Turning over a new leaf…Spring brings color to this blog :)

My dear valued visitor,

If you have been here before, you might be wondering whether you’ve arrived at the right address. I assure you that  you have. While I’ve made a few changes to its look, but underneath it’s still the same. Nothing has changed, except that I’ve tried to make it easier for you to find my caricatures (new ones are coming…) and that I’ve taken off a few other pages from the menu.

 

A Snapshot of the Changes…

“Cool Caricaturists” will return on the sidebar, “The Evolution of the Caricaturist” can be accessed from the sidebar even now, and a couple of other pages have been renamed. My eBooks (sadly only two so far) are primarily satire and so they find a place under “Satire“. “The Time Machine” page is no longer there on the top menu but it’s available through the side-bar (yep! the avuncular looking gentleman with those soda-cap glasses.) The Gallery remains open 24×7 – accessible from the top- and the side-bars.

I’ve also updated the “About” page. This page used to be about a paragraph long earlier, and it led some of my visitors to share the observation that I am pretty stingy about sharing who I am. That isn’t true anymore for almost every important bit about this crazy caricaturist can now be found on the page. If your curiosity is piqued enough, check it out !

I’ve made some really cool caricatures (Hey, don’t give me that look. Every artist thinks that every squiggly that he’s ever drawn is cool.) I’ll soon share them here. (Now you know why I’ve renovated the site – it’s to welcome those brand-new caricatures!)

Bye then…I’ll see you again and soon 🙂

The Time Machine: Hagar the Horrible by Richard Arthur Browne

Time Machine Icon for the History of Comic Strips Posts

I’ve been reading Hagar the Horrible strip for a very long time. In fact, when I had first chanced upon Hagar’s not-so-horrible-and-a-bit-loveable character, I would barely understand half of what transpired in the Hagar the Horrible cartoons.

Last night when I got into the time-machine, I set the dial to arrive in the year 1975, which was a couple of years after Hagar the Horrible went into circulation.

Here’s a quick biographical sketch of Hagar’s dad/creator, Dik Browne (or Richard Arthur Browne).

About Dik Browne

Browne was born on August 19, 1917 and his first comic strip was Jinny Jeep, which he created for the engineering unit of the US Army. Until the mid-fifties, he worked worked as an illustrator for magazines and advertising agencies, but in 1954, he got together with Mort Walker (Yes, Mort Walker of the Beatle Bailey fame,) to create Hi and Lois. The Browne and the Walker family still work together on that strip. (It never ceases to amaze me how the sons of these famous cartoonists are able to carry on their fathers’ legacies…especially as these particular legacies require exceptional drawing/writing skills. As I always say, genes are important…very very important!)

Any way, as it always happens with any smart and intelligent cartoonist, Browne too began to feel some spiritual unrest. He wanted to create his own strip. One that would be built around his ideas. So in 1973, Hagar the Horrible was born with a shaggy beard, a beaten horned helmet, a shield and a spear, and the comic strip was syndicated by King Features Syndicate in newspapers and magazines world-wide.

Dik Browne died on 6th Jun 1989. His two sons, Chris Browne and Chance Browne now write and illustrate Hagar the Horrible.

About Hagar the Horrible and Other Characters in the Strip

Hagar the Horrible is syndicated to 1900 newspapers (including The Times of India) in 58 countries and is also translated in 13 languages.

Some of the important characters in this comic strip are:

Hagar the Horrible

Hagar the Horrible is a Viking warrior who induces fear in the hearts of his enemies, but at the same time, he loves his family and his dog. Hagar is fat and had a slovenly appearance (he doesn’t like baths and avoids them.) At times he’s smart (for instance, he knows how to flatter his wife when she’s angry with him,) but more often he’s not.

Lucky Eddie – friend

Hagar has a friend – a thin, reed-like unlucky (!) character who’s called Lucky Eddie. Eddie is educated but he doesn’t appear to possess common-sense and hence his character is that of a gangly, awkward, unvikinglike viking.

Helga – wife

Hagar’s wife Helga is a huge woman, who is the matron of Hagar’s household. Helga is fussy about hygiene and is always found nagging Hagar for his not-so-clean ways. Helga wants her daughter Honi to grow up with traditional values, but quite like the modern day teenager, Honi has a mind of her own.

