I picked up a sad old book for 50¢ at the Kutztown Library sale. The cover reminded me of Jean Charlot’s art. The pages were yellowed, torn in places, many illustrations were defaced with crude blue pencil marks. Even in this sorry state I found the book quite moving. Citizen 13660 is a graphic documentary by an American woman put in a concentration camp near San Francisco. Citizen 13660 was first published in 1946, before the terms graphic novel or graphic memoir existed.


Miné Okubo was born in Riverside, CA to Japanese parents. A top art student at U.C. Berkeley, she won a prestigious fellowship to study in Europe.  She studied with Leger in Paris, but 1939 was not a good time to live in Europe. When the Nazis took Paris she managed to get home to Berkeley, California with only the clothes on her back.


Okubo got some interesting art jobs for the Roosevelt’s WPA.  She worked with Diego Rivera for a time when he was doing his San Francisco murals. She got her own commission create a mural for a Soldier and Sailor’s Hall in Oakland. Then the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. She had to carry special authorization papers to allow her to travel more than 5 miles from her home in Berkeley to Oakland.


Things quickly got worse for the Japanese-Americans. They were rounded up and put in internment camps. Miné and her family and 8,000 others were taken to Tanforan, a camp made from a run-down horse track in San Bruno, just south of San Francisco.


Her text is remarkable for its simplicity. She notes gambling was forbidden, yet they were living in stalls at a race track. She avoids pointing out the irony, letting the reader connect the dots.


The “Japanese American Segregation Centers” were the result of racism. Over 100,000 Japanese-Americans were imprisoned, the majority were U.S citizens. The U.S. was waging war with Germany and Italy, too. German-Americans and Italian-Americans may have suffered wartime discrimination, but they were white Europeans, and so never herded into interment camps like the Japanese.


Her sketches document the daily indignities of six months at Tanforan. Then she and her brother were relocated inland to Topaz, a Japanese Relocation Center in Utah. Topaz was even less pleasant than Tanforan. After two years of confinement she was eventually released. She remained an artist until her death in 2001 in Greenwich Village, NYC.


Miné Okubo wrote  I am often asked, why am I not bitter and could this happen again? I am a realist with a creative mind, interested in people, so my thoughts are constructive. I am not bitter. I hope that things can be learned from this tragic episode, for I believe it could happen again.‎”

The pages of my first edition of Citizen 13660, (Columbia University Press, 1946) are falling apart as I turn them. I may be the last person to read this particular volume. Fortunately, the book has been reissued in paperback by the University of Washington Press. And nearly 200 of Okubo’s internment camp sketches can be found here on the web site of the Japanese American National Museum. Miné Okubo illustrated a life worth remembering.


Groot and Rocket, out of the box.

Groot and Rocket, out of the box.

Invest now in Guardians of the Galaxy collectible toys! O.K, I was wrong about Beanie Babies & Longaberger baskets. But I should have trusted my gut and bought a second Pee-Wee Herman Doll in 1985.

10525946_807600575950868_4731335839473129566_nKelly Weihs is a 2010 grad from Kutztown University’s Communication Design major with a dual concentrations: graphic design and illustration. She designs the packaging for Diamond Select Toys, including the new Guardian of the Galaxy figures.

Grax, Rocket Racoon and Groot from Diamond Select Toys.

Grax, Rocket Racoon and Groot from Diamond Select Toys. Whole cast above.

Keely gets paid to play with this stuff.

Kelly Weihs gets paid to play with this stuff.

She and one other graphic designer do all the packaging there. I asked her how she came to have such a cool job….

Kelly: “My internship at Crayola is probably what made me seem appealing to my current employer. I have learned a great deal about packaging since my internship! I didn’t expect to end up at a job doing package design. Diamond is a small toy company in Maryland, part of a larger comic book distributing empire. 80% of the time I make packages for collectibles and toys. Since I’ve been here, the licenses have changed some and we’ve gotten some more popular things within the last year. Lately, I have gotten to make Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and My Little Pony packages and related things – and those are quite popular.”

10313481_772474246130168_5039475249172596406_nWhat are you working on?

Kelly: “We have a line of small 2-inch toys called Minimates – characters from films, comic books and even our in-house characters. Last year was their 10 year anniversary. We did Guardians of the Galaxy as Minimates. Since we make products so far in advance sometimes I lose track of time and think the movie has already been released.

What are your favorite projects?

Kelly: “My favorites are probably the ones that are Marvel-film related. Iron Man, Thor and Avengers characters have been fun because I enjoy the movies and they’re neat to see in action figure form.”


How much time do you get to work on a project?

“The time I have to work on projects varies. We have factory deadlines to keep up with and licensor approvals so things must get done in a timely fashion.”

Pulp Fiction is not for Children under 3, -Choking Hazard.

Note re: Pulp Fiction – Not for Children under 3 – Choking Hazard.

