Cartoons

Dartnell, October 11, 1994


dartn101194.JPG Dartnell Corp. publishes newsletters for business and industry on subjects like Salesmanship, Teamwork, Office Management, Supervision and Customer Service. For many years, a cartoon was regularly included in about a dozen of the titles. In 1999, Dartnell was bought up by another company and the parent company discontinued the cartoon use. I recently checked on the internet and found that Dartnell is still active in newsletter publishing, and still cartoonless.

From 1986 to 1999 I sold about 125 cartoons to Dartnell -- the subjects were right up my alley and I had many rejected cartoons from other publications to offer them. Unfortunately, the Dartnell editors were loathe to send tearsheets or clips of my published cartoons to me, no matter how often I asked for them. So I only have a small percentage of my Dartnell cartoons -- the few that I managed to scrounge from them or from various other sources.

As I've said before, I love to see my cartoons in print, and the sad fact is that, overall, I've never seen about 20% of my published cartoons. These are the ones that appeared in publications not readily available to the general public, or that could not be found on magazine racks. Most editors routinely send complimentary copies, or tearsheets, to their contributors, but there are always the few others who can't or won't be bothered. Very inconsiderate, in my opinion.






The Wall Street Journal, April 27, 1970


wsj042770.JPG This is another WSJ cartoon in which a lot of drawing detail was mysteriously lost in the reproduction. As I mentioned previously in a reply to a comment on another WSJ cartoon, there was a period of time when, for some strange reason, the "Pepper . . . and Salt" cartoons were appearing so faintly that they almost disappeared. I remember a few Joe Mirachi cartoons that looked like a bunch of chicken scratchings, and you could barely tell what the drawings were supposed to represent. My guess is that the WSJ was experimenting with different scanning or copying techniques, and somewhere between the original drawing and the printed cartoon, almost all of the detail was being lost. I know I hadn't changed my drawing style or tools, so it certainly wasn't anything that we cartoonists were doing differently. I also recall that the problem prompted at least one sarcastic Letter to the Editor complaining about the "disappearing" cartoons.

I'm glad to say that the glitch, whatever it was, was finally resolved and the cartoon reproduction returned to normal.






Selling Power, May 1993


selpow0593.JPG Another of my personal favorite gags -- good ol' Archie Andrews, the perennial high school student.

I was surprised that this cartoon didn't sell higher up in the publication chain (okay, maybe it's not New Yorker caliber, but both The Wall Street Journal and National Business Employment Weekly had a crack at it, and one of them really should have claimed it).

This drawing appears in a continuous cycle as "Cartoon of the Day" on Selling Power's website sellingpower.com. But, unfortunately, somebody completely changed the caption on the site, thereby ruining a perfectly good laugh. The caption on the website has some silly reference to Jughead. I alerted Selling Power's webmaster about this, but to my knowledge the caption has never been corrected.






Why James Bowman should be the Cartoon Editor of The New Yorker


On May 12, 2000 The Wall Street Journal printed an article about the sad state of book publishing at that particular time. It was written by James Bowman, who WSJ identified as the "American editor of the (London) Times Literary Supplement". The opening sentence of Mr. Bowman's treatise was "A recent New Yorker cartoon portrayed a man asking a bookstore clerk: 'Do you have anything that's not for dummies?' "

I never noticed the article, but apparently someone at The New Yorker did. Probably one of those famous fact-checkers we always hear about. I can imagine the conversations that ensued: "Oh, yeah, in what issue was that cartoon again? . . . Hey, wait a minute! . . . Was there ever such a cartoon in The New Yorker?" And before you could say "Oops", the following correction appeared in The Wall Street Journal: wsjcorr051600.JPG

I felt very flattered that Mr. Bowman thought that my cartoon was NewYorkerish.

I've posted the original cartoon under The Wall Street Journal, dated March 31, 2000. You can also find it under the topic of "Books" and in the 2000 decade.






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?






The Chronicle of Higher Education, March 21, 1990


The Chronicle of Higher Education is a weekly tabloid-size publication which I consider to be the newspaper of record for colleges, universities and other institutions of higher learning. On March 21, 1990, the editors took five cartoons that they had previously purchased from me, and published them as a full-page spread, under the title "STEIN ON ACADEME".

