The Striptoonist Calling it Quits

It was with sadness this morning that I read the following:


With regret I am putting an end to this blog. I hope you have enjoyed my choices over the last few months even if you probably haven't always agreed with them.

I really enjoyed the striptoonist site. In an age where every Tom Dick and Harry seems to have a snarky arsenal of opinions on the comics - it was refreshing to see a site dedicated to praise. I have checked it every day since last August, when it first popped onto my radar (courtesy of Piers Baker), and always got a good laugh from the featured comic.

I also liked that it exposed me to many fine comics that are not carried in my local paper or on dailyink. I have to confess here that there are many many worthy comic strips that I don't read daily because I have never taken the time to set up accounts with gocomics or

It was very flattering to have Edison selected a few times, but it went beyond that.

So, to the striptoonist - whoever you are - you will be missed.

THE BOOK - Coming soon

The first Edison Lee book collection is coming soon!

We're working like mad to get it done before September's Toonfest and hopefully will be able to take orders starting in late August.

Details as I'm allowed to leak them :-)


Once again I present some strips that really got me today. Color me a windchime hater - for this very reason.

I have to confess this punchline was not what I expected - it's not really what I thought Monica was doing - maybe the hairy legs threw me :-)

And finally, the piece de resistance - what creative person cannot relate to this?

I thought all the Darth Vaders were at Comic Con

Apparently this guy didn't get the memo - the Darth Vader meet up is in San Diego, not Long Island.

Maybe he needed the extra cash to buy souvenirs.

Better Late Than Never

From left to right: Tom and Marie Stemmle, Frank Pauer, Lynn Johnston John, Isabella Bannerman.

Here is, I think, my favorite picture from this year's Reuben Weekend in New Jersey courtesy of Bob Rich (who was nominated in the newspaper illustration category). Thanks Bob!

New Blog

I've started a new blog: Overbooked and Underpaid: Notes from a yes-aholic

This blog was inspired by two things: 1) some comments from the estimable Tom Racine during one of our interviews - I think it went something like "Good god, woman! How do you find time to do all this stuff?!" and 2) last year I started writing a column for our local newspaper.

I've flirted from time to time with random non-Edison writing here and felt that I needed a better place for such spouting off. And, with all the different directions John and I find ourselves pulled in, we definitely feel overbooked and underpaid. I'm pretty sure an awful lot of folks out there feel the same way so, if you're looking for some entertaining reading about my daily inability to stick to my schedule - or if you want to share your own stories of being overbooked and underpaid - head on over and check it out.

Just don't expect any cookies.

I'm too busy.

Candid Studio

John has a fabulous studio. It serves as a place to focus when the house is too chaotic to work in, (or when I'm teaching my private studio lessons, which is almost every day between 9 and 5) a storehouse for his art supplies and Sunday originals, (the dailies are in a safe deposit box at the bank) the best space for the huge drawing board, and also as the much needed storefront for his graphics and design business. Corporate client meetings go much more smoothly without an exuberant Border Collie jumping up on you.

But evenings find him in a corner of our family room using a 1940's sewing machine cabinet as a drawing table.


It's been a while since I gave any shout outs to strips that have particularly tickled me. Today I have three - although this first one is cheating because it's not a strip but an image from a strip. Sandra has put a sneak peak of on of her future strips up and the drawing just knocked me out. The way Susan's boobs are drawn and the crazy swirl in her eye make this one of the most appealing and truthful comic depictions of over taxed womanhood I've ever seen.

And this Between Friends strip not only got me to laugh out loud, I immediately could remember being in this position while eating out only yesterday. While we never say it out loud as succinctly as Susan, we all do this. I always think whenever a comic can get you to see a truth, and laugh at the same time, that is a true grand slam.

And then we have this Pros and Cons from Keirhan Meehan that just made me laugh. In looking back at my favorite Meehan strips, I find that I seem to be drawn most to the ones that reference fee relationships between a professional and his clientele. I wonder what a therapist would do with that :-)

Reubens on the Hudson: George Booth, Part 2

As I mentioned before, I am a huge fan of the work of George Booth and was thrilled to attend his lecture at the Reubens in New Jersey.

His presentation was facilitated by his daughter Sarah. This worked very well as she was able to take the place of an interviewer, in a way, and ask Mr. Booth questions, as well as keeping an eye on the clock.

He talked quite a bit about his childhood and growing up in Missouri and I was fascinated to learn that the character of Mrs. Rittenhouse that he uses so often in his cartoons is actually his mother. She sounds to have been a tremendous character of a person - he mentioned that she played the jews harp and the "french harp" (as well as a plethora of other instruments). I never remembered to ask him what he meant by the "french harp" and I wonder if he meant a traditional harp like the one I play. Oh well, opportunity lost.

He talked about his time in the army. It turns out that the army had quite a bit of trouble figuring out what to do with him (at one point he accidentally burned down a 12 hole latrine) until they let him start drawing cartoons. He eventually found himself assigned to draw cartoons for Leatherneck - a military publication - and thus started his career in magazine cartooning.

But imagine my surprise upon hearing that it took him 23 years to get a cartoon accepted by the New Yorker! I was astonished. I connect him so inextricably with that publication that I almost cannot remember a time when his cartoons were not in it. But, sure enough, his first New Yorker cartoons appeared in the early 1960's and not before. In his presentation, he explained that, in all the years he spent submitting things to them, he made the mistake of trying to write cartoons that were "New Yorker-y". When he stopped attempting to use the formula he thought they wanted, and just drew cartoons that made him personally laugh, then they started buying his work. It just goes to show how important it is to work in the voice that feels natural to you.

