Tag Archives: Harvey Kurtzman

You get to read the article BUN TOON! YAY!

sunday logo

Is it JUST a coincidence that I’m ALSO a cartoon rabbit?

playboy to a man


I was travelling to a convention in Memphis when Hugh Hefner died, and didn’t get a chance to BUN TOON about it.

I’ve asked a number of people if they ALSO opened Playboys from the back, and have met only two people who said they did….and they were ALSO comic book artists.  The whole “front or back opening controversy” was clearly a test.

I’m pretty sure I passed.

When I was in my early twenties, the FIRST places I ever sent samples of my work to, was Playboy and Mad magazine.  I was rejected, and kept the rejection letters pinned over my desk for years.

I still have since worked for Mad Magazine a number of times, but never graced the pages of Playboy.

Something to shoot for.

Ty the Guy OUT!

For those of you not born a male cisgendered hetero cartoonist-in-training in the 60s, here’s what you missed:

alberto vargas 4

The fantastic pin-up art of Alberto Vargas.  Often MUCH better than the photo in the middle of the magazine.



B. Kliban- funniest cat cartoonist of an era.


The GORGEOUS paintings of Erich Sokol

buck brown

The journeyman: Buck Brown


The always funny John Dempsey

playboy tarzan cartoon 001

The impossibly talented Doug Sneyd (it was hard to find one that was SFW, but you get the idea)


The casual skill of Phil Interlandi


The KING:  Gahan Wilson.

Playboy cartoon _Cole_ 1954o

The magnificent Jack Cole (creator of Plastic Man!)


Little Annie Fanny was created by Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder, with occasional help from Frank Frazetta, Jack Davis, Russ Heath, and whatever illustration genius was in the building with a brush.


Hefner himself started life as a cartoonist, and had he been more successful at it, he might never have founded a magazine that went out of his way to support the best and brightest of the field.


Hefner published the MUCH better version of Mad Magazine (called TRUMP), with the original gang of idiots.  It was so good, it lasted a whole two issues.  I have ’em both, and you can open Trump from either the front or the back, it doesn’t matter, there are no naked ladies cluttering up the front of the magazine.


this is the earliest version of the Playboy Rabbit.  It can’t be a coincidence that I turned out to be a relative of some sort.

l_playboy rabbit


For last week’s BUN TOON, click here.



Today we Celebrate Killer Rabbits!


(Squishing noise)

No words today.


If you’ve not heard, yesterday it was announced that Terry Jones has been diagnosed with a form of degenerative aphasia that is robbing him of his ability to understand language, both written and spoken. So, I wanted to express how much I loved him in language-free pictures, because Terry’s comedy was ALWAYS about energy and visuals, far more than it was about language.  It’s why he’s a terrific film director, and perhaps the bravest clown of the 20th Century.  I never saw Jerry Lewis play the organ naked.

You occupy a percentage of my brain, Mr. Jones.  And most of my heart.  Needed to say it.

And if there’s anyone out there who knows him primarily from Python, but hasn’t watched Terry’s endless hours of history programming from the BBC and History Channel, you’ve got something wonderful to look forward to now that I’ve just told you about it.  Go find it online.

Ty the Guy OUT!

There’s a number of delightful intersections between the Pythons and comic books.  Probably my favourite is the Neal Adams-illustrated scene from THE LIFE OF BRIAN that was written, but not filmed, and then drawn by Neal.  It’s not online, (I’ve tried to find it), but it was originally found in the oversized BRIAN book that was available around the time the movie was in theatres.  Funniest comic book story every written.

Another fortuitous intersection betwixt the worlds of British Comedy and American Comics came when John Cleese was in America back in the early Sixties, performing with the Cambridge Follies, and took a quickie weekend gig, working with a young cartoonist named Terry Gilliam. who needed an actor to pose for a silly comic book story Terry was working on for HELP magazine, edited by comic book legend, Harvey Kurtzman!


I kid you not. This is one of the meetings that leads to the creation of Monty Python, and COMIC BOOKS WERE THERE!!

PS:  Happy Birthday Mom.

And it’s also NATIONAL RABBIT DAY (seriously look it up), but I don’t want to brag.



For last week’s BUN TOON, click the friendly looking cartoon above.


