New Book: "It's All About You" by Tony Murphy

My friend and fellow cartoonist Tony Murphy has collected his newspaper strip "It's All About You" into its first paperback book collection, on sale now at Lulu.

I asked Tony if he would mind telling us more about himself, how he got his strip syndicated, his cartooning routine and where he sees newspaper comic strips 5 to ten years from now.

He didn't mind -- and here are his candid answers to my questions:

Did you always draw?

Pretty much. By second grade I thought of myself as drawing cartoons and not just drawing. My father drew cartoons sometimes to entertain my sisters and me and I was trying to emulate, then surpass him.

Is "It's All About You" based on your life?

Nah, Michael is nothing like me. WHERE’S MY COFFEE?

What is your creative work week like? Do you have set times when you draw, when you write?

Ah, “set times.” What a lovely concept. Since having a syndicated strip requires having a day job, there’s not much room left over and I’m not disciplined about it. But I gotta get those strips in every week. I do have a little book in my back pocket where I write down things I think are funny. (Like, I just wrote down “set times”). So at some point each week I sit down and go through the scribbles and figure out how many I can turn into strips. If I start doing that earlier in the week, I’m less of a wreck on Friday. Frequently, though, this isn’t done until Thursday night. So I guess the answer is that I’m more deadline-driven than adhering to set times.

How long did it take to get "It's All About You" syndicated? Did the strip evolve from conception to print?

In the nineties I was drawing a six-panel strip that I felt would be good in alternative newsweeklies. Mostly it only got published in “The Funny Times” because I was too lazy to send anything out unless I knew it was going to get published. This is a terrible marketing strategy. But, I did enjoy seeing it in “The Funny Times.” It went through a variety of titles, from “Murphy Slaw” to “Love Litters” to “Ouch.” There were no regular characters, just people talking about their lives. I stuffed a bunch of strips in an envelope one day and sent them to syndicates. Jay Kennedy, then the guru at King Features, called me three days later. With such a short response time, I figured I was in. That was in 1999. His call prompted me to create a daily, three- and four-panel strip that I called “Love Junk.” It had the same basic characters, minus a few, that are now in “It’s All About You.” Jay promptly lost interest, but I was hooked on the idea that I could get syndicated, and kept trying over and over again with all the syndicates. In 2001, Creators Syndicate offered me a contract for “Love Junk,” then changed their mind at the last minute. I was left at the syndication altar.

So it took from 1999 to 2008 to get syndicated. But in the meantime, in 2004 “It’s All About You” started running in the New York and Boston editions of Metro, the free commuter paper. So I had a daily, widely seen strip in two major cities before it got syndicated. The weird thing is, it got dropped from Metro in June 2006 but about 2 months later I started my development deal with Washington Post Writers Group.

What are your drawing tools?

I use a variety of tools to produce my strip. Some are more important than others. I’ll start with the most important: I use Chemex bonded, unbleached square filters to make my coffee. For a creamer I use organic half-and-half, and I sweeten it with agave nectar, though sometimes I throw in a dash of regular sugar.

And, you know – paper and pens and stuff.

How long does it take to draw a strip?

It can take forever if I feel I’m not drawing well or not getting the effect I want, but a good average is about an hour per daily strip – that doesn’t count scanning, lettering in Photoshop and fixing up in Photoshop. Sunday strips take longer.

What strips are in the new book? Why did you choose those particular cartoon strips?

The strips in the new and first collection are simply the first strips that I drew once “It’s All About You” started national syndication, so they go from January 2008 to October 2008. The book therefore features a unique historical snapshot -- right before the economic meltdown and bank bailouts, and before the layoffs and foreclosures really took off. While “It’s All About You” is not a political strip, in the book’s introduction I make a connection between these events and the chronic anxiety that many of the strip’s characters feel.

How do you predict most people will read "It's All About You" 5-10 years from now?

Good question, since it’s so much harder to get carried in newspapers these days. I don’t really know, but newspapers won’t die out completely. The corporations that run this country will still need some way to lie to us. FOX can’t do ALL the work.

