Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Favorite Cartoonists

Originally posted on July 15, 2009

I just wrote another blog about Roz Chast and mentioned also Gary Larson. Here are some others, just to play the game of listing “my favorite things”:
– Gary Watterson’s Calvin & Hobbes series of cartoons now in books, both for his art and his themes—especially those that speak to philosophy and the enjoyment of fantasy (both of which resonate with my tastes), and of course his extraordinary art.
– Saul Steinberg’s wonderful modality of line art, also featured a lot in the New Yorker. Not really a cartoonist, only slightly an illustrator, really a bridge between fine art and cartoon art.
– Abner Dean, a little known sort-of-cartoon artist who drew in the 1940s, I think. A merging of surrealism and comedy. Closer to William Steig, in some ways, but with his own stark review. Modern, a bit melancholy, but I find these drawing amazing.
– Milt Gross, the comic cartoonist of the 1920s and into the 1930s, his “great American novel,” He Done Her Wrong, a wordless mega-melodrama, knocked me out. He was also a master of Jewish dialect humor, but that’s a different blog article yet to be written.
– Al Capp’s Lil’ Abner characters, the Shmoo, Fearless Fosdick, and on and on, great art, funny, imaginative. Alas, he shifted from being somewhat liberal to scarily conservative in the 1960s, perhaps over-reacting to perceiving the worst in the hippie movement.
– Kliban’s cartoons—especially his odd cats— but also his other stuff was delightful.
– Ziegler’s drawing also partook of the super-surrealistic, as did Dan Piraro’s “Bizarro” cartoons still appearing, still impressing me with their great perspectives and true weirdosity.

Some lesser known cartoonists include Mark Alan Stamaty, who fills his pictures with minuscule elements. This was before the fashion in complexity re-emerged in the Where’s Waldo series, and scores of children’s book knockoffs. That’s another taste: I wonder how many folks prefer pictures full of intriguing details rather than startling simplicity.

The key here is that I enjoy the sensation of my mind being boggled a bit. I wonder what percentage of people feel this? It should be recognized as a kind of subtle perception. (There are clearly many more than the five senses operating!)  Well, enough for now. This is one of many possible reflections or lists of “my favorite things,” and you might want to make your own lists. Reflecting on such things also speaks to another blog theme I’ve written about today titled “symbols of selfhood.”

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