Copyright © 2008 Jim Sizemore.
The above title was applied by my old pal Jacquie Roland to her delightful anecdote, below. Her comment/memoir was triggered by my recent “Return of the Moose” post about Bob Weber’s classic “Moose Miller” comic strip, but in my own little “comedy-of-errors” blog world her words somehow became attached to the wrong post, disconnected, out of context, hidden away where folks were unlikely to see it. The story she tells is way too good to miss (including the Mad Magazine’s Sergio Aragones teaser at the end), so I asked Jacquie to allow me to publish it straight out. She agreed. And, also with her permission, I’ve illustrated Jacquie’s tale with a few “dress up” photographs I made of her back in the day. I like to think that her outfit and makeup in these images serve as a visual metaphor for how she may have felt that day in the streets and elevators of the Big Apple. (Click on the color thumbnails for larger views.)
Because of Bob I got my first paying gig as a commercial artist. I was a young “Balti-moron” living in Canton. I had moved there from Dundalk, another garden spot of the city. I had managed to get a cartoon or so published, and joined the Magazine Cartoonist’s Guild in New York. ( There was a world of effort behind that sentence.)
To tell the truth, going to NYC on my own was terrifying, but I was determined, and on one Wednesday “Look day”, in my cutest outfit, I traipsed on up to New York, cartoon markets in the morning . . . and a MCG meeting after noon . . . Most of the magazines where I wanted to show, were in kind of grungy neighborhoods. Half of the folks on the street looked either homeless, or drunk or both. (I admit to being nervous as a cat.) . . . In any case, I soon realized that the editors weren’t the only ones who were “seeing” me. Everywhere I went, I began to notice a REALLY big guy . . . and after a few times, I could see that he was “stalking” me. He began to frighten me so badly, that I told an editor about him . . . I didn’t want to call the cops, because I didn’t want to miss my MCG meeting . . . but I was terrified . . . The editor gave me good advice . . . he said that the city was full of wackos, but since the guy hadn’t tried to approach me, the best thing to do was . . . not make eye contact, and if he tried to get me alone, say . . . jump on an elevator with me or something . . . to shriek my guts out . . . Sounded like a plan. At my next appointment, I had just gotten on the elevator, when out of nowhere, this HUGE hand shot between the doors . . . and THE GUY jumped on . . . it only took me seconds to give one of the best impersonations of Maria Callas I had in me. I don’t know who was more upset . . . me or the guy . . . I jumped out . . . The elevator doors closed & I fled to the safety of The Magazine Cartoonist’s Guild meeting . . . Whew!! When I got there, amid the general hubbub of the pre-meeting Meet & Greet I was telling my tale of horror. There weren’t many women cartoonists in those days, and I was more than flustered and soaked up their concern like a sponge… I was safe. They would take care of me. All around me were these great guys, laughing & telling jokes . . . it was heaven. Behind me another group came in, they were very boisterous, and one of the guys in my group said that it must have been a day for crazies out there… that Bob Weber had gotten on an elevator where some crazy broad lost it and started screaming . . . Yup! When I turned around, and we recognized one another we both screamed “YOU!!!!”
Turns out that my “stalker” was just another cartoonist, being seen by the same editors I was seeing, on “LOOK DAY.”
Despite that unfortunate meeting, Bob & I became friends, and when I needed a job reference, Bob was kind enough to give me one . . . and because everyone in Baltimore knew MOOSE . . . I got the job. Bob is a really nice guy . . . a GREAT, BIG, NICE GUY.
(I may have embellished the above story a little bit, but that’s the way I remember it . . . kind of like that time that Sergio Aragones nibbled on my neck and I swooned . . . actually I fell to the floor . . . but that’s another day, another cartoonist, and another story.) Copyright © 2008 Jim Sizemore.
The above poster for Rick Parker’s cartoon art exhibit and studio tour Sunday, June 1, reminds me—in a very positive creepy way—of someone I saw a lot of back in the 1950s. He appeared just about every week on a magazine cover and I was always one of the first kids in line at the corner candy store to get my copy, fresh off the press—or out of the crypt, or wherever. Perhaps you know the old friend I’m talking about. If you’re anywhere near South Orange this Sunday don’t miss Rick’s show—it promises to be scary cool and very funny.
January 16, 1977
In this photograph my old friend Jacquie Roland (cartoonist, artist, actress, writer, etc.), on the right, is feeding lines to local actor Joe Cimino, who played the title character of “Zorba” in the Baltimore Spotlighter’s Theater production of that Broadway musical. Jacquie is the person I have to thank for introducing me to Baltimore community theater. In this case, she also introduced me to the Zorba director, who was kind enough to allow me to photograph his rehearsal process as part of my research into the mysteries of theatrical production. At the time I was teaching myself—with the help of a bunch of books, museum visits, and one pro friend—to produce photographic images, so this was an opportunity to combine two of my top interests. Technical note: the “starburst” effect of the light between Joe and Jacquie is pure photographic artifice, created with a filter which screws onto the camera lens. The clear glass filter has an inlaid grid of thin wires which creates the flare effect by, I assume, bending the light rays. The amount of flare can be adjusted by simply rotating the filter a bit this way or that. In the image above it appears that I had the filter set for the greatest possible dramatic effect. This smaller image is an example of a shot made during the same rehearsals but on a different day and without the filter. Except for the lively (and sexy) acting of Joe Cimino and Audrey Herman, Spotlighter’s founder, this image lacks sparkle, huh? Copyright © 2008 Jim Sizemore.
Most of my doodles, I believe, are lighthearted, even silly, but this one is an exception. As with most of my jottings I have no idea what was going on in my head when I did this back in 2004, one lonely Sunday afternoon while watching television, but the fact that I had recently ended the relationship that I had hoped would see me through to the final bell, may provide a clue to the origins of its content. I do remember that I wasn’t thinking in terms of a sequence, just individual doodles, so it was a surprise when I noticed that it had become a little story, nonsensical to me at the time, but a story nevertheless. And I like how the overall design came out, and the way the “narrative,” if you are generous enough to call it that, slowly builds to what was for me the interesting shock of the final “punch” panel. Copyright © 2008 Jim Sizemore.
An actor waiting backstage to go on can appear to be a lonely person. At least this one did to me. Was he in fact feeling sad, I wondered, or just focused on trying to remember his lines? When I made this image I was backstage at a Baltimore community theater pretending to be an actor myself, but I was too busy to be lonely or bored. I had only one line in the play, which came late in the last act, so I could concentrate on what I was really there for, to learn all I could about theater and how a play is staged. It was research I was doing for a play I wanted to write about a community theater group staging a production in a summer play writing festival — an interesting creative roundabout — and I was taking pictures as well as notes. The low light backstage required a wide aperture setting, which accounts for the shallow depth of field. Note that the face of the actor is sharp, while his hand and arm are in much softer focus. And the even softer secondary “portrait,” the moody reflection in the mirror, has a “painterly” quality I find very appealing. I was also attracted to the visual contrast of the three capped pipes at the left edge of the frame, and was careful to include them in the composition.
Copyright © 2008 Jim Sizemore.