Tuesday, April 27, 2010
  Wood Chips 17: Fearless Ferris

Wally Wood would recycle and alter these characters to fit. They could be "Fearless Ferris and the Misfits" or reassemble into "I.Q. and the Rejects". In this case, we see Ferris and friends battling creatures and robots in Wood's late 1960s proposal for an animated science fiction series. Plus we can see how Wood devised both cartooned and straight versions of the Misfits. Note some of the same characters in the "Bucky Ruckus" drawings at bottom. Elsewhere, Banghead is called Kenneth Banghead, a gag name inspired by NBC radio announcer Kenneth Banghart.

The notion of "shadows with eyes" is haunting; I can almost hear Sonny Rollins playing "Shadow Waltz" in the background. Wood seemed taken by the fantastic idea of these quasi-dimensional characters, blurred, shadowy or outline only. Maybe because he wouldn't have to draw much of anything! But imaginative concepts, even so. If Zero˚ and Blur had set out to fight Shadows with Eyes, what a story that could have been.

Apparently I have too many images for the "wood chips" label to bring up all 17 in the series. So here are the months one can click on to see the entire "Wood Chips" series: 2008 (July, September, October, December), 2009 (January, February, March, May, June, November, December), 2010 (February, April).

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

My first cartoon for Paul Krassner's The Realist was in issue #26 (May 1961), and I continued as a contributor over the next few years. In the fall of 1961, Ted White's wife, Sylvia, told me about how she had been amused by someone's routine about a comic strip, and she felt I should meet him. Not long after that, probably at Ted's office and mimeograph service on West 10th Street, I did encounter Ken Seagle, and after listening to him deliver a sort of rambling but entertaining monolog, I agreed to put it into pictures.

There were two problems, however. Ken would never put anything on paper, so I had to listen to him talk, prompt him, ask questions, take notes and do the script myself. That doesn't diminish his role as the true writer; it's my memory of the way we collaborated. It seemed he had never thought of it as a genuine comic strip; it was just a sort of premise he liked to rap about. I had hoped to get a stack of scripts so I could work well ahead, but that never happened. Since he was much more interested in the young woman who was living with me than sitting down to plan panels, he would soon become entranced by her and lose any focus on the scripts in progress.

Leaping these hurdles, I drew the first J.C. in 1961. The title was a specific reference to Johnny Hart's B.C. which began February 1958. (Curiously, around 1984-85, B.C. introduced religious themes, including some controversial strips yanked by newspaper editors.) In The Realist #30 (December 1961), J.C. began running as a series. In that same issue, Sylvia had two contributions, both satirizing folk music, under her maiden name byline, Sylvia Dees.

In Texas the following year, Frank Stack circulated among his friends a 14-page Xerox, The Adventures of Jesus (1962), which some call the first underground comic. For a unique slide show of Frank Stack talking about his paintings, Harvey Pekar and Robert Crumb, go here. Also see The Realist Archive Project.

The above J.C. installment appeared in issue #47 (February 1964). The character with the black beard is Judas. Click with cross-hair cursor for full enlargement.

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Sunday, April 18, 2010
In an article by Dale Killingbeck, Californian Ray Nelson explained how he invented the propellor beanie. It happened in 1947 when Nelson was a high school sophomore in Cadillac, Michigan. He invited some local science fiction fans over to his house, and they had fun taking futuristic hero/alien photos in the style of pulp covers. A hero costume had to be improvised. Nelson remembered the historic occasion, "I said, 'Wait a second,' and I dashed up to my room. In a frenzy, I stapled together a little cap made of strips of plastic and affixed a model airplane propeller to it on a wire, putting a few beads on the wire first so the propeller could spin freely."

George Young, in the hero role, donned the revamped beanie, took it home and later wore it to a science-fiction convention. While visiting relatives in California, Nelson won a contest by designing a character wearing a beanie. Soon, anyone who owned a tv set was watching Bob Clampett's Time for Beany (with voices by Stan Freberg and Daws Butler). ”I never bothered to patent it. I never made a dime off it,“ said Nelson.

Later, Nelson drew numerous fanzine cartoons with the propellor beanie, as he recalled,"I and other amateur cartoonists began drawing cartoons in which the propeller beanie was the symbol of science fiction the way the yarmulke is the symbol of the Orthodox Jew... It used to be science fiction fans wanted to wear them, but now computer people want to wear them. They are very popular with people out here with Mac computers.“

In addition to Ray Nelson, there was also physicist Sidney Richard Coleman, born in 1937, who wore a propellor beanie. "His mother had to put a beanie with a propeller on him, for when he walked across the street," cousin Rick Shanas said. "He wouldn't be paying attention, he'd just be so wrapped up in his thoughts, that she thought someone might hit him. He'd get noticed with the beanie."

