Category Archives: illustrations

The Ultra-Mad Madness of Don Martin

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Born in 1931 and lasting in this crazy, mixed-up world until the year 2000, Don Martin was a mixy, crazed-up cartoonist for Mad Magazine who would come to be billed as “Mad Magazine’s Maddest Artist.”    His greatest work was done during his Mad years, from 1956 (the year I was born… not a coincidence, I firmly believe) until his retirement in 1988.  And I learned a lot from him by reading his trippy toons in Mad from my childhood until my early teacher-hood.

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His style is uniquely recognizable and easily identifiable.  Nobody cartoons a Foon-man like Don Martin.

The googly eyes are always popped in surprise.  The tongue is often out and twirling.  Knees and elbows always have amazingly knobbly knobs.  Feet have an extra hinge in them that God never thought of when he had Adam on the drawing board.

And then there is the way that Martin uses sound effects.  Yes, cartoons in print don’t make literal sounds, but the incredible series of squeedonks and doinks that Martin uses create a cacophony of craziness in the mind’s ear.

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And there is a certain musicality in the rhyming of the character names he uses.  Fester Bestertester was a common foil for slapstick mayhem, and Fonebone would later stand revealed by his full name, Freenbeen I. Fonebone.

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And, of course, one of his most amazingly adventurous ne’er-do-well slapstick characters was the immeasurable Captain Klutz!

Here, there, and everywhere… on the outside he wears his underwear… it’s the incredible, insteadable, and completely not edible… Captain Klutz!

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If you cannot tell it from this tribute, I deeply love the comic genius who was Don Martin, Mad Magazine’s Maddest Artist.  Like me he was obsessed with nudists and drawing anatomy.  Like me he was not above making up words with ridiculous-sounding syllables.  And like me he was also a purple-furred gorilla in a human suit… wait!  No, he wasn’t, but he did invent Gorilla-Suit Day, where people in gorilla suits might randomly attack you as you go about your daily life, or gorillas in people suits, or… keep your eye on the banana in the following cartoon.

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So, even though I told you about Bruce Timm and Wally Wood and other toon artists long before I got around to telling you about Don Martin, that doesn’t mean I love them more.  Don Martin is wacky after my own heart, and the reason I spent so much time immersed in Mad Magazine back in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s.

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Filed under artists I admire, artwork, cartoon review, cartoons, comic book heroes, goofiness, humor, illustrations

The Art of the Faery Tale

Definition of Faery. 1. Noun. A small being, human in form, playful and having magical powers.
Faery Tales are a thing for me because I have lived so much more of my life inside my own imagination than I have ever even tried to do outside of it.

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Story-Telling for Art Day

One never knows what mysteries can be uncovered inside the bird house.
The plot of the story depends on what happens next in the picture.
Details make the real story clear.
Pictures tell a story even if the story-teller falls asleep in the process.
A picture can spin a fairy-tale even if it doesn’t show a plot.
Pictures easily establish a setting.
Pictures can allude to many, many other things.

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Filed under artwork, drawing, humor, illustrations, imagination, Paffooney

Pen and Ink Storytelling

Today’s Art Day post is about using pen and ink to tell at least a part of a story. Narrative can indeed occur in black and white images.
After a lifetime of studying the works of other pen and ink masters, I can copy many styles and I make as much of it a part of my own style as possible.
I know I probably draw nude figures too often. I get unfollowed by prudes and pious people on Twitter practically every day.
And nudes can attract the wrong sorts of followers too. But they usually don’t follow very long when they begin to notice my drawings never contain what they are actually looking for.
I am not a racist. I do identify with rabbit people, but I recognize that wolves are people too. And you have to appreciate diversity as a strength of humanity. Otherwise rabbit people would be persecuted too.
Some of my art contains portraits of people I have known.
And sometimes it is the illustration of characters in one of my books that help me recognize who those characters really are based on. “Hello, Sofie.”
And sometimes the story the picture tells is funny.
And sometimes it is simply silly.
Sometimes it is a story we all know already.
And sometimes the story is entirely original and new.

But however you look at it, pen and ink is fun.

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Filed under artwork, autobiography, characters, humor, illustrations, Paffooney, pen and ink

The Making of a Paffooney

There is a certain amount of worry now in Mickeytown. My hands have begun to tremble. I see things that aren’t there. I have become excessively forgetful. Possibly Parkinson’s… but not diagnosed by a doctor yet.

Maybe it’s only paranoia… but that’s a Parkinson’s symptom too.

And it worries me because I need to be able to draw new Paffoonies. But it is definitely becoming harder.

