Showing posts with label National Cartoonists Society. Show all posts
Showing posts with label National Cartoonists Society. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

James "Giacomo" Bellora, RIP

Self-portrait courtesy of Billy Ireland Library
by Mike Rhode

ComicsDC has learned that Falls Church illustrator and sometime cartoonist James Bellora passed away on February 18, 2015. He was born in St. Charles, MO on June 6, 1960 according to the CaringBridge website that reported his passing. The site also notes that he had an engineering degree and was an avid bicyclist, and is survived by his wife and daughter. According to a brochure for his services held at Ohio State University's Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum, his cartoons appeared in trade publications such as FBLA Association News, Air Force Acquisition Network News, Actuarial Association Magazine and Sketches magazine. He listed himself as a cartoonist and "humorous illustrator." He also recieved work from Arlington's BonoTom Studio. At points in his career, Bellora was a member of the National Cartoonists Society and the Illustrators Club of Washington, DC (where he also served as President). A funeral will be held on March 6th at St. James Catholic Church in Falls Church.

Several local cartoonists and illustrators have given us their thoughts on him.

Editorial cartoonist Steve Artley: "In the 90's, he was a regular at the annual Cartoons & Cocktails event and hung with Jack Higgins, Chip Beck and I during the event and afterward in the bar upstairs. He and I had a great time banging out songs on the piano in the lounge. He was very friendly and outgoing, engaging and seemed happy... ."

Illustrator David Hagen: "We had sort of a competitive relationship especially in the days you used to hump your big illustration portfolio around town for freelance jobs. I'd see him either coming or going. He was the president of the Illustrators Club when I joined and remember pausing by his display table at the yearly portfolio shows. I think I stepped up my game because I knew he was out there! Which made me a better illustrator."

Cartoonist Joe Sutliff: "James (I never called him Jim or Giaccomo) and I hung out a lot years ago, but I lost touch after he met his soon-to-be wife. He was full of passion for anything he got involved in, and truthfully I had been thinking about him a lot lately... I remember James as always being "full throttle"… whatever he went after, it was never halfway. He was always ready to lead the way - he went from a freshman member of the Illustrator's Club to President in just a couple of years, and joined the National Cartoonist Society and organized the local chapter as well. He was always fun-loving; I remember one Illustrators Club Holiday party where he lead me, Rob Sprouse and some others in a full dance-out of YMCA… I think it's still on online somewhere…:

Illustrator Kevin Rechin:  "So unbelievably sad. I knew him fairly well. Saw him quite often in the '90s either at NCS stuff or Illustrators Club gatherings. He was definitely a go-getter and full of life. Always had a smile on his face. Thoughts and prayers to his wife, daughter and family."

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Long and Winding Road, or, Ike Liked Cartoons

A Long and Winding Road
 by Stu McIntire
(updated 4/14/2017, see point #8)

A dedicated collector is a scavenger (of sorts) and a patient soul, which is where this story begins.

In the early 1980s my wife and I took a trip to Antique Row on Howard Avenue in Kensington, Maryland.  We weren’t scouting for anything in particular, just out for a fun afternoon.


We wandered in and out of the shops not finding anything until we walked into one which had a pedestal table just inside the front door, on which rested a basket.  The basket held several dozen black and white photographs.  Most were unremarkable but one included President Dwight D. Eisenhower and seven other men I did not recognize.  Eisenhower was looking at a book and it was open to a page with a cartoon on it.  Intrigued, I sifted through the basket, found one similar picture and settled on the two photos, which I purchased.  Price?  One dollar each.

The pictures remained untouched for a couple of years until I decided to learn more about them.  I sent one to Maggie Thompson at The Comics Buyers Guide, offering to share it with the CBG readers.  I also asked if she could tell me anything about it.  A short while later it was published with the following comments:

(Published in The Comics Buyers' Guide #587; February 15, 1985):

"This historic photograph of four National Cartoonists Society presidents meeting with President Dwight D. Eisenhower more than 30 years ago was sent to CBG by Stuart McIntire. Stuart asked us to identify the participants; we did, getting confirmation from Mort Walker, Milton Caniff, and Ron Goulart. Eisenhower was presented with a collection of original cartoons, caricatures, and drawings of himself  by members of  the NCS (many of these were collected into a book called President Eisenhower's Cartoon Book), and made an honorary member of the NCS. (Stuart mentions that, using extreme magnification on the original photo, he was able to make out the name "Carl Grubert" on the page to which the book is open; Grubert drew a humorous family strip called The Berrys.) From left to right are: Milton Caniff (Terry and the Pirates; Steve Canyon), an unidentified man (Caniff said he thinks he was a Treasury Department official); Goulart says it could be Charles Biro), Alex Raymond (Flash Gordon; Rip Kirby), another unidentified man (another Treasury Department official, Caniff guessed), Eisenhower ("probably Eisenhower," said Goulart, living up to his reputation as a wit), Walt Kelly (Pogo), Rube Goldberg (Boob McNutt), and Treasury Secretary George Humphrey. Walt Kelly was then President of the NCS; Caniff, Raymond, and Goldberg were past Presidents. Caniff added that Humphrey arranged the meeting "as a sort of reward for drawings the cartoonists had made in support of the E-Bond sales after the war."