He put several cartoons up on the view screen but most of the pictures I took of them came out very badly so I include some of them here. Interestingly, some of the ones he chose to show happened to be archived in my personal scrapbook collection. (Elaboration to be found here.)

I was struck by how many of the cartoons from years past could have easily run today.

One of his earliest cartoons - this pic came from the screen which is why it is fuzzy.

"The Administration sees a quick recovery, but Mrs. Fisher and I feel it's going to be deep and prolonged." (This is from the early 70's I believe - the more things change, the more they stay the same.)

"Other folks have to pay taxes too, Mr. Herndon, so would you please spare us the dramatics!"

"Demand is steadily shrinking. Output is down. America has no time to dillydally? What this country needs now is a song! An open-your-wallet-and-spend-a-little song! An open-your-wallet-and-spend-a-little song from the Herzog Brothers!" (Again - this is over 30 years old but could have been written last week.)

"Everyone be home by two o'clock!"

"See that dog, Mr. Hendricks? That means you either have a shredded fan belt or your fuel pump is sucking air." (For me, this is the quintessential Booth dog.)

During his presentation, Mr. Booth brought out his secret tip for drawing multiple dogs in one cartoon. The following are various "dog parts" and a few pictures of him manipulating them.

A stomach.

Shifting the dog parts position just enough to change the final look.

And, finally, here are Mr. Booth and his wife Dionne and yours truly. It was really a splendid experience, one I will cherish for years.

Reubens on the Hudson: George Booth, Part 1

I am a certifiable nut when it comes to New Yorker cartoons.

While I read my Dad's collection of Peanuts books when I was young, I probably can only quote you vague paraphrases of the strips. I do remember vividly the impressions Snoopy used to do where he looked like Beethoven and others and I remember "weed claustrophobia" and "the vulture" and "the Python". I specifically remember the punchline "You've made him very happy, Charlie Brown" as Snoopy slithers off into the grass after choking the life out of Charlie Brown's ankle. But that's about it. I loved the strip as a whole - I just couldn't always remember it when I wasn't looking at it.

Not so for New Yorker cartoons. My grandparents were dedicated readers of the mag and that meant it was always lying around when we visited. I read the cartoons voraciously. There were so many great cartoonists who had work there but, for me, the holy trinity of NYer cartoonists was: Charles Addams, George Price, and George Booth.

To be fair, Addams got the lion's share of my attention because, in addition to seeing his work in the magazine, my father had all the book collections. I can not only quote for you the punchlines of over 100 Addams toons, I can describe the drawing of each of them for you as well.

But right up there with him were Price and Booth. I think one of the things that appealed to me most was the way in which each of them depicted squalor. Price with his impossibly straight lines that might fool the reader into thinking they were looking at something high class while really the characters were like something out of "Roseanne". Booth with his jagged lines and chicken toed dogs and cats that were either scratching themselves, licking themselves, having a fit, or just staring at the wall.

I am actually in possession of about 40 years of NYer magazines. When my grandparents died in 1987 their basement was full of them. I grabbed them all and, since that time, my basement has been full of them. Three basements, actually, as I have moved three times and lugged them with me each time.

Once upon a time, I began a quest to cull all the cartoons from these magazines and put them into binders, arranged by cartoonist. I immediately ran up against a stumbling block in that many cartoons were on two sides of the same page. This meant that I was going to have to do a lot of xeroxing if I were going to preserve them all. Luckily for me, I was teaching at the time at a high school that gave me unlimited access to a xerox machine. (This is before all the security around copy machine codes - probably designed to expressly cut out the kind of copy machine abuse I was engaging in.)

Anyway, I set to work and filled up several binders of which these are only a few:

The work of George Price

A Charles Addams cartoon and an index

One of the Booth pages

Sadly, no one warned me against the use of glue sticks and rubber cement to paste things into scrapbooks so I have basically ruined the very cartoons I was trying to save. Irony, gotta love it.

Then I had kids and all such projects got shelved. And, eventually he NYer went to the trouble of putting out a book of every cartoon they ever ran, rendering the project completely moot :-)

So, for me, the big highlight of this year's Reubens weekend was meeting Mr. Booth in person and getting a glimpse of his creative process.

The meeting was not at all as I imagined - I think I was thinking a polite little moment in the middle of one of those cocktail conversations where you are standing quietly listening to a lot of famous cartoonists riff off one another and then someone introduces you and you nod and then fall into a hole in the floor somewhere.

Instead, at breakfast one morning, while eating eggs and talking politics with Wiley Miller (another huge moment in my life, BTW) John came back from getting coffee and said "I just met George Booth and we had a very nice little chat."

"What!? You met him and I missed it!"

"He's right over there, you can just go up and talk to him."

"You're kidding me, right? He's trying to get his breakfast!"

"No, seriously, he's really nice - just go up and talk to him."

And the great thing about the Reuben weekend, and people like Mr. Booth, is that John was absolutely right - I could just go up and talk to him. So I gathered my courage and just did it.

And he was delightful. And he laughed at something I said. I have no idea what it was, or if it was even funny, but he's polite that way.

I'd like to think that I held it together and was very dignified during the whole exchange - I hope so anyway - but I did go back to the table and have my one big "Oh, my god - fan-geek" moment of the weekend.

Now I can die happy :-)

Coming soon - Part 2, some of my favorite Booth cartoons and some pictures of his presentation.