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Because 580 This is our telephone talk program. My name's David inch and we're glad to have you with us this morning. We're also pleased to have back as a guest. Bob Harvey he's an author and a cartoon historian. And we'll be talking about one of his areas of interest this morning something that we haven't done on previous shows we'll be talking a bit about the comic book. But first we'd like to remind you that this station is supported in large part by your contributions Public Radio is public radio because the public folks like you help pay the bills. Big chunk of our funding comes from listeners and as costs continue to go up we need to make sure that that that base not only stays stable but grows and every time we do one of these we do them generally in the spring and in the fall. We try to invite people who have been listening for a while maybe or maybe you've just discovered us. But people who are not financial supporters of the station we invite them to come on board and join this group we call the friends of WRAL and we call them our friends not just because that
they like us and we have moral support from them but we also have financial support in the form of dollars. You can join now by giving us a call and the number is 2 4 4 9 4 5 5 2 1 7 is the area code. You can call him. We have some volunteers who have given up a couple of hours of their day to take your call. It is pretty quick. I will not take more than a minute or two and we hope that you will call in and make a pledge maybe at the basic level of forty dollars or one hundred or two hundred fifty year whatever you can afford you can figure that out. But we hope that first what you'll do is take that step and say to yourself Yes I think the programs are good. I understand that my contribution is important helps pay the bills and I'm going to do that. So right now would be a fine time to do it 2 4 4 9 4 5 5 and we would appreciate it very much. Well again we want to welcome back to the program. Robert Harvey has been with us before.
Several times a couple times at least to talk about his great passion and that is comics and cartooning. He has authored several books on this subject. He has a couple that look at the history of the newspaper comic strip. And we've talked about that the past couple of couple of visits that he's made here on the show. And at that time I had said like I said a couple of times that I'd like to have him come back and we could talk about comic books which he's also written about. And as a matter of fact he's the author of a book titled The Art of the comic book and aesthetic history and it is published by the University of University Press of Mississippi. And this in the paper a large format paperback it's not terribly expensive and if you're interested in comics you can take a look at it I'm sure that you can find it in the bookstores around the area here. And of course as we talk with Bob Harvey if you have questions you can call us and be in on the conversation here. Very
easy course straight forward as always. The number here for the program 3 3 3 9 4 5 5. Or we also have toll free line. If it would be a long distance call for you 800 to 2 2 9 4 5 5. We would like to remind you that if you call in here to be a part of the show no one will expect you to give money. That is not required to go in. We hope people will of course but that's a different sort of a deal it's a separate number separate thing so. If you like calling your comments questions are welcome as always three three three. W I L L toll free 800 to 2 to tell you while I'm well thanks again for being here. You're welcome and welcome. Good to be here. We in the past I think we've talked about the maybe the basic thing that makes the cartoon special. As And an art form is that it has pictures. It has words. Those worked together to produce something that is maybe greater than the sum of the parts. Yes that either would not do by itself. Yeah so here we have something
that's a little bit different. It's it's the same and it shares that with with a one panel comic or the strip. But it's also it's different in a number of ways what in. Maybe I'll just ask that as a question how how is a comic book different from say that that panel strip of little boxes that we see that appear in the newspaper. Well let me say first that. What we think of as a comic book today the modern comic book had its beginnings in the 1930s and it started by reprinting newspaper comic strips. So in the beginning a comic book was. Not very much different than a newspaper comic strip. It looked well. Sometimes the strips that were being reprinted were Sunday comic strips and all they did was reduce them to fit a half by 11 page and
they left the format pretty much the same as the Sunday comics appeared. Back in those days however the Sunday comics you didn't get for comic strips to a page as we do today they almost all the time. A page was devoted to a single comic strip so they would take the artwork for that and reduce it down a little bit further and put it on a page eventually. Some other various entrepreneurs decided to produce comic books using art and stories that were produced expressly for the purpose of putting them in comic books. There's the principle thing that makes a comic book story different than the story you see in a newspaper is that there are more there's more of it. So you're actually in newspapers you have a serial form of storytelling. Or individual jokes from day to day but in a comic book the story usually begins and ends in the same issue and it might take 32 pages back in the old days when you
had 32 page comic books it might take 32 pages to tell a story. So apart from the length it also has two other aspects that newspaper comic strips no longer have and one of them is that it can vary the size of the panel newspaper comic strips are pretty much frozen into standard format in order to fit every newspaper in the country. But comic book or. Panels the individual boxes or pictures can be of different sizes and they can be different shapes. And when you put these different sizes and shapes together on the page then you're doing the other thing the comic books. Are different. Within that is your laying them out you're creating a page that incorporates oblong square circle different shapes of panels and probably different sizes. As an example and the cartoonist can use these different shapes to
accomplish narrative purposes or dramatic purposes. For example you can emphasize let's say a character is going to leap off a cliff and you can emphasise the height of the of the jump by using a vertical panel and the panel might be the entire vertical dimension of a page and this will emphasize just how much of a hazard it is for this character to leap off this cliff. By the same token you can use a panel that's a whole page wide you know to emphasize but say you have a line of soldiers marching and you can land for size the horizontal character of that or the length of the line by using a horizontal panel. I think it's interesting and I'm sure I've never thought about this as a kid exactly looking at comics but looking through the book The Art of the comic book makes you. Start to look at it a little bit differently. We are the way we read the way that we're trained to read it is that we start up at the top on the left and we go over to the right and then we go back over to the other side so if you give
somebody a say a series of boxes that's the natural inclination that's the way we think we're supposed to go. What's interesting about the possibilities with the layout of the comic page and where I think some of the art comes in is that you don't you don't necessarily have to follow that rule. But what you do have to do if you want people to go in some different way you have to layout the page in and show them the images in a way that will lead their eyes to go the way you want to go which is which I think can be very challenging I'm sure and probably also provide some some satisfaction and fun for the artists as he or she is thinking about now how exactly do I when do I want to arrange these images. Yeah. And there are tricks that you can use you can position speech balloons for example in ways that will catch the eye and in effect this speech balloons become the bellwether that lead your lead you through the story. You can also just buy the
size. And positioning of a panel determine the direction that a reader is going to follow. There was criticism back in the 50s in the 40s in fact very shortly after comic books began to appear they began to be criticised by people who regarded them as garish. Enterprises that were going to seduce the young into doing all kinds of criminal activity. But one of the criticisms was that it interfered with their learning how to read because you didn't read a comic book page in precisely the same way as you read a page of text. Well that wasn't true. And most experts on reading today realize that that criticism is fallacious. You read a comic book page the same as you do a book of text you start at the upper left and you go to the right and at the end of every line just as you would with a typewritten page you go back to the beginning of that line.