Honi – daughter

Honi, Hagar’s daughter doesn’t consider feminity a virtue. She’s tomboyish and prefers to wield a spear and not a ladle. This of course is not appreciated by Helga and so Helga and Honi are often shown having mother-daughter disagreements. Honi wears a winged helmet and she can be quite intimidating when she wants to.

Hamlet – Son

Hamlet loves to read. He is quiet and studious and unlike his sister, completely disinterested in being what he was born to become, a Viking. Hagar wants the boy to become a Viking, and he feels ashamed that his son should not want to follow the Viking order.

Snert – dog

This “v”oofing dog wears a tiny Viking helmet, does nothing, and lazes around. Hagar loves him and is seen trying to make the dog obey is commands.

 

What is the Secret behind the Popularity of Hagar the Horrible?

(The Caricaturist’s Opinion – Don’t use it for submitting Assignments, and if you do, be warned that I shall accept no responsibility for your getting a D…or even an F!)

I think that this comic strip appeals to a lot of people because of the following three reasons:

1. Hagar’s family is enveloped in a sense of timelessness, and the fact that everyday family humor is presented through a family that lived in another age, adds to its timelessness.

2. The characters in Hagar are the kind of people that you find in the real world, yet their characteristics have been exaggerated at times to build the contrast. Compare the character of Honi with Hamlet’s, and that of Hagar with Lucky Eddie’s.

3. The humor is simple. It doesn’t make you think. For every person who loves doing crosswords, there are perhaps 10 who have neither the time nor the inclination to tire out their gray cells…

🙂

The Time Machine: Asterix the Gaul by Albert Uderzo and Rene Goscinny

Time Machine Icon for the History of Comic Strips Posts

Introductory Gibberish – Skip it!

Last night when I got into my Time Machine for my umpteenth trip into the past, I forgot to check the fuel-meter. Only when the machine stopped whirring and began coughing and spluttering, did I realize what sort of idiot I had been! Thankfully, the machine stopped in the year 1955, and gasoline had already been discovered. I shudder to imagine what might’ve happened had the gas lasted up to the Neolithic or even the Paleolithic era.

However, the point that I am dying to make is that I turned lucky as the Time Machine materialized in the backyard of a house in France. I stepped out of the machine and looked around. There was snow all around me – and in fact, there was a snowman too. I did a double take when I looked at the snowman. Believe it or not, the snowman looked exactly like Asterix! I shuffled my memories…trying to get the timeline straight. In 1955, Asterix didn’t exist. The world (okay, France) first met Asterix the Gaul in 1959! Something just wasn’t right.

And then I saw a young man wearing earmuffs, a fur jacket, and a pair of snow-boots (No. He wasn’t dressed like Obelix, I assure you.) He was sitting on a log with an A3 Sketchbook on his knees. He was sitting there, drawing people with gigantic noses! That’s how I recognized him. His noses are the biggest in the world of cartooning – and if you tell me otherwise, you must not have read Asterix comics.

I asked the young man about the snowman, and he told me that the snow-guy was a figment of his imagination. Obviously I asked him for his name, and he told me that he was Albert Uderzo.

So, that’s how I ended up writing about Asterix.

Introductory Gibberish Ends 🙂

The Theme of Asterix Comics:

Asterix the Gaul lives in a little Gaulish village that remains unconquered despite rest of the Gaul having been captured by Julius Caesar. The secret of their invincibility lies in a magic potion that Druid Getafix fixes for them. After the villagers tank up on the magic potion, they bash up the Romans and pack them off.

The Characters in Asterix Comics:

While Asterix is the main protagonist, there are a lot of other important characters too, and each of them has his own distinct personality. The second most visible character is Obelix. Obelix is huge and dumb while Asterix is small and smart. Obelix has a cute little dog (a terrier, I believe) who is called Dogmatix (who was called Idefix in French). Then there are the others. There’s Chief VitalstatistixBard CacofonixDruid Getafix, the fish monger Unhygienix, and so on.

The main and the constant opponent is Julius Caesar who is unable to accept the fact that this little Gaulish village makes minced meat out of his able troops.

