Archive for March, 2011

Friday Funnies Presents: Dick Duck, Duck Dick #3> Jim Engel

Posted in Friday Funnies, Jim Engel with tags , , on March 25, 2011 by ComiCrazys

By the time I got to this 3rd strip, I’d been thinking that I wanted to introduce another character for Dick Duck to interact with…

While he (Dick Duck) was created FOR the Comic Reader page, his new sidekick (like “pals”) had had a prior “life”…

Somewhere around 1975, my wife (then girlfriend) Charis had given me a gift that I particularly treasure to this day. We were walking past an antique store, and noticed a cement bulldog that was being used as a doorstop to hold the door open.

“Pavlov” the statue—the real-life statue “Pavlov the Pup” was modeled on.

I was immediately taken with it, and CHARIS (being the swell dish she was) insisted on buying it for me. He’s probably 60-70 years old by now. His basic look/style seems to have been used for statuary as well as ceramic and carnival-type prizes– a sitting bulldog wearing a collar/ harness deal…I’ve since seen similar dogs. I immediately named him “Pavlov”.

Laying around my office (I was apprenticing in a Chicago advertising art & photography studio) was a cheap party-favor version of the iconic “Groucho Glasses”. One day, I cut off the plastic eyebrows, detached the plastic nose & mustache, and adhered them to Pavlov via black photographic tape. I liked the look. My tough little bulldog now had a slightly incongruous bookish look, which I thought gave him character…

Pavlov was a regular fixture on the Engel & Fiala caricature tables at the Chicago Comicons. Here he is in 1978. (L-Chuck, R-Jim)

Pavlov, like “pals” had, took on a life of his own in the little notes and drawings I gave Charis. He also joined a lot of my friends and favorite characters in making cameos on the greeting cards I would do for 9 yrs after I left my apprentice job. SOOOO, by the time I started “Dick Duck”, he was very real to me, and I thought I’d add him. As for characterization, I portrayed him as completely innocent & naive, and well…. Cute. I figured that’d provide a nice counterpoint to the tough, cynical Dick.

Pavlov makes a cameo on the cover & inside of an Engel greeting card for MARK I (late ’70s).

As for depicting him, I broke one of my own cardinal “funny animal rules”, and clothed him only in the harness he’d always had, VS fully clothing him (that would later bug me, as he always looked naked, and I WOULD dress him, but I’d keep him in a green shirt that evoked (at least for me) the harness.

Long after DICK DUCK ended, I would use Pavlov as the star of the comic strip I would attempt to syndicate in the (late?)’80s. By THEN, another strip had emerged titled ” PAVLOV” (also about a dog), so I was faced with changing his name. I opted for “BUTTONS”‘ which had been the name of a beloved family dog of Charis’, and which I thought sounded cute (and somehow “fit” with the glasses). In giving BUTTONS a side-kick for THAT strip, I played around with several characters before deciding to basically use DICK DUCK under another name. I stole the first name of my first fanzine character, LACKLUSTER LIZARD, and “BUTTONS” was joined by “LACKLUSTER DUCK”. Wheels within wheels…

“Pavlov” would become “Buttons”, and “Dick Duck” “Lackluster Duck” when Engel attempted to sell a comic strip for syndication (circa 1985).

PS: In panel one, Dick is reading “The Mana-Mana Gazette” (and that’s me on the cover)… Jerry Sinkovec & Mike Tiefenbacher were the publisher & editor respectively of “The Menomonee Falls Gazette”, a great weekly paper consisting of classic and (then) contemporary syndicated adventure strips, and that’s a reference to that. The clunky “J.S.” on the side is Jerry’s self-attached “credit” for hand-cutting the color separations.