Retracing this somewhat sketchy history, the clever writer-illustrator and art historian Dan Steffan probes to uncover more details, fanzine fandangos and mimeograph madness, plus puppetry puzzlements and cartoonery connections:

I've long been a fan of Ray Nelson's and was lucky enough to get him to draw for me back when I was publishing fanzines in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. He is a fannish treasure. I love his fanwriting and, of course, his cartoons are iconic. I think he's up in the big fannish three along with Arthur Thomson and Bill Rotsler. The three of them defined fannish cartooning.

While I recall having read other accounts of how Ray "invented" the propeller beanie, I don't think I ever heard the part about the Time for Beany contest before, but I just may have forgotten it over time. That's pretty cool, if it's true. All the histories I've found mention the television show starting on February 28, 1949, which means the puppet was built by that time. Ray says that he thought it up in Michigan in 1947, so the time frame is correct. He would have had to visit his relatives in California sometime in 1948 to enter the contest. And since Time for Beany was initially shown on local LA television, his relatives had to have lived in the Los Angeles area. Also possible. I know he has always been acknowledged for having introduced the propeller beanie into fandom and made it the symbol of fannish fans. It was widely being drawn by several fan cartoonists by the late 1950s--like Bjo, LeeH Hoffman, Dave Rike and ATom--as well as Ray.

Dick Eney's Fancyclopedia 2 (1959) doesn't have an entry for the Propeller Beanie, but it does have an entry about "The Beanie Brigade," which credits Bob Bloch with giving that nickname to a group of young fanboys who were running around the 1949 worldcon, Cinvention (Cincinnati, Ohio, September 3-5, 1949). Bloch called them "an army of goons wearing beanies, false beards and Buck Rogers blasters." The entry intimates, however, that this "army" may have been nothing but two fans--Art Rapp, who wore a large fake beard to the con, and George Young, who wore a propeller beanie.

Young is the fellow in the photograph that accompanies Ray's article about inventing the beanie. And I suspect that the photo was probably taken at the Cinvention, and that the beanie he's wearing is the same one Ray made and gave to him.
--Dan Steffan

To purchase the Levitating Propellor Beanie, go to Archie McPhee. Don't miss Dan's superb article on the magnificent art of Ronald Clyne.

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

This is a drawing I did in 1970, an assignment from Jay Lynch that was published on the inside front cover of Jay's underground comic book Roxy Funnies (1972). It was originally supposed to be for Jay's Bijou Funnies, which regularly ran an illustration on the inside front cover to summarize the interior, a sort of visual contents page, but in this case, Jay held it for two years and then eventually used it in Roxy. It seems related to Jay's Roxy back cover which also shows feminist literature plus a JoBo. (Only now do I see that I misspelled "squeamish".)

The JoBo had eyes that popped out when it was squeezed. Steve Allen called it a "goo goo doll" when he used it as a prop on his 1962 television show. However, the name of the product as it appeared in novelty company ads was JoBo the Rubber Boy. Today, it's known as the Martian Popping Thing, sold by Archie McPhee.

Jay explained how he began to draw the toy into his comics: "At that time I was in touch with this guy in Texas who ran a novelty company called Elbee. The Jo-Bo toy was something that hadn't been made for the last decade or so. This guy got the rights to it or the molds for it, and he was making new ones in China. So the Jo-Bo toy appears in a lot of strips I did then, just as the propeller beanie, invented by Ray Nelson, started to appear in strips in the 1950s."

Jay recalled giving me the assignment in 1970 and seeing Avon's Robotmen of the Lost Planet (1952): "I probably just told you to draw a sexy woman with a Jo-Bo toy, and all the rest you came up with. There is a lot of stuff that I kind of plugged in the comics that caught on big. I think the first modern reference to Bettie Page was in a strip that Kim Deitch and I drew somewhere. Jeff Rund was in touch with her then and planned to do some books on her. I mentioned her in some strip to subconsciously whet the public's appetite, but the books (the Bettie Page Private Peeks series, I think it was called) didn't come out until several years after that strip was published. I used JoBo on the back cover of Conspiracy Capers and in a Nard n' Pat strip in Gothic Blimp Works. I kind of liked the old guy from Texas who ran the toy company. In the 1950s, there was that comic that has Martian JoBos attacking Earth."

