Showing posts with label original artwork. Show all posts
Showing posts with label original artwork. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Exhibiting the gold in the Golden Age at the Jewish Museum of MD

101_5094 posterThis past weekend I was able to attend the members' preview for the exhibit "ZAP! POW! BAM! The Superhero: The Golden Age of Comic Books, 1938-1950." The exhibit has arrived at the Jewish Museum of Maryland in downtown Baltimore and it's well-worth visiting.Curated by the late Jerry Robinson, this exhibit was put together in 2004 by the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum in Atlanta, which published a catalogue of the same name.

 Robinson had multiple careers in cartooning including writing a history of comics, being an editorial cartoonist, and starting a syndicate, but he began as a young man in comic books. As a seventeen-year old he began working on Batman as a letterer and inker in 1939. Eventually he became a penciller for the character, and as an employee of what became DC Comics, he met a lot of artists. And thankfully he saved examples of their work, at a time when that behavior wasn't very common.

101_5085 Simon and Kirby
Simon & Kirby cover to Adventure Comics #78
The exhibit is full of original golden age artwork. It contains art by Mort Meskin, Lou Fine, Robinson, Will Eisner, Marc Swayze, Simon & Kirby, Charles Biro, Fred Ray, CC Beck, Fred Ray, Will Eisner, HG Peter, Sheldon Modoff, Bob Fujitani, Lee Elias, Irwin Hasen, Arthur Peddy and Bernard Sachs, Dick Sprang and Charles Paris, Joe Kubert, Reed Crandall, Al Alvison, Carmine Infantino and Frank Frazetta. Many of these are prime pieces.

And many of the writers and artists were Jewish. As comics historian Arnold Blumberg noted in his remarks at the preview, "'s a joy to see the exhibit come to a facility like this and to take a look at it from our unique perspective of what our culture, what our heritage, has given not just to itself, but to the world. The world owns Superman and Batman and all these characters now. Many of them may not have a clue where they came from, who were the kind of people who sat down and created them, but they are now owned by the entire world. They're heroes for everybody and they came from us."

101_5092 Siegel and Shuster autograph
Siegel & Shuster drawing dedicated to Robinson
The exhibit gives a basic history of comic books and characters and biographies of the creators, interspersed with now-priceless art and comic books. Particular attention is paid to World War II of course. Pages of an original Batman script by Bill Finger can be seen - Robinson's estate donated other examples of these to Columbia University this month. Historic highlights include Robinson's artwork for early Batman covers, his original Joker playing card sketch, and a Siegel & Shuster drawing of Superman dedicated to Robinson. A few cases examine the merchandising of Captain Marvel (aka Shazam) and Superman.

This version of the exhibit does have a tricky dichotomy to it. The uncolored, unfinished single pages of comic book artwork will appeal to a mature (elderly, if they bought the titles originally) viewer, while the idea of a superhero largely is aimed at male teens and younger children. This version of the exhibit caters to the very youngest viewers, with a set of tables, chairs and supplies for making cartoons, a replica of Superman's telephone booth with costumes set alongside it, a Batmobile kiddy ride, a newsstand with comics to read on it, and a piece of "Kryptonite"with a recording that warns one not to get to close.

101_5058 newsstand

 I was fortunate to be able to visit the exhibit with local cartoonists. Barbara Dale (of Baltimore), known for her humorous cartoons, fixated on the original Spirit page by Will Eisner and the Frank Frazetta that was next to it, and thought those two pieces made the entire exhibit worthwhile.

101_5070 Eisner
The Eisner Spirit page that impressed Barbara Dale...

101_5071 Frazetta
...and the Frazetta cover that Dale also admired.
101_5090 Lou Fine
Note Wrightson's debt to Lou Fine.
Rafer Roberts (of Fredericksburg) pointed out several things to me - Moldoff's use of gouache to give white highlights on the legs of a monster on Moon Girl #4's cover for EC Comics, Bernie Wrightson's debt to Lou Fine (look at the skeletonized figure on the Hit Comics cover, and Bob Fujitane's use of the traditional iconography of Japanese monsters.

101_5066 Bob Fujitane
Bob Fujitane uses Japanese iconography.

