Behind The Scenes: More 2013 Favorites

Two weeks ago I posted some of my favorite Edison strips from 2013 and promised another installment a week later. Forgetting that I was also running an Indiegogo campaign for the Kenosha Festival of Cartooning :-)

Here, a wee bit late, are some more of my fav's from the past year:

Obviously this strip was inspired by the many amazingly stupid commercials John and I are subjected to whilst inking and coloring strips with the TV on.

The Lemonade stand has become a fertile theme for Edison - combine it with his overwhelming need to take advantage of Harley and you get this strip. Years ago we had two young nephews. (we still have the nephews, they're just not that young anymore) One of the boys was older than the other by 5 years and during a family visit I witnessed the older boy saying to the younger boy: "Hey Matt! I'll give you this nice big nickel for that little bitty dime!" Their mother looked at me and said "Whenever I hear the words 'Hey Matt!" I know somewhere that kid is getting the short end of the stick."

That pretty much sums up the relationship between Edison and his cousin Harley.

I'll admit I'm a sucker for vibrant color and insert it into the strip whenever possible. It makes my job even more fun and when I am working on a strip like this one I sometimes am awestruck by the fact that I am married to this phenomenal artist....

Poor Harley - taken advantage of and manipulated once again....

One of John's earliest comedic devices in the strip was his use of Rube Goldberg type contraptions. This is the most recent one.

Edison Lee Perks on Kenosha Festival Of Cartooning Indiegogo!

John has dug through his Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee ephemera and come up with King Features Sales Kits from the original 2006 launch to offer for the Kenosha Festival of Cartooning fundraising campaign on Indiegogo!

The full color kit, with illustrations on the front and back covers as well as the inside front cover, is on 100 lb card stock with a pocket containing:
  • Character Descriptions
  • Artist Bio
  • 4 Full Color Sunday Strip Samples
  • 24 Black and White Daily Strip Samples
  • The Back Cover Illustration is the same as the poster

He also unearthed copies of a special 14 x14 inch square promotional poster designed especially for newspaper editors - the invention depicted is that of a "Newspaper Distiller" and the joke centers around the relationship between newspapers and TV news.

A limited quantity of these perks are available on Indiegogo - head over and claim yours!!

Behind The Scenes: Anne's Favorite Edison Strips From 2013

Recently I was looking through the Edison strips from the past year and decided I'd like to go back and post some of my favorites.

Here, in no particular order, are some of the strips that made me laugh every time I looked at them along with some of the stories from behind the scenes:

This strip was written after last year's Reuben Award Weekend in Pittsburgh.

The weather was especially hairy on Memorial Day Weekend of 2013 and pretty much every cartoonist who flew to Pittsburgh had an airplane or airport horror story to share. Alex Hallet of Arctic Circle said she actually spent more time getting from NY to Pittsburgh - huge amounts of time on the tarmac included - than it took her to cross the Atlantic Ocean!

And I have a personal hatred of flying that I once wrote about here.

Add to all the bad airport stories our love of Legos and you get a comic strip!

This one we wrote while walking the dogs. We had just watched Young Frankenstein and John knew he wanted to do a strip sort of paying homage to the film - complete with black and white cinema style - but he didn't have a topic. By the end of the walk the dogs were worn out but we had this strip.

I don't know where John got the idea for this one but it makes me laugh out loud every time I look at it...

This is one of those strips set in the lab that I love to color. Especially when John does the weird shapes in the background. It's an example of a strip that I never quite remember what it's about when I'm not looking at it but the words "Mmm, Mmm! Them possum muffins sure do smell good, granny!" are burned into my brain. Our daughter quotes this strip whenever anyone mentions the Beverly Hillbillies.

Orville is a great subject for strips involving sight gags and cluelessness....

This may very well be my favorite Edison strip of all time - it perfectly encapsulates the relationship between Edison and his Mom as well as his relationship with his cousin Harley. All in just two words and a clear visual.

This is my favorite kind of political strip. It sums up the population's general dissatisfaction with our elected officials without pinpointing a specific target.

More of my favorites next week....

Kenosha Festival Of Cartooning 2014

Yes, there WILL be another Kenosha Festival of Cartooning full-on 3 day event in September of 2014.

That is, there will be another festival if we raise the money we need to run everything and still keep the event free to the public. Watch the fabulous video by Tom Racine and get all the details about guest speakers, dates etc.

And then head over to Indiegogo and make a donation - lots of great backer perks are available even if you cannot attend the festival!!

Comic Kudos: Andertoons Mark Anderson

Another cartoonist that never fails to get a laugh from me (and I do mean NEVER fails) is gag cartoonist Mark Anderson of Andertoons. I've been reading Mark's stuff for years and his ability to make yet another cartoon about charts and graphs never ceases to amaze me. But he doesn't just do business room humor, as seen in the animal strips here. Just general all-around funny stuff.