Work work comics when they started to develop at all. Inspired by or shaped by the movie serials. Well comics themselves. Yes. Movie serials by movies themselves in fact one of the great historic figures in the history of newspaper comics was a fellow named Winsor McCay who also produced some spectacular animated cartoons. One of which was called Girty the dinosaur. And in those days that were looking 1910 1015 somewhere in there in those days many cartoonists made moonlighted on the vaudeville stage and Winsor McCay would have had a vaudeville act and the gritty the dinosaur animated film was intended to supplement or to be a part of the act and it was arranged in such a way that the you would first see the projection of Girty on the screen and Bertie would walk along and all of a sudden here's Winsor McCay walking in front of the screen and he picks up a ball and he throws it to Girty and she catches
it. So he managed to integrate live action really live with the appearance that he created of an animated character on the screen. He was very good at animation. You had a sense of weight. And in one sequence occurred he lies down and she breathes and you can see your rib cage. You know inflating and deflating. Nobody was quite that good at animation until the 30s when Walt Disney really got going again. But in a way the point of the digression is yes there's a connection between film and cartooning particularly in the 30s when the adventure comic strip in newspapers began to come in and many of the cartoonists working in that particular genre studied the way films were made and set up the action and the pictures in much the same way as a filmmaker would. I think that's that's also something that's that you point out in the book that in a way that comics are
cinematic in some respects one respect being for example the change in and perspective of the viewer that is you know and you may and that that reflects the perspective of the characters in the comic strip because you see things you may see thing in one panel one box you may see something from the perspective of one character. Then in the next you may see it from the perspective of the other as if you could physically you're looking in one direction the next you're looking in the other direction and these things are cut together almost in a way that you would cut together a movie. Yes yes. And and in fact one of the pioneers of the comic book that is a person who began to produce material that was intended to be presented to the reader on a page rather than as a strip format but instead of a strip format as in the newspaper this was intended to be presented on the page. His name is Will Eisenhower and he began in about one thousand thirty six or thirty seven to
operate a shop. Comic art shop they were called these were large rooms filled with drawing boards and artists who would produce as quickly as they could and almost assembly line fashion comic book pages for comic book publishers who would buy this material from them and Eisner got very early began in this enterprise by reconfiguring comic strips that he had drawn for the Sunday newspaper reconfiguring them for the smaller page size of a comic book and he would cut apart the panels and paste them up again and in the process of doing that why. He had to sometimes put some new artwork in a panel in order to make it fit the page and various other things and he began thinking about quick cutting between scenes and shifting point of view and things like that which were very cinematic. And. So and he's often called the father of the. The grammar of the comic book. He's still alive by the way. And
he is still producing comic books he in. And World War 2 he went into the army and he was engaged in producing training materials and instructional materials which he convinced somebody to do in comic book form and he did that and after he got out he started doing instructional and educational comics for a long long time. But in the 70s he got back in the fiction business he was always convinced that comics were a literary form. And he's produced several books a dozen or 20 of what are now called graphic novels. Perhaps the most significant development in comics in the comic book form in recent years has been the emergence of comic books that are intended for adult readers comic books had through most of their history been dead juvenile readers. But since about the 1970s there's been a substantial strain of activity devoted to producing material for adult readers. And one of the leaders in that
is has been will. So he figured very importantly in history the medium from the very beginning when when comic artists started to do these things using some of the same devices that people saw in movies were because people had been exposed to that in movies where they where they then ready to accept that on a printed page so that they where it wasn't they looked at the page and thought What's going on here that they knew perfectly well what they what that meant what that grammar was because they had already been exposed to visual images working in this way and that there was no question when they picked up they said oh I get it I understand what this is about. I wouldn't be surprised that there's a symbiotic relationship here and one assisted the other. I think also in the book there is one of your chapters that I think the title is something like Why drawing a comic strip is not like making a movie. You know there are differences right. Yeah well the difference is chiefly are that movies work in time and comics work in
space. And so if you're going to if you're going to try to time something in the way that a movie director would if you were in comics you have to do it with the way you manipulate space. Movie directors do it by the way they manipulate time. Both of the mediums use images of course that they have in common but it's a question of how you manipulate those images and a movie director does it with time and a common comic book artist as it was page. Well now I have to ask you how how do you do that. What do you mean by that. Let me see. I don't know where they come up with a good example here. The manipulation of space. The number of images that you may put on a page is going to influence how the reader perceives what you do. For example if you have several panels or several panels that repeat an image and in essence you have a series of very static compositions because the image is the same. Let's say it's a picture of a man
sitting in a chair and he's sitting there and they sitting there and he's sitting there you see three different pictures that's going to slow you down. You can make and the space that's being used is that you're occupying the space of three panels with the same picture. So you're going to you're going to slow down as a reader because because the image is not changing in front of your face in front of your eyes. And and that is an indication the fact that some some long amount of time is passing. Yes. Unless you compose the panels in such a way that you make them narrow slices of imagery rather than full size whatever full size might be let's say a full size a square panel. And let's say that you get three of them on a single tear of pictures in a comic book. Well if you want to convey the sense of the rapid movement of time then you might. The first thing that you might do is change the picture
in each one of the panels so that there is a sense of movement and then you might instead of producing three panels on that chair you might do six so that each little slice of the imagery seems to be going by faster. So again you're manipulating space in order to achieve the effect of time. That's very interesting. All these things that I never really thought as a kid reading comic books I'd never really thought a great deal about. Well and I suppose there are some artists that also do this much better yeah than others. Yeah. And you have to do it with a great deal of care. There was a period in the in the 70s when comic book artist were very taken with this kind of manipulation and and you would see these extravagant productions on the pages of very decorative arrangements of characters and pig and figures and speech balloons and all the rest of it. And for a while there the production of an elaborate piece of art for a page was more important than telling the story. In recent
times we've come back I think to comic book artists have come back to the notion that their real business is using pictures and words to tell a story. And if the picture they draw and the layout on the page is not serving the story in some way then it's superfluous. We are going to take a break here just for a moment to introduce our guest again. We're talking with Bob Harvey he's an author and comic historian. He has talked with us before on the show about the history of the development of the newspaper comic strip and also he has written about comic books and his book is titled The one we mentioned his morning is titled The Art of the comic book and aesthetic history and it's published by University Press of Mississippi if you'd like to take a look at it. And of course if people have questions like to talk with us this morning a bit about comic books. You can call us at 3 3 3 W I L L or 9 4 5 5 same either way we do also have a toll free line good anywhere that you can hear us 800 1:58 W while out
there is however another number that we would like to give you and that's the number to call and make a pledge. That is 2 4 4 9 4 5 5. And we've been hearing from people over the last several days and we need to keep due to that pace and that momentum if we're going to make our big fund raising goal for this fall effort. So we hope that you if you haven't yet made a pledge you will do that. Craig Cohen the host of our MORNING EDITION program is here in studio and I know he wanted to just mention sort of Rhett touch bases with us on how things turned out from this morning's effort. Yes Dave we had a very very strong MORNING this morning want to say thank you. First of all to the thirty six friends of WRAL who called in support of Morning Edition this morning including 13 new friends of W while only want to say thank you and welcome aboard. Those folks over all we heard from 51 friends of WRAL for AM and FM and raised over $5000 this morning. Right now our current overall total stands at thirty five thousand nine hundred forty four dollars which means even though I
studied the new math I know that a $60 pledge will get us over that 30 $6000 Mark and our goal overall for the day is 40000 So we're well on our way let's keep the momentum going and let's hear from fans of focus 580 at 2 1 7 2 4 4 9 4 5 5. Myself I was I had the comic book Inside my math book so I was doing you know math that's why I'm at public radio today. So I'm a talk show host. Let's check in with less guilty he is in pledge Central where the volunteers are waiting to call what's happening there this morning the last well we are ready to take those calls for fans from Focus 580. And there we go 2 1 7 2 4 4 9 4 5 5. Hey Bob how much does a comic book cost these days. Two dollars ninety five cents is the average price is that right 295. No longer in color for a dime. I can remember those that I used to think I was Batman actually. I still still do well I say he's the coolest. It's fun to Martin my good friend from downstairs TV and I have this running discussion about who's cooler Batman or Superman and he says Superman and I say what are you nuts. That's better. Of course Batman as well
yes absolutely. He's got the cooler stuff. Oh yes get the cooler custom. He's got that car and he doesn't have the special powers. That's very important he's cool without the special powers. Yes he's only psychotic. Well leave his mental state aside. That's right it's more that's his gift. You betcha. Yeah my wife said Yeah you're Batman 0 2 9 2 1 7 2 4 4 9 4 5 5. If you just spent for example you bought a couple of comic books a week. That's more than five bucks a week right so if you made a $60 pledge to this radio station for this program Focus five eighty that's only. Less than a couple of comic books a week for for you right now and it would go it would do so much to pass along great information keep strong great talk shows like focus 580 So if you have never made a pledge to this radio station before come on board. Right now as a new member of w i l l our new friends are important to join our our old friends who keep this station going strong. So if you enjoy a great literature if you enjoy
comics if you enjoy all of the themes that you hear on focus 580 every day give us a call right now at 2 1 7 2 4 4 9 4 5 5 if you are on your cell phone you can that your cellular 1 phone just hit pound 9 4 5 5 you'll get right in. All right well thanks very much less we'll be talking to you again a little bit. Our guest here this morning in this hour of focus 580 is Bob Harvey. And if you're interested in learning more about the art of a comic book. You can look for his book and that's the title of the comic book and aesthetic history where he discusses some of these same things that we've been talking about here this morning what is that makes this art form special. How it works. He also writes in the book about some individuals that we talk like well I've known that we've talked about here others. Robert Crumb Maybe if you were through the 60s you're a member of the underground comics that he was responsible for others who are working today like Art Spiegelman who is using the comic form to tell some rather interesting important stories and many others he writes about them in this book so if you're interested you
certainly should seek it out it's published by University Press of Mississippi and is one of several that Bob has written. But look at the art of the comic. We have a caller and welcome others maybe you have questions or comments or you'd like to get in on the show. 3 3 3 9 4 5 5 4 Champaign Urbana toll free 800 to 2 2 9 4 5 5. Here's a caller on line one in Champaign. Hello. Yes. When I was growing up in the Depression there was a a mode. Publishing comics were called Big little books and I'm wondering if you were familiar with that particular mode and what led to its demise which lasted for about 10 years during your 30s. I'll get off the line in just a minute. Okay thanks for the call. Big little book was. I don't I think they measured probably four inches by four inches. And they were big because they were very fat. They were maybe two inches thick. And the format was that the left hand page was
text typeset and the right hand page was a picture and the pictures were taken from a comic strip so one big little book might be about Blondie and Dagwood. And there would be a story. That's not a terribly good example although there are be little books about Blondie because the story doesn't really exist they would make up a story that would use panels from the newspaper strip the speech balloons were removed from these panels and the jokes if they were telling jokes they were still there. There are probably hundreds of these. The more successful ones were of course those that were used in the most popular comic strips which is why Blondie figures into it. But there were also ones the Red Rider which was about a cowboy and Terry and the pirates and Don Winslow of the Navy. Dozens of these. I'm not sure exactly why they
collapsed or why they went out of business. Clearly it had something to do with economics. Imagine the arrival of television had something to do with it. But it also there may or there may have been trying to remember whether the big little books were published much during the war well I guess they were. I was going to think of paper shortages but I don't think that's true. I don't know much about why they stopped being published I just know that they did. When you look at the various kinds of comics there are various story forms there are horror comics that are westerns. There are comics that were essentially soap operas but probably more than anything else there are comics that have to do with superheroes right. Is there something about the hat that that seem to lend itself to the comic form more than than the other things. Well to begin with back in the in the 40s and the 50s and the comic book stand was not completely awash in
comic books about with these legions in long underwear as a comic book artist used to refer to them. The long underwear characters. There were also comics about funny animals and there were comics about television programs I love loosely and there were Westerns and so on there was quite a wide or broad array of genre. In recent years. Superheroes have pretty well dominated. Although as I say as I said earlier the emergence of a comic book directed at an adult reader probably means that the subject of that is not superheroes it's not erotic either I don't mean that by adult I mean the things that an adult might be interested in well isor for example just published a book about called The Last Day in Vietnam and it was about various trips that he made to Vietnam and in other words it's it's a piece of reporting it's not fiction at all. And there's been quite a little bit of this comics repertoire coming out there