I had seen a previous version of this exhibit in New York at the Jewish Museum there, but it was reworked as an addition to the massive "Masters of American Comics" show. Any fan of comic book history should take the opportunity to see this version of the show at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. The catalogue can be bought in the gift shop, along with Superman toothbrushes, Batman lunchboxes and hand-painted superhero yarmelkes. The Museum has produced two curriculum guides for schools and plans lectures throughout the exhibit which runs from January 27 - August 28, 2013, and costs $8 or less. More of my pictures can be seen here.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Decorating my office with original art

For a short time, I've got an office at work. I've started framing some of the original comic art that I've gotten, and putting it up.  Buying this type of art is a good way to support cartoonists you like, of course.

Ullman coffee IV

The great Rob Ullman, who illustrated the sex column for the Washington City Paper for years, did the above. As a spot illustration, this doesn't have a title, but I call it "Coffee I.V." He's got a new minicomic for sale.

 Thompson - Dr jenner's vaccine

"Dr. Jenner's Vaccine" original scratchboard art by Baltimore children's book artist Jeff Thompson (of Big Planet Comics) on vaccinating for smallpox with cowpox. You can buy his art here.

 Emerson - Penicillin

"Penicillin" original art by British cartoonist Hunt Emerson, - a Christmas gift from my wife. You can buy his work here.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Snyder, King and Hatke at Capicons

The bi-monthly Capicons con at Tyson's Corner saw a few new faces today. I picked up a couple of pieces of original art as a result (and blew my budget, but if you go to the show with friends, you can borrow money from them).

101_4763 JK Snyder III Shadow sketch

Baltimore County's John K Snyder III did this Shadow sketch with the money going to Hero Initiative charity. Keep an eye out on IDW's variant covers for the Shadow as John is doing one in 2013.

 101_4766 Hatke - Zita the Spacegirl original art p98

Front Royal's Ben Hatke's Zita the Spacegirl original art for page 98. Zita's aimed at kids, but I like it a lot.

 101_4767 Hatke - Zita the Spacegirl original art chapter breaks

Ben Hatke's Zita the Spacegirl original art for chapter breaks. He tossed this one in after I bought the previous.

Washington's Tom King was signing his book A Once Crowded Sky, a novel about what happens when all the superheroes vanish, but the supervillains don't. I reviewed it for the City Paper and had the strange experience of seeing my words as a pull quote on his banner.  I liked the book enough to buy another copy for a comics-collecting buddy's Christmas present. King told me that some additional comic book news from him should come out this week - remind me to follow up if I don't post something here.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

New book: Biographical Sketches of Cartoonists & Illustrators in Library of Congress

I've known Sara Duke since the early 1990s, and have always been impressed with her scholarship and breadth of knowledge. At some point, when I was complaining to her about the lack of a cartoonist biographical dictionary, such as had been done in the UK, she replied that she had a draft of one that had never been published. Terry Echter had begun the project, and Sara took it over in 1993 and completed it by 1995 when the Swann Collection became publicly available (although no additions were made to the collection after 1983). She was kind enough to forward a copy to me, as it is in the public domain.  I have edited and updated it slightly, but this volume remains overwhelmingly the 1995 version that Sara wrote. 

Now available at cost: (print) or (pdf) or a free download at

Biographical Sketches of Cartoonists & Illustrators in the Swann Collection of the Library of Congress
by Sara Duke, 340 pages

Inside this book are short biographical sketches about the many artists represented in the Library of Congress' Swann Collection compiled by Erwin Swann (1906-1973). In the early 1960s, Swann, a New York advertising executive started collecting original cartoon drawings of artistic and humorous interest. Included in the collection are political prints and drawings, satires, caricatures, cartoon strips and panels, and periodical illustrations by more than 500 artists, most of whom are American. The 2,085 items range from 1780-1977, with the bulk falling between 1890-1970. The Collection includes 1,922 drawings, 124 prints, 14 paintings, 13 animation cels, 9 collages, 1 album, 1 photographic print, and 1 scrapbook.

UPDATED 2/22/2017: A new printing has been uploaded with a correction - deleting TE Coles and adding in CE Toles.  You can print out the following and insert it in your first printing -

Biographical Sketches of  Cartoonists & Illustrators in the  Swann Collection  of the
Library of Congress - Errata sheet for first edition, first printing (2012)

Delete the entry for T.E. Coles.

