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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Trip to Vermont

I went down to the Center for Cartoon Studies yesterday to give a guest lecture to the freshman class. They seemed like a good bunch of kids (some aren't kids of course.) They were working on a cover design project (largely excellent work--I was very impressed) so I talked a little bit about how we make the choices we make at D+Q and then I did crits on the work they had hanging on the walls. Unlike previous visits, there were no tears. BUT the main reason for my trip was to take a look at a project that CCS director and D+Q cartoonist James Sturm is currently working on.

At CCS, there's a special room devoted to 5000 drawings by the late Denys Wortman. From 1926-1954, Denys drew a single panel strip called Metropolitan Movies. As a small 4.5" x 4" panel on cruddy newsprint these strips don't look like much but seeing the full size 12.5" x 11" drawings is seeing a master draftsman at work.

James goes through a small batch of drawings (they've been divided up into a couple dozen categories like Sailors & Soldiers, Beach, In Dixie, Mrs. Rumpel's Borading House, Department Stores, Kids, etc.

On the left, a Wortman self-portrait with editor leaning over his shoulder. Not pictured, there's another self-portrait-at-drawing-board featuring his studio mates--Ernie Bushmiller and Milt Gross!!

Here's another Wortman cartoon based on a Bushmiller gag. Many of the drawings have letters from readers or notes of some sort pasted onto the back. This one has the original gag sketch by Bushmiller (sorry about the blurriness.)

I'll try to post a few more images of the Wortman drawings to give you a better sense of his amazing figure drawing and detail capturing of an early-20th Century New York City. In the meantime, here's a sketch that one of the smart-alec soon-to-receive-a-failing-grade freshman students did while I was lecturing. Har har.


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