Was Robotmen of the Lost Planet an offbeat experiment in product placement? One has to wonder: What kind of deal led Avon to draw the toys as science fictional comic book characters? And why the change in packaging?

Jay responds, "The toy itself was around from the l930s to the l950s, when it temporarily disappeared. I take it that Archie McPhee must have been familiar with the Robotmen comic book when he started calling it the Martian Popping Thing. In the early incarnations of the toy it was a circus freak character. Now it's a Martian. It's gotta be the comic book that was responsible for the change."

For an illustrated synopsis of the Robotmen of the Lost Planet storyline, go to Clea's Cave.   Here is an interview with Ray Nelson about the invention of the propellor beanie. For Jay's children's books, Mo and Jo and Otto's Orange Day, go here.

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010
  More Kubert

Due May 11 as a Vertigo hardcover, Kubert's Dong Xoai graphic novel follows a detachment of Special Forces soldiers on a simple recon mission into the village of Dong Xoai. Kubert based the story, set in the early days of the Vietnam War, on extensive information gathered from the surviving members of Special Forces Detachment A-342, 5th Special Forces Group. It details the deployment and build-up that led to a horrific encounter. Dong Xoai was a strategically critical position due to its proximity to intersecting roads where men and materials were vulnerable to attack as they moved between war zones. Detachment A-342 served as advisors, training the Montagnards to defend against the Viet Cong, but the American soldiers were underequipped and outmanned by the enemy.

In November 1967, Kubert illustrated a series of Veterans Day articles for the Chicago Tribune and New York News Syndicate. Colonel Bill Stokes, one of the Dong Xoai suvivors, contacted Kubert decades later in hopes of acquiring the drawing showing two of his fellow Special Forces operatives carrying him to safety during a Viet Cong attack.

Because the original art was lost, Kubert decided to redraw the scene. After reading a comprehensive 35-page document compiled by the surviving members of Detachment A-342 (included in the book), Kubert wanted to recreate the incident as a graphic novel and went to visit Stokes, who supplied him with photographic reference.

Kubert recalled, “When I learned of this occurrence from one of the principles involved, I could not keep my mind (or my pencil) from putting it into a graphic form. An incredible story of bravery and camaraderie that made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. What I heard from Col. Stokes and read in that document moved me to drive down to North Carolina to see him and tell him I intended to do a graphic novel based on his experiences. I told him that this was something I just had to do. I worked in pencil because the story lent itself to a more spontaneous look, and with the dialogue, the stuff Stokes related was so real to me that I tried to adhere to whatever he told me. Overall, I tried best to convey the credibility and reality of what happened. These things that seemed totally impossible actually happened, and it all deserves to be remembered."

For Kubert slide show of art, plus Librado Romero photos like one below, go here.

©2010 The New York Times Company

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Monday, April 12, 2010
  Studio visit: Jack Davis
From Meet Abraham Lincoln by Barbara Cary (Random House, 1965)

Full screen resolution okay.

Notice that he drew everyone on the recording!

And here he drew almost everyone on NBC!

"Murder the Lover" appeared in Crime SuspenStories #12 as a three-pager, followed by the three-page "Murder the Husband". This was in a format known as the "EC Quickie". Harvey Kurtzman reprinted "Murder the Husband" in Mad #11, followed by the three-page "Murder the Story".

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Friday, April 09, 2010
  Topps #8: Bonnie and Clyde fumetti
First stanza of "The Story of Bonnie and Clyde" by Bonnie Parker 
(in Clyde Barrow's handwriting)

I designed the Krigstein-influenced pages above as a section in The Bonnie and Clyde Scrapbook, published by Personality Posters in 1968. The story behind the creation of this book might be just as interesting as the book itself. (For full enlargement of the images, click and when you go to the next page, click again with the crosshairs cursor.)

Arthur Penn's Bonnie and Clyde was released in August 1967. I must have seen it that fall, and a few months later I read The True Story of Bonnie and Clyde as Told By Bonnie's Mother and Clyde's Sister (Signet, 1968), a reprint of Jan Fortune's Fugitives, The Story of Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker (1934). This book and the movie made me aware that Bonnie Parker had kept a scrapbook of newspaper clippings about the escapes of the Barrow gang from the law. It occurred to me that a facsimile of her scrapbook would make an interesting book, and I decided to present the idea to Woody Gelman, the publisher of Nostalgia Press.

