1980's

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


fddrug0983.JPG

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.






National Business Employment Weekly, June 21, 1987


nbew062187.JPG I got involved pretty early when this Dow-Jones publication was launched. NBEW only printed one cartoon per weekly issue. Their editorial offices were in Princeton, New Jersey, so I didn't have any personal contact, except occasionally by phone. The first editor, Ellen Kolton, LOVED my cartoons and puchased them like they were going out of style, sometimes as many as five at a time. Of course, we cartoonists realize that this sort of thing can't possibly last, and sure enough Ellen eventually left NBEW to work for INC. magazine (which has never published cartoons, by the way). I was so devastated that I called her at INC., at their Massachusetts office, and jokingly pleaded with her to get back to NBEW, or at least convince INC. to start using cartoons. I still remember one of her kindly comments to me over the phone: "Y'know, The New Yorker publishes cartoons, too!"

Anyway, and inevitably, her replacement wasn't so enthusiastic about my work, but still kept buying at a decent pace, out of habit, I imagine. Then more editors came and went, and each one seemed even less enthusiastic. Sales came fewer and farther apart, until the publication folded in 1999. According to my records, NBEW printed 113 of my cartoons, which I consider a pretty good run.

Aside: For a while there, it seemed like there was a contest between me and New Yorker cartoonist Tom Cheney as to who would be the principal cartoonist at NBEW. In the end, Cheney won out easily. The late Henry Martin, another New Yorker cartoonist, also appeared regularly. When a small paperback of the best cartoons from NBEW was printed, I had six cartoons included, and Cheney had about ten times as many.

Cartoon Editors should never change jobs -- unless they're not buying my cartoons, of course!






Datamation, March 1981







Datamation, March 1981


datam0381.JPGCAPTION: "Miss Farber, would you please tell me what this piece of paper is doing on my desk?"
This cartoon from Datamation is by far the most reprinted of my cartoons. It was first picked up by Business Week for an article they were doing on "The Paperless Office". After that, the reprint requests just came in thick and fast.

I used the name Farber as a silent tribute to radio talk personality Barry Farber, who I used to listen to a lot while I was cartooning.






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