For the Bun Toon Archive, oh, I know it needs updating, but life goes by in a hurry, right?  CLICK HERE


A Cartoonist’s Life Bun Toons. YAY!

Like an ice cream parlour with a roof, I'm giving you the inside scoop!

Oh my god, it’s been a tough couple of weeks.  I’ve been sleeping four hours a day and working the other twenty, and I STILL didn’t manage to catch up with all my deadlines.  Editors don’t deserve the problems that causes.   When I was young that was all part of the exciting lifestyle of a cartoonist, but nowadays it just fills me with guilt and exhaustion.

But there’s so much more to the thrill-a-minute career I’m rocket-riding through this existence, fellow babies.    Here’s just a hint of the behind the scenes stuff that the public never sees.

I’ve revealed too much.  Now the cartoonist mafia will be after me.

Ty the Guy OUT!

Here now, some bonus reference materials if you’re interested in further research into the life we all lead.


for my Bun Toon Extra about Frank Miller, click the man with his head up his ass.

For last week's Bun Toon, click here.

For the life of every Bun Toon ever, click the bunny anywhere but on his naughty parts.


Don't be fooled. This is the wrong kind of evil.

It’s a big night in the world of cartooning…or sort of.

The new ADDAMS FAMILY MUSICAL is opening on Broadway this evening at the LUNT-FONTANNE THEATRE -205 West 46th Street (between Broadway and 8th Ave).  It follows in the footsteps of Annie, Superman, Charlie Brown,

I don't blame these people. They're doing honest work.

Li’l Abner and many others, translating the world of the cartoon to the world of the stage.

And it must be stopped.

It is unclean.

An abomination.

The ruination of Western Civilization.
Après ça, c’est la deluge.

See, I love, adore, admire, and devour the work of Charles Addams, one of the great satirists and subversive cartoonists of the 20th Century…and I saw a cast performance of a bit of this show on Letterman this week… and it’s so far off the mark, we should consider armed insurrection.

Addams is my favorite New Yorker cartoonist of their golden age, and that’s number #1 of a large and impressive list.  It if weren’t for his deliciously

Addams and wife Barbara, 1955. Be honest, this is EXACTLY how you pictured them.

macabre drawings throughout the forties and fifties (and well into the eighties, though he did slow down as time wore on…) we wouldn’t have Gahan Wilson, B Kliban, Edward Gorey, Harvey Kurtzman, Will Elder, Gary Larson, and probably most of the Playboy cartoonists of THEIR golden age, and those were the guys that made me want to do this cartoony stuff for a living.  So this guy CHAS ADDAMS was hero to my heroes….

Addams’ subject was always the same thing:  beneath the veneer of civilization is horror and chaos.  Death, despair, sex, murder, and shock are never further than around the corner, under the bed, or behind your back.  His imagination is a land of manners and politeness, filled with nicely dressed

Death ray? Fiddlesticks! Why it doesn't even slow them up!

businessmen, and boy scouts (lots of boy scouts), housewives and secretaries, cops and teachers, all ready to kill you or commit suicide, or betray society’s values in spectacular fashion in about two seconds.    What a HOOT.

And into this cynical cartoon world, Addams introduced his beloved family.  Slowly at first, in the late 1930s, we see a nameless emaciated woman in a gripping black dress who starts to show up with some regularity in his New Yorker cartoons.  She and her giant manservant are all we see for a while, but by the end of WW2, this still unidentified woman has a husband and two children around her, and this family, with extended in-laws and guests, became staples of Addams’ work for decades to come.

The family gets a new window

They were never the focus of what he did…he never gave up on his suicidal boy scouts, evil businessmen and rapacious secretaries …and in fact, he never named the family that appeared in so many gag panels until they became television stars of the Sixties.  But these upper class, Old World monsters of a decaying past showed up a lot, and were clearly his trademark.