"It's All About You" © 2009 by Tony Murphy

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"How the hell did you get the idea you could draw?" - Michael Maslin Remembers James Thurber

Above copyright The New Yorker.

From Michael Maslin's Posted Notes series, titled "Thurber's Unbaked Cookies:"

New Yorker historians remember that Harold Ross, the magazine's founder and first editor, initially didn't care for Thurber's drawings. When Thurber first submitted them to The New Yorker, Ross said to him, "How the hell did you get the idea you could draw?" It wasn't until Thurber and his friend and colleague E.B. White had a hit on their hands with their 1929 publication, Is Sex Necessary? that Ross caved, demanding to see a previously rejected Thurber cartoon: "Where's that goddamn seal drawing, Thurber?"

Read it all here.

30% Fantagraphics Books Sale TODAY ONLY

From the press release:

We've got Cyber Monday fever! Today only (Monday, Nov. 30, 2009), all of our currently-available and pre-orderable 2009 releases (with a few exceptions) are marked down 30%! That's a fantastic deal on over 75 items, including but not limited to: deluxe box sets like Humbug and Gahan Wilson; gorgeous, oversized, impressive-under-the-tree volumes of classic newspaper strips Popeye, Prince Valiant, and The Brinkley Girls; no less than 4 books from the Hernandez brothers (including the big Luba and Locas II omnibuses); new & reprinted stuff from mainstays Peter Bagge, Ivan Brunetti, Charles Burns, R. Crumb, Tony Millionaire, Richard Sala, C. Tyler and Robert Williams; classics from Boody Rogers, Steve Ditko, Fletcher Hanks, Basil Wolverton, and the various artists of Blazing Combat and Supermen; two by the great Jacques Tardi; new comics from cutting-edge faves Al Columbia, Jordan Crane, Paul Hornschemeier, Kevin Huizenga, Jason, Miss Lasko-Gross, Michael Kupperman, Anders Nilsen, John Pham, Johnny Ryan, Dash Shaw, and Esther Pearl Watson; amazing art books like Portable Grindhouse and Rock Candy; Monte Schulz's novel This Side of Jordan; fully half a dozen issues of The Comics Journal; even some of our already-crazy-cheap Mome multi-packs — and much much more! Holy smokes, what a year it's been... and now's your best chance to get caught up and spread the love of comics with beautiful gifts for all your friends and family!

(Sale ends midnight Pacific time on December 1, 2009. Don't delay!)

Click here to see all the newest releases from Fantagraphics Books.

Video: THE LITTLE KING by Otto Soglow

Above photo of Otto Soglow nicked from The Bijou Blog.

Here is Otto Soglow's THE LITTLE KING in a 1933 Christmas animated short titled "Christmas Night." It runs about 7 minutes and has one of those great jazz scores. Produced by the Van Beuren Studios, direction by James Tyer, produced by Amadee J. Van Beuren, and written by the one and only Otto Soglow. Original release date: December 22, 1933.


From 1982, here is a clip of a MISS PEACH made-for-TV video based on the Mell Lazarus comic strip which ran for 45 years (1957-2002).

The videos, titled MISS PEACH OF THE KELLY SCHOOL, featured a live actress and puppet versions of the children characters. Below is the first ten minutes of the Thanksgiving special. There were five different specials distributed by Carousel Film and Video. The others include the first day of school, Valentine's Day, career day, and the spring picnic.

1982 was also the year that Mell received the Reuben Award, the "Oscar" of cartooning, presented by the National Cartoonists Society.

Oddly, I can find no actor credits for the specials online, other than Martin Short providing some of the voices.

Happy Holidays

Illustration by Eugene "ZIM" Zimmerman.

Video: Why You Should Watch DOCTOR WHO

Above: "Tomb of the Cybermen" from a 1960s Radio Times cover, copyright the Radio Times. Complete DR WHO Radio Times cover gallery here.

Here is the long version of a BBC America commercial for DOCTOR WHO in which producer Russell T. Davies and star David Tennant talk about why the program is worth watching.

Happy Birthday, Charles Schulz

Tomorrow is Charles Schulz' 87th birthday.

Ted Dawson, one of the Three Men in a Tub blog, shares the photo below. It's an ice sculpture, that was created in Schulz's hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota almost ten years ago, to commemorate the very last PEANUTS Sunday strip on February 13, 2000.

As you may remember, Mr. Schulz passed away the day before his last strip was to run. It was on the news that morning, just as the Sunday papers were delivered.

The sculpture became not just a tribute to the newspaper comic strip, but also the focal point for fans to stop and honor this great cartoonist. People heaped cards and flowers in remembrance of the man and his Charlie Brown and Snoopy and all of those moments that have stuck with us.

Like so many people I know, I grew up with the newspaper strip, the CBS specials and the collections. It was so cool that the libraries in the small towns I grew up in (Iowa City, Lawrence, KS) stocked those PEANUTS paperbacks. I learned words from Lucy, like "psychological" and "real estate." I tried to copy the drawings when I was a kid, too. Schulz's simple style was deceptively hard to reproduce!

Happy Birthday, Charles Schulz: an American original.

R. Crumb's and guitarist Dominique Cravi's "Les Primitifs de Futur" Band

Yes, that's Mr. Crumb himself in there, seated behind the drummer.

From eyefortalent's description:

Legendary underground cartoonist Robert Crumb and guitarist Dominique Cravic founded Les Primitifs du Futur in 1986 craving real Parisian musette instead of poor imitations heard in variety shows. Sounding like they've stepped right out the '30s, the members of Les Primitifs du Futur brilliantly blend world-musette and Django-style guitar into old-fashioned originals.

With their three albums "Cocktail d'amour", "Trop de routes, trop de trains" and World Musette" made up of original compositions, Les Primitifs du Futur remain at the forefront of the renaissance of chanson française manifestly occurring in France today.

Carolita Johnson and Michael Crawford

Above: a photo of Carolita Johnson and Michael Crawford in their Inwood apartment by Tina Fineberg.

"Where Punchlines Pay the Rent," and article for the New York Times by Constance Rosenblum, showcases the lives and habitats of New Yorker magazine cartoonists Carolita Johnson and Michael Crawford.

"The two became good friends by way of Mr. Crawford’s admiration for Ms. Johnson’s work.

"'She had a great drawing style,' he said. And, he thought to himself, “The New Yorker could use a woman with her offbeat wit.'

"He encouraged her to try drawing cartoons for the magazine, and his instincts proved correct. It took her only five weeks to sell her first drawing to The New Yorker; it had taken him half a dozen years.

"Eventually, a relationship blossomed. They are not married, but as Ms. Johnson describes the arrangement, 'we just like to say that by the power invested in Michael and Carolita, we pronounced ourselves Michael and Carolita.'"

Hat tip to John Klossner for the link.

Sadowski Edits Toth, Jack Cole, Dick Briefer, Wolverton and More

Via Digital Spy:

Fantagraphics has announced a six-book deal with editor Greg Sadowski. All of the books will focus on old comic books.

Sadowski will produce a series of new collections of classic comic material for the publisher, reports ICv2.

The first collection, due in April 2010, is titled Four Color Fear: Forgotten Horror Comics of the 1950s. The massive 300 page book will feature comic book reprints by Ditko, Frazetta, Jack Cole, Basil Wolverton and Al Williamson.

The other planned titles, schedule for a one-a-quarter release are:

  • Setting the Standard: Alex Toth at Standard Comics 1952-54,

  • The Road to Plastic Man: The Golden Age Comics of Jack Cole 1937-41,

  • Away from Home: EC Artists at Other Companies,

  • Creeping Death from Neptune: Basil Wolverton’s Sci-Fi and Horror Comics 1938-55,

  • and The Comic Book Frankenstein: The Monster According to Dick Briefer.