“Besides Marvel, I design packages for Disney, Star Trek, Star Wars, Universal Monsters, The Walking Dead comics, Batman, Kevin Smith properties, Mass Effect games, Miramax films like Pulp Fiction and other things I am probably forgetting.”

Sin City packaging by Kelly Weihs.

Sin City packaging by Kelly Weihs.

“We’ve been branching out at work into new products besides action figures and toys – we even make silicone ice cube trays and bottle openers featuring your favorite characters.”

When Kelly is not sitting at a computer she likes to time travel by reenacting history at the actual historic sites. This summer she was at Monocacy Battlefield, Maryland, on the side of the Union Army.

Kelly and her beau Kyle are civil war reenactors, here at the 150th anniversary of Monocacy. Photo my Mel Sessa.

Kelly & her beau Kyle at 150th anniversary of Battle of Monocacy. Photo by Mel Sessa.

More of Kelly’s design and illustration work can be seen on her Behance site here. Diamond Toys has a blog worth visiting if you are a collector.

I went to NYC for the 92nd meeting of the NY Comics & Picture-story Symposium. I’ve missed 90 meetings, but they are a welcoming bunch. The Symposium pops up someplace different each meeting, so you need to find it. The Symposium is free, info here.  This is not Comi-Con. The emphasis is on D.I.Y., independent and innovative comics.


Tom Hart and Leela Corman, husband and wife artists and educators presented. There was a crowd of about 40. Tom and Leela arrived a bit late navigating their way into the SVA conference room with their baby Molly in a stroller. Tom shared a Powerpoint about the Sequential Artists Workshop, SAW, the one-room schoolhouse for comics they founded in Florida in 2011. As Tom’s eyes darted across the audience he gave shout-outs to old NYC friends. He taught cartooning for 10 years at SVA.

Leela Corman teaching Life Drawing at SAW, Gainesville.

Leela Corman teaching Life Drawing at SAW, Gainesville.

VISIT GAINESVILLE: More Lizards than Criminals! Tom spoke of their move to Florida. A New Yorker in the audience must have flinched. “It’s Gainesville!” said Tom. “It’s not what you think of when you think ‘Florida.’ We have WAY more lizards than criminals.” He’s working on a graphic memoir dealing, in part, with their exodus from New York. I read somewhere Tom just got tired of being a starving artist in New York. I recall one telling detail. He wore his useless wristwatch for months because he couldn’t afford a new battery.

First floor at SAW, Gainesville, from SAW's blog.

First floor at SAW, Gainesville, from SAW’s blog.

SAW’s one room schoolhouse is in what looks like a mini-mall. Tom touted his Gainesville neighborhood, pointing out SAW’s proximity to the South’s oldest feminist/LGBTQ bookstore and the South’s oldest Infoshop. He explained the impetus for creating SAW, an affordable stand-alone academy for comics. “I had this vision of an intense, serious place, – The Paper Chase for cartooning.” (The Paper Chase was a ’70’s T.V. show about Harvard Law School with a hero named Hart, oddly enough.) Tom’s recollections of his time studying cartooning at SVA were not pretty. Nobody finished anything. -“It was terrible. They were all listening to The Cure and doing drugs,” he recalled. “and my mother had to take out a loan.”

Tom Hart's Hutch Owen comic strip is at www.hutchowen.com

Tom Hart’s Hutch Owen comic strip is at http://www.hutchowen.com

“It’s not right. There are art schools charging $35,000 a year, and there are schools charging less, like $12,000. Even that’s too much.” he said. “SAW’s flagship program, a 1-year full-time comics boot camp costs $3,500 for the year.” SAW’s program includes master classes in life drawing, comics/art history “that begins way before Hogarth” lo-fi technique classes, and, naturally, critiques. They don’t have a lot of computers or software, but they do have a risograph printer. SAW is not accredited, but teaches the same stuff as  accredited schools and the results are quite impressive. I wrote about SAW before and interviewed student Adrian Pijoan here.

Yahrzeit detail © Leela Corman 2013.

Yahrzeit detail © Leela Corman 2013.  Silver Medal winner, Society of Illustrators

Leela took to the podium. Besides teaching at SAW, she’s a zinester, illustrator, and belly dance instructor. A Powerpoint malfunction prevented her from showing much of her award-winning graphic novel Unterzakhn. Tom still asked her the question that irks her most, “Is Unterzakhn autobiographical?”  She answered with mock annoyance,”It’s about twins! It takes place in a brothel! in 1910! The answer is, No!”

leela-corman-unterzakhn-2012She shared work done for the Symbolia, the app ‘where comics meets journalism.’ I took some solace from her offhand remark, “I have to learn to draw again for every book.” The progressive Jewish mag Tablet published some of her most heartfelt work, – her graphic meditation on her Holocaust survivor grandfather and her own pain of losing a daughter. Their daughter Rosalie died near the age of two in 2011. “Since my first child died, I’ve tried to understand how my grandfather handled losing his entire family, and how he kept going.” As Leela noted, no one can understand this sort of grief, if they have not experienced it. Even then, it is beyond understanding. The full strip is here.