Friday Funnies Presents: Jim Engel’s Dick Duck, Duck Dick > Part 2

Posted in Friday Funnies, Jim Engel with tags , , on March 18, 2011 by ComiCrazys

Jim Engel: Bear in mind, that prior to agreeing to do DICK DUCK, I’d drawn maybe 10 pages (if that) of actual comics in my life, all 1-page gags for fanzines, so I was definitely “finding my way”… DICK DUCK was essentially one-pagers too, but this was my first really “on-going” character…

The gag here was another based on dueling dialogue, and I have to admit I still find it funny. I was then (and still am) a huge fan of comedians Bob & Ray, and this has a bit of their absurdity to me.

I mentioned in installment #1 that I was working as a greeting card artist at this time, and I regularly hid references or visuals about/of friends & relatives in my cards (and snuck in pop culture figures & characters as well). With this strip, I began doing that in DICK DUCK, and would continue to do so for the rest of the run.

“W. Clement Cluck” was a joke on famed financier “W. Clement Stone”, the name intended to suggest a wealthy rooster…Financier W. Clement Stone

“F. Shaw Scottie” (sounding a bit like “F. Scott Fitzgerald”) was a canine incarnation of cartoonist Scott Shaw!, who Chuck & I had first met at the ’75 San Diego Con. At a reading by author George Clayton Johnson, artists were welcomed up to draw on several pads on easels set up at the front of the hall, ostensibly “inspired” by the quirky Johnson’s words. Chuck & I grabbed one of the pads, and amused ourselves by making fun of it all. The guy at the next easel kept looking over at our drawings, and afterwards introduced himself as Scott Shaw (!), and complimented our work (he would also declare us “pretty funny for guys from the Midwest”). We hit it off, and to this day, almost 40 yrs later, Scott remains one of my best friends (in spite of geography). Note the “!” button on Scottie’s lapel.
Cartoonist Conga Line, San Diego 1977–(L to R:) Chuck Fiala, Scott Shaw!, Alan Jim Hanley, Jim Engel

“Dixon W. Chuck” was a wood-chucky inversion of Chuck Dixon (and a shout out to him). Prior to his rise as one of the most prolific & respected writers in comics, Chuck was a fellow contributor (writing and DRAWING) of strips to two of Chicago’s best fanzines: George Breo’s “CHRONICLE”, and Chuck Fiala’s “FVP”. Dixon was in Philadelphia, but we wrote regularly & occasionally talked via the phone as well. Later we’d collaborate on his (hilarious) RADIO BOY for Eclipse Comics.
Comics Creator Chuck Dixon

Chuck Fiala’s “FVP” #6 (circa ’74)-featuring Chuck Dixon’s “BROTHER BOLT”, and Engel’s “LACKLUSTER LIZARD”

I should also mention here that TCR publisher Jerry Sinkovec would meticulously hand-cut the color separations from my hand-colored color guides. It was a ton of work, and a ton of listening to me complain if anything was ever mis-colored. I was already starting to enjoy coloring these things, and would get more adventurous eventually…

ComiCrazys: Thank you so much, Jim.

Anacleto – Agente Secreto: Capitulo Tercero – Sexto > Manuél Vazquez

Posted in Manuel Vázquez with tags , on March 15, 2011 by ComiCrazys

I haven’t been to a comic shop in ages. Is there anything out there like this? If not – WHY?! Read the first parts here.
PS – More Dick Duck, Duck Dick this Friday.

Friday Funnies Presents: Jim Engel’s Dick Duck, Duck Dick

Posted in Friday Funnies, Jim Engel with tags , , on March 11, 2011 by ComiCrazys

We here at ComiCrazys (meaning li’l ol’ me) have been wanting to start a weekly “Friday Funnies” comic showcase for sometime now, but didn’t know what comic to feature first?

When I ran across these Jim Engel comics over at Mykal Banta’s, The Big Blog of Kids’ Comics, I was an instant fan. I went hunting for the comics on Mykal’s blog as well as anything else I could find by Jim Engel. It wasn’t until a fanzine from the the early 80s called, The Comic Reader, arrived in my mailbox that I knew I had found my comic feature. Dick Duck, Duck Dick!

