Let’s go back in time for a moment. It’s 1977 and I’m a 15 year old tenth grade high school student and I just received a letter from Warren Publishing that my Robot entry of “Nuts and Bolts” won Warren’s The Rook Contest! In the envelope, there is a check for $100 (a fortune at the time), and a three-year subscription to Eerie magazine! For a novice cartoonist who only dreamed of being on the professional cartoonist food chain, the thrill was intense! Then came Eerie #88, when the contest winners were announced and my winning character sketches were published — it was official! The characters were also featured in a Rook story, “Quarb and the War Ball,” written by Bill Dubay and illustrated by Luis Bermejo, which was published in Eerie #98.
Fast forward 38 years later, I receive a notice from the creators of the Rook that there is a new series of The Rook is being published by Dark Horse and my two winning robots will make a brief appearance in The Rook #2! It’s the same thrill I had all those years ago! Can’t wait to see the little guys again in print! Look for The Rook #2, which will be released in October.
Candid photo of Mutt and Jeff artist Al Smith (1902-1986), along with Otto Soglow creator of The Little King at a National Cartoonists Society meeting circa early 1970s from a private collection.
Al Smith began his career as Bud Fisher’s assistant on Mutt and Jeff in 1932 and continued the strip for 48 years taking over full-time art chores after Fisher’s death in 1954. Smith also drew the strips, Rural Delivery and Cicero’s Cat, the companion strip to Mutt and Jeff. Smith served as president of the National Cartoonists Society from 1969 to 1971.
Created by Otto Soglow (1900-1975), The Little King first appeared in The New Yorker in 1931. King Features Syndicate began publishing the strip on September 9, 1934, and it ran until Soglow’s death in 1975.
Found this letter in some ephemera from the estate of Bob Gustafson. It is a letter written by cartoonist Bill Yates describing his working process and what materials he uses. Cartooning students take note.
Special thanks to Dave Wessels. See Dave’s amazing work on his blog.
Floyd Buford Yates (1921-2001) funny-man-cartoonist created Professor Phumble for King Features from 1960 to 1978, before assuming the position of comic strip editor for King Features Syndicate. At the end of 1988, Yates left his editorial position at King Features in order to spend full time cartooning. He continued to write Redeye and do both scripting and art on The Small Society, but increasing ill health forced his retirement from the strips in 1999.
Yesterday I lost one of the most wonderful people I’ve ever had in life, my sweet little pug, Pooj. Since that first moment his fat little puppy face looked into mine, we were bonded in life. Not a day passed that we weren’t together, he was more a child to me than a pet, and he always found a way to make me laugh. As a young dog, we went everywhere together, his difficulty breathing and his tendency to overheat in hot Texas summers didn’t stop him from wanting to be wherever I was, inside or outside. He loved to have his belly rubbed, he liked baths, and adored being brushed. And he was smart, too, only had to tell him once and he got it. Never chewed my shoes, never sorted through the garbage, never gnawed on furniture, or barked non-stop when I was away. As he grew older, he had a stately way of carrying himself with his barrel chest and curled tail covered in gray. He got slower and breathing became more difficult for him, so our walks became shorter and shorter, but he never lost his enthusiasm and always gave everything in his path a right good sniff.
The last few months were not his most active, he struggled at times to catch his breath after our walks, and his stamina wasn’t the best, but his little curled tail would always wag, and that twinkle in his eyes never went away.
Last night, he seemed disoriented and couldn’t seem to keep his balance, so I put him on the bed so he could settle a bit, and he took a large breathe and passed away. I’m not ashamed to admit I wailed when he took his last breath in my arms, this little blessing who has been beside me through numerous life struggles and hardships, always happy to see me, always ready with a sloppy kiss. He has always been the one, pure love that never needed words, that was always there for me.
I buried him under a big tree by a stream, a beautiful place for my little monster who snored louder than I did, who drizzled water all through the house, always wanted to get me up an hour before the alarm, who had an unlimited supply of sloppy wet kisses, who never cared if I needed a haircut or new shoes or a shower, who was just happy to be a part of my life. I can’t put into words the feeling of loss I have right now.
Many of you may know that Pooj was the inspiration for Zombie Boy’s pet Gorr, and I can say in many ways he IS Pooj. At the moment, I’m having a hard time dealing with the loss, but I know in my heart that Poojie will always live with me and continue to inspire me through the strip.
Finally wrapping up the last few remaining pledge packages for my Zombie Boy Comics Vol. 1: Some Kind of Horrible Kickstarter, and I thought I’d send along a photo showing you the devastation it wreaked upon my studio space. Most all of the pledges have been filled, I’m just tying up all the loose ends now. It’s amazing I was able to get anything done in a mess like this, isn’t it?