Odyssey, detail, © Justine Mara Anderson, SAW faculty.

Odyssey, detail, © Justine Mara Anderson, SAW faculty.

Secret Project GNAT

Tom returned to the podium to share a rather incredible comic he is editing for DARPA. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency are the folks who invented the Internet and drones. Really! Everyone is getting into comics. The GNAT project (Graphic Novel Art Therapy) is meant to help vets deal with PTSD. A declassified explanation of the overall project can be found here.  Tom shared pages from a graphic retelling of the Odyssey for vets. He pointed out details including extraordinary inking by Justine Anderson, above. That final panel is drawn with a toothpick.

Gasoline Alley panels by Frank King, circa 1921.

Gasoline Alley panels by Frank King, circa 1921.

Tom looped back to his own memoir project. He posts his Rosalie Lightning work-in-progress online. He, too, spoke of his massive grief when baby Rosalie died. He recalled reading classic 1920’s Gasoline Alley strips by Frank King. When got to a panel where Walt panics about losing his baby Skeezix, he couldn’t bear to continue reading.

The Gasoline Alley panel Tom Hart showed, taken from his Tumbler.

The Gasoline Alley panel Tom Hart showed, taken from his Tumbler.

Maybe it was a catch in his voice, or a dip in Tom’s positive psychic energy, but as he talked about “losing our baby” something changed. It seemed even Molly, eleven months old, sensed it. She swung her wee body away from her mother’s breast toward her father. Leela held on as long as she could, but Molly went willfully horizontal, arms outstretched toward Tom.

A page from Hart's Rosalie from http://rosalielightning.tumblr.com/

A page from Hart’s Rosalie Lightning from http://rosalielightning.tumblr.com/

Leela carried Molly across the room carefully shielding the girl’s eyes from the glare of the projector. Tom cradled Molly in his left arm and, as best he could, used his right hand to advance the slides. At one point he tried to pass Molly back to Leela. Molly refused to go that go far.

Tom Hart and Molly at NY Comic Symposium. K.McCloskey

Tom Hart and Molly at NY Comic Symposium. K.McCloskey

Nick Bertozzi seated near the podium managed to bounce Molly on his knee as Tom wrapped up his commentary. Tom apologized if he’d gone on too long. The room filled with applause. Molly’s eyes lit up as if the clapping was for her. I suppose some of it was. Grateful applause for the whole family: Tom and Leela and Rosalie and Molly.

There was time for a few questions, and someone asked how to help SAW. Tom was clearly relieved by the softball question. He’d totally forgotten to mention that key point. SAW depends on donations to keep tuition low. SAW will announce a new Indi-GOGO fundraiser in December. To help out visit the SAW site and sign up for the newsletter. They also have low-residency weeks if you haven’t got a year off.


Note: The 93rd NY Comics & Picture-story Symposium is Mon, Aug. 4, 2014, 7 pm, Dixon Place on Chrystie St. Free and open to the public. Presenters: Sophia Wiedeman & Anna Raff.  Details here.

"Jesus is Condemned to Death." Station of the Cross by Tom Quirk.

“Jesus is Condemned to Death.”  1st Station of the Cross by Tom Quirk.

St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, Kutztown, PA is out by the Rt. 222 bypass. From the highway it looks like a typical mini-mega-church. Inside there is something to behold -the art of Tom Quirk. Stations of the Cross are a fixture of Catholic and some Protestant churches. The stations are 14 sequential images depicting the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

2. Jesus carries his cross. All art by Tom C. Quirk, Jr.

2. Jesus carries his cross. All art by Tom C. Quirk, Jr.

Thomas C. Quirk, Jr. retired from teaching illustration at Kutztown University in 1989. I know the year, because 25 years ago I got his job.

3. Jesus falls the first time, and 4. Jesus meets his mother.

3. Jesus falls the first time                                    4. Jesus meets his mother.

Tom Quirk’s obituary tells the story of a life well-lived. He was born in Pittsburgh. He died in Pittsburgh this month. He was 91 years old.

5. Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the cross.

5. Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the cross.

Tom Quirk went to Catholic high school in Johnstown, PA where he lettered in football and baseball.

6. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.

6. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.

He was a WWII Navy veteran. He illustrated popular coloring books for Dover books.

7. Jesus fall a second time. (detail.)

7. Jesus fall a second time. (detail.)

He also illustrated a number of natural history and gardening books for Rodale Press, including The Field Guide to Wild Herbs.

8. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem.

8. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem.

