Thursday, July 30, 2020

New Portraits of Underground Cartoonist Icons

"Underground cartoonists are all a bunch of 
baptist ministers in Popeye suits" 
-Charles Bukowski

I'm working on a series of illustrations that will eventually total 100 full page images of underground comix creators, drawn as they were during that most fertle era of the UG comix scene, the late sixties to the late seventies, From Z to A (ZAP to Arcade), with some stops before and after. To me, this is a natural followup to my two Heroes of the Comics books which both focused on the early creators of mainstream comic books (from the mid-thirties to the mid-fifties), now jumping a decade to the dawn of the undergrounds.

The American underground comix scene was an egalitarian, counterculture movement that produced iconoclastic and forbidden no-holds-barred comic books and small press publications focusing mainly on formally taboo comics subjects including sex, violence, religion, race, and drugs, and featured comics and graphics produced by some of the greatest artistic talents and satiric minds of the day, most prominently the prolific "spirtual father of underground comix" R. Crumb. 

 I first discovered UG comix and the work of R. Crumb at age eight, back when I innocently thought MAD magazine was as subversive as things could get, and my universe was forever altered: 
Discovering underground comix.
page 2 of "R. Crumb and Me" (2014)

All of the essential players from that golden era of undergrounds will be included: Frank Stack, Gilbert Shelton, Robert Crumb, Rory Hayes, Art Spiegelman, Bill Griffith, Diane Noomin, Robert Armstrong, Denis Kitchen, Justin Green, Kim Deitch, Jay Lynch, Jim Osborne, Trina Robbins, Vaughn Bode, Howard Cruise, all the ZAP artists, Bijou Funnies artists, Rip off Press artists, the Air Pirates, etc, as well as several obscure, forgotten and black creators. This project should be completed by early to mid 2021 and published either later that year, or in 2022, depending on unforseen circumstances in the publishing world.  
several completed images:                              

S. Clay Wilson

Spain Rodriguez

Aline Kominsky-Crumb

Howard Cruse

several preliminary sketches:

S. Clay Wilson

Skip Williamson

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Portrait of LAST GASP publisher Ron Turner

This new portrait of Last Gasp publisher Ron Turner (Baba Ron), will accompany his foreword to the upcoming book SLOW DEATH ZERO: THE Comix Anthology of Ecological Horror", edited by Jon B. Cooke. The book is scheduled to be published later this year and features a new cover by William Stout.
cover by William Stout

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Jared Kushner channels Dorian Gray

Season two of the Netflix series Dirty Money debuted on Netflix this month with the first episode a profile of President Donald Trump's son-in-law and top White House advisor, Jared Kushner. Titled, “Slumlord Millionaire”, it's directed by Morgan Pehme and Dan DiMauro, who also made the fabulous documentary Get Me Roger Stone. I was interviewed for the episode.

I drew over 50 covers for the New York Observer during Jared Kushner's ten year reign as it's publisher, and I'd also met him on several occasions, one of which I discuss in the film. I was filmed creating this illustration of Kushner channeling Oscar Wilde's Dorian Gray, with the exposed picture/painting, Jared's father-in-law Donald J. Trump.

I'd thought for years that Jared looked like the young, handsome, emotionless actor Hurd Hatfield, who played Dorian Gray in the 1946 MGM film version, and was toying for awhile with the idea of drawing him posed as Dorian but couldn’t figure out a clever twist. One of the filmmakers suggested that Trump himself  be the horrible visage seen in the aging painting hidden away in Dorian’s attic, perhaps as an analogy to what Jared Kushner's soul is evolving into, or, well, make of it what you will. That idea clicked with me, thus the drawing which can be seen in the documentary.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

New Biographies of Stan Lee, Mac Raboy and Irving Berlin

I strongly recommend these three new biographies:

Stan Lee, A Marvelous Life by Danny Fingeroth, St Martin's Press

Stan Lee (born Stanley Lieber), was a complex man. He was both worshiped and vilified, and has been described both as a talented and tireless worker and a shameless celebrity spokesman for Marvel comics. He was an imperious comics writer and editor, a persistent self-promoter, and a credit and publicity hog. His public persona was charming, funny and affable, and he was the public face of Timely/Atlas/Marvel Comics for over half a century and probably the most famous man to have ever worked in the comics industry. Comics historian Danny Fingeroth has written a fair-minded, fun, and finally, the essential biography of Stan Lee, chronicling Stan's rise and fall and unlikely early sixties rise again, as Lee, Marvel publisher Martin Goodman, artists Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, and others, ushered in Marvel's unprecidented super hero renaissance.

