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The Magic Word

It’s always a pleasure to read R.C. Harvey, and today on the site he’s here with a column on Playboy cartoonist Eldon Dedini. Here’s a brief excerpt:

Gus Arriola, another supreme stylist whose Gordo comic strip was a stunning fiesta of design and color, counted Dedini his closest friend in a friendship of over fifty years that was grounded firmly in their mutual passion and respect for the visual art they practiced and in a unique camaraderie they shared, living in Carmel, California.

“Even his signature was a design,” Arriola once said. “—bold, succinct, an autograph as distinctive as the rich humor it identified. Simply, Dedini —much as one would say Bernini, Modigliani, Dali—Dedini—all those ending in -I appellations signifying high art. Few humorists can draw passably, if at all. Eldon was both an accomplished illustrator and a proven humorist. His pictorial and literary recording of international events and domestic culture through his award-winning years was always timely, always cogent and always remarkably funny.”

Quoted in the Monterey Herald’s front-page obituary for Dedini in January 2006, Lee Lorenz, cartoon editor at The New Yorker for many of the years Dedini’s cartoons were published therein, said: “While a million people can draw, very few can cartoon well. To be a cartoonist you have to be a stylist, and that’s not easy to come by. It transcends technique. And he was an excellent idea man. He had a wide-ranging imagination. He was tough to edit because he didn’t need much editing. I never asked him to redraw, which at The New Yorker is quite unusual. If 20th century cartooning is ever looked at seriously,” he concluded, “Eldon Dedini will be one of the outstanding figures of American comic art.”

We also are posting another of the late great Bhob Stewart’s pieces for The Comics Journal, his 1985 appreciation of Howard Nostrand. A sample:

As a humorist working in an Eisneresque mode, Nostrand was obviously given a high-voltage jolt by the early issues of Mad. One can almost see the gears and cogs clicking into place in his 23-year-old head. It was, we might say, good timing. The right talent in the right place at the right time: when Nostrand skipped out of the Powell studio in March 1952, he began his solo career in the very same season Kurtzman was hatching Mad #1 (Oct. 1952–Nov. 1952). Kurtzman’s original idea for Mad was to parody types of comic book stories (horror, SF, romance, sports, crime, etc.); his revamp of that concept into direct satires on specific radio/TV/comics/movies came later, with issues #3 through #8 making this transition throughout 1953. The revolutionary Mad feature of contemporary movie satires with recogniz­able caricatured likenesses, timed to coin­cide with the film’s general release nation­wide, did not happen until Mad #9 (Feb. 1954–March 1954) with “Hah! Noon!” — followed by others in 1954 (“From Eter­nity Back to Here,” “Wild Vi,” “Julius Caesar,” “Stalag 18”). After 30 years of Mad, it becomes almost impossible to explain why it was so exciting and so much fun in 1954. There just had never been anything like it. Opening an issue in a newsstand was like … was like …

Okay. Forget the analogies. Lemme put it this way: You’re in a small American town. Some people there have TV sets. You don’t. So you can’t even see Sid Caesar. Your high school reading assign­ment is deadly — Alexander Pope (1688–1744), right? The teacher calls him a satirist, but no one laughs. School’s out. You buy Mad #12 and read — in color — “From Eternity Back to Here.” You think about the Life photo of James Jones leaning on his manuscript, pages stacked almost to his own height. A month later From Here to Eternity — in black and white — arrives at the town’s only movie theater. After seeing it you reread the Mad parody to relish the specificities. So then you spend part of the summer reading the entire James Jones novel and wind up knowing Prewitt as if he were a personal friend. Then you reread the Mad parody again. See? There was more to Mad than Mad itself. Cultural reverb, that’s what it was. Can you dig it? Well, forget it, man, it can’t be explained. You had to be there.

Elsewhere:

—Interviews. Fader talks to Charles Forsman. Dan Berry interviewed Julia Wertz and Sarah Glidden. Steve Sunu talks to Evan Dorkin. Chris Sims talks to Tom Scioli and John Barber.

—Reviews & Commentary. James Guida at The New Yorker appreciates Tove Jansson. Ana Benaroya reviews Diane Obomsawin’s Loving Women. Mike Mignola appreciates Will Eisner. Tom Spurgeon reviews Forever Evil #6. Richard Metzger remembers Sean Kelly and Neal Adams’s Son-O’God Comics from National Lampoon.

—Misc. Fantagraphics has announced their fall 2014 books. Whit Taylor gives advice on cartooning while holding a day job.

—Digital. ComiXology announced yesterday that its security was breached, and that they recommend all account holders change their passwords.


5 Responses to The Magic Word

  1. Scott Grammel says:

    So how do I get the site to work for me again? I click on a new comment on the main page, it doesn’t take me directly to the comment but to the top of the particular page, and then the comment is nowhere to be found below.

    So, yeah, huh?

  2. Tim Hodler says:

    I dunno. When I do the same thing it works fine. Maybe try turning your computer off and then turning it on again? Or clearing your browser cache? That seems to take care of about 80% of these kinds of issues. If that doesn’t work, send me an e-mail.

  3. patrick ford says:

    Clear your browsing data.

  4. Scott Grammel says:

    LordJulius mentions having some problems posting. Check his comments after the newest Steibel column.

  5. Jack says:

    I’ve also had Scott’s problem. But once I get to the page and hit “refresh,” the new comment–be it a delightfully condescending remark from Robert Stanley Martin, Jeet, or the new guy who loves Mort Drucker–usually appears.

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