1980's

Case & Comment, 1988


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Case & Comment was a well-respected, old-line publication for lawyers. Its first issue was in 1894 and its last was in 1990 -- almost 100 years! And best of all, in my opinion, it used cartoons to accompany and lighten up all that legal material.

This cartoon was purchased by the editors for a specific purpose. It was featured in a June 1988 promotional letter sent to their extensive mailing list of lawyers. I was paid a $100 bonus for that use.

Unfortunately, they must have sent it to the law firm that represented the "Toys R Us" merchandising group. As the editors later informed me, it resulted in a "cease and desist" letter and Case & Comment was forced to discontinue the promotion.

Aside: Four years later, The National Law Journal (another one of my markets, by the way) published essentially the same cartoon, but drawn by another cartoonist. The other cartoonist had the chutzpah to use the reverse "R" (Torts "R" Us), which I had been too chicken to use. I figured it was trademarked and would just be asking for trouble. I often wondered whether The National Law Journal received a similar "cease and desist" letter from the Toys "R" Us lawyers.






Advertising Age, September 12, 1983


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Explanation: The word "collateral" has a special meaning in the advertising agency world. To quote from a source on Google: "Collateral is the collection of media used to support sales of a product or service. It differs from advertising in that it is used later in the sales cycle. Common examples include: sales brochures and other printed product information, posters and signs, visual aids in sales presentations, web content, sales scripts and demonstration scripts."

So this adman, or as we would call him today, Madman, is looking for a loan and he has brought along his "collateral". Yes, I agree it's an awful pun, but I thought it worked as a gag, and apparently so did the editors at Advertising Age back in 1983.

End of Lesson Number 1 in today's Advertising 101 class.






National Review, February 14, 1986


natrev021486.jpg A few days ago I posted another National Review cartoon and made some remarks about the untimely death of its founder, William Buckley, Jr. I also mentioned his sister Priscilla, who was an editor at NR and for many years had the responsibility of selecting the cartoons to be published there.

Ms Buckley would often comment on my submissions, and today I'd like to recall one particular comment of hers, from about twenty years ago.

In my batch of cartoons at that time was a kind of silly one in which I had an 18th century King of France watching television. The caption, coming from the TV set, was "It's ten P.M. -- do you know where your Dauphins are?". This, of course, was a take-off on the familiar and oft-repeated TV phrase "It's ten P.M. -- do you know where your children are?".

When I received the batch back, there was a note from Ms Buckley. She said, "I liked the 'Dauphins' but by definition there can be only one Dauphin at a time, like the Prince of Wales."

I scratched my head for a while, then looked it up and realized that she was perfectly right. The Dauphin was the heir apparent to the throne of France, and there couldn't possibly be more than one at a time.

I tried re-writing my caption, but somehow " . . . do you know where your Dauphin is?" didn't work at all. I finally gave up and relegated the cartoon to my vast "Unsold" folders.






The Wall Street Journal, February 8, 1982


wsj020882.JPG As I mentioned before, there was a short period of time when The Wall Street Journal was reproducing cartoons very poorly and a lot of drawing detail was being lost. This is one of those cartoons. That's a Universal Product Code (UPC) emblem on the gentleman's party tag.

(Update, posted October 22, 2016) I just discovered the original of this cartoon -- this is the way it should have looked in print:






Stock Market, March 1981


stkmkt0381.JPG Am I the only person who saw any humor in the name of the securities firm "Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner and Beane"? And then, many years ago, they abruptly changed the name to "Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner and Smith", which really raised my gag antennae. The firm is now called simply "Merrill Lynch" -- a ho-hum name if I ever heard one.

Anyhow, I came up with this "OUT TO LYNCH" gag and Stock Market magazine was good enough to print it. Please don't go looking for any deep-South racial undertones in the cartoon -- this was simply a take-off on the countless "Out to Lunch" door sign cartoons that every cartoonist liked to draw, probably because they were so easy. Eventually it became such a hackneyed subject that no cartoonist would touch it anymore (also, for some reason, business people no longer seemed inclined to hang "Out to Lunch" signs on their doorknobs).

So these three partners, with their darkened offices, were simply out to visit with good ol' Merrill Lynch, whose office is still lit up.

One more historical note, for the sake of honesty in cartooning: there is no such person as Merrill Lynch, and there never has been. The firm was started as a partnership of Charles Merrill and Edmund Lynch, and the comma between the names was dropped in 1938 when Mr. Lynch passed away. Now you sticklers for the truth won't have to Google it.

The real question is, why in the world did I think this simple cartoon needed such a long explanation?






Food & Drug Packaging, September 1983


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The publication of this cartoon in the trade magazine FOOD & DRUG PACKAGING in September 1983 prompted a Letter to the Editor that was printed a few issues later. The letter was written by a packaging company executive, and I'm quoting it in its entirety, because it also helps non-packaging-oriented people to understand what the gag is all about:

"The cartoon by Stein in the September 1983 issue of FOOD & DRUG PACKAGING was well done. It points out the new packages available to the supermarket shopper; however, one package is not commercially available and is still under market test, in selected parts of the country, after five years. The retort pouch is not yet considered to be a widely used package in the United States and this is true even after 20 years of development. Giving the retort pouch "equal billing" with ovenable paperboard and seamless aluminum cans is an injustice to total market conditions. Perhaps, in the distant future, the retort pouch will become a viable supermarket commodity. But, it sure isn't now!"

And now, after all these years, I get to comment on this letter. Yes, I knew all along that retort pouches were still in a testing stage. But I used the term because I found "retort pouches" to be a very funny-sounding name for a package (even funnier than "ovenable paperboard containers" or "seamless aluminum cans"). To this day, I can't help smiling when I think "retort pouch" -- try saying it and see if you don't have the same reaction.

And, after all, humor is what it's all about.






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.






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."






National Lampoon, July 1984


natlamp0784.JPG I was certainly surprised when National Lampoon bought this one. I shouldn't have been, since it was right up their irreverent alley, so to speak.

Nevertheless, when I drew it, I was concerned about the controversial subject matter and decided to sign it only with ST. instead of my full name. Call me paranoiac, but I felt that if I used my obviously Jewish full name, it would bring out every religious crank and crackpot in the world. I had good reason to think this -- heck, I even got hate mail as a result of a harmless Santa cartoon that appeared in the Wall Street Journal! What I didn't realize at the time was that the famous New Yorker cartoonist and artist Saul Steinberg, who died a few years ago, also sometimes shortened his signature to ST., and it looked exactly like mine. So technically (but not practically, since our styles were so different) it was possible for someone to mistakenly think that it was a Steinberg. I hope I didn't cause him any hate mail problems.

And now I'd like to put in a little sidebar to all those "haters": Lighten up! This is strictly about humor! We have no hidden agendas! And yes, I have drawn cartoons making fun of Moses! In some small way, I think I understand what those Danish cartoonists are currently going through.






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