(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘illustration

“What, Me Worry?”*…

We lost a giant earlier this week…

Al Jaffee, the celebrated and much-laureled cartoonist known to generations for his clever creations for MAD magazine, died Monday [at age 102] in Manhattan due to multiple organ failure…

Jaffee studied at the High School of Music & Art in New York City in the late 1930s, alongside several future MAD colleagues: Will Elder, Al Feldstein, Harvey Kurtzman and John Severin. He began his career in the early ’40s as an artist working for several comics publications, including Marvel Comics precursors Timely Comics and Atlas Comics. He began creating gag-driven comedy spots for Timely, including Ziggy Pig and Silly Seal at the request of Marvel legend Stan Lee.

He made his MAD magazine debut in 1955, but soon left with outgoing editor and his old school friend Kurtzman to work for his Trump and Humbug publications. When these folded in the late ’50s, Jaffee returned to the MAD fold. A few years later, in 1964, Jaffee approached Feldstein with his idea for the first Fold-In cover, which would riff on the scandal of Elizabeth Taylor leaving her husband Eddie Fisher for her Cleopatra co-star Richard Burton. Feldstein and Bill Gaines were immediately enthusiastic, and Jaffee was soon asked for a new Fold-In, and the intricate and clever gimmick soon appeared in almost every issue…

Jaffee also notably created the Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions as well as humorous articles about concepts for newfangled inventions — many of which turned out to be very accurate predictions…

He continued creating for MAD and other publications into the new millennium. Among his many career accolades, Jaffee was presented with a Sergio Award from the Comic Art Professional Society in 2011, inducted into the Will Eisner Hall of Fame in 2013, elected to the Society of Illustrators’ Hall of Fame in 2014, and was officially declared to have had “the longest career as a comics artist” (73 year, three months) by Guinness World Records in 2016, well before he retired at age 99.

On the March 13, 2006, episode of The Colbert Report aired on Jaffee’s 85th birthday, comedian Stephen Colbert saluted the artist with a Fold-In birthday cake. The cake featured the salutary message “Al, you have repeatedly shown artistry & care of great credit to your field.” When the center section of the cake was removed, the remainder read, “Al, you are old.”

More on the master: “Award-Winning ‘MAD’ Cartoonist and Fold-In Inventor Al Jaffee Dies at 102,” in @animag.

See also: “Al Jaffee, A MAD Magazine Legend, Remembered As ‘Every Cartoonist’s Role Model’,” from @robsalk.

Alfred E. Neuman


As we appreciate art, we might send powerfully-drawn and carefully-lettered birthday greetings to Dave Gibbons; he was born on this date in 1949. A comics artist, writer and letterer, he was a creator of 2000 AD, the Martha Washington series, Doctor Who, Green Lantern, World’s Finest, The Secret Service, and others. But he is best known for his work with writer Alan Moore, which includes the seminal Watchmen and the Superman story “For the Man Who Has Everything.”


Gibbons at the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con (source)

Written by (Roughly) Daily

April 14, 2023 at 1:00 am

“I suppose illustration tends to live in the streets, rather than in the hermetically sealed atmosphere of the museum, and consequently it has come to be taken less seriously”*…

From “How Punch Magazine Changed Everything,” one of the essays in the collection

From illustrator, writer, and educator Philip Kennedy, 175 stories “illustrating” 175 years of illustration…

Illustration is a fascinating subject and yet its history is rarely told. This project aims to champion the medium and bring some inspiration, insight and knowledge to readers everywhere.

Illustration Chronicles explores a history of illustration through the images, illustrators and events of the past 175 years. Every few months the site picks a topic [e.g., Music, Animals, Satire, History] to explore. These topics inspire the types of work that get selected and once a piece has been chosen, the year it was made gets marked off the project timeline.

To learn more about Illustration Chronicles you can read a more detailed introduction here

Take a look at the fascinating work-in-progress: “Illustration Chronicles,” from @philipkennedy.

