some sort of Hulk-inducing steroid through his anus. Enjoy!

The Catalogue

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I decided to ink up some character designs I’ve been working on as of late. Some of these are ideas for TV shows, comics, whatnot (the whatnot being scented bath soaps that I will sell for $24.95 plus shipping and handling).

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