After a few email introductions via the incredibly generous, Mykal, Jim graciously took me up on my offer to run Dick Duck, Duck Dick as a weekly feature. Jim also thought it would be fun to include original drawings, as well as insights and anecdotes from the time he was producing Dick Duck, Duck Dick.

Jim would love to hear from you! If you’ve become an instant fan, like I did or if you remember reading Dick Duck, Duck Dick in The Comic Reader, during those thrilling days of yesteryear, Jim wants to hear from you. So in total contrast to ComiCrazy policy, Comments has been enabled for this and all future Dick Duck, Duck Dick installments.

So, without further ado, ComiCrazys proudly presents, the very first Friday Funnies weekly comic feature, Jim Engel’s Dick Duck, Duck Dick, with commentary by Jim Engel.

Jim Engel: Although I proved to be less than prolific at it, writing & drawing the serialized adventures of “DICK DUCK, DUCK DICK” for THE COMIC READER was one of the great joys of my artistic life. I was 22, and working as a greeting card illustrator & writer for MARK I Greeting Cards in Chicago.

TCR’s publisher and editor, Jerry Sinkovec and Mike Tiefenbacher had taken over the legendary fanzine with issue #101. Mike and Jerry were friends of (my friend) Chuck Fiala and I for several years when Mike posed the question to us as to whether we’d like to do comic strips for TCR.

The magazine was making a switch from digest to comic book size, and to afford the color covers on nice white cover stock, the bulk of the interior pages would be going to newsprint, BUT the white paper signature meant there would be 4 pgs. of white (and potentially COLOR) interior pages as well. The STREET ENTERPRISES boys had an eventual goal of publishing funny animal comics, and Mike thought Chuck & I doing monthly one pagers would be a good way to start… The opportunity to be part of such an esteemed zine (in COLOR, yet!) and join our good friends in THEIR adventure, was too good to pass up, so we said yes.

Friends Chuck Fiala and Jim Engel (l. to r.)

When it came to what characters to DO, Chuck opted for turning his fanzine character JOE CROW into “BULLET CROW, FOWL OF FORTUNE”. I considered using LACKLUSTER LIZARD, a character I’d done in a few zines, but turned instead to an idea I had for a funny animal detective (Lackluster WOULD later appear in DICK DUCK). I love names with odd rhythms or sounds to them, and “Dick Duck” had that, but when I realized his name could be inverted for his profession as well, I knew I had the perfect name for the strip. As for characterization, I basically planned for him to be a hard-boiled, short-tempered, no-nonsense gumshoe, evocative of the old Warner Bros. movie types.

“THE SMITHSONIAN BOOK OF NEWSPAPER COMICS” had recently come out, and Chuck & I were smitten by it, particularly the color pages (POLLY & HER PALS in particular). Two things in our strips came as direct influences–Chuck’s “BULLET CROW–FOWL OF FORTUNE” logo & tag came from “CAPTAIN EASY–SOLDIER OF FORTUNE”, and I decided to add a second strip to my page, the way so many classic strips (ORPHAN ANNIE, DICK TRACY, BARNEY GOOGLE, and yes–POLLY & HER PALS) did. I’d been drawing the “PALS” characters for about 4 years by then, as strips and as notes for my girlfriend/wife Charis. They were always silly, simple upbeat images or exchanges. Some readers assumed it was some sort of wicked mockery of wholesome strips, but it wasn’t. It was sincere, and I thought it made a nice counterpoint to Dick Duck’s comic violence…

It certainly was a thrill when TCR #166, arrived in the mail with Dick Duck’s & Bullet Crow’s debuts, and the fun was just starting… more in future installments!

Come back next week for more Friday Funnies, featuring Jim Engel’s Dick Duck, Duck Dick!

The Flintstones: Sundays 1979 (Jan-Mar) > Gene Hazelton

Posted in Gene Hazelton on March 3, 2011 by ComiCrazys

Just how old is Yogi?!!