In the spring of 1967, Art Spiegelman had introduced me to Woody Gelman at the historic Pete's Tavern, where O. Henry wrote "Gift of the Magi" in 1902. As a trial test, Gelman gave me an assignment to write and design an article on the Dionne Quintuplets for his planned Nostalgia Illustrated magazine. I found Gelman's clever concept, to do a magazine like a comic book, quite appealing and workable. (For instance, one article recreated a famous boxing match with a full page for each round.) After I wrote the Dionne article, I had to plow through a stack of Dionne paper dolls and other such memorabilia, calculating how to merge text and images into rows of panels.

Woody liked the finished result, so in the summer of 1967, I daily left Manhattan and rode the subway to the Bush Terminal in Brooklyn where Gelman was the art director of Topps Chewing Gum. I had office space at Topps, but I was working on Nostalgia Press projects. Almost immediately, he became nervous when he realized that Joel Shorin, the head of Topps, might be curious to know why non-Topps work was happening on the premises, so he would only meet with me during his lunch hour. By the end of the year, however, I was hired by Gelman to work full time in his department, drawing cartoon roughs and gags for Topps non-sports cards. (Click on the "topps" label at bottom to see the previous posts.)

By 1968, I was very familiar with Woody's publishing plans, and it seemed to me a book about the real Bonnie and Clyde could be a success for Nostalgia Press. I walked into Woody's office and outlined the book I wanted to create for him, The Bonnie and Clyde Scrapbook, a simulation of Bonnie Parker's actual scrapbook. I was quite surprised when he rejected the concept with very little discussion.

But the real surprise came a week later: He called me into his office and said, "Listen, my daughter Barbara has a great idea -- a book that will resemble Bonnie Parker's scrapbook. Here, I'm going to transfer her call to your phone."

If you think that sounds strange, imagine how I felt. I stood there, pole-axed. Had he simply forgotten our previous meeting? Perhaps I should have put the book's premise on paper instead of making a verbal presentation. Then I could have shown him a sheet of paper and waited for his reaction. To this day, I don't understand what happened there. But the nepotistic situation was a genuine trap. He was my boss, and I wanted to keep the job. So rather than fly into a rage, I said nothing and became a willing victim.

With the project underway, Woody mentioned a freelancer, Bill Hogarth, who he said was an expert at preparing presentations, and a week later, he showed me the dummy mock-up Hogarth had assembled. It showed a cover and a few opening pages. The rest of the presentation had blank pages.

Barbara Gelman took that presentation and went out to pitch the book. Despite the success of the movie, no one was interested. As I recall, she was rejected by nine publishers. However, at that time, Personality Posters was hot, and their posters were everywhere. From their main office at 74 Fifth Avenue, they also had a successful mail-order operation going with their only book, Who Was That? This was a picture book about familiar and unfamiliar character actors, and they sold it through full-page newspaper ads.

Because of the Bonnie and Clyde movie, posters of Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were Personality Posters' biggest sellers. But time was a factor. They agreed to publish The Bonnie and Clyde Scrapbook if it could be delivered in one week. They planned to market it the same way they sold Who Was That?

Barbara brought in the writer Ron Lackmann. This struck me as odd because there was nothing really to write except a few captions. I believe that kick-started Lackmann's career, since he went on to do more than 30 books in the past 40 years. (What I didn't know at the time was that it was more nepotism. Lackmann died two months ago and from obituaries I learned that he and Barbara had been living together for the past 50 years.)

A stack of 1930s news photos was acquired by Barbara from the stock photo service, Black Star. I decided the book needed Bonnie and Clyde movie stills. I went to the Warner Bros. offices at 666 Fifth Avenue and met with the head publicist who listened with interest as I explained what we were doing. He went away and came back carrying a huge binder with all the photo prints grommeted together. He told me to write down numbers of the stills I wanted, and I gave him a list with 70 numbers. When I went back to Warner Bros., they handed me a manila envelope filled with prints of all the stills I had requested.

To meet the seven-day deadline, a team of Topps people worked on the book after five o'clock and during lunch hours. This included polished production art by cartoonist Rick Varesi, whose usual job was creating rough comps for Topps packaging and products, and type mark-up by a nice guy named Paul, who worked in the Topps production department.

