Letter to Joe Kubert

A few months ago, after far too long of a delay, I called up Joe Kubert to thank him for all I learned when I went to his school (from 1983-85). We had a nice chat, but I didn't want to take up his whole day recounting my life story. So I told him I'd follow up with the details, and here is the letter I sent him:

Hi Joe -- as a follow-up to our phone conversation from a while back, I want to share with you how much my education at the Joe Kubert School has meant to my life and career.

I attended the Joe Kubert School from 1983 to 1985. I got an amazing foundation of all the most important drawing and storytelling skills during those years. Up until I went to your school, my artwork had developed in fits and starts…but once I came under the full-time guidance of all the experienced teachers I learned more than I ever thought possible.
The old Kubert School circa 1984
In your Narrative Art class, I learned about telling a story visually. One of the core ideas that has never left me is that the  reader is always right. If they get confused it's my fault. The artist has to make the storytelling clear and compelling.

I learned solid basic drawing techniques from Jose Delbo -- his class taught me how to draw the real basics that are often skipped by young artists. I learned figure drawing, perspective, how to use pens and brushes, lettering, coloring and painting. I have used all those skills throughout my career; not only in animation storyboards (for Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, Warner Bros and Disney), but as a comic book artist/writer/inker/letterer and full-color cover artist for Nickelodeon Magazine.
Most important was that you taught me about the realities of working for publication and on deadline. You stressed over and over that an assignment is useless if it's not done on time. The professional world is all about production and deadlines, and if you can't hack that, you're dead. Thank you for putting so much emphasis on the importance of good professional work habits

Best of all, I have been teaching others, continuing the lessons and traditions that I learned from you and your crew of seasoned professional teachers. In my role as Storyboard Supervisor and Director at Disney TV Animation, I help teach other artists the solid basics of visual storytelling. I wrote and illustrated a book called, "Cartooning: Character Design" for Walter Foster Books, and I am currently teaching an online class in storyboarding.

By the way, I'll never forget that our first assignment in your class was drawing a comic book story with no words, and only with silhouettes. That assignment broke my brain open to the challenges and opportunities that can be achieved by telling a story with drawings. In my online class, I just taught a lesson on posing, acting and the importance of silhouettes!

Basically -- everything I know about drawing and storytelling had its foundation at the Joe Kubert School. I am eternally grateful that you started this wonderful school, and that you have been so generous with your knowledge.

Sherm Cohen

Suburban Horror - Kids Book Illustrations you have to see to believe

Check out these scans from a safety booklet for kids from the fifties or sixties. These pics are guaranteed to give any kid nightmares, and keep them away from strangers, bikes, leaf piles, refrigerators and kites forever.

There's a whole bunch of these
horrifying illustrations
in the original article at:

There's a lot really gotta see 'em!
...especially the one about the leaf pile.

A Feast of Severin - John Severin Comics Scans from Cracked Mazagine (sic)

Diversions of the Groovy Kind has a ton of vintage John Severin comic scans for your perusal. I wasn't a big fan of Severin growing up, but over the years my appreciation for his work has grown and grown. He must have drawn thousands of pages for Cracked in the sixties and seventies! Here are some of them:

John Severin Takes on Star Wars and Rocky

Tarzan by Severin

 Charley's Angels and MASH

All the John Severin posts

Cow-Milking Comics: The Story of Johnny Surge

Johnny Surge Babson Bros Miler Comics - Page 01

"The Story of Johnny Surge"
or "Why We Don't Push The Sale of Pine-Tree Milkers!"

Johnny Surge Babson Bros Miler Comics - Page 02 Johnny Surge Babson Bros Miler Comics - Page 03 Johnny Surge Babson Bros Miler Comics - Page 04 Johnny Surge Babson Bros Miler Comics - Page 05 Johnny Surge Babson Bros Miler Comics - Page 06 Johnny Surge Babson Bros Miler Comics - Page 07 Johnny Surge Babson Bros Miler Comics - Page 08 Johnny Surge Babson Bros Miler Comics - Page 09 Johnny Surge Babson Bros Miler Comics - Page 10 Johnny Surge Babson Bros Miler Comics - Page 11 Johnny Surge Babson Bros Miler Comics - Page 12 Johnny Surge Babson Bros Miler Comics - Page 13 Johnny Surge Babson Bros Miler Comics - Page 14 Johnny Surge Babson Bros Miler Comics - Page 15 Johnny Surge Babson Bros Miler Comics - Page 16 Johnny Surge Babson Bros Miler Comics - Page 17 Johnny Surge Babson Bros Miler Comics - Page 18 Johnny Surge Babson Bros Miler Comics - Page 19 Johnny Surge Babson Bros Miler Comics - Page 20

...ummm...I'm speechless.

Bill Nolan’s Oswald Cartoons!