The Stories/Adventures of Asterix:

Each Asterix book tells a story. The stories are usually set in an around the Gaulish countryside, but sometimes Asterix, Obelix, and Dogmatix travel to distant lands.

The Unique Selling Proposition of Asterix Comics:

Why am I, the forever cynic, sold on Asterix comics?
Honestly, it’s because they are simply awesome. The characters, the action-lines that make the scenes come alive, the strength and the smoothness of the drawings, the composition of the scenes, the details of the clothes, buildings, and places – and the dialogs too!

The Creators of Asterix:

Perhaps every Asterix-lover knows that Rene Goscinny and Albert Uderzo created this little giant who’s loved the world over (perhaps not so much in America, though I wonder why not.)

Rene Goscinny did most of the writing while Albert Uderzo did most of the drawing…but both could draw extremely well. Unfortunately Goscinny died rather young – at the age of 51. In 1977, he suffered a heart attack while he was taking a stress test. This happened while Goscinny and Uderzo was working on Asterix in Belgium. This book was later completed by Uderzo.

After Goscinny’s death Uderzo continued as the sole-creator of Asterix comics. Thus, Adventures 25 to 34 were created by Uderzo alone.

And

A few other things…

for instance,

  • The Gauls are scared of the sky falling on their heads. (So are the Democrats!)
  • Obelix’s favorite war-cry is “These Romans are crazy!” (What’s not noted in the books is that Obelix’s concern was well-founded. Most of those Romans were tattooed and pierced in all the right and some wrong places.)
  • Dogmatix loves trees and he hates it when anyone attempts to harm the trees. (Obviously, because trees are important for dogs.)
  • Bard Cacofonix is often found tied up to a tree while the whole village feasts. (Apparently, this is to stop him from singing. Where were all those human rights people back then?)
  • Chief Vitalstatistix loves to gorge himself all the time, while his shield-bearers use every opportunity to topple him from the shield. (Thankfully there were no unions in the little Gaulish village.)
  • Obelix is invincible because when he was little, he fell into a cauldron of magic potion (Ewww…the potion has cooled down, I hope.)

I could go on and on…but I’d recommend that you read the real thing instead:)

The Time Machine: Exploration Mission 2 :: The History of the Popular Comic Strip – Beetle Bailey.

Time Machine Icon for the History of Comic Strips PostsBeetle Bailey – a comic strip that begun on September 4, 1950, about sixty years ago, and which is still drawn by its creator Mort Walker, has been one of the most popular comic strips that this world has ever seen.

The Protagonist: Private Beetle Bailey

Once upon a time, Beetle was a college student, but after only about six months of the strip’s beginning, he left college to enlist in the US Army, and became their most famous and longest serving Private ever. Ever since he joined the army, Beetle Bailey has remained there – never growing, neither in position nor in age. Private Beetle Bailey is the laziest man at Camp Swampy, and for this reason his boss Sergeant Snorkel is never pleased with him. Beetle isn’t just lazy, he also suffers from bouts of insubordination. You can’t ever see Beetle’s eyes because they are always hidden under his cap or hat, whichever the case may be.

He’s been dreaming of getting out of the army for the last sixty years, but he has been unsuccessful so far.

Seargent Snorkel:

Remember the paunchy sergeant (Sarge) who wears a very wrinkled Garrison Hat, and who generally just can’t stand Beetel Bailey, but once in a while, exhibits maudlin behavior towards him. He loves his dog Otto, and he loves the army. Obviously he fails to establish an emotional connect with Beetle who dreams of leaving the army.

Other Important Characters in the Beetle Bailey Comic Strip:

1. Otto – Snorkel’s army uniform clad bull-dog, who walks on his hinds (well, he does! When he was introduced he walked the four-legged walk, but then he decided to be upright in all matters, including his posture.) He wears the army uniform (thus, looks like a miniature of Sarge) and he too doesn’t like Beetle.
2. General Halftrack – The old, mustached, alcoholic camp commander, who can often be seen with a golf-stick. Halftrack tracks only half the things (for instance, Miss Buxley) and leaves the other half untracked (for instance, his wife Martha).
3. Miss Buxley – The name tells you what she must look like. Yes. She’s the buxom beauty who is Halftracks Personal Assistant…and half the population of Camp Swampy is swamped by her charms.
4.Private Blips (not Bips, my dear Indian readers,) – Well…she’s Halftrack’s military secretary, who obviously doesn’t like the looks of Miss Buxley (Blips’ antithesis). While Buxley is pretty and voluptuous, Blips is thin and…well you know what; while Buxley can’t do anything right, Blips is downright accurate and efficient! To make a long story short, they are like oil and water…and they don’t mix.

