RIP former Lakeland Ledger illustrator Joseph Escourido

Former Lakeland (Fla.) Ledger artist Joseph Escourido passed away Satuday, the paper reports. He was 89.


Joseph studied art at the Pratt Institute in New York City and worked as a commercial artist and a book illustrator and drew two syndicated comic strips. One was a Bicentennial-themed strip called Colonial Capers. Find a quick sample here.

He moved to the Ledger in 1977, specializing in cartoon illustration and design of food fronts. He won 22 awards for his work, the paper reports, before retiring in 1991.

The Ledger‘s Bill Rufty writes:

After retiring, he received an award but wouldn’t pose for a picture for a Ledger photograph until the pho­tographer first took a picture of him in Groucho Marx glasses.

Find the story here.

This just in: Zombies and monsters walk the streets of San Antonio

Here’s a fun, spooky Halloween-themed idea for a local talker.

Why not turn celebrities in your town, big and small, into zombies or classic horror monsters?

That’s what my old friend Mike Fisher of the San Antonio Express News did this week.


He picked on Hollywood actors from the area, like Tommy Lee Jones


…sports greats Tim Duncan


…and Johnny “Football” Manziel


…and politicians like Texas Congressman Joaquin Castro.


Hmm. A Democratic Congressman? From a red state like Texas? That’s scary enough, even without the embellishment.

Mike tells us:

Don’t get me wrong, I just love making 1-col. bar charts. Heh. But if I can find time to create a project on my own here, they are pretty good about getting in the paper or online.

I wanted specifically to do something for Halloween that would reside online. So I came up with the concept and the celebrity names with some help from my buddy, Mike Knoop. Then I drew the characters in pen-and-ink and colored them in Photoshop. I started in July and just worked in it when I had some time.

Maybe I shouldn’t have, but I drew a credit page with myself and Knoop as zombie freaks.


I thought the readers might think it was funny and, who knows, maybe they’ll look forward to another silly project like this from us.

Oh, absolutely. Readers love stuff like that.

That last frame also serves as a great DIY tip. I’m always losing my scissors. Do that with them, though and you’ll never lose your scissors again.

Find the entire slideshow here.

Average daily circulation for the Express-News is 139,099.

I’ve known Mike a long, long time. When I got my first fulltime newspaper job in Athens, Ga., he was an artist at our sister paper in Augusta. Later, I moved to the Rock Hill, S.C., Herald and he moved to Charlotte (N.C.) Observer. Where he eventually worked his way up to graphics editor.


He spent several years with Knight-Ridder’s TV animation studio, News in Motion, in Washington, D.C. He’s been with the Express-News for several years, now.

Mike Fisher is a huge name in science fiction and horror circles. He’s cartooned for Starlog magazine since the 1980s. He publishes the occasional fanzine comic, featuring his ultimate geekazoid character, 3D Pete. Find Mike’s web site here.

Mike also posts humorous sci-fi and entertainment videos Find his YouTube channel here.

Find a nice Q&A with him here.

For your consideration…

There’s a lot of silliness happening out there in the world.

Meaning San Francisco Chronicle cartoonist Don Asmussen has had plenty to work with recently for his faux-headlines web strip, Bad Reporter.

In just the past few weeks, Don has found inspiration in the car fire that nearly claimed actor Dick Van Dyke


…the latest Richard Nixon tapes…


…harrassment charges against the mayor of San Diego…


…the New York Times‘ troubles with hacker attacks…


…and he’s had a lot of fun with Miley Cyrus.



If you’re not reading Bad Reporter, then you’re really missing out. Find it here.

Comic strip artist profiled on page one

Today’s Tribune of Kokomo, Ind., profiled a local cartoonist on page one today.

Sterling Clark is the creator of a new adventure hero strip — you just don’t see many of those any more.

Also, he happens to be a man of color, in a field that just doesn’t have enough minority professionals.

And what’s more: The star of his strip is a woman of color: An Africa-based woman in a very action-oriented, heroic role. Think of the Phantom, but minus the purple jammies.

In today’s profile, staffer Carson Gerber writes how Clark got his start with small-press graphic novels and “pinups and spreads” for the Spawn comic franchise.

Gerber writes:

It wasn’t until 2004, however, that Clark said he came across the legendary character of Ntombinde (pronounced “in-tum-BEN-dee”) while doing research into African mythology for a graphic novel he was working on called “Tales from the Motherland.”

The legend told the story of Congolese princess looking for her soul-mate, who was turned into a snake by a witch. Only through love could she turn him back to a human.

Clark began tweaking and revamping the mythological character into a kind of warrior princess. He wanted her to be realistic, so he gave her a shaved head.

“Someone with long hair running through the jungle would just get it caught on tree limbs,” he said.

Clark’s research evolved into his strip — Ntombinde: The Girl Who Loves Danger — which is aimed at weekly publications. The strip started running in the Kokomo Tribune today.

Click on these samples for a larger look.

Find the Ntombinde web site here. Read her origin story here.

Find more black-and-white strip samples here.

Find the Kokomo Tribune story about creator Sterling Clark here.

Average daily circulation of the Kokomo Tribune is 19,921.

The front page is from the Newseum. Of course.

Edgy cartoonist protests cancellation by Boston alt-weekly

The sequence of events…

1. Karl Stevens — writer and artist of a graphic novel-like comic strip called Failure that’s run, in various forms, in the alt-weekly Boston Phoenix since 2005 — makes fun of a product sold by one of the paper’s biggest advertisers, Bud Light beer.