recently a fellow called Joe Sacco has produced a couple of books about Kosovo and Bosnia. Anyway back at the beginning superheroes are. Probably came into being because they wore colorful costumes and because in a comic book you could do something that could not be done in any other medium as effectively a comic book superheroes could fly. But movies had not yet developed the special effects technology that was good enough to convince you that this character was actually flying you could see. You could imagine that he was being suspended by wires from the ceiling and his cape wasn't flowing in the wind or any of the stuff so it was pretty phony in movies but in a comic book you could make it seem like it was actually happening when you bought into the notion that this story can be told with words and pictures then the comic book artist could convince you that this character wearing a bright red suit that was skin tight was actually somebody who could be accepted as a
serious citizen of society. I'm thinking of Captain Marvel for example who is one of the great popular characters in fact he is more popular than Superman if you judge by the sale of comic books in the 40s. Obviously to him it may be may be. Maybe connected to this issue of the super hero it seems that it was that these kinds of characters and their look at it had a great appeal for people who were interested in and I mean this in a nice way and in the human body and in understanding it's it's musculature and the way that people move and the challenge of representing all of that on a two dimensional surface. I'm sure and in fact in this book I talk about. What I think are the two basic attitudes that a comic book artist had in producing the material. And for a certain number of them I think just drawing
pictures of human anatomy in action from all possible angles was the great appeal. After all you don't you don't make a living drawing pictures unless you like to draw pictures. And well you probably shouldn't anyway. And most of these guys like to draw pictures and this was an enormously satisfying experience. The other kind of person was the person who would like to draw but his fascination was not anatomy or drawing so much as it was telling a story and manipulating the images in the words in order to achieve particular effects wise and fell into that category and so did Harvey Kurtzman who was one of the great artisans of the comic book. He's famous for Mad comics in which eventually. Transcended comic books into the magazine format. But Harvey Kurtzman had set the mold for the. When you look at the comic artist and how it is that they acquired their skills or were these people were they in some sense natural talents or were they people who who did some of them go
to art school did they study figure drawing How would how did they learn to do these things. Some of them went to art school back in the 30s. The people who occupied these comic art shops sat behind the drawing boards six or eight of them to a room and did nothing all day long but crank out either lettering or drawings or pencil drawings or inked other people's pencil drawings. These people were generally callus classified as either has been on their way down or want to be's on their way up because comic book artists were not paid very much and so they want to be on the way up wanted to get into a magazine illustration and book illustration and some of them had been to art school. A surprising number of comic book people were New Yorkers who went to high school in New York called the High School of Music and Art I think Harvey Kurtzman went there and Wilbur went there. And then in the late 40s there was another school called the School of
Visual Arts which is still in operation and many of many celebrated figures in comic books are instructors in that or school which I think was founded by Burne Hogarth who for years drew the Sunday comic strip Tarzan. He was great with anatomy. We have another caller to talk with let's do that in Urbana line one. Good morning. I have a question about the effectiveness of using comic strips in advertising. I came across an ad for the from the 1930s that was selling a particular type of baking. And it was a strip it had like six frames and it told the story and the whole point was to buy this particular baking product to make better cakes. And I'm wondering if anyone has done it. I haven't seen that very recently. I mean you see storylines like that on television but I haven't seen a whole lot of comics. Never touching I was wondering if you know of any
articles or do you cover that in your book. No I don't talk about that in the book and I don't know much about what the literature might be on the subject. There must be some somewhere because almost every aspect of popular culture is being studied by someone some right. The appeal of the comic strip as an advertising gimmick however probably had more to do with the characters that were being depicted than it did with the form itself. OK Little Abner was a very popular comic strip in the 30s and 40s and you could find half page ads in the slick magazine Saturday Evening Post in Collier's featuring Little Abner doing something and course it was in black and white just like the Sunday funnies the pictures are a little bit bigger and it would attract your eye and that's the whole point was to get you to read the thing right. The popularity of comic characters as sales vehicles continues to this day. I mean the Peanuts characters are used to sell Mutual of Omaha's life insurance I thought Oh that's right yeah.