There was that stock ticker in the living room of their huge home, constantly printing out information about their constantly expanding holdings.  How vulgar and monstrous THAT was in a world of nouveau poverty.  And manservants when so many were unemployed? They were always living in a distant and discredited past. The mansion was conspicuously 19th century.  Their clothing was twenty years out of fashion (Fester dresses as though it’s the middle ages) and there was dust and cracks everywhere in their environment.  They represented the old ways during a time of jet aircraft and the promising future of astounding technology.
And, oh yes, they were murderers, ghouls and cannibals.
The point of the satire is hardly subtle.  The Addams Family is the broad stroke portrait of the worst of the American Myth:  That the upper classes are better than you.  They are not.  They are sociopaths and vampires.  But rather than making them simply repellent, which would have been dull work, Addams makes them a family which loves their kids, are generous and kind to neighbours and are exemplary people in all the ways “official” society asks them to be….except that they love death, decay and sadism.
Addams was speaking truth to power.   That’s what satirists do.
But this STAGE SHOW, opening tonight, is the exact opposite of everything Addams was doing.
I saw a performance of the cast on Letterman earlier in the week, and it was as wrongheaded a production as I’ve seen.   This is a nostalgia show, WALLOWING in the past, rather than making fun of it.   They want the audience who paid $150 dollars to see a recreation of a thirty-five year old movie (SPAMALOT) and a forty year old movie (THE PRODUCERS) to pay for a recreation of a forty-five year old TV series.  The jokes are ancient, and the dance number I watched relied on moves that are a distant memory to people who still have their own teeth.  A youthful culture making fun of the decaying relics of the past, this AIN’T.

It doesn't take much to collect a crowd in New York.

Secondly, this isn’t the Addams Family.  It’s a watered down version of the watered down version that was the TV series.  They don’t so much boil the neighbours and eat them, as make veiled references to it.  All cleaned up for the kids.    Don’t expect black comedy here–think vanilla comedy with lightly blackened sprinkles.  The two ADDAMS FAMILY movies with Raul Julia got much of the black comedy right, but that happy memory of those DECADES old films is exactly the nostalgia they’re hoping you will be feeling when you buy your tickets to this weakly brewed imitation. And this is being presented on Broadway, where the average tickets cost a

Remember how funny this was? Now give us a hundred and fifty bucks.

hundred dollars or more, in the middle of an economic disaster.  That means that the ones in the audience—the folks who can afford to blow a multiple hundreds of dollars for a few hours entertainment ARE the upper-middle and upper classes of New York who are the very people that the Addams Family is a portrait of.
There is no shock.  No satire.  No knowing understanding of the social lie that’s being punctured here.  It’s all just so much crap trotted out for the rubes.

Now, I know this is all about entertainment, and in the world we live in I shouldn’t get so worked up about this.  Who is being hurt?  Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth need to eat, and I’m sure no one involved is a bad person.
But they’re pissing on my turf.  They’re devaluing the original by turning filet mignon into McDonalds.   And as a purveyor and producer of comics, I hate it when they’re considered the disposable and forgotten version, especially in cases like this.

Envy me for my treasure. Bwah hah hah

Years ago, I was lucky enough to find a first printing copy of DRAWN AND QUARTERED, the first collection of Addams’ cartooning work.  It cost me less than ten dollars (although that was probably an oversight on the part of the bookstore), but I consider it one of my priceless treasures. And tonight and for the next few months,  you can throw away fifteen times that amount of money to watch a bunch of people prove how completely they misunderstand everything about the work contained in that book.




SOME FULL DISCLOSURE:  One of the producers of this show is an old friend of my wife’s.  He’s actually a terrific guy, and got me some great seats to a show or two when my wife and I were in New York.   And I’ve always had an unrestrained crush on Bebe Neuwirth, so I’m probably not as angry about this as I should be….
SO, no violent protests, please.  Instead of burning down the theater why not spend your money on this recent SIMPSONS book?

Am I still plugging this? Didn't I do this last week?!?

Considering it contains the work of Ty Templeton, a fresh young talent with a lot of promise, it might be worth reading!

Tomorrow:  The return of Hoverboy Fridays…the latest news about that Glenn Reid country music CD I designed the cover for, and performed on…and don’t forget:  ALL NEW WEBCOMICS on the weekend.

Okay...THIS is what you hoped Charles Addams looked like.

Ty the Guy



(sigh…yes, it’s true. An old buddy of mine is part of the production department. Actually, just “friended” me on facebook earlier this week. Don’t know his actual title for this show, and I’ve forgot what it was when he helped produce SPAMALOT a couple years  back. ..the show he got me tickets for when it came to Toronto, and I got to go to the Opening Night party and see Eric Idle. Thanks, Guy, for slagging that show, too.