2. The paper cancels the strip. As Mark Shanahan and Meredith Goldstein report today in the Boston Globe‘s Names Blog:

Art director Kristen Goodfriend, told him Tuesday that the comic was being killed, and specifically mentioned the strip slamming Bud Light. “She said they had a problem with that,” he said, referring to the paper’s editors.

3. The paper’s editor-in-chief, Carly Carioli, denies that was the reason he killed the strip. In fact, the editor tells the Comics Reporter that the Phoenix recently converted from a tabloid to a magazine format and that he and Stevens had held a number of conversations lately on the future of the strip.

It is inaccurate that Karl has been “let go.” While he is not now nor has he ever been on staff, at the time that we discontinued Failure we offered him a continuing role as an illustrator — he has been illustrating features in the magazine outside of Failure, and in fact he illustrates a major feature appearing in tomorrow’s issue.

Stevens began drawing a weekly strip called Whatever for the Phoenix in 2005. In 2008, he started a second strip called Succe$$ and ended Whatever the year after. In 2009, he created the current strip, Failure. Comics Reporter reports:

Failure won the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies award for Best Cartoon in 2010. He was a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize that same year, for The Lodger.

That book was a collection of strips from Failure.

Find Failure‘s online archive here.

The takeaways from this?

a) If you go out of your way to be offensive, you may actually offend someone one day.

b) What flies in an alt-weekly tabloid may not fly in a weekly magazine format.

c) I’ve had Bud Light. “Diluted horse piss” seems a bit imprecise. I’d call it: Diluted Clydesdale piss.

The final word on the first presidential debate

The final word on Debate No. 1 of the 2012 presidential election season is in, courtesy of Bad Reporter cartoonist Don Asmussen of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Funny stuff, once again. Find the Bad Reporter online archive here.

Wait a minute…

Correction: The real last word on the first presidential debate is this early Christmas Card, posted this week by Mad magazine.

That was adapted from artwork by Mad‘s Scott Bricher. Find the Mad magazine blog here.

Wait. Just a second…

I’ve just been give the final last word on the first debate. It’s from John Cole, editorial cartoonist of the Scranton, Pa., Times-Tribune.

Find John’s online archive here.

But wait: Hang on…

This just in: The real, live, actual last word on this week’s presidential debate is the cover of the upcoming issue of the New Yorker:

That is the work of master cover illustrator Barry Blitt, who tells the New Yorker‘s blog:

This image seemed like a proper response to the first Presidential debate, but I’m not sure I realized how hard it is to caricature furniture.

Go here to see coverage of the debate from the New Yorker. Find the New Yorker web site here.

Yeah, those are four “final words” on the debate. But don’t blame me. The moderator kept trying to cut me off.

Thanks to Robert Newman for tweeting about the New Yorker cover.

Your belly laugh for the day

Brilliant satire today from Bad Reporter comic artist Don Asmussen of the San Fransisco Chronicle.

Find Don’s online comic archive here.

Previous times I’ve blogged about Bad Reporter:

Print should consider leveraging what print does best

Stephan Pastis of the Pearls Before Swine comic strip takes on the New York Times:

Funny stuff.

Stephan pokes fun at it. But, y’know, he has a point. Comic strips and panels were invented more than a century ago at a time when newspapers were scratching and clawing to find readers. The Yellow Kid was nothing more than a gimmick, really, to suck pennies out of the pockets of readers.

And it was an effective one. Next thing you knew, just about all major newspapers had cartoons and cartoonists. And then syndicates sprung up to fill the insatiable need for high-quality comics.

Three years ago, USA Today ran a full-page Superman comic as part of a promotional tie-in to a weekly oversized, not-quite-broadsheet comic book.

It ran one day, and then was passed over to the USA Today web site, which posted a full-page episode every week for a month or so.

But the page — designed for print, obviously — was very difficult to read in a scrolling-window format.

It struck me, at the time, that USA Today and DC Comics really ought to have worked out the deal in reverse — so that the comic ran in its full-sized lushness in print every week. Or, better yet, that USA Today run Superman — or some other comic — as a regular feature. Daily, perhaps. Or a different feature every day, five days a week.

I felt this even more strongly after I saw McSweeney‘s lush broadsheet experiment, Panorama, also published in 2009. In addition to wonderful illustrations and poster-like infographics, that project included full-page contributions by cartoonists (left to right) Art Spiegelman, Adrian Tomine and Erik Larsen:


Would discovering, say, a new Windsor McCay breathe new life into print products? I can’t say for certain. But I don’t see how it could hurt.

Print should consider leveraging what print does best: Putting nice, big pages in front of a reader. The more spectacular, the better.

Are you listening, USA Today? Or even the New York Times?

Read Pearls Before Swine online here. Find Stephan’s blog here.

Here’s your Friday evening belly laugh

The latest from Don Asmussen of the San Francisco Chronicle:

Genius stuff, as usual from Don. Find his online comic archive here.

Previous times I’ve blogged about Don’s work:

In web-related media business news this weekend…

More fun from the snarky, snarky mind of cartoonist Don Asmussen:

Don works for the San Francisco Chronicle. Find his online comic archive here.

Previous times I’ve blogged about Don’s work:

Doonesbury takes on QR codes

Doonesbury took on QR codes Thursday:

Doonesbury of course, is by Garry Trudeau. Find the strip’s online home here.

Previous mentions of Doonesbury here in the blog:

Your weekend belly laugh

The San Francisco Chronicle‘s Don Asmussen just keeps getting funnier and funnier.

Brilliant stuff.

Find Don’s online comic archive here.

Previous times I’ve blogged about Don’s work: