Friday, June 24, 2011

Mort Walker...In His Own Words

I was born in Kansas in 1923, reared in Kansas City, Missouri educated at the University of Missouri, and matured with the Untied States Army in Italy. Instead of bedtime stories, my father used to tell me anecdotes about the famous cartoonists of that day. I drew constantly, and spent many days on the floor of the art department of the Kansas City Star going through drawers of old cartoon originals. Success at my chosen art came early. I started selling to magazines when I was twelve. All of my dates were financed by the money I made selling cartoons to church publications, the local newspaper, and amateur contests in kids' magazine's. My father was an architect who painted, wrote poetry and drew cartoons. My mother had been an illustrator and designer. We were poor by financial standards (we were often without heat, lights or food), but we were rich in every other way imaginable.

My parents were wonderfully inspiring, guiding hand in my career. When I was fifteen I did a strip for the Kansas City paper. It was about a group of goofy sailors with a fat captain. Little did I know then that I would hit it rich with the same theme...but in different uniforms! I submitted my first strip to a syndicate while I was still in high school, but it was turned down. In my first year of college and working in the stock room of Hallmark Greeting Card Company, I read an add for an Hallmark! They almost fired me for looking for a job while in their employ. I told the company, honestly, that their cards were gooey, over sentimental and sickening, and I wouldn't buy one for my grandmother. They hired me. At seventeen I became the editorial designer for all the greeting cards that Hallmark produced. The war interrupted the great start I had. While in the service I met all the characters who people my strip. The "Sarge" I knew didn't have a hair changed to walk right into the strip.

I work with an "assembly line " system. That is, I pencil in an entire week of strips in one day. The next day I ink them in. This is opposed to the "one complete strip a day" method used by many cartoonists. Two days I write ideas, sketching them in pencil on typing paper, one to a page. Jerry Dumas, who works with me, has also at the same time been home writing, and we get together Monday morning and discuss our week's output of ideas. We vote on the best, discard the bad ones, and put aside those that are worth saving, if we can repair them. I use a three-ply, plate finish drawing paper. A #170 pen point for drawing, and a stub for lettering. I use India ink, F pencils, and erasers, among other things. And don't forget your electric pencil sharpener and an electric eraser for ink smears.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Foreign Favorites: Kaliman

Created in 1963 for a Mexican radio play by Rafael Cutberto Navarro and Modesto Vázquez González, the mysterious hero known as Kaliman was an instant hit with audiences across Latin America. With his sworn oath to the goddess Kali to fight injustice around the world, he travels with his side-kick, Solin, an Egyptian boy who is descended from the Pharaohs. A master of the martial arts, Kaliman also has extensive mental powers including telepathy, levitation, remote viewing, telekinesis, hypnosis, astral projection, self-healing and his "actus mortis" state to fake death, just to name a few. A hero that never kills, Kaliman is a human at the peak of his abilities, thanks to his superior esoteric knowledge, but often states that all mankind could have these talents with great study and dedication. His wise phrases are legendary to fans as he guides young Solin along his own path. Sayings like,"The mind's eye sees further" and "He who brings peace opens any door" or "Life ends and begins with a vision of hope" are some of many. Kaliman's first Mexican comic appearance was in December of 1965 with a ten part storyline entitled "The Tomb Raiders" which sold out its 100,000 copies in just one week. The original series lasted for twelve hundred exciting issues loaded with action and adventure before the title finally ended in 1991. Reprints of Kaliman have been published in Latin America since 1998.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Charlton Comics...Judomaster

An early Charlton hero, Army Sergeant Rip Jagger was stationed in the South Pacific with a small elite band of soldiers hunting a ruthless Major called Yoku. While saving a young girl from a Japanese sniper, Rip's whole unit was wiped out as he was rescued by the island natives that opposed Japan's war plans. Sensei, their native leader, grateful for this stranger saving his only child, honored Jagger by teaching him the secrets of the martial arts. Immersed in spiritual and physical training unknown to the Western world, Jagger became a master of Judo and dawning a colorful outfits became leader of Sensei's band of rebels. Once the island was free from Yoku's men, Rip was assigned to a local army base as he continued to fight on his clandestine missions as the Judomaster. Later, when an orphan Japanese boy is discovered on the army base, his early skills in martial art lead him in becoming Judomaster's  reckless side-kick, the dreaded Tiger.

Monday, June 6, 2011

National Cartoonist Society Profile: Alden McWilliams

Born, Greenwich, Connecticut. Graduated New York School Fine and Applied Art. First artwork in pulp magazines. Pioneer in comic books with Dell Western printing. Assisted on Tim Tyler's Luck. In the army 1942, European Theatre for three years. Continued in comic books for almost every company, plus adventure and illustration. Assisted on Rip Kirby, illustrated Twin Earths strip, later at same time, illustrated Davy Jones and assisted on Dan Flagg! Left Flagg to assist on Mary Perkins, On Stage. Changed from both Jones and On Stage to illustrate Dateline: Danger, the first integrated strip (Field Newspaper Syndicate). Following that I have worked chiefly for Western Publishing doing art on Star Trek and others, currently Buck Rogers. Live in Darien, Connecticut with wife Ruth. Two sons, oldest Chris, Captain Air Force (Strategic Air Command), currently based in England: younger son Rick teaching art, photography and coaching soccer, hockey at private prep school in Millbrook, New York. Both sons married. Ruth and I spend all time available at beach house, Eastham, Cape Cod, quohoging and trying to meet deadlines.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Joe Kubert's Ragman "The Tatterdemalion of Justice"

One of DC Comics most unusual new heroes to see print in the Seventies was Kanigher and Kubert's Ragman that debuted in its own short-lived title in August of 1976. A Vietnam veteran, Rory Regan, returned home to help his father, a junk man who owned a pawn shop called Rags'n'Tatters. Worried about his son's financial success, Pop Regan unexpectedly discovered a fortune hidden in an old mattress that was recently pawned in his shop. While Pop celebrated with his side show friends over his stroke of luck, a band of thieves arrived to retrieve the loot from their armored car heist. Not  giving up the money's location, the hoods shot down some electrical wires to torture the group. When Rory later came upon the scene, the crooks had gone without the money, but in reaching out to help his dying father and friends caught in the wires, the youth was shocked unconscious. When our hero awoke, all the powers of his father and his circus friends had mysteriously been transferred to him. So taking up a weird costume made of rags his father constructed for a party, this "Tatterdemalion of Justice " was born to fight for the weak and oppressed. Here is one of Kubert's moody tales from issue #4 in this 1977 story entitled...