Well, back to the real world, but, before saying goodbye Columbus (bet they never heard that one before), some deserving leftovers that didn't fit in the previous entries but were certainly worthy of mention and may push someone just past the balance point into deciding to come out here.
And while I wonder -- in the interests of fairness -- how much I should simply throw up here rather than forcing you to visit the place, bear in mind two factors:
1. Even with these late additions, you ain't seen nothin' yet, folks. There's a lot more. And Brian Walker put it in a more coherent order than I am doing it here.
2. Being in the presence of originals is an event on its own merits. Also, these are pretty low-level point-and-click shots. If you come in person, not only will things be in sharper focus, properly squared and in better contrast, but you won't see my reflection in everything. Unless you're wrestling with demons I can't imagine.
I'm going to try to make these as legible as I can -- do click for larger images. (And, if the spawned box seems incomplete, right-click and hit "view image.") This cartoon isn't self-explanatory but together with the explanation, it doesn't leave me much to fill in. Brian Walker took the title "Shadow and Substance" from it as the title for the current exhibition.
Cartooning isn't all about static images and there is some animation in the exhibit. In his tour, Brian said that these pieces from Disney's "Alice in Wonderland" were unattributed but that he was able to verify that the artist was Bill Peet. It did take some digging, but it matters and is part of the challenge.
Two nights later, I was having dinner with Eddie Campbell and Audrey Niffenegger and he spoke with some fury about a book on the history of comics in which an unsigned Batman page was reproduced and labeled "anonymous." Eddie rattled off the name of the artist and inker and said it was obvious to anyone who looked at the page.
It wasn't that he felt the academic was an ignoramus for not being able to spot the credits so readily, but rather that he was incredibly lazy and irresponsible not to bother. A quick phone call could have connected him to any number of people who knew the work well enough to spot the creators, and why on earth would anyone publish an academic book without taking the time to do the basic research?
There was no argument from my side of the table: It's one thing to dismiss comics as insignificant, but if you are going to write about them, do your job like any other credible reporter.
Which segues neatly into this Skippy original, part of the exhibit that focuses on kids in the comics and includes not only Skippy but also Nancy, Buster Brown and some others.
The tie-in to credit is not about the authorship: This was Percy Crosby, back in the era when cartoonists were rock stars and everyone knew who they were and what they were up to. Skippy was a monstrously popular comic strip and one of the tie-ins was that someone licensed the name for a brand of peanut butter.
Or they didn't. But they used it, and his daughter continues to pursue damages for what she claims is trademark piracy. Read all about it here.
And speaking of a time when comic strip artists were rock stars, the museum not only houses a Reuben award statuette or two or more, but sculpture by the same fellow who designed the Reuben and for whom it is named.
"Rube Goldberg" is largely remembered today for the elaborate "inventions" he would come up with, in which a very simple task was to be performed by a ridiculous sequence of events.
It's not the only thing fans knew him for at the time, but the fact that we dismiss impractical, overly complex things as a "Rube Goldberg device" is some evidence that his cartoon inventions were as much a part of American culture as Jack Benny's miserliness or Bob Hope's inept but persistent pursuit of women.
Here's a study in 3-D that Goldberg did of a variety of characters. He could do more than draw.
A couple of personal favorites:
My father had a book that included this 1941 Peter Arno panel, in which the caption is "Well, I guess that breaks up our little game." Standing in the presence of the original was pretty cool.
I don't recall this specific "Miss Peach" strip, but it is, I think, possibly the first strip in the comics pages that I sought out. "Peanuts" also featured little kids, but they talked about stuff that was way over my head. Miss Peach not only featured kids, but dealt with things they could pretty much understand and that rose above pies cooling on window sills and people falling down staircases.
There is, of course, a "Rocky and Bullwinkle" element to this, in that it appeals to and is accessible to kids but has a number of winks for the adults as well. I love when cartoons are able to offer both in a way such that neither interferes with the other.
And, in the pantheon of significant strips, here is the moment that BD comes home from the hospital, having lost his leg (and iconic helmet) to an IED in the Gulf.
Aside from the moment that strip evokes, this particular piece also demonstrates technique and process, as the top sketch was put together to show Trudeau's assistant the changes he wanted to make. Note in the final version that there is a patch, a small piece of paper, with the word "Almost," pasted over whatever the previous word had been.
And just a little leftover from Matt Bors' presentation: A cartoon he did in college. He was pretty acerbic in those days, as well.
So I guess that's it for the 2013 Billy Ireland Festival of Cartoon Art. If you're wishing you'd been there, keep it in mind for 2016 when the next one will roll around. I've heard from all sorts of people in the business that San Diego Comic Con has long since lept the shark, but that this one is still worth going to.
Tomorrow, I'll go back to ranting over comic strips. See you then.