Sunday, July 25, 2010
Saturday, July 24, 2010
The National Portrait Gallery shares a block-size building with the American Art Museum, and it's one of my favorite places in DC. Before it was bought and renovated by the Smithsonian, the place was known as the Old Patent Office. It's built around a wide courtyard that's now covered by a stunning glass canopy, and each floor has large, airy galleries, and interesting nooks and crannies and hallways. And there are several cafes and an excellent gift shop (that you don't need to exit through). And, bless their hearts, in the part of the gallery dealing with presidential images there are several works by great cartoonists, including Pat Oliphant, Ed Sorel and Mort Drucker. There've been some great retrospective shows in past years by Oliphant and Sorel too.
So all that said, I'm not sure why I'm picking on it here. But it is sometimes more fun to make fun of things you like than things you hate.
When I drew this several years ago I remember not liking it much and now I'm not sure why. I wouldn't mind drawing Cul de Sac with some of the same grotesquery I got out of some of these figures, and someday I just might. And I really like the painting of G. Washington, who's always fun to draw.
In recent years they've had some excellent shows at the NPG, including a selection of works from the National Portrait Gallery in London and a terrific show of Saul Steinberg's work that I saw often enough that every piece is still stuck in my head. So if you're in DC, go visit the Portrait Gallery right now, no matter what this stupid cartoon says.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
My friend David Hagen has been casually globe-trotting for the last few weeks, getting as far as England and Belgium, where he visited the Musée de la bande dessinée in Brussels (the Belgian Comic Strip Center for those of us whose French is poor). This looks to be about the most elegant cartoon museum imaginable, and there's a bookstore on the premises called Slumberland that David says is as nice as one would expect. And look what he saw on the shelf, in amongst some collections of better strips-
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
A close reading of today's Cul de Sac reveals that Petey is reading a comic called "Splut the Dummy." This is one of the rare instances when a character in the strip is based on an actual person, as Splut the Dummy is a life-sized stuffed doll my wife made for some children's theater classes she's taught. Splut was originally built for a fifth grade production of As You Like It, where he was a stunt double for a fight scene. Despite losing his head during a particularly vivid performance, he's gone on to appear in dozens of shows in many roles in works by everyone from Shakespeare to Roald Dahl.
Right now he's sitting in a corner of the living room wearing jeans, some kind of renaissance tunic and a sombrero though I'm not sure why. He often makes visitors jump when the see him out of the corner of their eye, and me too for that matter. That's probably what he does in the comic Petey's reading; disconcert people.
Monday, July 19, 2010
If the last few years are any indication there'll be no new Harry Potter adventure unleashed at whatever remains of the bookstore in your neighborhood in 2010. After a decade of publishing Harry Potter books author J K Rowling seems to have hit a bump, her prodigious imagination stalled, and it may be permanent. There'll be a few more movies, and a goblin "Christmas at Gringots" TV special, but that's it for the books.
So, to assuage any pointless residual Potter anticipation, I've put together an almost complete collection of Harry Potter Poor Almanacks. This first one was from 2000, before I'd read any of the books, though my wife had. And before the fourth book, The Goblet of Fire, had been released, as you can tell from its misidentification.
It was a lot of fun to do; cartoons are always fun to do when I'm working from ignorance. By the time I did the second Harry Potter cartoon I'd read at least a couple of the books. The cartoon below is not the actual second cartoon (which I gave to a friend) but the reworked version I did for the Almanac book that incorporated some from the first cartoon. I hope that's confusing enough.
After two of these, I'd established a tradition of Harry Potter Poor Almanacs appearing every summer, and I took it as seriously as Rowling probably took her little series of books. For the next installment I took it in another direction.
But after years of this grind, I was getting pretty burnt out and tired of the whole thing. This is pretty evident in my penultimate cartoon (note the reuse of the Marmite joke; as it was from the book I figured it was fair game).
But I knew there was more to say. This final cartoon considered the Rowling oeuvre and its effect on human civilization.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Sunday, July 4, 2010
Here are a few old Almanacs that are appropriate for today. This first one is a parody of a feature the Washington Post ran throughout its 125th anniversary year, each day featuring a story and a small copy of the front page from that day in history. It was very fun to write, especially those f's.
When I was a small kid large fireworks shows freaked me out. Eventually I came to enjoy them a lot, but the noise was too much for me. My aversion probably dated to a huge fireworks show I went to when I was two at Fort McHenry in Baltimore. I dove under a blanket and didn't show my face for days, or I wouldn't have if my folks didn't pretty much insist on it.
This last was from back about 7 or 8 years ago when there was some talk of designing a memorial for John Adams down on the memorial-choked Mall. For me it was all about drawing that huge disapproving face and those clouds of hair.