Ford Ford Motor Company. It's not called that anymore is it. And I think that's what Henry Ford called it anyway. They used to Peanuts characters for a while. Oh yeah. And magazine publishers will put Dilbert on the cover of magazines hoping that his popularity will help sell the magazine of course it does. Magazine publishers aren't fools and they don't put anything on the cover that they figure isn't going to sell a magazine right here and there be any chance I have to be and I can't sit there with your show but I have a few more questions. Yeah I'm in Champagne actually and I'm in the phone book. Oh OK. I also have a website of oh yes I have that's right. Yes w w w dot R. S. Harvey dot com. OK. Thank you very much. All right thanks for the call and we got somebody else here are ready to go or we're getting them lined up and would be very happy to take other questions we are talking with Bob Harvey. He's cartoon historian and if you're interested specifically in the art of the comic book you can look for the book that he wrote and that's the title The Art of the
comic book and aesthetic history is published by the University Press of Mississippi. And if you have other kinds of questions you certainly can call 333 W. Weil toll free 800 1:58 WLM. Here's champagne color line number two. Hello Oh yes yes. Enjoy the show every time I listen to it. Thank you for having an affair. I have just a comment. Advertisements it's interesting that your guest said that the Peanuts characters are ever actually advertising a different insurance company which kind of points out the reality that sometimes the advertisement becomes ineffective because the characters over act or actually are more important than the product and then the people actually forget what their average. That's pretty much all of the say thank you. OK well that's that's one of those things that's that's a truism in advertising you want it in the end that often as a piece of advertising a commercial You may think in one sense it is successful because people remember it.
But if they don't remember the product right now then it's no good. For example there's a famous Sunday comic book character out there in the 40s who's called Mr. Coffee nerves you know like an old fashioned melodramatic villain. And can you tell me the product that he was advertising Mr. Coffee nerves Sanka. Well you know it was posted in the old days. OK. Well it was it was sort of the same day it was a Call it was a roasted green beverage that they had no caffeine and that was the oh I don't imagine it tasted much like coffee I don't know have you experienced Postum. No I haven't I have tried sank several years ago I mean it was still available but I kind of think that it is myself I don't I don't agree I don't quite get the point but. There you go. Other questions welcome 3 3 3 W while all toll free 800 1:58 wy live how is it. Is it more the case in comics that there are writers and there are artists. Or is it more the case that that the Creator is basically one person
who basically does those things as one person. Well actually no it's both. But for much of the run of the history of the comic book the stories are written by somebody. The drawings were made by somebody else and the lettering was done by yet a third person. And when this process of production was refined into an assembly line mechanism why you would have one person penciling a page very roughly another person tightening up the pencils making them more accurate representation of renderings and a third person inking the pencil so you'd have a fourth person who is writing the dialogue that they're speaking in a fifth person who is lettering the dialogue. And then you probably had somebody who came around with a ruler and drew the borders on the panels. And then finally some new kid who took an eraser and erased all the pencil lines. So it was a real assembly line process. Probably the best comics I could get a lot of trouble with this but the ones that are hit have been
historically regarded as superior works have been produced by one individual who wrote them and drew them. Some of those people well. And one of the most notable recently died at the age of 99 His name is Carl Barks and he drew Donald Duck comics using the Disney characters but the Donald Duck in the comic books that Karl Marx did was a different personality than the character you see an animated cartoon and he produced hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of stories there are very good stories well drawn and with moral implications that were in the mainstream of the American ethic. Well I've been or who I've mentioned Harvey Kurtzman who actually wrote much of his material but it was drawn by other people but he did elaborate layouts of the pages on tissue paper showing the artist exactly how to draw every panel. So he was in effect.