* master illustrator Quentin Blake


As we delight in drawing, we might send carefully-limned birthday greetings to Barbara Cooney; she was born on this date in 1917. An illustrator and writer, primarily of children’s books, she received two Caldecott Medals for her work on Chanticleer and the Fox (1958) and Ox-Cart Man (1979), and a National Book Award for Miss Rumphius (1982). Her books have been translated into 10 languages.


Written by (Roughly) Daily

August 6, 2022 at 1:00 am

“A picture is a poem without words”*…

Truth, trend.

A collection of pithy illustrations…

Generalist, specialist.
Numbers obscure nuance.

Many more artistic aphorisms at Visualize Value.

* Horace


As we picture it, we might send aesthetic birthday greetings to Rene Ricard; he was born on this date in 1946. A painter, poet, actor, and art critic, he was a seminal figure in the New York art scene of later 20th century. After dropping out of school in Boston, he moved to New York City, where he became a protégé of Andy Warhol (and appeared in the Warhol films Kitchen, Chelsea Girls, and The Andy Warhol Story). He was a founder of Theater of the Ridiculous (with John Vaccaro and Charles Ludlam). He was a regularly-published poet. And from the early 90s, he was a widely-exhibited artist. But he was perhaps ultimately most influential in his art criticism (and his contributions to gallery and exhibition catalogues)– especially a series of essays he wrote for Artforum magazine in which (among other impacts) he launched the career of painter Julian Schnabel and helped bring Jean-Michel Basquiat to fame. Andy Warhol called Ricard “the George Sanders of the Lower East Side, the Rex Reed of the art world.”


“If the map doesn’t agree with the ground the map is wrong”*…

Mercator’s depiction of Rupes Nigra

Maps from hundreds of years ago can be surprisingly accurate… or they can just be really, really wrong. Weird maps from history invent lands wholesale, distort entire continents, or attempt to explain magnetism planet-wide. Sometimes the mistakes had a surprising amount of staying power, too, getting passed from map to map over the course of years while there was little chance to independently verify…

Gerardus Mercator, creator of everyone’s favorite map projection, didn’t know what the north pole looked like. No one in his time really did. But they knew that magnetic compasses always pointed north, and so a theory developed: the north pole was marked by a giant magnetic black-rock island.

He quotes a description of the pole in a letter: “In the midst of the four countries is a Whirl-pool, into which there empty these four indrawing Seas which divide the North. And the water rushes round and descends into the Earth just as if one were pouring it through a filter funnel. It is four degrees wide on every side of the Pole, that is to say eight degrees altogether. Except that right under the Pole there lies a bare Rock in the midst of the Sea. Its circumference is almost 33 French miles, and it is all of magnetic Stone (…) This is word for word everything that I copied out of this author [Jacobus Cnoyen] years ago.”

Mercator was not the first or only mapmaker to show the pole as Rupes Nigra, and the concept also tied into fiction and mythology for a while. The idea eventually died out, but people explored the Arctic in hopes of finding a passage through the pole’s seas for years before the pole was actually explored in the 1900s…

See five more confounding charts at “The Weird History of Extremely Wrong Maps.”

And for fascinating explanations of maps with intentional “mistakes,” see: “MapLab: The Legacy of Copyright Traps” and “A map is the greatest of all epic poems.”

* Gordon Livingston


As we find our way, we might spare a thought for Thomas Doughty; he was beheaded on this date in 1578. A nobleman, soldier, scholar, and personal secretary of Christopher Hatton, Doughty befriended explorer and state-sponsored pirate Francis Drake, then sailed with him on a 1577 voyage to raid Spanish treasure fleets– a journey that ended for Doughty in a shipboard trial for treason and witchcraft, and his execution.

Although some scholars doubt the validity of the charges of treason, and question Drake’s authority to try and execute Doughty, the incident set an important precedent: according to a history of the English Navy, To Rule the Waves: How the British Navy Shaped the Modern World by Arthur L. Herman, Doughty’s execution established the idea that a ship’s captain was its absolute ruler, regardless of the rank or social class of its passengers.


Written by (Roughly) Daily

July 2, 2022 at 1:00 am

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