Said friend did just announce on facebook today that he was off to an official opening for this new show.  So, thanks, honey–this will be the last time I get free tickets for anything!

Here’s hoping he doesn’t do any googling later…I’m off to see if he’s unfriended me, yet!



Yes, that’s right! I don’t sell out for anything! Or for my blog!

Ty the Guy

SOMETIMES, THE ROUGH…and another of the increasingly late Hoverboy Fridays!

Clearly, I’m mad, I tell you.  MAD.

batrobinadv sketch 11

I’m one of those guys who spend their lives liking the rough sketch better than the final art.  It’s a curse.   I have a fondness for the scribbled, eccentric, humanistic and unembarrassed linework of a rough sketch.  There’s a lovely connection to movement and thought in the first contact with the image to muscles and paper,  often softened unbearably by turning it into a final illustration.   As a professional drawer-boy, I’m always fighting between “cleaning it up” and “letting it live”.

The Batman sketch from an old, old Adventures cover, (which I just found in a box yesterday, and hence this post) is less than three inches high.  It’s drawn in pencil and a thick pentel marker which was clearly drying out, as the background becomes less dark to the right. But the sense of danger, the monster, and the expressions on everyone’s face works for me in a way the final doesn’t.

harvey pekar rough to finishMy Pekar’s AMERICAN SPLENDOR work last year did the same thing to to me.  I was going for a very sedate, “realistic” Curt Swan type of storytelling for Harvey, since that was the basic feel of this particular script…but the rough layouts had a Kirby-like energy to them, with a lively and playful sense of proportion that I wish had fit the story.

( for more Harvey online, click here)

Again, these layouts are about three inches tall, and the final art is fifteen inches high…so the movements spideytorch 2 1 roughof your hands vs. the movements of your shoulders are going to be different.

I just got through reading an issue of Marvel’s new “STRANGE TALES” comic, with folks like Peter Bagge, and James  Kochalka doing very indy looking work on Marvel super-heroes.  Astoundingly great fun, and some of the pages have the same feel as my rough pages do…before I clean myself up.

If only I hadn’t seen so much Harvey Kurtzman while growing up.  I could rid myself of this demon of liking the roughs.



hovermuppetHoverboy Fridays continue to wander the calendar, and we find one barging into Sunday.  I’m only making this rare exception to move Hoverboy Fridays from its regular spot on Tuesdays, to this weekend, because the most recent update is topical!  It has to do with Hoverboy’s very tenuous connection to Sesame Street, which celebrated it’s 40th, or 45th anniversary this week, I wasn’t paying enough attention when Wolf Blitzer mentioned it.

Go to the Hoverboy museum and read more about this astounding connection between Kermit the Frog and The Boy Who Hovers.

www.hoverboy.com (for those who don’t hyper link well).

Ty the Guy.  AWAAAY!

My inner Mad

021 jay leno

00 spockWhen I put up those Harvey Pekar sketches last week, I mentioned that neither of the drawings were in my “usual” style of doing a likeness.  At this point in my career, I’m not sure I have a style, but I do have some vague idea of what sort of final drawing will look right to my eyes, and these ideas are usually rooted in Mort Drucker and John Severin…two of the great Mad artists of my youth.

As you can see by the drawing of a young Jay Leno (done for a Canadian TV Guide some years ago) and the Movie Spock (done for my own amusement last year), my line work tends towards Drucker’s when I’m just trying to make a portrait.

00 woody

Oddly enough, when I fit a likeness into a story (as I did with these panels from various editions of the Factoid BIG BOOK series, or as I’m currently doing with my fun Dexter gig), I find my line work and sensibility tends towards John Severin.   Probably because Severin was slavishly realistic, and Drucker was more playful.

00 orsonEither way, when you add the Jack Davis influence in the Pekar drawing below (coupled with a blatant attempt to inject a little R. Crumb in there, another Harvey Kurtzman protege), I’ve obviously never gotten over my early crush on Mad Magazine.

And I ain’t never gonna.

Ty the Guy

00 frank and mia