I also love the old style look of minimal line with judicious use of washes.

As with many cartoonists Mark didn't set out to make a living from cartoons - hear all about his cartooning journey over at his interview with Tom Racine on Tall Tale Radio. He's not just funny on paper! (We have another thing in common - a love of Legos - between us we probably have an entire house full of Legos!)

And go subscribe to him on Gocomics so you can read his work every day!!

Kenosha Festival Of Cartooning on Indiegogo

The Indiegogo campaign for the 2014 Kenosha Festival of Cartooning goes live today at noon CST. There are a bunch of great rewards! Subscribe to the official KFOC site to stay up to the minute on details!

Richard Thompson - Perhaps My Favorite Valentine Cartoon Ever

John and I are huge fans of the work of Richard Thompson, creator of Cul de Sac and Richard's Poor Almanac. I opened my gocomics today to find the above gem - perhaps my new favorite Valentine's Day Cartoon of all time. It's a perfect example of Richard's razor sharp, dry sense of humor and his wonderfully scratchy, deceptively simple looking, drawing style. I say deceptively simple because there is a lot of complexity there and he makes it look as though it were tossed off in a matter of minutes.

A couple of years ago Richard drew this beautiful little Alice Otterloop for John. We recently had it framed and it is hanging in state in John's inner sanctum, the innermost section of his studio, where he can gaze it in in awe and resentment everyday. Awe because Richard is a genius and resentment because Richard is too damn good to have had his drawing days shortened by the demon disease of Parkinson's.

Now would be a good time to post some important links to all things "Richard-y".

A Contest! Win Comics Kingdom For A Year!

The folks at the new Comics Kingdom site are running a contest on twitter. The prize is a year's subscription to Comics Kingdom Royal (free comic strips with no ads and deep archives, people!).

It's all about retweeting and getting your retweets picked up by people with scads of followers. You can  retweet as many times as you want. Full details are at the Comics Kingdom site

Don't forget, the Edison twitter handle is @EdisonLeeComics . We will be tweeting the strip every day to start things off and give you something to RT. Or you can just tweet straight from the CK site.

Comic Kudos: Rip Haywire

I did not grow up on Terry and The Pirates. And I have to confess that I didn't read Prince Valiant either.

But I did read Steve Canyon religiously from when I was about 8 until I left for college. And I also was a big fan of Dick Tracy.

Which is why I love Rip Haywire by Dan Thompson. If you aren't reading it every day you should be! Not only is Dan a master of the graphic style and pacing of an adventure strip, Rip Haywire has the added advantage of being funny to boot. I don't remember either Dick Tracy or Steve Canyon being particularly funny - they were straight up serial stories with a lot of action and some romance.

I really like the addition of humor to the adventure genre. Think "Star Trek Banter" not Laurel and Hardy slapstick.

Feast your eyes on these gorgeous samples and then head over to gocomics and subscribe to Rip Haywire today!

Edison Meets His Match In Girl Brainiac Katie Franklin

The first appearance of Katie Franklin in September of 2013

Attentive readers will have noticed the addition of a new character to the universe of Edison Lee. Her name is Katie Franklin and she's been a long time in coming.

Where did she come from? Why is she here? What will her future hold?

I'll be honest. I pushed for this character.

I threw the idea out to John one day after reading an article much like this one: New Toys Encourage Girls to be Builders

(It wasn't actually this particular article, we introduced Katie in September of 2013 and this article was published in December. But there have been enough of these articles in the past year to catch my attention.)

We've been feeling for a while now that it would be good for Edison to have another smart kid in the strip to act as a sort of nemesis. (He is clearly outclassing all the members of his family in the brain department and needs someone on his own level for tension) And I suggested that maybe his nemesis should be a girl. A really, really, really smart girl. One that could rock his world.

So we began working on this girl.

And for inspiration we found we had to look no further than our own home.

We have two sons and a daughter. When our daughter was 5 she was invited to a combination Birthday/Halloween party. We arrived and, I kid you not, every girl was dressed as a princess or a fairy (complete with wings or tiaras and sometimes both) and every boy was dressed as The Hulk or Spiderman or some other comic book superhero. I looked around and made the comment: "What we have here is a failure of the women's movement."

Not one of the other moms laughed. They didn't even smile. They looked at me as if I were some sort of lunatic.

Well, our daughter grew up to be just as interested in and talented at science as our boys had been. But when we looked around for positive role models for her in the scientific fields the pickings were slim. Not nonexistent but hardly what you would expect after 50 years of banging on the glass ceiling.

These days that daughter is in high school and pushing back pretty hard on gender stereotypes. In some ways this new character is a tribute to her.

Also the last name comes from the brilliant biophysicist Rosalind Franklin.

In general she exists to challenge Edison and, despite my role in helping throw her onstage with our favorite mad genius, she is primarily written by John. But every once in a while you will probably see something like this:

This strip came to me almost completely fully formed (except for the lines of Edison and Orville at the end) after I received the following "girl" happy meal toy. (Yes, sometimes I still get happy meals - they are small servings and sometimes the toys are fun.)

Not only was this "girl" toy a Glinda the Good Witch figurine that does ABSOLUTELY nothing except stand there and look vacant while being tethered to other Wizard of Oz figurines by a plastic piece of the yellow brick road - that was bad enough - but she is a BABY Glinda the Good Witch to boot. During this promotion the toys for boys were all cool Batman cars and Batman figures and Batman accessories that did stuff.

I immediately felt like Sally from Peanuts after she has wasted her whole trick or treating evening sitting in that danged pumpkin patch with Linus. I went on a tear and wrote that strip.

Katie's most recent appearance was Monday January 6 when she launched the following salvo written by John.

When he gave me this strip to color I almost stood up and applauded. I hope to god our daughter can remain like Katie Franklin and refuse to hide her light under a bushel basket just to make some boy feel better about himself.

I don't know what the future holds for Katie and Edison. But I'm looking forward to finding out!!

PS - Don't miss the strip on January 9 2014 when she makes another appearance!

OSU Festival Of Cartoon Art 2013

John and I had the privilege of attending the 30th Festival of Cartoon Art at Ohio State last week. As usual it was a fabulous event packed with great presentations, the grand opening of the new Billy Ireland Library & Museum of Cartoon Art, and a screening of the documentary "Stripped".

We toured the current gallery show "Substance and Shadow" curated by Brian Walker and also the Treasures Gallery. For those of you unfamiliar with OSU's fabulous archive they are the world's leading repository of cartoon art originals. Stunningly, I failed to take even one picture of the exhibit! I think A) I was having too good a time ogling the artwork with envy B) I may have had a vague idea that photos were prohibited.

Regardless, photos cannot really do the shows justice, you should simply go to OSU and see the exhibits in person! But, if you insist on searching for exhibit photos Mike Peterson has some good ones - plus an extensive recap of the festival itself - over on Comic Strip of The Day.

There were presentations by Matt Bors, Eddie Campbell, Brian Bassett, Paul Pope, Jeff Smith, Stephan Pastis, The Hernandez Brothers, and Kazu Kibuishi. We saw most of them and greatly enjoyed seeing the process these artists go through to produce their terrific work! UPDATE - thanks to Alan Gardener and Stacy Curtis for helping me identify Politico cartoonist Matt Wuerker in the photo below. I remember being introduced but there's always such a huge number of cartoonists to meet at these things I just couldn't remember everyone!

Matt Bors

Eddie Campbell

The festival audience was also given the chance to see the documentary "Stripped" for its first screening. I have to confess I had mixed feelings about the film. It seems to be two films in one. The first is a documentary narrative on newspaper comics  - their place in history and extensive interviews with some of the most famous cartoonists of our time - including the elusive Bill Watterson. (Watterson does not appear on camera but we do get to hear his voice.) I greatly enjoyed this part of the film - especially the heartfelt opening featuring Cathy Guisewite and her memories of reading the Sunday Funnies. The film is extremely well produced - rivaling anything programmed by PBS.

But there is another film inside this documentary that is an editorial comment on the state of the comics business today. I enjoyed seeing the work of popular webcomic artists and hearing their stories but could have done without the editorial tone of the filmmakers. It felt like a film in search of an argument rather than a look toward the future. I also have to wonder if this part of the film will be appealing to general audiences who might be unaware of past rifts between web and print cartoonists.

Despite this I enjoyed the film and would recommend it to fans of comics.

Probably the best part of the weekend, though, is simply the opportunity to eat and drink and hang out with cartoonists - something we did in abundance :-)

Anna Richmond and Ed Steckley

Kevin KAL Kallaugher

Matt Wuerker, Sara Thaves being photobombed by Ed Steckley, and Stacy Curtis

Anne Hambrock and Jeff Keane

Tom Gammill and Michael Kandalaft

Bill Holbrook, Paul Fell, J.P Trostle, Steve Artley

John Lotshaw, Greg Walker, Bill Holbrook


Tom Stemmle, Frank Pauer, Paul Fell

John Hambrock, Eddie Pittman, John Lotshaw

Rally The Troops! Keep Edison Lee In The Oregonian!

Yesterday we heard from several readers of the Oregonian that were disappointed to find Edison Lee had been pulled from the comics line-up. Edison has been part of the Oregonian for over 7 years - almost since its launch - and we know there are a lot of loyal fans out in their circulation area.

The Oregonian is actually soliciting reader feedback and it sounds as though it might actually affect their decision - something rare in a newspaper these days!

So please, if you are an Oregonian reader who wants to see Edison back on your comics page follow this link and make your voice heard!!  Oregonian feedback  (You have to register to comment  - you can also contact editor Therese Bottomly on her facebook page or twitter account)

My Top 5 Comics Biz Sites

If you love comics and cartooning and can't get enough of that inside track stuff - you know, like the commentary on your favorite DVD's - then here are 5 websites (in no particular order) you should be reading daily:

Tom's MAD Blog

Not only has Tom Richmond written a book on caricature that is taking the world by storm (The Mad Art of Caricature - available here) he blogs almost daily with his tips, tricks, inspirations, and, most importantly, business advice for aspiring freelance cartoonists. If you are looking for practical help to improve your cartooning/drawing/marketing skills this is the place to go!

Mike Lynch Cartoons

A prolific, highly respected, and well, just darned funny gag cartoonist, Mike is also a collector of comic art and old time book collections that he frequently takes the time to scan and post for posterity. He also frequently has his finger on the pulse of the cartooning and creative world and can tip you to great articles like this one. If you've never visited his blog, prepare to spend about 2 days straight reading to catch up with just a smidgeon of the good stuff he posts.

The Daily Cartoonist

Founded in 2006 (just before the launch of Edison BTW) The Daily Cartoonist by Alan Gardener quickly became THE place to go for up to the minute cartooning news. I probably visit this site 2-3 times a day, as do almost all the cartoonists I know.

Comic Strip of The Day

Mike Peterson has been a columnist, an editor, a journalist, in fact, just about any job you can name related to a newspaper and he has probably done it. And it shows. He has a newsman's eye for the most well done, relevant cartoons - both editorial and comic strips - every single day. Not only does he cherry pick some of the day's best 'toons for you, you'll roll on the floor as you read his witty and insightful commentary. His site is also an excellent place to find reviews of, and links to, some of the best comics collections and books on comics history currently available. A "must visit" for the comics lover on your holiday shopping list.

Tall Tale Radio - Tall Tale on Gocomics

Ever wonder what your favorite cartoonists are like up close and personal? Then this is the place for you! Stephan Pastis, Mark Tatulli, Dan Piraro, Sandra Bell Lundy, Bill Holbrook, Jeff Keane, the list goes on and on. Tom has recorded almost 200 top notch interviews with folks in the cartooning business. Set aside some listening time - maybe while you're doing all that social networking stuff - and start catching up on these podcasts.

It looks as though I'm cheating here, and putting 2 sites in the place of 1, but Tom Racine's Tall Tale Radio podcasts are posted both on his traditional site and over on gocomics. The gocomics podcasts tend to be shorter installments of the interviews you'll find on the main site. So if you don't have an hour to spend listening to a great comics interview (which I do regularly when I am coloring for John) then the gocomics version of the interviews is the place for you. You'll want to use the above link - for some reason it's very hard to find on the gocomics site itself.

There are a lot of other great sites - especially for the comic book industry - but these are my current top 5.

The Art Of Trees - Or, "Why John Is Behind"

There is such a thing in syndicated comic strip land known as a "deadline". It is the day "you", the creator, are supposed to have your strips for the week submitted to "them", the syndicate that distributes your work to newspapers.

Because papers like to have the strips for review well ahead of the intended publish date, this deadline can be several weeks before the strip will run. John is supposed to be submitting Sunday strips 9 weeks before publication and Daily strips 6 weeks before.

Well, he isn't.

OK - it's not like he's behind enough to be a huge headache for the syndicate or get fined. (Yes, fined. That's what happens if, like Garry Trudeau, you are turning your strips in a week to 2 weeks before they run. - Although Garry is such a big fish he probably has a contractual exemption or something.)

But 6 and 9 weeks we ain't exactly at.

As a result I am asked an almost weekly question by my lovely spouse. "Why am I so far behind?! Why can't I get back on track?"

I don't always have an answer but this week I do.


Really great trees.

Trees you probably don't see in many other syndicated newspaper comics being produced today.

These trees:

And all the other really cool, gorgeous things John draws in Edison every day.

John is one of those "old school" artists who still produces the strip 100% non-digital. He hand letters every word balloon, draws every "gutter" and "panel" and uses brush and India Ink on Bristol Board. A comic colleague recently told John he considered him one of the finest "brush men" in the business.

I have to agree.

And if all that attention to detail - coupled with top notch writing - means that the strip is a little behind the publishing curve, well, I can live with that.

Until they start fining us, that is :-)

Don't forget to read Edison for free every day here.