A former student, now an art teacher herself, Maureen Yoder, remembers Tom Quirk as a great teacher and “master of watercolor washes.”

9. Jesus falls the 3rd time.

9. Jesus falls the 3rd time. (detail)

Illustrator Martin Lemelman shared an office with Tom Quirk. Martin fondly recalls “His ink work was meticulous, masterly… breathtaking.” 

10. Jesus is stripped of his garments.

10. Jesus is stripped of his garments.

He also taught oil painting. Kathi Ember, the children’s book illustrator, had Tom Quirk for Intro to Painting. She remembers a very organized teacher who was incredibly patient with his students’ first attempts at painting. She calls him a “sweetheart of a prof.”

11. Jesus is nailed to the cross. (detail)

11. Jesus is nailed to the cross. (detail)

It wasn’t until he retired from teaching that Tom Quirk devoted himself to sculpture. In the 25 years after his retirement his focus has been on the religious sculpture. Notice how for stations 1-11, above, he carves squares of unpainted wood into relief illustrations and places them on decorated cruciform panels.

12. Jesus dies on the cross.

12. Jesus dies on the cross.

For the 12th Station, the crucifixion, he created a near life-sized figure of Christ. The crucifix measures 6 feet across. It is carved from laminated basswood. It is polychromed in parts. Other parts are animated with illustrated biblical scenes, including the stories of Abraham and Lazarus. He carved this masterpiece in an old red barn on Rt 73. I went out there one day around 1992 to see his progress. I told him I thought it was extraordinary. He shrugged and got back to his carving.

13. Jesus is taken down from the cross.

13. Jesus is taken down from the cross.

Stations 13 and 14 are mounted on gray crosses.

14. Jesus is taken down from the cross. (detail, Q.. in lower right corner)

14. Jesus is laid in the tomb. (detail, Q.. in lower right corner)

In the lower left corner of the 14th and final station, less than 1/4 inch tall, you can find one carved initial “Q..” – followed by two dots. I’m guessing the dots stand for junior, the signature of the artist – Thomas C. Quirk, Jr.

Thomas C Quirk, Jr. (1922-2014)

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Felix Scheinberger's Urban Waterclor Sketching

Felix Scheinberger’s Urban Watercolor Sketching

Urban Watercolor Sketching: A Guide to Drawing, Painting, and Storytelling in Color by German illustrator Felix Scheinberger.  What a wordy title! Maybe it’s all one word in the original German? – Something like, um,  -“AguaZityKunstenKolor.” *

Detail from a two-page spread about blue. All art © Felix Scheinberger

Detail from a two-page spread about blue. All art © Felix Scheinberger

I found this book quite wonderful, though it might not be ideal for an absolute beginner. Scheinberger does provide how-to lessons on stretching paper, selecting colors, and brushes. The best pages, though, are overflowing with his illustrated musings on the expressive potential of the medium. Watercolor is unfortunately often associated with hobbyists. This book will be a kick in seat of the pants for artists wanting to attempt something bolder, more inventive.

Ivy © Felix Scheinberger

Ivy © Felix Scheinberger

According to the vita on his website Felix was a drummer for various punk bands before studying illustration in Hamburg. That makes total sense, his best drawings have a punkish intensity.

A bold portrait in wash that lets the paper provide the white.

A bold wash portrait lets the paper provide the white. © Felix Scheinberger

He has a section called ‘Pimping Watercolors’ in which he writes, “When you re-wet watercolors, they lose their luminosity. Watercolors are at their most vibrant when they are left to dry without lots of manipulation.” Personally, that’s something I love about working with watercolors, they force you to take a break, now and then, to let the page dry.

Fanciful pageful of bugs displays the brilliance of clean color © F.S.

Fanciful pageful of bugs displays the brilliance of clean color © F.S.


Scheinberger is clearly a globetrotter. He shares one surprising workaround for sketching alpine landscapes in sub-freezing weather. He substitutes vodka or clear schnapps for water when sketching such icy landscapes. He specifically advises against using Jaegermeister and reminds us to wash the brushes thoroughly.

Beer bottles show how a dash of color adds life to a sketch. © F.S.

Beer bottles show how a dash of color adds life to a sketch. © F.S.

Felix Scheinberger has illustrated over 50 children’s books in Europe. Must admit I haven’t seen them, but the work he shares in this volume demonstrates a ferocious talent.

Illustration © Felix Scheinberger

Illustration © Felix Scheinberger

Urban Watercolor Sketching: A Guide to Drawing, Painting, and Storytelling in Color is published 2104 by Watson Guptill, $22.99. Available online and wherever books are sold.

Sketch of House in Transylvania. © F.S.

Sketch of House in Transylvania. © F.S.

* Note: The true title in German is “Wasserfarbe für Gestalter,” or according to Google translate, Watercolor for Designers.