Mac Raboy, Master of the Comics by Roger Hill, TwoMorrows Publishing

Mac Raboy was a slow and meticulous artist and an expert technician, creating lush cover and interior artwork for the "golden age" comic book series Captain Marvel, Jr in the 1940's. His work was some of the most unusually beautiful artwork to ever grace mainsteam comics, and Roger Hill's meticulous biography presents hundreds of examples of Raboy's art as well as a detailed biography of his relatively short life. Beautifully designed by Jon B. Cooke, this book should be on the shelf of every lover of great comic book and comic strip art. Also an excellent introduction by Roy Thomas. Only two photos of the elusive Mac Raboy are known to exist, both of them are included in the book, as well as my full color portrait of Raboy created for my book Heroes of the Comics (Fantagraphics Books)

Irving Berlin, New York Genius by James Kaplan, Yale University Press

Irving Berlin was arguably the greatest American songwriter of the 20th century, his life spanned more than 100 years and his musical output was astounding, beginning with "Alexander's Ragtime Band" up until his last hit "Counting Blessings". Berlin composed the music and lyrics to some fifteen hundred songs. Like Frank Capra, his name was above the title because he earned it. James Kaplan's loving biography details the highs and lows of the brilliant, fiesty, sometimes maddening little Jewish song-plugger from the lower east side who would go on to write "God Bless America" and "White Christmas". It's an intense and glorious page-turner, masterfully written and thoroughly entertaining. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

DRAWN TO PRESIDENTS: Portraits and Satiric Drawings by Drew Friedman

A new exhibit, DRAWN TO PRESIDENTS: Portraits and Satiric drawings by Drew Friedman will open to the public on November 2nd, 2019 and run till Feb 9th, 2020 at the BIlly Ireland CARTOON Library & Museum at Ohio State University.

The exhibit will feature all of the original artwork created for my latest book from Fantagraphics ALL THE PRESIDENTSas well as presidential-themed original artwork drawn for, among others, SPY, MAD, TIME, NEWSWEEK, THE NEW YORKER, THE NEW REPUBLIC, The NEW YORK OBSERVER, and TOPPS Wacky Packs, plus sketches, rough drawings, magazine tearsheets, and rare presidential-themed ephemera on loan from my collection, books, MAD magazines, trading cards, buttons, record albums, MARX figurines, etc. 

Please Join me for the opening reception on Saturday, November 16th where I'll be in conversation with the great illustrator C.F. Payne at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum. Books will be for sale and availble for inscription.

the original art created for this New Yorker cover will be on display...

as will this image, the first depiction of George W. Bush on the cover of a national magazine.

 also on display, the current POTUS, painted for ALL THE PRESIDENTS

Monday, October 7, 2019

Drawing President Trump

My latest book, All The Presidents, portraits of all 45 presidents of the United States, inevitably concludes with the current president, Donald J. Trump. I didn't draw the 45 presidents chronologically, but I did save and draw Trump last, mainly because I just wasn't quite sure how to approach him. I've drawn him many times over the years, beginning in the mid-eighties for the satiric monthy SPY when he was still just a NYC real estate developer, and as his fame grew nationally, in publications such as The New York Observer, TIME, MAD, Fortune and others.

I drew some initial Trump sketches for my new book which I rejected for various reasons... too goofy, too silly, too buffoonish, etc. My intention with this book was to try not to overtly editorialize, so I finally rendered this portrait of Trump which concludes the book. Make of the expression what you will.

My Trump pencil sketch:

The finished art:

the book's cover:

Thursday, September 12, 2019

All The Presidents: Drew Friedman in conversation with Robert Klein

Thur, Oct 3rd at New York's Strand Bookstore's Rare Books Room, Broadway and 12th St, join artist Drew Friedman in conversation with the legendary comedian and actor Robert Klein discussing Friedman's latest book ALL THE PRSIDENTS, followed by a book signing. Seating is limited, reserve your seats now. This is the official book launch for the book.

“Somehow, Drew Friedman’s mastery manages to both humanize and satirize every member of this most exclusive club of U.S. presidents. Blemishes, moles, and errant hairs are like stars in his sky.”
- Jake Tapper

From the artist hailed by BOINGBOING as the greatest portraitist of our time comes ALL THE PRESIDENTS, a new collection of portraits of every U.S. president, from George Washington to Donald J. Trump, and everyone in between, each rendered in Friedman’s celebrated "warts & all" style, accompanied by vital statistics and fun factoids about each subject. ALL THE PRESIDENTS features a comic strip introduction by the author, and a foreword by Kurt Andersen, author and host of public radio’s Studio 360. Published by Fantagraphics books.