J. Caleb Mozzocco has more at Newsarama


Alex Toth is one of the giants of the comic book business and his career -- whether it was Hanna Barbera character designs, Hot Wheels comic strip ads, or his hand-written postcards to friends -- is always worth paying attention to. Here is the complete THE LAND UNKNOWN via the Hairy Green Eyeball blog. It's a movie adaptation Dell comic book from 1957 and it's full of dinosaurs and helicopters and sweaty men and women in danger. It's also full of great composition, use of black spotting and fearless, clear drawing. In other words: typical great Toth!


Strange things happen in THE STRANGE WORLD OF MR. MUM by Irving Philips. Mr. Mum himself tends to look on as things get odder and odder. Ger Apeldoorn, who shares some of the early 1960s panels, describes him as "a curious man in a weird world, who never gets involved, but only observes with ever growing amazement."

And with his large glasses, blank expression and floppy bow tie, he lived in this weird, wordless panel that was syndicated for 16 years (1958-74).

Joe Maneely

Ger Apeldoorn shares some Joe Maneely art from a short-lived Stan Lee-edited parody magazine (i.e. MAD magazine imitation) SNAFU. Maneely's ability to ape gag cartoonists is breathtaking.

Video: TINTIN Museums

A video tour and chat with Luc Mieuws, who has been collecting all things related to TINTIN for a dozen years. A fun tour and the amount of TINTIN collectibles is boggling. I forget how wonderful the "clean line" drawings of Hergé are to linger over. Within a minute, I was getting iterested in having a couple of the items that Luc has as well! Och! Thanks to Jogee for putting this up on YouTube.

The official TINTIN Museum is in Brussels. Below is a report from the BBC from July:

Related: Confused by the cult of TINTIN? You're not alone.

Also: that new TINTIN movie that Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg are readying for 2011.

Video: David Small: "From Crayons to Rembrandt"

Above: a capture from the video.

Below is a link to David Small, whose graphic novel, STITCHES, has been getting critical acclaim. He talks about loving to draw as a kid, trying to decide what he would do with his life, his favorite artists and his education.

He mentions Rembrandt. It wasn't until I visited the Rembrandt House in Amsterdam that I saw so many of Rembrandt's sketches with, as David says, loose, relaxed brush strokes. Rembrandt could have been a great graphic novelist!

From Crayons to Rembrandt | David Small | Big Think

What's the Deal With Those New Yorker Cartoons?

Above: a screen capture of the David Remnick video.

A site called Big Think has a 2 minute video of New Yorker magazine editor David Remnick titled What's the deal with New Yorker cartoons?

He talks about how hard it is to find young cartoonists to submit to the magazine and how hard in general it is for cartoonists to make a living.

He doesn't answer "What's the deal with those New Yorker cartoons?" or why acquiring young cartoonists is important to the magazine. But, he does acknowledge how hard it is to be a cartoonist -- in particular a gag cartoonist -- and how some people, for instance Bruce Eric Kaplan, have other ways of earning a living which help.

Me? I'm still working without a net.

Hat tip to Michael Maslin.

Video: Gene Roddenberry on TO TELL THE TRUTH

This is from 1977 or 1978.

Hat tip to Booksteve's Library!

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Workshop Video from Juana Medina

From my pal Juana Medina, who is the final days of her final semester at the Rhode Island School of Design comes this video. From her description:

Cavan Huang, from Time Warner, came to RISD for a short workshop.

We pulled this literally in 12 hours... and here's the result!

©2009 by Campbell George, Jess Yan, Katie Koti and Juana Medina

It shows you what some creative people with half a day and a camera can do. Such fun!

BBC America: DOCTOR WHO "End of Time" US Premiere Dec 26

Via the Doctor Who News Page:

The special preview clip of The End of Time [below], shown as part of the BBC Children In Need appeal is now available on the BBC YouTube channel.