[The Editors of CBG publicly express their deep personal gratitude to Mort, Milt, and Ron - three of the busiest people we know - for taking time to help us on identification.]

Now I had a mission.  Find and purchase a copy of President Eisenhower's Cartoon Book.  For years this was a mental note in the back of my mind but I did frequently scan the shelves at used book stores, always without luck.  Fast forward to September of 2012 and a trip to the Baltimore Comic Con.

Towards the end of a day on the dealer floor I stumbled across a booth with a multitude of items that caught my eye.  This dealer had a lot of merchandise that was comic-related and much of it was old.  I went through boxes of very attractive swag.  I knew not what I wanted but I’d know it when I saw it.  When I came to the box that held a copy of the President Eisenhower's Cartoon Book it was like the scene in Christmas Vacation when Clark Griswold found the perfect Christmas tree.

with dustjacket

without dustjacket


My main goal at the Con was collecting autographs in a couple of my Sandman hardcover collections (check) and perhaps to see a few friends (check).  I never imagined I’d score a long-sought piece for my collection but I struck a deal for this and one other piece (Badtime Stories by Bernie Wrightson).

Flash forward again.  Curiosity has the better of me.  What else can I learn about the background story of this book?  How about:

    1.     An Internet search turned up other photos taken at the same time as the pictures I bought on Antique Row:


   2.     In 1954, President Eisenhower was made an honorary member of the National Cartoonists Society. He and Treasury Secretary George M. Humphrey were awarded the Silver T-Square, given by the NCS to persons who have demonstrated outstanding dedication or service to the Society or the profession.  The occasion was celebrated at a formal breakfast in Washington, attended by the President and several NCS members.

Stamped on the back of the above photo:
Photo shows: Milton Caniff, creator of famous comic strip, STEVE CANYON at microphone with President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Walt Kelly, creator of POGO seated at table during a United States Savings Bond Program breakfast in Washington honoring the National Cartoonists Society for patriotic service on the Savings Bond Program.

Also stamped on the back:

   3.     Note the name Toni Mendez.  Toni Mendez, a huge influencing force behind the creation of the National Cartoonists Society, was Caniff’s agent (as well as several other prominent cartoonists).  She was also once a member of the famed high-kicking Rockettes dance troupe!

4.       4. Here is a picture of the volume of original cartoons presented to Eisenhower as well as a few samples of the work contained therein (by Alex Raymond, Milton Caniff, Rube Goldberg, and Walt Kelly):


    5.     Eisenhower himself was a known ‘doodler’ and here is but one example:

    6.     Fans well-versed in comic book history may recall that it was earlier in the very same year these cartoonists broke bread with the President that Milton Caniff and Walt Kelly testified before the infamous United States Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency.
    7.     One of the ninety-five artists represented in President Eisenhower's Cartoon Book was Bill Crawford, once an artist who worked at the Washington Daily News and Washington Post.

8.      I bought this one on eBay in April 2017. Next to Ike is Rube Goldberg. Next to Rube, behind Ike is Walt Kelly. On the left hand page to which the album is opened is a drawing by Jay (Modest Maidens) Alan. The drawing on the right is by Jerry Robinson. The caption under Robinson's drawing says "Thank you Mr. President --- for the wonderful laughter! Especially if the joke is BY us --- but even if it's ON us! J.R. N.C.S." 

       The caption reads: (WX4) WASHINGTON, Jan. 4 -- CARTOONS OF, AND FOR, IKE -- President Eisenhower is pleased by this gift from White House callers today, a bound volume of cartoons of himself drawn by members of the National Cartoonists Society. Standing at right are Rube Goldberg, honorary chairman of the Society, and Secretary of the Treasury George Humphrey, right. The drawings on the opened pages are not identified. (AP Wire photo) (EE31038 stf-hlg) 1954

So there you have it.  This story was thirty years or so in the making, but slow and steady wins the race!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Monday, March 16, 2009

Thompson nominated for Reuben for 2nd year

Alan Gardener's reporting the nominations for the National Cartoonist Society's Rueben Awards, and Cul de Sac is up for newspaper comic strip again this year. I don't know where Lars Leetaru lives, but he's been doing work for the Washington Post lately since the NY Times dropped him from their Metropolitan Diary column and some of that must have influenced his newspaper illustration nomination. I like his work quite a bit. Bob Staake is up for magazine illustration - presumably for his New Yorker work, but he's still appearing in the Post every Saturday.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Weingarten's latest chats -

His readers are absolutely wrong on Keith Knight and Weingarten is right.