Yesterday, when my computer was breaking down again, the scanner miraculously reconnected itself and began to work.

I scanned this old pen-and-ink drawing.

Do I know why I drew it, or what it is supposed to be about?

I do not.

But I can still swirl colored pencils and color within the lines, at least as well as I did when I was nine.

You may remember this one from yesterday,

Of course, forgetful me, I couldn’t remember where I had stored my best art pencils. I had to crack open the bag of old school pencils that I still have from my last hurrah as a Texas pedagogue (a word that means a teacher of children, not that other thing that the evil-minded ones among you were probably thinking.)

So, now I have a colored picture of a young-girl space traveler. What to do with it?

Like any old mad god who makes a girl come to life like this (old mad god of colored pencils, a little “g” god, not a blasphemous big “G” one,) I needed to name her and give her a story, a purpose in life.

So, I called her Cissy Moonskipper (a suitably satirical and comic sort of name playing off of Luke Skywalker.)

And I stranded her on a family-owned free-trader starship, alone in deep space. Her family is gone permanently. The ship has everything she needs to survive. She is a sole-survivor on a deserted island in deep space in an unexplored star system. And all she has is a starship owner’s manual and a copy of the novel Robinson Crusoe.

So, I added a background and now I have started a new book idea. That is essentially what a Paffooney is. Words and pictures by little ol’ me.

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Filed under aliens, characters, humor, illustrations, new projects, novel plans, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney, satire, science fiction

Wally Wood

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A self-portrait by Wallace Wood.

I am a bit of a cartoonist for a reason.  I started drawing cartoons at the age of five.  I read everything in the Sunday funny pages, not just for the jokes.  I poured over the drawings and copied some.  I drew Dagwood Bumstead and Blondie.  I drew Lil’ Abner and Charlie Brown and Pogo.  Cartoonists were heroes to me.

But my parents wanted to protect me from the evils of comic books.  Superheroes were off limits most of the time.  Things that are associated with evil were out of the question.  So Daredevil was beyond reach.  And Mad Magazine was full of socialist ideas and led kids down the dark path of satire.  So the truth is, I didn’t discover Wally Wood until I was in college.  His corrupting influence didn’t take hold of me until I was older and full of hormones.  Ah, youth and the propensity for sin!  Wally taught me that cartoons could be real.

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Wally Wood was one of the original artists working for EC comics who formed Mad Magazine with it’s spoofs and irreverent humor.  Wood worked together with the Great Will Eisner on the Spirit.  He went on to work for Marvel on the comic book Daredevil where he innovated the red suit and double-D logo, as well as doing the primary story-telling that brought that comic book from the bottom of the Marvel stack to almost the very top.  His work on Daredevil resonates even until today where there is now a big controversy that the popular show on Netflix does not list Wood among the creators of Daredevil in their credits.  I must remember to complain about that later.

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But the thing that drew me to Wood more than anything was the realistic style that he brought to the unreal realm of cartoons.  The man could draw!  He did marvelous detail work and was a leader in the development of dynamic composition in an artistic industry that tolerated and even often encouraged really poor-quality drawing.  He took the comic book from the age of the glorified stick figure to an age of cinematic scope and know-how.  Here it is revealed in his classic break-down of innovative comic-book panels;

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But it is also important to realize that the more power you put into art, the more it can blow up and hurt people.  Wood had a dark side that went a bit darker as he went along.  He had an issue with the kind of false front comics had to throw up in front after the anti-comics crusade of psychologist Fredric Wertham’s book Seduction of Innocents.  He is probably the artist behind the cartoon poster The Disneyland Memorial Orgy.  He started his own cartoon studio that produced increasingly erotic and pornographic comics like Sally Forth, Cannon, and Gangbang.  He became increasingly ill, lost the sight in one eye, suffered severe headaches, and eventually committed suicide in 1981.  With great power comes great responsibility, and we are not all superheroes in the end.  But I will always admire and emulate the work of this great artist… and selfishly wish he could’ve lived to create more of the wonderful art he gave us.

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When Cartoon Characters Take Selfies

I often wonder if there is only one picture of me in this self-portrait.

This is definitely a self-portrait, the character in the novel as well as this cartoon.

This is me in a mirror… at least, filtered through my own self-concept.

Grumpy, square-headed German-American me.
Pirate me when I cannot talk like a real human being and need a wooden-headed puppet to interpret for me.
The character Superchicken (on the left) is a self portrait of me at twelve (in the novel). Sherry Cobble (on the right) is NOT me.
Milt Morgan is also a me character. But this picture is based on a school photo of me at ten.
‘Nuff said.
High school Senior me.