A few weeks later, The Chronicle printed a Letter to the Editor from an Associate Professor at a well-known midwestern university. This is the entire letter. I am not identifying the name of the letter-writer or the university, for obvious reasons.

"I always enjoy the cartoons in your Section 2, especially Carole Cable's. They provide welcome comic relief from the depressing stories in the preceding pages on such matters as sex-discrimination suits, cases of sexual harassment, and the plague of racial incidents on campus.

Did anyone besides me, however, notice in the full-page of Eli Stein cartoons in your March 21 issue that of the 17 human figures depicted, all were white males except one, a white female cast as the stereotypical faculty wife, screening her husband's phone calls so that he can meditate uninterruptedly on his Next Brilliant Article? This page was dreary, if inadvertent, confirmation of the attitudes that generate those articles in your news section.

I am not amused."

When I read the letter, it blew my mind. For me, it was beyond comprehension -- I can understand "hate mail" and the driving forces behind hate, but this?? It was a real eye-opener for me to realize that there are actually people out there with nothing better to do than to note the gender and racial make-up of a pageful of cartoon characters and make a discrimination conspiracy issue out of it. (Also, remember, I didn't even have any input as to how the spread was assembled or laid out -- The Chronicle simply took five of my cartoons that they had on hand and put them together on one page).

After regaining my composure, I wrote a personal note to the Cartoon Editor and sent it with a new submission of cartoons. My note said, in part:

"What really disturbed me about [the Professor's] nitpicking letter is that when I showed it to my family and friends, it got more laughs than any of my cartoons ever did.

Be that as it may, [the Professor] is perfectly correct -- I don't much like to draw women. My forte is balding men with glasses, and I'm sure you'll find a fair share of them in the enclosed batch."

The Professor's letter didn't noticeably affect my relationship with The Chronicle, which continued to publish my cartoons for many years afterwards.

Here are the five controversial cartoons. What say you -- are we, or are we not, amused? chron032190a.JPGchron032190b.JPGchron032190c.JPGchron032190d.JPGchron032190e.JPGchron032190f.JPG






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.






Public Domain


Over the years, I've thought of gags that I considered clever and marketable, but which I didn't think I could pull off with my limited cartooning skill, so I never attempted to draw them.

(As I've often explained to anyone who would listen, I'm really a gagwriter who, out of desperation, turned to cartooning as the outlet for all the funny thoughts racing through my mind all the time. "Real" cartoonists are gifted, prolific artists who can intrinsically draw in a humorous vein.)

A gag that comes to mind, for instance, would have required both a title in a box above the drawing and the usual caption below. The title would have been MR. OTIS MAKES ANOTHER MOMENTOUS DECISION. The drawing would have shown the outside of the very first elevator, under construction, with a workman holding up signs below the button controls. The signs say FOR and AGAINST. And a very pensive Mr. Otis, standing nearby, is saying the caption: "No, it still doesn't look right to me. Let's try UP and DOWN again."

OK, maybe the first elevators didn't have button controls. To a gagwriter, that is immaterial (remember, dogs don't really have the ability to talk). If any of you "real" cartoonists want to take a crack at this gag, I'm officially putting it into the public domain. Go for it -- sell it to The New Yorker. See if I care.






The Wall Street Journal, February 19, 1998


wsj021998.JPG A few weeks after this was printed in The Wall Street Journal, I received a letter from a Vice-President at IBM. She said she wanted to buy the original drawing "for personal use (non-commercial display purposes only)".

I emailed her that my fee for an original would ordinarily be $200, and if IBM were purchasing it, that's what I would charge. However, I added that since she specified it was strictly for her personal use, I would reduce the fee to $150. She soon emailed back as follows: "I did say that the cartoon would be for personal-internal display purposes only, however, I did neglect to mention that it is not for my personal viewing but for the IBM CEO and Chairman, Mr. Lou Gerstner. He enjoyed your cartoon and requested that we purchase if available. So I'm not quite sure how you want to handle the cost -- it's up to you."

Wow -- Louis Gerstner! I was suitably impressed.

I emailed her back and said that under the circumstances, we should split the difference and make it a fee of $175. And that's exactly what we did.






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






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