Insert instead


American cartoonist, who was born and grew up in Elmira, New York and worked as a cartoonist for the Elmira Telegram in 1893 after starting his working career as a clerk. Editorial cartoonist for the Washington Post in 1894. His work appeared in the Texas Sandwich a humorous periodical, as well as the Canadian magazine Toronto Saturday Night. He returned home in 1895 to recover from pneumonia. Cartoonist who worked for the New York Herald as a freelance cartoonist in 1896. In 1898, he went to Baltimore to work for the International Syndicate which distributed his work nationally. He joined the Baltimore Sketch Club while there. His work was distributed to the Philadelphia Press between 1899 and 1901. He soon rose to the position of art director. He created The Reverend Fiddle D.D. for the New York Journal in 1898. He also contributed cartoons to Puck and Judge. He drew under his own name and several aliases, including Hugh Morris. At the time of his death, he had formed the Baltimore Illustration Syndicate. He died of Bright’s Disease – kidney failure – on December 16, 1901 in Cornwall-on-the-Hudson, New York, while visiting his in-laws. He was buried in Elmira, New York. Editorial cartoonist Tom Toles is not related.

Info from: “Guide to the SFACA Collection: Newspaper Comic Strips, series II: comic strips – Philadelphia Press,” Ohio State University, , 10/04/2011 {See Swann Collection}; “Claude Eldridge Toles Collection (1875-1901), , 06/11/2013; “News of Yore: The Life and Times of C.E. Toles,” Stripper’s Guide Blog, entry for March 3, 2012, , 06/11/2013: “Wellknown Cartoonist Dead,” Westfield (N.Y.) Republican, December 18, 1901, p. 2; Mike Rhode, “Claude E. Toles exhibit at the Cosmos Club,” ComicsDC Blog, entry for October 25, 2016, , 10/25/2016

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Brooke A. Allen at Big Planet Comics Vienna

I hadn't heard of Brooke A. Allen before her appearance at Big Planet Comics Vienna - which turns out to be no surprise because she's still at student at SCAD, even though she's got her first graphic novel coming out now. I talked to her briefly, asking about her influences and was surprised to hear Walt Kelly, followed by Jeff Smith. After reading the book, I can definitely see Bone's influence. I enjoyed the story and will run a brief review at the City Paper soon, but here's some photos.


She made a nice drawing in each book - the people in front of me got the bad magician.

My daughter got Mr. Easter.

And I got a self-portrait.

There was a darn big crowd for both Ms. Allen and the 4th of July sale.

She kept cranking through the drawings for people and I think the store expected to sell out of the book.

BP had these nice posters on sale for $3. I got mine.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Shadow sketch from Heroes Con

Jim Amash did this sketch for me after seeing a painting of Lamont Cranston by Thomas Boatwright that I was carrying around. It turns out that we're both pulp hero fans. As Alex Toth said about doing a drawing of the Shadow for Jim "it had to be in the style of Ed Cartier" and so is this one.

Roger Langridge's Barney Google sketch

Roger Langridge did this drawing for me last weekend - I knew he was a big Barney Google fan so I asked him for this at Heroes Con.  I also bought two pages of an X-Men story in the style of Edward Gorey from him which are very cool. Professor X was a spooky kid.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Aug 14: Society of American Archivists on curating cartoons

Unfortunately you have to register for the whole Society of American Archivists conference and not individual sessions.

SESSION 508 - Perspectives on Cartoons: Art, Archival Objects, Assets
Aug 14, 2010
8:00 AM - 9:00 AM

Andrew Farago (Chair)
Curator/Gallery Manager
Cartoon Art Museum

Susan Kline
Assistant Librarian/Cartoonist Archivist
Syracuse University

Jon Michaud
The New Yorker

Cartoons have been used to entertain, persuade, and provide political and social commentary. In the past decade, interest in cartoons has grown. Scholars have begun to use them to gain insight into American culture and this visual genre itself is the subject of inquiry. Each speaker offers a perspective on working with the visual form of cartoons that is unique to their institution, taking into account who their users are.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Did you know? Krazy Kat in Georgetown

Did you know that Georgetown University's Lauinger Library holds two original Krazy Kat Sunday pages by George Herriman? No, I didn't either. David Hagen showed them to me last week. They're in the Archives, of course, as is at least one large collection of political cartoons, from a politician who collected images of himself, I think. There's definitely a Clifford Berryman in there, and I saw a Gib Crockett on the University Archivist's wall. I'm afraid I can't figure out their website well enough to track down the collection though, but you could contact them to ask.