Dino Day Out, cover detail © 2014 Gabby Shelley

Dino Day Out, cover detail © 2014 Gabby Shelley

Gabrielle ‘Gabby’ Shelly, class of 2014, shared a coloring book available at Amazon. I asked Gabby to tell us a bit more about the project.

Gabby Shelly, KU Communication Design grad, 2014.

Gabby Shelly, KU Communication Design grad, 2014.

Gabby: “Dino Day Out was created primarily for my Senior Illustration Seminar at Kutztown University with Prof. Denise Bosler. I created it for the class, but also kept in mind that I wanted to make something marketable,– something that was believable enough to hold up in the real world of publishing.”

From Dino Day Out ©2104 Gabby Shelley

From Dino Day Out ©2104 Gabby Shelley

Question: You graduated from KU with a degree in Communication Design, -What were your concentrations?

“Graphics and Illustration, which I tried to combine in this project.”

Q: Where did you intern?

” Lunchbox Communications in Manayunk, PA. I helped to design printed pieces to aid in pitching possible new television shows and documentaries. Their on-staff designers, Leah Houck and Nick Madeja, also went to Kutztown and are awesome people!”

Dino Day Out art © 2014 Gabby Sheeley

Dino Day Out art © 2014 Gabby Shelley

Q: Why dinosaurs?

“Well, I love drawing animals! Drawing people has never really been my thing; it is a lot more fun to draw adorable creatures. And as a little girl I was always more interested in dressing up as a dinosaur for Halloween than a princess. There is also an educational element to the book; there are recognizable dinosaurs along with the lesser-known ones.”

From Dino Day Out © Gabby Shelley

From Dino Day Out © Gabby Shelley

Q: What was the hardest part about the Dino Day Out project?

“There were a few things… I am still struggling a bit to find my style as an illustrator, so drawing different creatures in a cohesive style was difficult for me. Also, there are (obviously) no photographs of dinosaurs, so it can be challenging using other artist’s representations. You have to put a certain faith in them that their drawings are accurate; You also have to be able to compile those references into a generic idea of this creature that lived so long ago, then be able to “cartoon-ize” it. And besides all that, I had to match the right dinosaur with the right activity – their anatomy can make certain positions completely implausible. Try making a t-rex do anything with his tiny arms!”

Playing Cards, designed and illustrated by Gabby Shelley. ©2014

Playing Cards, designed and illustrated by Gabby Shelley. ©2014

Q: What media and software did you use?

“The drawings were done at first with good old pencil and pen. I then scanned and vectored the drawings using Adobe Illustrator. That part went pretty quickly. The book itself is assembled in InDesign.”

Q: Why did you choose the POD (print on demand) publisher Createspace rather than other platforms, like LULU, for example?

“To be quite honest, I had never heard of LULU until now. I only knew about Amazon’s print-on-demand, -Createspace.”

Jack of Spades from Gabby Shelley's Unfriendly Forest deck. ©2014

Jack of Spades from Gabby Shelley’s ‘Unfriendly Forest’ deck. ©2014

Q: What do you have in mind for your next project?

“Ha, my major project now is finding a full-time career in design, or at least some rewarding freelance work in design or illustration. On a personal level, I want to try to improve my hand-lettering skills. I’d like to take a printmaking class, since it never fit into my schedule at KU.”

Monsters of the Deep posters © Gabby Shelley

Monsters of the Deep posters © Gabby Shelley

Gabby’s “Monsters of the Deep” bus shelter ads (above) are based on her original linoleum prints. Visit Gabby Shelley’s website at Behance to see her virtual portfolio book and a wide variety of illustration and design projects. Let her know of any job leads!

Murray Tinkelman awarded the Rockwell Artist Laureate Award.

Murray Tinkelman awarded the Rockwell Artist Laureate Award.

I know of 3 Norman Rockwell Museums*, but only one Murray Tinkelman. The best of the Norman Rockwell Museums, the one in Stockbridge, Mass, bestowed the honor of “Artist Laureate” on Murray Tinkelman this weekend. He is only the third person to receive the honor, after artists Barbara Nessim and David Macaulay.

Self-portrait © Murray Tinkelman

Self-portrait © Murray Tinkelman

Tinkelman’s distinctive pen and ink drawings have gained gold medals from the Society of Illustrators, The NY Art Directors Club, and the Society of Publication Designers. Tinkelman began his illustration career in 1951 inking backgrounds for Sheena of the Jungle Comics. “Just vines and leaves, they never let me draw Sheena,” he said. Now in his 80’s, the man is still as sharp as a push-pin.

Tinkleman did many Sci-Fi and Fantasy covers in the 60's and 70's.

Tinkleman did many classic  Sci-Fi and Fantasy covers in the 60’s and 70’s.

Murray Tinkelman has taught hundreds of illustration students at Parsons School of Design, Syracuse University, and now at the Hartford Low Residency MFA program.  Bob Dahm, a 2007 grad of the Hartford program, rightly calls Murray “a walking encyclopedia of illustration.”