I began designing the page layouts, working my way through the pile of Black Star pictures. Since numbers on the stills from Warner Bros. were shuffled randomly, there was no way to put them in the proper narrative sequence, and I visualized a filmic fumetti. In Italian, the word "fumetti," literally "little puffs of smoke," refers to all comics, since speech balloons resembled smoke. After WWII, photo comics became wildly popular in Italy, and Fellini's The White Sheik (1952) is an amusing comedy film about a performer (Alberto Sordi) in the Italian photo comics industry. In English, the term "fumetti" was adopted as a label for photo comics in Harvey Kurtzman's Help! and elsewhere after the word was popularized in a 1959 Time article.

Working from my memory of the movie, I shuffled stills into what I hoped was the correct order. I had a notion to use photos in a vein similar to the Futurist painters and the comic book stories of Bernard Krigstein, in which composition, size and dimension relate to the underlying emotions and add to the impact of the narrative. I did six pages of layouts to create a pantomime photo story that would show the whole movie like a comic strip. I compressed all the stills into those six pages, trying different arrangements as I recalled both the film's editing and past pages drawn by Krigstein. Soon I saw the cascading images almost automatically juggled into the proper places with a jigsaw precision. For the final shoot-out page, I repeated some stills large/small/smaller and tried a Krigstein-like staccato effect in the design. The finale of the movie was an extended sequence of quick-cut editing, and I attempted to duplicate that on the printed page.

At the end of the week, we had succeeded in assembling the entire book. On the phone, Barbara told me to put my name in the byline, but I had such a negative reaction to her intrusion into my book proposal that I refused. The book looked slick and unusual, and we had met the deadline.

Personality Posters ran a large newspaper ad in The New York Times just as they had done with Who Was That? As soon as the ad appeared, Black Star sued Personality Posters, claiming that the ad violated the contractual agreement for one-time only use of the old news photos. I can't remember if Woody was included in this legal action, but I think he got out of it somehow. At any rate, that was it. There were no more ads, and there was no distribution of the book. One day I was walking on Broadway near 46th Street, and I went into the Personality Posters store. Next to the cash register were two tiny piles of the only books published by Personality Posters. They looked completely out of place in the poster store. I never saw The Bonnie and Clyde Scrapbook in any bookstore. What became of all the copies that were printed? I don't know.

During the months this was happening, a strange bit of synchronicity surfaced when I met Michael J. Pollard (Oscar-nominated for Bonnie and Clyde) shortly after he moved into the building directly across from where I lived on West 12th Street.

What became of Nostalgia Illustrated? It was never published. Instead, Woody sold it off to Magazine Management. They hired Alan Le Mond to edit a magazine which was titled Nostalgia Illustrated but was quite conventional in its approach. It had nothing to do with Woody's remarkable design concept of making a magazine look like a comic book. Even so, I became a contributor and for a while had an article appearing in each monthly issue.

A few years later, I suggested to Woody that if he did a display of his books at the Boston Book Fair, I would man the booth. This went as planned, and he and his wife came to Boston for the weekend. The Nostalgia Press books attracted a good deal of attention. However, I recall watching as two matronly types were very offended by the cover of The Bonnie and Clyde Scrapbook. They wandered off, muttering that they were going to complain to someone.

In 1975, I was in a bookstore paging through a book, The World of Art Deco (1973) by Bevis Hillier, a catalog of a touring exhibition with the same title. And that's how  I learned that a copy of The Bonnie and Clyde Scrapbook had been included in that exhibition.

Final resting place of the beleaguered Bonnie and Clyde Scrapbook

You've read the story of Jesse James
of how he lived and died.
If you're still in need;
of something to read,
here's the story of Bonnie and Clyde.

Now Bonnie and Clyde are the Barrow gang
I'm sure you all have read.
how they rob and steal;
and those who squeal,
are usually found dying or dead.

There's lots of untruths to these write-ups;
they're not as ruthless as that.
their nature is raw;
they hate all the law,
the stool pidgeons, spotters and rats.

They call them cold-blooded killers
they say they are heartless and mean.
But I say this with pride
that I once knew Clyde,
when he was honest and upright and clean.

But the law fooled around;
kept taking him down,
and locking him up in a cell.
Till he said to me;
"I'll never be free,
so I'll meet a few of them in hell"

The road was so dimly lighted
there were no highway signs to guide.
But they made up their minds;
if all roads were blind,
they wouldn't give up till they died.