May 20th chat

Gene Weingarten: Good afternoon.

Jef Mallett, creator of Frazz, e-mailed me yesterday after he returned from The National Cartoonists Conference in New Orleans. During the conference, he said, a whole bunch of cartoonists went off to help build a house in the city, as part of a Habitat for Humanity project. I asked him to draw a cartoon of what a house would look like if it was built by cartoonists. Here is Jeff's drawing, along with his commentary.

What I learned from this experience:

1. Cartoonists cannot hold hammers. You've never seen so many people choke up so high on a hammer.

2. What's black and white and red all over? A Scottish-Norwegian cartoonist messing with tar paper shingles all day in the sun. Heehaw. Trust me on this one.

3. When cartoonists hammer their thumbs, what they say isn't really spelled "##%!!*."

4. Whatever you think you know about the devastation down there, you don't have a clue. And it's almost three years.

What I learned from drawing the two cartoon characters in this picture:

1. Rosie the Riveter seems to be giving us all the "up yours" gesture. I never quite noticed that.

2. I am apparently one shopping trip to Williams-Sonoma away from being as gay as a Mardi Gras float. This, too, was a big surprise.

May 27th chat

CPOW: That Knight's Life is not a funny comic. You just like it because it supports what you (and all of us) have been saying. The Pearls on the other hand IS funny.

Gene Weingarten: I am allowed personal bias.


Fairfax, Va.: Agreed on liking Knight Life. The first replacement, about the stay-at-home dad, clearly got old quickly. The second one, while promising, seems like it was trying too hard to be The Far Side. The third one, while it may fall into that category of nerdy young black man with Candorville and Watch Your Head, seems by far to be the best. Any idea what the general reaction to the three has been?

Gene Weingarten: The Post people are pretty smart. I've liked the last two, actually. I am hoping we keep both and get rid of some antedeluvian ones.
Baltimore, Md.: You have GOT to be kidding about Knight Life, right? Anyone who names a comic strip after himself immediately has one strike against him. And, Sunday's cartoon included jokes so old and lame even my 5 year old thought they were stupid. THIS is what the Post thought could replace Doonesbury, even temporarily? My God, ...the horror.

Gene Weingarten: Yeah, Sunday's was bad. I agree.


Washington, D.C.: Yes, the Knight Life comic is funny, but can you answer me this question. If the Post is going to add a new comic strip, why oh why, isn't the daily Cul de Sac, by the Post's own Richard Thompson, not up for consideration?

Gene Weingarten: It should be the first choice.


Re: The Knight Life: The art on this strip is terrible. Doesn't that bug you?

Gene Weingarten: No. I like the art.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Hopes and dreams dashed in New Orleans

Our Man Thompson lost the National Cartoonist Society award to Jim Meddick and Monty. A cabal of DC-area lawyers are already planning on taking this to the Supreme Court for a ruling on a recount of hanging chads, I hear.

In the meantime, we congratulate Meddick - his strip runs in the Washington Times. Al Jaffee took home the deserved Reuben award, and Wiley's strip today makes sense. All the winners were posted by Alan Gardner on his Daily Cartoonist site.

And here's the Non Sequiter fold-in linked to above, folded and rotated 180 degrees, for those who couldn't quite picture it:

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

May 23: Our Man Thompson on Post chat

So, Richard leaves town on a 26-hour (hahahahahaha!) train ride... just to be interviewed by the Washington Post! Man, he apparently just lives Richard's Poor Almanack. The damn thing must write itself...

Scott Hilburn who does Argyle Sweater will also be fighting for keyboard space.

Friday, May 23 at 1 p.m. ET
Meet the Comics Pages
Scott Hilburn and Richard Thompson
Cartoonists, "Argyle Sweater" and "Cul de Sac"
Friday, May 23, 2008; 1:00 PM

Join Washington Post Comics page editor Suzanne Tobin on Friday, May 23 at 1 p.m. ET at the National Cartoonists Society convention in New Orleans for a discussion with Scott Hilburn, creator of "The Argyle Sweater," and Richard Thompson, creator of creator of "Cul de Sac."

I guess the Ms. Tobin wanted to justify that travel budget, and rather than take a $10 cab ride to Arlington got this through the Post's accountants. I think I need to meet her - take notes, that sort of thing...

Our Man Thompson in New Orleans for NCS award showdown

Richard's up for a best strip award - see his blog for details - and says he will also be chatting on the Post's website on Friday.