New Tech-tech Characters in Mort Walker’s Beetle Bailey Comics:

Gizmo: The guy who helps the Commander with all the techy stuff. His name was selected after a contest (from 84, 725 entries – WOW!)

Read about all the characters in the Beetle Bailey comic strip here.

The Creator of Beetle Bailey – Mort Walker:

Mort Walker’s Biography

Here’s a quick Biographical sketch of this prolific cartoonist.
(Source: http://beetle.king-online.com/morts-bio/)

Mort Walker was born in 1923, in Kansas. He published his first comic when he was 11! (Whew!) By the time he was 18, he had become the Chief Editorial Designer for Hallmark Cards. He spent his early twenties in the army and returned  to graduate from the University of Missouri.He then tried for a job of a Cartoonist in NY but he got his break only after facing the rejection of about 200 cartoons (whew…again!) Then he found Beetle Bailey…and rest as they say is history.

Mort Walker’s family corporation Comicana owns Beetle Bailey, Hi and Lois and 7 other comic strips.

“Beetle Bailey” is syndicated to 1,800 newspapers, in more than 50 countries, with a readership of more than 200 Million. Read more about Beetle Bailey and Mort Walker here.

The Time Machine: Exploration Mission 1 :: The History of the Popular Comic Strip – Dennis the Menace.

June 01, 2001, almost 10 years ago, Henry (Hank) Ketcham the creator of Dennis the Menace comic strip, died at the age of 81.

In his memory, here’s the story of Dennis’s birth…as imagined and told by the Caricaturist.

Dennis the Menace – The Beginnings:

Sometime in 1950-51, somewhere in Carmel, California…

Henry sat in his studio with his head in his hands. It was impossible to visualize any damn thing with all those noises that floated in from the attic. He expected Alice to come barging in, shouting how his son was the messiah of destruction, and how he took after his father…He knew the sequence of events by heart. Unfortunately, he didn’t know it when he had decided to work as a freelance cartoonist.

Well. He was right. The thoughts that I described above had barely crossed his mind when the door flew open and Alice came in huffing and panting.

“His room is in a mess again – and I had straightened it out just this morning!”

Henry knew that the safest course would be to stay quiet and nod, so he did just that.

“Don’t sit there and nod. Dennis is your responsibility too.”

He nodded again.

“Hank! You are impossible, and your son is too.”

“No, we are not!”

“Hank…your son is a menace!”

“Dennis? A Menace?”

And that’s how the idea of Dennis the Menace was born. So you see, Ketcham modeled Dennis, Alice, and Henry on the Dennis, Alice, and Henry of his own family! And if you look at Ketcham’s picture from his younger days, you’ll realize that he does look like his cartoon self, Henry.

Life and Times of Dennis the Menace

Ketcham used to work as an illustrator and an animator. (He also worked with Disney for a while.) In 1951, when he first published Dennis the Menace, it was syndicated in 16 newspapers in the US. Within two years about 200 newspapers in the US were carrying the strip.

For the next 32 years, Ketcham drew all those panels himself – but in 1983, he announced that one day he’d like to retire from drawing Dennis. During this time Ketcham got divorced from Alice (Dennis’s mom) and Dennis grew up away from his dad. Ketcham moved from one marriage to another (a total of four, I think) until his death in 2001.

Anyway, in 1993 when Ketcham announced that he’d like to retire, Marcus Hamilton approached him and said that he’d like to draw Dennis. For the last 17 years Hamilton has been drawing the daily panel for Dennis the Menace. Read about Marcus Hamilton and his drawing process.

The Sunday Page Cartoonist Ron Ferdinand was born in the same year as Dennis. He too joined Ketcham in the early 1980s and he’s been drawing Dennis since. Read about Ron Ferdinand and his drawing process.