Wednesday, July 22, 2009

National Cartoonist Society Profile: Curt Swan

Best know for his years of work on the Superman comic and newspaper feature, Curt Swan ended up drawing many of the DC characters over his fifty years with the company. His interpretations of "The Man of Steel" helped define the look for years to come both in print and on screen. Swan with Murphy Anderson's slick inks over his pencils was one of the most popular books of the Silver Age selling millions on copies monthly. Here is his short description of his career, in his own words... Born February 17, 1920 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I was a mixed up kid until the National Guard unit was activated in 1941. I was quickly shipped to Northern Ireland where I met Dick Wingert while painting murals for the Red Cross Club in Belfast. He suggested that I try for a transfer to Stars and Stripes magazine in London. Enjoyed British hospitality for two years and then pressed on to Paris. Then I got a battle ribbon at Huntingher Down, past the Maginot Line and Patton's Third Army. Been with National Comics since 1945. Live in Norwalk, Connecticut. My next trick -- how to sneak off to a sunnier clime during winter.

Monday, July 13, 2009

National Cartoonist Society Profile: Howie Post

Howard Post was another National Cartoonist Society member who was a multi-talented artist that could draw whatever was called upon to do, animation, political , or comic book was all in a day's work for him. Here is his brief biography from a few years ago... I started cartooning at Paramount Studios in New York as an inbetweener. Twenty years later, I returned as a producer and director. Happy to say my cartoons are still running on Nickelodeon and elsewhere. Scripted and storyboarded scores more of animated cartoons for King Features, DePatie-Freleng, and Hanna-Barbera (dozens of Tom and Jerry's etc.) Wrote, drew and edited comics for D.C. , Warner, Harvey, and Marvel Comics. Lots of the popular Adventure and Bigfoot funny animal material. Ran a syndicated strip The Dropouts for sixteen years. I am currently writing and directing (storyboards) for television, while teaching various cartoon disciplines at School of Visual Arts. Two kids, two grand kids - so far.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Rod Reed and Jose-Luis Salinas' The Cisco Kid

O. Henry's scoundrel from the short story "The Caballero's Way" was a well known property on stage and screen before King Features tried their hand at the beloved story cleaning up the Cisco Kid's image for a new daily that debuted on January 15, 1951. Rod Reed was chosen to write an updated adult type Western consisting of twelve to fourteen week episodes of action, adventure, intrigue, and even a little romance at times for our handsome hero! Argentinian illustrator Jose-Luis Salinas was asked to draft a dark, lean Cisco, with amusing plump foil side-kick Pancho, as well as beautiful women, mean villains, horses, and other enduring images of the wild West. When Jose arrived in New York from Buenos Aires he almost satisfied the editors on the first try, but succeeded with just a few minor changes to the character's jawline, making him a little tougher from his earlier drawings of a graceful and charming Latin lover.

This Mexican righter of wrongs instead of using California, had his thrilling adventures set in the New Mexico territories at the turn of the century. Fans and art collectors often remember best the impeccably dressed Cisco in his black embroidered shirt, with huge sombrero. Unfortunately from all the examples I've seen or owned, Salinas heavy use of zip-a-tone for shading effects (like on Pancho's one shirt) in this detailed feature have turned yellow over the years to stain most of these beautiful dailies. As well as being a supreme craftsman who could capture facial expressions, action scenes, backgrounds, and just about anything else he was called upon to do, Salinas was incredibly fast and could stay weeks ahead of his deadlines. Reed once told a story about how Salinas wanted to take a vacation to Europe with his family, so he turned out three months worth of strips over a fortnight with no visible difference in the quality so he could take time off to travel. Quite an accomplishment for any artist, but even more of a feat when all his scripts had to be translated into Spanish for the illustrator to draw.

Having only a daily version, the strip soon caught on and was quickly in over 150 papers, being distributed into at least ten languages to be shown in countries like, Norway, South Africa, Ireland, Germany, Scotland, Turkey, Holland, Yugoslavia, and Mexico, just to name a few. But after eighteen long years of adventures, containing some of the best story lines, greatest characters, and superlative artwork, the strip finally ended on August 5, 1968. Surviving probably the longest distance collaboration ever in comics, over 5000 miles from writer in New York to artist in Buenos Aires! It's too bad there never was a Sunday page, though the syndicate had considered one early on, I'm sure it would have been as spectacular as the other daily episodes this dynamic team created.