The background artist for all the work that he did. Anyway there are others but but the the essential character I think of a comic of cartooning is that you tell a joke or tell a story by using pictures in words in concert and you don't do this as a deliberate conscious act. It's intuitive like any other art form. It has to do with the psyche of the Creator. And if a person thinks in a verbal visual terms like this he will think in comic book form or comic strip form or cartoon form. So it's it makes sense to me that if that's the way he's thinking stuff that is produced by that kind of a creator is going to be superior to the kind that is produced by a writer on the one hand whose real ambition is to write for television or Hollywood and is writing for comic books only because he needs to make a living for a while.
Another caller yet again to Clinton Indiana line for certain yes. I just want to know what kid hasn't read comic books you know when I come back from the 30s. But. One other aspect of comic strips was that I had noticed Mike just myself maybe it's just me but like Prince Valiant I know there's another one. Rick I think somebody who is a young sheriff out West you know Rick O'Shay. Yeah but the way the layout you know way they drew the scenery was it was almost you know like an artist didn't know it well they were artists. Well I understand that but you know it wasn't a comic book form. Yeah it was just you know it's just the spectacular drawings there. Yeah. Other than just the story you know. Right was it. I thought I want to comment on Prince Valiant that was produced by an artist named
Hel Foster who also wrote his own material. He got involved in comics because he was an illustrator and they needed somebody to illustrate the serialized newspaper version of Tarzan. And it was presented in comic strip form. There were a lot of comics in the 20s or books in the 20s rather that were presented in serial form a newspaper using the comic strip form that is to say they were. A succession of four or five pictures and instead of having speech rooms they had text below them in type and he got involved in that way. In the thirties even though he was very good illustrator he couldn't find enough work so he kept coming back to Tarzan and eventually somebody offered him a much better deal if he did his own strip and he invented Prince Valiant Rick O'Shay is an interesting example. It started in the late 50s. It's done by a man named Stan line who is still alive and still working but not in comics anymore is writing novels. It began as a spoof western of the Old West. And by the
time the run of the strip was finished it over years why Stan line began drawing much more serious pictures that became serious representation of reality instead of caricature representation and his backgrounds and scenery became very illustrative almost photographic. You know I seem to recall that he in deed was he was very very concerned with the details of the visual details of things and that was when you looked at say the the six shooter somebody would have or the saddle they were sitting on or things like that. And he said he took great pains to make those think to render those things in an accurate and realistic. Yeah. He grew up in Montana he still lives there now and he's out. He likes the Old West and he likes the life of the Old West Cowboys cattle ranch riding horses things like that and he's
Focus 580
Comics and Comic Books
Producing Organization
WILL Illinois Public Media
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WILL Illinois Public Media (Urbana, Illinois)
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Bob Harvey, cartoon historian and author
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Talk Show
Books and Reading; ENTERTAINMENT; books; art & design; Arts and Culture; Comics; Art and Culture; comic books
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Guest: Harvey, Bob
Host: Inge, David
Producer: Ryan Edge
Producing Organization: WILL Illinois Public Media
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Illinois Public Media (WILL)
Identifier: cpb-aacip-d20820989b0 (unknown)
Format: audio/mpeg
Generation: Copy
Duration: 45:43
Illinois Public Media (WILL)
Identifier: cpb-aacip-7137f7491fa (unknown)
Format: audio/vnd.wav
Generation: Master
Duration: 45:43
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Chicago: “Focus 580; Comics and Comic Books,” 2000-10-18, WILL Illinois Public Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed August 12, 2022,
MLA: “Focus 580; Comics and Comic Books.” 2000-10-18. WILL Illinois Public Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. August 12, 2022. <>.
APA: Focus 580; Comics and Comic Books. Boston, MA: WILL Illinois Public Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from