Knight on Rhinoceros, pen and ink, 1971, © Murray Tinkelman.

Knight on Rhinoceros, pen and ink, 1971, © Murray Tinkelman.

I learned that Murray is color blind. He jokes that he prefers the term “chromatically challenged.” Perhaps this explains why his most iconic work is black and white, done with a technical pen and india ink. His Knight on the Rhinoceros was on exhibit at the Rockwell Museum. The drawing is surprisingly large, about 20 inches square. It won the Society of Illustrators Gold Medal in 1971 and led to editorial work for the op-ed pages of New York Times, the Washington Post, and Atlantic Monthly.

58 Caddy, pen and ink © Murray Tinkelman

58 Caddy, pen and ink © Murray Tinkelman

His wife and partner, Carol Tinkelman was by his side during the event, as were their daughters and grandkids. Murray Tinkelman has a lot of accolades on his resume, but it was clear that he was touched by his new title bestowed by The Rockwell Museum: Artist Laureate.

The award is based on a sculpture by Peter Rockwell, Norman Rockwell's son.

The award is based on a sculpture by Peter Rockwell, Norman Rockwell’s son.

Illustration superstars attended the gala award ceremony, including Istvan Banyai, Kinuko Craft, and William Low.  Mark McMahon, who taught with Murray in the 90’s drove out with his wife Carolyn from Chicago. But, Bob Dahm certainly came the greatest distance – from Dubai!

NY Times Op-Ed Illustration © Murray tinkelman

NY Times Op-Ed Illustration © Murray Tinkelman

Many former students, now teachers, were there. Jack Tom and Cora Lynn Deibler came from Connecticut. Deibler is a Kutztown U grad who earned her MFA with him at Syracuse. She recalled Tinkelman forcefully insisting (“He nearly grabbed my lapels!”)  that she never neglect her own creative work for the sake of teaching. That jibes with my first Tinkelman sighting. In 1972 I took continuing ed illustration classes at Parsons in NYC. I never studied with him, but I saw him working in his faculty office on a massive line drawing during his breaks between classes.

Ted Michalowski, Bob Dahm, Murray and Carol Tinkelman.

Ted Michalowski, Bob Dahm, Murray and Carol Tinkelman. (photo courtesy of Bob Dahm)

I am grateful for the pleasure of carpooling to the event with the irrepressible Scranton-based illustrator, Ted Michalowski. During the drive to and from Massachusetts, Ted regaled me with legends of Tinkelman.

Norman Rockwell's art studio, Stockbridge Mass. Photo: K.McCloskey

Norman Rockwell’s art studio, Stockbridge Mass. Photo: K.McCloskey

* NOTE: Years ago I visited the Norman Rockwell Museum of Philadelphia. It is now long gone. I’ve also visited the Norman Rockwell Museum of Vermont in Rutland. It is a sweet little place with some memorabilia and quality reproductions of Rockwell’s work. The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass, however, is the real deal. This was my first visit. The museum is substantial and houses an impressive collection of original Norman Rockwells. The view from the grounds of the museum is postcard perfect.


Caitlyn McGurck in the secure holdings are of the Billy Ireland Library

Caitlin McGurk with in the secure holdings are of the Billy Ireland Library

Caitlin McGurk has had the 2 coolest librarian gigs in the world. Now she is at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum at the Ohio State University. The Billy Ireland is the world’s largest academic research facility documenting printed cartoon art. Before landing this job she was the founding librarian at the Schultz Library at Center For Cartoon Studies in Vermont. She took me deep into the climate-controlled safe room where rare comics are kept. She told me the holding rooms have weapon grade security. (If a door is propped open for 60 seconds cops arrive.) She shared a clipping from an old Mutt and Jeff strip. The collection has 2.5 million such clippings, over 300,000 original cartoons, and so many rare manga volumes that scholars come from Japan come to study their own comic traditions in Columbus, Ohio.

From Bud Fisher's Mutt & Jeff, circa 1938.

Panels from Bud Fisher’s Mutt & Jeff, circa 1938.

Caitlin told me the library is named for Billy Ireland (1880-1935) a beloved editorial cartoonist for the Columbus Dispatch. I know little about Ireland’s art. I picked up his biography by Lucy Shelton Caswell and will write more about him in a future post.

Card belonging to Chester Gould, creator of Dick Tracy.

Card belonging to Chester Gould, creator of Dick Tracy.

Dick Tracy © Chester Gould (From Wikipedia)

The Mystery of Chester Gould’s Blackened Drawing Table

Caitlin also shared the strange tale of the table Chester Gould used to draw Dick Tracy. When the table was donated to the collection it was displayed horizontally, its blackened edge on the bottom.

Chester Gould's drawing Table at the Billy Ireland Collection.

Chester Gould’s drawing Table at the Billy Ireland Collection.

The curators logically assumed those carbon black stains were spilt india ink. When Gould’s daughter, Jean O’Connell, now 87 years old, visited Columbus and saw the desk displayed she said, “NO.NO. You’ve got it all wrong!” The blackened edge belongs on the right side, she insisted, as her father positioned the table vertically. He kept a box of kitchen matches on his taboret at his right-hand side. Seems he was always drawing against tight deadlines. When Gould finished drawing a comic strip he’d strike a kitchen match and run it lit beneath the bristol board to dry the ink faster. Caitlin says they checked the underside of Gould’s original art and found carbon marks consistent with match smoke. Jean O’Connell’s memory was correct and her dad’s drawing table is now displayed vertically.

Yukon-Ho cover, ©1989 Bill Waterson, watercolor with ink overlay,

Yukon-Ho cover, ©1989 Bill Waterson, watercolor with ink overlay,

In keeping with Ohio State’s tradition as a land-grant university, anyone can visit the library and see nearly any part of the collection, academic credentials are not required. So if you are a scholar, or just a dedicated fan of a particular comic strip, The Billy Ireland is the place to visit.

Willie Nelson © Richard Thompson on view until 8/3/14 at Billy Ireland Museum

Willie Nelson © Richard Thompson on view to 8/3/14 at Billy Ireland Museum.

Right now the Billy Ireland Museum galleries have 2 exhibitions: Exploring Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Waterson and The Irresistible Force Meets the Immovable Object: A Richard Thompson Retrospective. Both shows will be up until August 3, 2014.

10363481_708167229241311_5049042458637648788_nHours and details of future exhibitions can be found here. Even if you can’t get to Columbus, the Billy Ireland blog is a great resource worth exploring. The galleries at Billy Ireland are free and open to the public. There is admission charge for the Wexner Center for the Arts, which is next door and well worth a visit.


Tom Corbett Space Cadet rocket on display.

Tom Corbett Space Cadet. Wow! That’s my Governor’s name!

We will leave with one final image from the amazing Billy Ireland collection. The original artwork for The Legend of Wonder Woman #1 by Trina Robbins …

Wonder Woman © Trina Robbins, Billy Ireland collection, Ohio State University.

Wonder Woman © Trina Robbins, Billy Ireland Collection, Ohio State University.

Trina Robbins at PIX, photo 2014 Kevin McCloskey

Trina Robbins at PIX, 2014, photo by Kevin McCloskey

In the 1980’s I drew the occasional cartoon for the San Francisco Bay Guardian, an alternative weekly newspaper. Trina Robbins, the great underground cartoonist, drew a strip for them, too. We never met until last month at Pittsburgh’s PIX comics convention. Trina is the foremost expert on the history of women in comics. Her newest book, Pretty in Ink: North American Women Comics 1896-2013, published by Fantagraphic, is the definitive work on the subject.  She showed me the hefty book. It is an impressive and important volume. I ordered a copy for Kutztown’s Rohrbach Library. Any school with an illustration major or a women’s studies major should order a copy for their library, too.

Illustrator Rose O'Neill became a millionaire  with her invention of Kewpies.

Illustrator Rose O’Neill became a millionaire with her invention of Kewpies.

Rose O’Neill

A free sample chapter from Pretty in Ink can be found here.  It is a quite fascinating chapter about the Irish-American Rose O’Neill. O’Neill began her career in her teens, so young that nuns would chaperone her visits to Manhattan art directors. O’Neill’s 1896 comic strip may have been the first ever published by a woman. Her most famous creations were the Kewpies and the Kewpie doll, cupid-like sprites she claimed visited her in her dreams. She was the first woman to draw for Puck and in 1917 the first woman inducted in the all-male Society of Illustrators.

Rose O'Neill

Rose O’Neill

She studied abroad, including sculpture lessons with Rodin. She held great parties at her Washington Square townhouse studio in Greenwich Village. The press described her as one of the 5 most beautiful women in the world. She managed to be a suffragette, a sex symbol, and a doll-maker.

Detail of a father at wit's end by Rose O'Neil. Puck Magazine, circa 1900, from Bonniebrook Historical Archives.

Father at Wit’s End, detail, Rose O’Neil. Puck, circa 1900, Bonniebrook Historical Archives.

O’Neill’s pen and ink drawings for Puck are brilliant. The Rose O’Neill Museum, Bonniebrook, in the Ozarks in Missouri has an archive of hundreds of images, like the one above, worth exploring.

Mary Blair

Poster for Mary Blair exhibit at Disney Family Museum San Francisco

Poster for Mary Blair exhibit at Disney Family Museum San Francisco

When I told Trina Robbins I taught the history of graphic design, she challenged me to tell her which female illustrators I included in my lectures. At the moment the only woman I could think of of was Violet Oakley, who painted the magnificent murals in the Pennsylvania Capitol Building in Harrisburg. Then Trina asked me if I taught about Mary Blair. Mary Blair? I had to admit I’d never heard of her. Trina shook her finger at me and told me I owed it to my students to look her up. She told me Blair is the subject of a show at San Francisco’s Disney Museum. (Full disclosure, I didn’t even know there was a Disney Museum in S.F.)


I did look up Mary Blair and learned she created much of the concept art for Disney’s greatest animated features including Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan. Blair’s Little Golden Books are enjoying a renaissance as new readers appreciate her timeless style. Blair, who died in 1978, was inducted this year, 2014, into the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame.

Mary Blair concept art for Alice in Wonderland.

Mary Blair concept art for Alice in Wonderland.

I asked Trina Robbins if it was hard finding historical information about women in comics. She said the research was tough in the beginning, but once she published her first essays, people came out of the woodwork to share comics by women. She had more to say in this 2008 interview at the International Museum of Women site.  “I knew that there had been more women cartoonists, and the guys would always justify their attitudes by saying, ‘Well, women just don’t draw comics. Women have never drawn comics.’ And I knew that wasn’t true. So I did a lot of research and, of course, I was right. I found hundreds of women cartoonists. Really, really great women cartoonists.”

I’m happy I got to meet the legendary Trina Robbins. It is quite wonderful the definitive history of women in comics is written by a woman practitioner. I will read Pretty in Ink cover to cover and add more slides of women’s work in my historical survey of graphic design class. I promise.

Rosie the Riveter © Trina Robbins

Rosie the Riveter © Trina Robbins

Visit trinarobbins.com to learn more about women in comics. Trina has a free gift for visitors, an ebook, The Golden Age Comics of Lily Renée. The entire 200-page book is available in multiple formats, Kindle, Ipad, or pdf.  Who is Lily Renée? –Another of those amazing women artists Trina Robbins wants the world to appreciate.

Comic Art by Lily Renée, learn more at TrinaRobbins.com

Comic Art by Lily Renée, learn more at TrinaRobbins.com




Kutztown University is offering an affordable opportunity to study  in Oaxaca, Mexico with Prof. Kevin McCloskey. Oaxaca may the best place for a visitor to experience art in all Mexico. This beautiful colonial city is famed for its markets, street art, and printmaking studios.

Oaxaca Street scene, art by Arte Jaguar. photo ©K.McCloskey

Oaxaca scene, street art by Arte Jaguar. photo ©K.McCloskey

Students will experience many things they can’t do in Kutztown. For example: We’ll climb and sketch ancient pyramids. Visit a papermill that makes fine art paper from indigenous plants. Work with local artists. Drink spiced hot chocolate in the lobby of the chocolate hotel.

Corey Reifinger sketching a pyramid in Queretaro,  Mexico

Corey Reifinger sketching a pyramid in Queretaro, Mexico, 2008.

Located high in the mountains of Southern Mexico, January weather in Oaxaca is typically sunny with highs around 80°F

CDE 375: Drawing on Location in Oaxaca is a 3-credit Communication Design Elective. A hand’s-on course, students will complete a sketchbook documenting their personal response to the travel experience. Includes a 3-day relief printmaking workshop in a fully-equipped artist’s studio. Field trips to museums, markets and historical sites will provide immersion in the unique cultural traditions of Oaxaca.

Oaxaca Street art by Swoon. photo © K.McCloskey 2012

Oaxaca Street art by Swoon. photo © K.McCloskey 2012

The cost?  For in-state (PA) undergrad tuition, airfare, shared accommodations, printmaking workshop, museum entries, and daily breakfasts should total approximately $2,400. Out-of-state students’ will be need to pay more. (Fees must be approved by KU council of Trustees.)

Young girl in one of Oaxaca's many parades. photo ©K.McCloskey 2012

Young girl in one of Oaxaca’s many parades. photo ©K.McCloskey 2012

Prof. Kevin McCloskey has been visiting Oaxaca for over 30 years. In 2007 he was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship to study the visual arts of Oaxaca. He received a second NEH fellowship in 2011 to explore the visual culture of the Maya regions of the Yucatan and Belize.

Kevin McCloskey with one of his woodblock prints at Espacio Zapata, Oaxaca.

Kevin McCloskey with one of his woodblock prints at Espacio Zapata, Oaxaca.

He has written extensively about Mexican political prints. He has curated eight exhibitions of Mexican prints across the U.S, notably at the Fowler Museum, UCLA. In 2012, he was invited to Princeton University to lecture on Mexican prints at the Woodrow Wilson School of International Studies. Here are two of his recent  articles on the Oaxaca art scene, one at Project Bly, one at Printeresting.

Interested students can email for more info: mccloskey@kutztown.edu



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