BBC America have also posted their clip on their website and revealed that the full episode will be shown in the USA at 9pm EST on the 26th December 2009 a day after the expected UK showing and 1 week after the US showing of The Waters of Mars.

More for US viewers at the BBC America Doctor Who page.

Video: James Kochalka

Here is James Kochalka and some of his cartoonist friends for your weekend viewing pleasure.

"Mischief in the Forest" on by Stephanie McMillan and Derrick Jensen

Here is cartoonist Stephanie McMillan. She and writer Derrick Jensen are collaborating on a new children's book, MISCHIEF IN THE FOREST.

They ask that people give them money in exchange for copies of the book, sketches, being taken out to dinner by Stephanie and Derrick, etc.

This is a project. Kickstarter is a "funding platform for artists, designers, filmmakers" and others to pitch their ideas to the public. They propose the project and the readers decide if they want they want to send money to support it.

Related: Jamie Tanner's business plan.

My Mail

Above: When you see Al Jaffee's name in the corner -- that's GOOD mail!

I overheard a guy state loudly, "Yeah, if ya ask me they should just get rid of the mail! Who needs it? I hate mail!"

I didn't know the fellow's context and could just guess that this is because the regular mail is full of

  • bills you don't want,
  • junk mail,
  • catalogs you don't need,
  • credit card come ons.

And if that's the mail you receive, then, yeah, that sure is some kinda dopey, dull, time wasting mail.

But the correspondence I receive, it's great. A lot of it is from cartoonists and a lot of times it's full of cool cartoon drawings. My mail rules. My mail could beat up your mail.

Here's what I mean:

Above: Rina Piccolo slipped this in the mail to me. I love her sketches.

When I moved, my pal Mark Anderson hand-drew the above card & sent it, along with a bucket full of tools. He rules.

A mass-produced card from 6 years ago when Dan Piraro was running the annual National Cartoonists Society holiday party in NYC. Love that nasty elf!

Above: the one and only Joe Edwards, the man who drew Archie and Li'l Jinx for years, draws a colorful parade letting the Long Island NCS chapter know that there is now a new place for their get togethers.

From an update for the Reubens convention with the McCoy brothers drawing themselves. Like Dan's postcard, this bit of art is unseen outside of cartooning circles.

The inimitable Roy Doty. When I sent an 85th birthday card on behalf of the NCS Long Island chapter (the Berndt Toast Gang) to Roy, I received this thank you card in return (front above and interior below). Look at all the STUFF Roy draws!

NEW Dog Sled Race T-Shirt

From cartoon to consumable in 24 hours.

I drew this cartoon yesterday. Detail above.

Click on the cartoon to supersize.

Just put this shirt out for sale at Zazzle this morning.

Christoph Niemann: Bio-Diversity

I always enjoy Christoph Neimann's work and this week's NY Times' Abstract City piece "Bio-Diversity" is no exception.

Cartoonist Pat Byrnes' Musical

If you're in Chicago on November 24th, consider taking in a show. New Yorker cartoonist Pat Byrnes has written a 50 minute musical titled "Fässi Goboggan and the Curly Headed Girl" which will have its first staged reading next Tuesday night at 7pm at the Theatre Building Chicago.

"'Fässi Goboggan and the Curly Headed Girl' — by Pat Byrnes (with help from Rebecca Byrnes (age 4) — Nine-year-old Sarah flies through what would have been an impossible day at school, thanks to the return of her old imaginary friend, Fässi Goboggan. Join them as they battle ketchup-spewing cloud sharks, cavort with snowbots, and learn how parents protect us even when they are far away."


There's big money in cartooning and enormous markets, so says the Cartoonists' Exchange booklet titled HOW TO MAKE MONEY WITH SIMPLE CARTOONS. Here are the principles that all successful comic strips are based on, editorial cartoon techniques, chalk talk information, caricature, proportions, realistic figure drawing, the "three steps in developing a cartoon sketch" and so much more. This is copyright 1949 The Cartoonists' Exchange, Pleasant Hill, OH.