Me as a Charlie Brown/Peanuts character. This was created on an APP, and then photo-shopped by me.

,,,

;;;

The self-portrait I use on the backs of paperback novels.

The science-y version of me from the novel The Bicycle Wheel Genius.

This post is probably evidence that cartoonists should probably not portray themselves.

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Living in the World I Once Drew

The Grain Mill

It is normal for the world we live in to inspire us to draw pictures of it. But architects do the opposite. They imagine a world we could live in, and then build it.

David and Me in Cotulla

Sometimes, like in the picture above, I draw real people in imaginary places. Other times I draw imaginary people and put them in real places.

Gyro and Billy on the planet Pan Galactica A

Sometimes I put imaginary people in imaginary places. (I photo-shopped this planet myself.)

Superchicken and Sherry before school

In fiction, I am re-casting my real past as something fictional, so the places I draw with words in descriptions need to be as real as my amber-colored memory can manage.

Valerie and her skateboard in front of the Congregational Church

When I use photos, though, I have to deal with the fact that over time, places change. The church does not look exactly like it did in the 1980s when this drawing is set.

Drawing things I once saw, and by “drawing” I mean “making pictures,” is how I recreate myself to give my own life meaning.

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My Bookish Journey (Finale)

by Maxfield Parrish

Like every real, honest-to-God writer, I am on a journey. Like all the good ones and the great ones, I am compelled to find it…

“What is it?” you ask.

“I don’t know,” I answer. “But I’ll know it when I see it.”

“The answer?” you ask. “The secret to everything? Life, the universe, and everything? The equation that unifies all the theories that physicists instinctively know are all one thing? The treasure that pays for everything?”

Yes. That. The subject of the next book. The next idea. Life after death. The most important answer.

And I honestly believe that once found, then you die. Life is over. You have your meaning and purpose. You are fulfilled. Basically, I am writing and thinking and philosophizing to find the justification I need to accept the end of everything.

Leah Cim Reyeb is me, Michael Beyer written backwards.

And you know what? The scariest thing about this post is that I never intended to write these particular words when I started typing. I was going to complain about the book-review process. It makes me think that, perhaps, I will type one more sentence and then drop dead. But maybe not. I don’t think I’ve found it yet.

The thing I am looking for, however, is not an evil thing. It is merely the end of the story. The need no longer to tell another tale.

When a book closes, it doesn’t cease to exist. My life is like that. It will end. Heck, the entire universe may come to an end, though not in our time. And it will still exist beyond that time. The story will just be over. And other stories that were being told will continue. And new ones by new authors will begin. That is how infinity happens.

I think, though, that the ultimate end of the Bookish Journey lies with the one that receives the tale, the listener, the reader, or the mind that is also pursuing the goal and thinks that what I have to say about it might prove useful to his or her own quest.

I was going to complain about the book reviewer I hired for Catch a Falling Star who wrote a book review for a book by that name that was written by a lady author who was not even remotely me. And I didn’t get my money back on that one. Instead I got a hastily re-done review composed from details on the book jacket so the reviewer didn’t have to actually read my book to make up for his mistake. I was also going to complain about Pubby who only give reviewers four days to read a book, no matter how long or short it is, and how some reviewers don’t actually read the book. They only look at the other reviews on Amazon and compose something from there. Or the review I just got today, where the reviewer didn’t bother to read or buy the book as he was contracted to do, and then gave me a tepid review on a book with no other reviews to go by, and the Amazon sales report proves no one bought a book. So, it is definitely a middling review on a book that the reviewer didn’t read. Those are things I had intended to talk about today.

But, in the course of this essay, I have discovered that I don’t need to talk about those tedious and unimportant things. What matters really depends on what you, Dear Reader, got from this post. The ultimate McGuffin is in your hands. Be careful what you do with it. I believe neither of us is really ready to drop dead.

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Filed under book review, commentary, humor, illustrations, novel writing, Paffooney, publishing, reading, strange and wonderful ideas about life, writing

Art Day at the End of the World

I have a few more Science Fiction stories to tell. This one will be called AeroQuest 6 : Galactic Fire,
If I live long enough, I may use the characters of Farbick and Davalon again. They have been in both Catch a Falling Star and Stardusters and Space Lizards.
This picture is from an unnamed story about Earth Humans attending the native Dions’ school on the jungle planet Dionysus. The primitive peoples of the planet are sauroids rather humanoids, but they are connected to the stars thanks to Earther colonists.
This is merely a fantasy picture starring Buster Crabbe (the human on the left who would grow up to play Flash Gordon)
And finally, pirates on a distant planet with two suns (one of which is a red dwarf)

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