Cartoons

Chopped Liver?


On June 14, 1990, Julie Salamon, The Wall Street Journal's film critic, wrote a review of the movie "Dick Tracy", in which she made reference to newspapers that don't print comics, such as The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. I took umbrage at that remark and dashed off a letter to the Editor. In a few days The Wall Street Journal printed my letter and, of course, printed a cartoon of mine on the same page. wsjletter062290.JPG You can find the cartoon in my Wall Street Journal posting dated June 22, 1990






National Review, April 4, 1994


natrev040494.JPG Shortly after this cartoon appeared, I received a phone call from Michele Meny, on the staff of the Rush Limbaugh TV show (yes, Rush had a TV program in those days, in addition to his radio program). She said that Rush wanted to show the cartoon on the show, crediting both me and National Review. I don't agree with 99% of Rush Limbaugh's views or opinions, but since I HAD used his name, I didn't think I could refuse such a reasonable request. I simply asked to be informed when the cartoon would be shown and Ms. Meny got back to me with that information. The cartoon appeared onscreen for less than a minute, during a "break in the action", and as far as I know, Rush never commented on it.






National Review, December 13, 1985


natrev1213851.JPG This is the first cartoon I sold to National Review. The "Cartoon Editor" in 1985 was Priscilla Buckley, sister of NR founder William Buckley, and she wrote me a nice note saying she "couldn't resist" this one. We had a very cordial relationship (by mail) until she retired in 1992, and my cartoons continued to appear in NR on an irregular basis until 1998. At about that time, NR reduced its cartoon usage to a bare minimum, which continues to this day. I saw the handwriting on the wall and just stopped submitting cartoons for consideration.






Official U.S. Government Approval


In June 1981 I was pleased -- and surprised -- to receive the following letter from U.S. Secretary of Commerce Malcolm Baldrige. mbletter.JPG I framed his letter and it is still hanging in my studio. You can find the cartoon he's referring to by going to the Publication posting under Wall Street Journal, April 29, 1981, or in the 1980's Decade or under the Topic of Business -- Board Meetings.

Mr. Baldrige, Commerce Secretary under Ronald Reagan, went on to create and endow the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Awards for business excellence. He died in 1987, but the Awards are still very much a factor in the business world. Congress passed legislation to perpetuate them and each year our President awards them to deserving businesses.






Mad, October 1968


Gagwriting is one-quarter of the thrill of being a gag cartoonist. The other three quarters are drawing the gag, selling it and finally, seeing it in print. In 1968 I came up with an idea that I couldn't seem to develop into a cartoon, but it occured to me that it could possibly become a pretty good spread in Mad magazine. I roughed out a layout, wrote a lot of copy, and sent it out.

I soon heard from Mad Editor Nick Meglin, who said he was interested in the concept and the writing, but he wanted to farm it out to one of his regular artists to draw. (See my posting about Tom Wesselmann -- the same proposal was made to him by The New Yorker.) I pondered for a while about what leverage I had if I were to insist on doing the artwork myself (absolutely none, I decided), so I said OK to Mr. Meglin's offer.

The two-page spread appeared in the October 1968 issue, illustrated by Joe Orlando. The images below were taken from the reprint of the article in the paperback book Steaming Mad, which appeared years later.

So I got paid the writer's fee instead of the artist's fee, and that's how I became one of Mad's "usual gang of idiots" and a hero to my little kids. mada1068.JPGmadb1068.JPGmadc1068.JPGmadd1068.JPGmade1068.JPGmadf1068.JPGmadg1068.JPGmadh1068.JPG






The Eli Stein School of Gagwriting


(Don't worry -- you won't need a credit card)

Lesson One: I've always believed that a cartoon caption is funnier if it is posed in the form of a question -- if possible -- rather than in the form of a declarative statement. I feel that the question format effectively invites the reader to participate in the humor, perhaps even prompting the reader to silently but knowingly answer the question posed.

I realize that this is somewhat like what Neil Simon has one of his characters saying in one of his plays -- the old comedian who adamantly insists, and I'm paraphrasing here, "You know what's funny? Words with a 'k' are funny -- 'pickles' is a funny word."

Well, pickles IS a funny word, isn't it?? Notice how that last question got you involved?

End of Lesson One, and probably the end of the Eli Stein School of Gagwriting.






The Wall Street Journal, July 12, 1957


wsj071257.JPG This was my first sale to a major market. It was printed in 1957, but I remember making the sale in 1956.

Charles Preston was the man who, more than fifty years ago, convinced The Wall Street Journal to start printing a cartoon every day, and to this day he's still at the helm of their "Pepper . . . and Salt" feature.

I remember visiting Preston many times in his Lexington Avenue office on Wednesdays, which was "Looking Day" for the local cartoonists. Unfortunately, I don't have a photo of the young, dashing Charles Preston of those days, but I have this photo of him and myself at the 50th Anniversary celebration/exhibit, which was held at the World Financial Center in 1999. preston.jpg That's Preston on the left, me on the right.






Selling Power, September 1990


sell0990.JPG This is the first of more than 75 cartoons that Selling Power magazine purchased from me. The publication started out as Personal Selling Power, a trade magazine for professional salespeople, shortened its name after a few years, and is very much still around. Unfortunately, however, about five years ago Selling Power completely stopped using cartoons as part of its editorial mix.

Not too long ago I cornered Selling Power's founder and publisher, Gerhard Gschwandtner, at a trade show (he was manning the Selling Power booth) and asked him why no more cartoons. He gave me what I considered a pretty wimpy answer, to the effect that while he personally loved the cartoons, the "design boys" decided they had to go, and he went along with that decision.

Bad thinking. If ever a publication needed cartoons and humor to supplement its hard-hitting editorial content, it's Selling Power.

A strange contradiction: Selling Power has an ongoing website, sellingpower.com, on which there is a "Cartoon of the Day" feature, using cartoons from past issues. My cartoons appear there on a regular basis. An even stranger contradiction: in 2005, Selling Power came out with a cartoon collection, "The Sunny Side of Selling", containing 200 cartoons from past issues (18 of them are mine). So Selling Power is obviously still very much cartoon-oriented.

C'mon, Mr. Gschwandtner, it's time to speak up! Bring cartoons back to Selling Power!






The National Enquirer, November 11, 1982


natenq111182.JPG The Enquirer, the much-maligned supermarket tabloid, was surprisingly generous in the rate it paid for cartoons. It was said that the owner, Generoso Pope, believed in rewarding his reporters and contributors well. Mr. Pope died many years ago, and as far as I know the Enquirer doesn't publish cartoons anymore, but I'll keep checking it at the cashier.

A couple of times when I was in the neighborhood of the Enquirer editorial offices in Lantana, Florida, I stopped in to say hello to the cartoon editor. I'm pretty sure that the offices are now in Boca Raton.






King Features "Laff-A-Day, August 5, 1982


king080582.JPG The political campaign of 1982 must have been an exciting time, at least for me. I drew this cartoon, and another one very similar to it, with a slightly different caption, and they were published within a couple of months of each other. See the Wall Street Journal entry for October 27, 1982 for the other version.

I suppose I should have been embarrassed, but I'm sure no one even noticed it at the time.

"If it's worth doing, it's worth doing twice."






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