Showing posts with label Patrick McDonnell. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Patrick McDonnell. Show all posts

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Gift of Nothing at The Kennedy Center (reviewed by Steve Loya)

Last Saturday, my wife and I went to see the world premier musical adaptation of Mutts creator Patrick McDonnell's The Gift of Nothing, at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.. Having been a long time Mutts fan and collector, it was hard to believe this was officially happening, practically in my own back yard! 

I first discovered Mutts comics not in the newspaper, but at a bookstore, when I first moved out to the DC/NOVA area about fourteen years ago. It was a crazy, stressful time for me back then, with a big move to another state, the start of a new career, and then the catastrophic 9/11 attacks on US soil only a couple of weeks later. I remember how much these books made me smile and put me at ease, and I've been following the adventures of Earl and Mooch ever since then. What I've always loved about Mutts is the subtle wisdom in both the artwork and the writing, as it is a comic strip that easily functions on both a children's as well as on an adult level. The same can be said for the stage production of The Gift of Nothing, directed by Aaron Posner. Much like the book itself, originally published in 2005, the visual presentation is sparse and minimal - simple yet beautiful. Much like the characters that populate McDonnell's books and comic strips, the cast brings this musical vividly to life. I've never considered myself much of a fan of musicals, but the songs (written by Andy Mitton), the sounds and the singing and acting were all paramount to the success of this production, along with some wonderfully choreographed lighting.  Consider me a convert. Here's a little more insight into the book and stage production: 

The book itself has been described as having a "zen-like" quality, and it's amazing to witness how incredibly well the stage version was able to flesh out the story, adding a whole new dimension to a  brief but brilliant little commentary about not losing sight of the simple and the good things we already have, but are so often distracted from during the madness of the holiday season. I have to say, my wife and I arrived at The Kennedy Center a bit frazzled, after missing an exit in DC, and after being so close, only to be thrown off course a few miles, almost causing us to be late and putting us both in a less-than-pleasant mood. Shortly into the start of the musical however, we were both swept up into the catchy and clever songs, the incredible acting, and the humorous tale of a dog named Earl and a Cat named Mooch. After this hour-long production had ended, we both couldn't stop talking about The Gift of Nothing driving home. I could write a lot more about this musical, but I wouldn't want to spoil it for ya.

*the line for Patrick McDonnell's book and program signing (above), at The Kennedy center

*me getting to meet Patrick for a book signing after the show (below)

You can still catch The Gift of Nothing at The Kennedy Center through December 28th! More information can be found HERE. Don't miss it!

Friday, July 09, 2010

Cul de Sac favored by comics historian Craig Yoe

Comics historian Craig Yoe says, "There is some hope [for comic strips], with Patrick McDonnell’s “Mutts” and Richard Thompson’s “Cul de Sac” and a couple of others. We need more strips like that!"

The whole interview with pictures is at Print's new blog -

Craig Yoe Talks ICON, Krazy Kat, and Whether Today’s Cartoonists Ever Get Laid, by Michael Dooley, Imprint blog July 7 2010.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Patrick McDonnell report by guest columnist

Guest columnist Miron Murcury returns with the following report on Patrick McDonnell's appearance in Alameda, CA.

Good Humorist News

October 25, 2007. Newspaper cartoonist Patrick McDonnell spoke in Alameda, California at Books, Inc. McDonnell, the writer and cartoonist of MUTTS introduced his newest picture book, HUGS. The story features Jules the Kitten who travels the world hugging everyone he meets. He spoke on behalf of the East Bay SPCA.

After a few moments with HUGS, McDonnell from the audience suggestions drew the MUTTS characters on a 2X3 foot sketch pad. The quick sketches will later be auctioned by and for the benefit of the East Bay SPCA. For further information please contact:

McDonnell asked for questions from the enchanted audience.

'Who inspired you?'' A lady asked.

''Charles Schulz. I wanted to be Charles Schulz.'' McDonnell answered without hesitation. He went from Peanuts to spinach, pointing out the delights of Popeye and Krazy Kat.

''Will Eisner was a teacher of mine at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.'' He continued, ''I was an illustrator before becoming a newspaper strip cartoonist.''

Asked about Winsor McCay, he drew special attention to 'Little Nemo, So Many Splendid Sundays' edited by Pete Maresca.

''It was like seeing Little Nemo for the first time.'' McDonnell said in praise of Maresca's award winning book.

A member of the audience asked, ''You seem to have really shot to national prominence after your appearance in ARF. Will you be contributing to future issues?''

McDonnell, chuckling humorously, thanked editor Craig Yoe for his big break.

''Yes, I will be in the next issue of ARF.'' McDonnell revealed, ''Craig had the great idea of having today's cartoonists complete a Milt Gross multi-panel cartoon gag. I am one of the contributors.''

Click to find out everything about ARF, the unholy marriage of Art and Comics and to see McDonnell's contribution.

McDonnell will be a guest speaker at the Charles Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, Saturday, October 27, 1-3pm. He was tickled, (my interpretation of his excitement, disbelief and sense of awe), by the temporary mural sized reproduction of Schulz's homage panel featuring MUTTS characters.

After his talk McDonnell graciously signed books for the enthused crowd adding small character sketches at purchasers request.

The official Patrick McDonnell web site.

Photo c. 2007 MMurcury

--Miron Murcury