The road gets dimmer and dimmer
sometimes you can hardly see.
But it's fight man to man
and do all you can,
for they know they can never be free.

From heart-break some people have suffered
from weariness some people have died.
But take it all in all;
our troubles are small,
till we get like Bonnie and Clyde.

If a policeman is killed in Dallas
and they have no clue or guide.
If they can't find a fiend,
they just wipe their slate clean
and hang it on Bonnie and Clyde.

There's two crimes committed in America
not accredited to the Barrow mob.
They had no hand;
in the kidnap demand,
nor the Kansas City Depot job.

A newsboy once said to his buddy;
"I wish old Clyde would get jumped.
In these awful hard times;
we'd make a few dimes,
if five or six cops would get bumped"

The police haven't got the report yet
but Clyde called me up today.
He said,"Don't start any fights;
we aren't working nights,
we're joining the NRA."

From Irving to West Dallas viaduct
is known as the Great Divide.
Where the women are kin;
and the men are men,
and they won't "stool" on Bonnie and Clyde.

If they try to act like citizens
and rent them a nice little flat.
About the third night;
they're invited to fight,
by a sub-gun's rat-tat-tat.

They don't think they're too smart or desperate
they know that the law always wins.
They've been shot at before;
but they do not ignore,
that death is the wages of sin.

Some day they'll go down together
they'll bury them side by side.
To few it'll be grief,
to the law a relief
but it's death for Bonnie and Clyde.
             --Bonnie Parker

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Wednesday, April 07, 2010
  Shel Silverstein in 1955-56

Shel Silverstein's first book, Take Ten (1955), collected his cartoons from Pacific Stars and Stripes. Returning to civilian life, he visited Ian Ballantine, and Ballantine Books published his second book, Grab Your Socks! (1956), a reprint of Take Ten with a few changes and additions. The title of the Ballantine collection was taken from the military catchphrase, heard last week on HBO's The Pacific, when soldiers are awakened at dawn with the cry, "Drop your cocks, and grab your socks."

This was Ballantine's introduction of Silverstein to the American public: "Several weeks ago a burly, gravel-voiced young man walked into our offices with a set of drawings which military experts immediately identified as the funniest cartoons about Army life to appear in the last decade. Shel Silverstein, who drew these cartoons, was a sensational success for almost two years in Pacific Stars and Stripes. Whether braving the dust of Korea or working under fire from the big guns in Tokyo, Silverstein spared no pains to bring a daily ration of laughter to the troops. Now, after a brilliant military career (he rose from the ranks to become a P.F.C), Silverstein is back in civilian life. Grab Your Socks! is his first book, a rowdy, uproarious tribute to the men who are facing the hazards of peacetime life in the new Army."

Considering how many people have been in armies and how long the printing press has been invented, you'd think there would have been a surplus of good soldier humor on file. Actually, there hasn't been. Shel Silverstein has added substantially to the file. Lots of humorists get assigned to military publications, especially during wartime, and there is hardly a civilian cartoonist or gag man who hasn't contributed his share of "soldier jokes". But most of them just go right on being gag men. Silverstein didn't. The thing about real military humor is that when a soldier says something really funny he is mainly trying to ventilate his innards. He may sound silly sometimes, but behind it he's being sardonic. Many times he expresses himself in a wisecrack because if he tried to say it straight he'd simply bust down a cry. The ordinary gag man says, "See the funny soldier," and doesn't get the message. Shel Silverstein has got the message and passes it on. Motives and methods of warfare change from generation to generation, but soldiering stays pretty much the same messy proposition. The way to judge an army cartoon or any other bit of military humor is to show it to veterans of two or three recent wars. Given slight changes in costume and background, what was valid in Korea would have been valid in the Crusades. I suspect Shel Silverstein would have amused the cootie-pickingest roman centurion. As a soldier, Silverstein was witty, original and in tune with his subjects. I hope that as a civilian he waxes prosperous in his profession.
--Bill Mauldin

After Grab Your Socks!, Silverstein then began doing his series of cartoon sketchbook travelogues for Playboy. Traveling to London, Mexico, Spain, Africa and other four corners of the globe, Silverstein continued the series into the mid-1960s. He drew himself into the cartoons, as seen in the one above from "Silverstein on Fire Island". The series was reprinted three years ago in Silverstein Around the World (Fireside, 2007). 

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Masquerade of the albino axolotls

My Photo

is the editor of Against the Grain: Mad Artist Wallace Wood (2003), reviewed by Paul Gravett.

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