I really love the old silent Disney "Oswald the Lucky Rabbit" cartoons! The story about how Disney lost his first creation is heartbreaking, and the story about how Disney got Oswald back after 80 years is miraculous and hilarious. 
Disney Oswald the Lucky Rabbit Trolley Troubles
But this isn't about the Disney Oswalds. Let's take a look at the Oswald cartoons made by Walter Lantz and Bill Nolan. I had no interest at all in seeing the Walter Lantz Oswalds... until I found out that they featured the amazing work of one of the greatest animation pioneers ever: Bill Nolan.

Bill Nolan is one of the hugest unsung heroes and animation -- is often credited with creating the rubber hose style of cartoons.
Bill Nolan Cartooning Book self Taught
It was Bill Nolan that helped Otto Mesmer refined Felix the Cat into the bouncy, round, cartoony character that he became in the mid-20s.
Bill Nolan How to Draw Cartoon Animals Bill Nolan basically helped Otto Mesmer create the classic old-school animation style. You can find more on Bill Nolan here:
and and

California Raisins Comic Book – My First Professional Job

Here is my first professional cartooning job from back in 1988: The California Raisins in 3-D #5

While I was at the Kubert school, I realized that I liked drawing cartoony comics more than a superhero comics that I grew up liking. It sounds kind of strange, but it was a really big surprise to me.
Around this time, the comics that really excited me were Love and Rockets, Life in Hell, and the Kitchen Sink Press reprint of Harvey Kurtzman's Jungle Book.
Being completely ignorant of the lack of demand for funny comics, I wrote and drew a funny animal comic book story and brought it down to San Diego Comic Con to try to get a job.
A lot of people liked my samples, but most of them told me that there's no market for funny comics. I got a couple of bites from some small independent places like Apple Comics, Slave Labor, and Blackthorne Publishing. I also got some very encouraging words from Dave Stevens, Scott Saavedra, and my old hero, Mike Grell.
I came back home with a positive attitude because I had gotten a few good leads. I went back to life as usual (working at an ice cream store) until one day a package arrived on my front doorstep.
The package was from Blackthorne Publishing, and it contained a script, a contract, and 10 blank comic book pages. The job was a 10 page story for an upcoming issue of California Raisins in 3-D! It would have been nice if they had told me in advance... the deadline was in two weeks!
The first thing I had to do was ask my boss for a week off. Then I spent a couple days making thumbnail sketches and practicing drawing the characters. By the time I was ready to dive in fully, I had 10 days left to pencil and ink a 10 page professional quality story.
It was a pretty intense 10 days -- after all, this was my first job and I wanted to make a great impression. This was my way out of the ice cream store! My big break! California-Raisins-Comic004
After I was finished, there was no way I was going to send that precious cargo through the mail. I drove the story down to the Blackthorne offices in El Cajon California.
It was kind of cool to see the rickety little shop that they had going on there. After I turned in the story, they turned right around and give me another script. I didn't get a check, though... but that's another story. California-Raisins-Comic006Some of my early influences
are showing in these pages: on page 3, dig the Robert Crumb-style street scene.
California-Raisins-Comic007And the robot that answers the door on page 4 is an homage to my hero Harvey Kurtzman and his story "Henry and the Goon Child" from his early days at EC comics.
California-Raisins-Comic008 The comic was published in 3-D, so I'm just showing the black-and-white pages as I drew them.
California-Raisins-Comic009 I realize there's no lettering, but trust me -- the story wouldn't make much more sense if it had words. It was a pretty wonky script, but I wasn't about to complain.
Here's a look at the first page in all of its 3-D glory:California Raisins 3D comic page
California-Raisins-Comic-Book-Cover And here's the hideous cover which I certainly did NOT draw.
I'm happy to say that 22 years later (how in the world is THAT possible?) I can still look back at this comic and not wince.
It was still a few more years before my career really got off the ground, but this was my first taste of working to a professional standard, and on deadline, and getting to see my work in print. There is nothing like it :-)

No Dan Moynihan

cartook boy on skateboard flipping his board over a gap in the sidewalk drawing by Dan MoynihanLooking at Dan Moynihan's drawings makes me feel like a little kid again. His playful doodles have a happy childlike quality that reminds me of PD Eastman, Quentin Blake and my ol'pal Craig Bartlett. But of course, he's totally got his own thing goin'!

Anyway, I just had to share this with everybody because it's so darn good!

check out Dan Moynihan's cartoons, comics and illustrations at
"No Worries" Illustration at:

Gus The Grocer

GusGrocer-a-LittleMissSunbeam GusGrocer-a-LittleMissSunbeam2-27
Little Miss Sunbeam 2-01 Gus the Grocer from
Little Miss Sunbeam Comics #2
Aug-Sept 1950
Magazine Enterprises
 Little Miss Sunbeam 2-02