Monday, April 06, 2009

On finally seeing the first Spider-Man

After breaking the news almost exactly a year ago, I finally got around to seeing the first Spider-Man original art by Steve Ditko in Amazing Fantasy #15.


The art was lovely, but it was somewhat anti-climactic since I'd read the story literally hundreds of times. Foolish, I know. There's a small bit of new information to be gleaned from the artwork, where Stan Lee asked for changes, but Ditko followed his pencils very closely so there's not a lot of underlying drawing.

The entire comic book art is there, so there are three other stories with Ditko art that aren't seen nearly as often.


I really can't think of any better home for this than the Library. Lee and Ditko's creation has become an American icon over almost 50 years now. More pictures are here.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Fiction House artwork on display at Geppi's museum

In his Scoop newsletter column, Curator Arnold Blumberg says they've put on display original art from "an installment in an ongoing strip, “Simba, King of the Beasts,” published by Fiction House in Jungle Comics... with art by William Allison."

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Jeffrey Thompson's Hiawatha originals


Jeff Thompson who works at Big Planet Bethesda on Wednesdays is a Baltimore artist who's done children's books. He gave me a couple of pieces of artwork. Here you can see his Hiawatha children's book - scratchboard originals mounted with the finished book cover.


Jeff can be found online at

deviant art page

web site


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Amazing Fantasy #15 original Spider-Man artwork given to Library of Congress

The first appearance of Spider-Man, an 11-page story which includes his origin, now belongs to the American people. According to curator Sara Duke, an anonymous donor has given the 24 pages of original interior artwork from Amazing Fantasy #15 to the Library of Congress' Prints and Photographs division. The artwork, drawn by Steve Ditko and written by Stan Lee, first appeared in print in 1962, and is in good shape. The art has some whiteout where features of the women were modified, apparently not by Ditko, as well as pasteup word balloons. According to Sara, who called it a "lovely and generous gift," the donor checked with Ditko before donating it, and was told that since the story was a gift to him (although not from Ditko), he could do what he liked with it. The donor declined to have it appraised when giving it to the Library so the actual value of the gift is unknown, although certainly in the six figures range. Three other non-superhero stories were in the book - "The Bell-Ringer", "Man in the Mummy Case", "There are Martians among us!" - and were also donated.

Sara hopes that the Library's collection of comic book art will continue to grow with similar donations since they can't afford to buy them.

The donation has been given the accession number 2008.043. All unprocessed collections require an access to unprocessed collections request form to be filled out prior to making an appointment to see art:

Members of the press should contact Donna Urschel in the Public Affairs Office, 202-707-1639.

This post has been corrected from an earlier version.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Today's new acquisition - Jo Fischer's From Nine to Five

While attempting to find something else entirely, I ran across this piece of original comic art - so I bought it.

The strips is From Nine to Five by Jo Fischer from December 4, 1950. According to Allan Holtz's Stripper's Guide it ran from June 17, 1946 until sometime in 1971. For our younger readers, as the bookstore's note on the back helpfully read, "The applied toning film is usually called Zipatone." Also the gag might not be obvious anymore. Once upon a time, before sexual harassment training, there was a whole genre of gag cartoons about bosses seducing (or preying on, depending on your viewpoint) one's (definitely female) secretary. One can see the New Yorker's Cartoon Bank for more examples, I'm sure. (Oh, yeah, that works.) So, getting back to this cartoon, the secretary is turning tables by implying that she'd like to be hit on by the boss. Ahhh, the good old days.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Victor Vashi cartoons

Last weekend, I picked up some original cartoons by Victor Vashi at a flea market. These were originally done for the Plumbers Journal. The bookseller who had them wrote a note saying Vashi was the author of Red Primer for Children and Diplomats, Viewpoint Books, 1967 and illustrated the Handbook of Humor by Famous Politicians by Stephen Skubik.

Here's scans of all the cartoons, only a few of which still have their captions.