Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Will Work for Toys

I'll be participating in a comics festival at my local library next month. One of the organizers and I were kicking around options for an all-ages hands-on activity. We came up with the idea of providing an unfinished cartoon panel for attendees to complete. It will include a single character, no text, and plenty of free space, so participants can add their own character(s), scenery, dialog, or caption.

Later, I realized that this was a replication of a formative childhood experience. I (vaguely) recalled entering an art contest from the back of a cereal box, which included a bird character isolated in a plain white space. I'm fairly certain I completed the drawing by showing the bird dueling with some other character. One of them was using a hand saw instead of a sword. At the time, I was about 8 or 9 years old.

Although my cartoon art is just a dim memory, I still vividly recall coming home from school one afternoon to find a package waiting for me. Inside the box was a Mattel V-RROOM! Engine toy. This was a plastic contraption made to look like a motorcycle engine. You'd mount it to your bike, turn the key, and it made a loud motorcycle noise. That was all it did. I thought it was the greatest thing in the world.

A bit of Googling turned up a couple of images confirming at least parts of my recollection. The Post Cereal company ran a cartoon contest with several Mattel toys as the prizes, and apparently, I was one of a thousand fourth-prize winners.


Initially, I thought the bird character might have been Toucan Sam (the mascot for Kellogg's Froot Loops) but it turns out to be Billie Bird, from Post's 30-minute ad posing as a cartoon show, "Linus the Lion-Hearted." 
Linus & Billie
Billie was voiced by Carl Reiner, and the series boasted an impressive roster of writers, actors, and musicians. Voices were done by Jonathan Winters, Sheldon Leonard, Tom Poston, Stiller & Meara, Ruth Buzzi, and others. Some of the music was arranged by recording industry stalwart Johnny Mann.

I'd love to find a high resolution scan of the contest, so if you're a cereal box collector and you have one of these boxes, please get in touch.


Thursday, June 08, 2017

Camouflage

I'm pleased to share my latest collaboration with my friend Hilary Price.
Usually, we have several discussions regarding a gag, and it changes on its way to publication. In this case, there was a small revision to the dialog, and Hilary adapted the art for a better fit in the horizontal strip layout.
This change is staging put the fox and wolf on all four legs, adding at least a touch of realism to the scene.

If you enjoyed this cartoon, you're encouraged to review our previous collaborations, all saved on this blog.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A Leg to Stand On

This post is a week late, but here (finally) is the May 3 Rhymes With Orange comic strip, co-created with Hilary Price.
The gag took a while to take form, as is often the case when Hilary and I work together. The strip I submitted featured a selection of shabby/inferior items with appropriate names, listed as items from a fictional low-expectations publication.
The last two items are blurred, just in case I find a use for them in a future gag*. Hilary told me she liked the image of a piano with one leg on a cinderblock, and suggested we pursue that as a standalone gag, perhaps with some sort of "there goes the neighborhood" punchline.

We toyed with the idea of either a snooty-looking couple, or perhaps a pair of Beethoven-like figures saying that the neighborhood used to be so much more sophisticated, or something like, "You said it was safe to park it here."

It didn't come together until Hilary wrote the "diminuendoed" line. That use of a musical term wrapped the gag up very nicely indeed. Using a shovel to hold up the lid was a terrific little extra in the final comic.

All told, we played around with it over the course of almost two months before it was finished. If we lived closer to each other, we could have nailed it over a couple of beers.


*Note: I salvaged the "substandard poodle" drawing for a WaynoVision gag (the link won't work before the publication date of May 31).

Friday, January 27, 2017

Slam Dunk

Here's my latest collaboration with Hilary Price.
Please feel free to browse our previous joint efforts here.