Bob and Me and Kal

June 5, 2013

Characters and Caricatures

Two cartoonists walk into a bar — No, wait . . .

lzBobMe739When two cartoonists, Bob Weber, Sr., (on the left) based in Westport, Connecticut — and Jim Sizemore (me), on the right, based in Baltimore, Maryland — meet for a “bro-date,” what do we decide to do for fun? Drink? Nope, we’re both too old and wobbly for that, so scratch an extended saloon visit. Chase women? Once again, bad idea and for the same reason. Mud wrestle? Naw, I don’t think so. I’m three years younger than Bob, but I’m sure he can still take me.

But for old guys, we are pretty busy. Since 1965, seven days a week, Bob has drawn Moose & Molly, a nationally syndicated comic strip; and with his son, Bob Weber, Jr., he produces the kid’s comic activity feature, Slylock Fox, both distributed by King Features. While Bob is a big-time syndicate guy, I do magazine-style “gag” cartoons, marketed to print and web publications around the world by the London-based outfits known as and I also take on the occasional freelance humorous illustration project — a recent example being eleven images for a National Parks Service “Jr. Rangers” booklet at Fort McHenry.

So when Bob, who has lived and worked for many years in “Westpork” (as he likes to call it), shows up in his hometown of Baltimore, we usually try to get together for dinner. This trip — on May 11, 2013 — he had a different goal. Bob came down to attend a presentation by the internationally known, and locally based, editorial cartoonist, Kevin “Kal” Kallaugher. Kal has drawn his famous caricatures for The Economist magazine and the Baltimore Sun for over 35 years, and he had scheduled a multi-media book-launch extravaganza at the Walters Art Museum. Bob was keen to attend, asked me if I’d like to tag along, and I was happy to. So, what do old cartoonists do for fun when they get together? Why, whenever possible, they try to hookup with another cartoonist!

Kal began the presentation by talking at some length about his new cartoon collection titled, Daggers Drawn, all of the images done for The KalBook3-024Economist. He said he got his big break there as a result of doing caricatures of people on the streets of London, and showed a slide of the cover of the book. He also promised that at the end of the show he’d teach us — the entire audience of over 100 — to caricature President Obama. (By the way, how many of the book cover caricatures can you can name?


Before our turn came to show our stuff, Kal did a self-caricature. That’s him all right!

Then he did a bunch of other folks, some of whom I think you’ll recognize, including the first President Bush, Al Gore, John Kerry, Bill Clinton. (You can enlarge any image by clicking on it.)

Gore-470As Kal drew the caricatures, he explained his use of simple shapes — circles, squares, triangles, rectangles, etc. — to capture a likeness. For example, the Al Gore caricature is accomplished using mostly triangles — right side up, upside down and sideways. But he pointed out that the most important Gore feature was his half-circle”vampire-like” eyes, underlined generously with “bags.”

Kerry-510Another fun example. Kal began his John Kerry caricature with a very long chin-shape, then “realized” that it was by no means long enough, and proceeded to tear off the flip chart page and stick it on the bottom of a clean sheet of paper. Then, with a few more deft lines, he produced the clever drawing you see here.

Now that big finish: Kal’s demonstration showing how we can all “do” President Obama in 10 easy steps. Below I’ve tried to recreate his process, more or less . . .

OBAMAcari-ture1) Kal directed that we draw a large “C”shape at the top of the page, turned on its side with the open part down.

2) Then add a long interior horizontal line, and two short vertical lines, to reinforce the top and sides of what will be the skull; and fill the spaces those two actions create with squiggly lines to indicate hair.

3) Next, place two short angled lines jutting off either side of the skull, then continue downward with two long inward slanting lines for the sides of the face.

4) Back up top, outside where the skull ends and the face lines begin — on both sides — place nested “C” shapes for ears.

5) In the middle of the interior face space, give him two dots for eyes.

6) Above the eyes, add several lines close together to suggest very bushy eyebrows.

7) Below the eyes, about half way down the face, draw a series of three large, connected, open-topped “O’s,” with the middle one bigger than the other two, to form the nose; then place a small open Obama “O” just under the nose.

8) Below that, add a stretched out “M” shape, enclosed with a horizontal line and filled in to make the upper lip; then a stretched out “U” shape under that for the bottom lip.

9) At the bottom of the face shape, add another — smaller —horizontal upside-down “C” to make the Obama chin.

10) To finish our Obama caricature, Kal had us begin at each side of the nose and draw long parentheses lines that extend all the way down to the chin.

KALobom-772Kal writing a dedication on the Obama caricature he did on stage during the presentation.

GroupOs-681Select members of the audience, including Kal’s mother and wife — both in blue —  showing off their Obama caricatures.

KAL-Darrenn782Darrenn E. Canton, a young illustrator from the Washington, D. C. area, with portfolio. He waited patiently at the end of the book-signing line in order to have an extended chat with Kal.

BobKAL733In this photo Bob Weber, Sr. is either telling Kal a joke, or suggesting how to improve his presentation — or, knowing Bob as I do — more than likely both . . .

Kevin Kallaugher (KAL) is the international award-winning editorial cartoonist for The Economist magazine of London and The Baltimore Sun. In a distinguished career than spans over 35 years, Kal has created over 8000 cartoons and 140 magazine covers. His resumé includes 5 collections of his published work, one man exhibitions in six countries, international honors and awards in seven. KAl is currently the artist-in-residence at University of Maryland Baltimore County. He has created acclaimed animations and calendars, toured the US with Second City improv comedy troupe and addressed audiences around the world. In 1999, The World Encyclopedia of Cartoons said of Kevin “Commanding a masterful style, Kallaugher stands among the premier caricaturists of the (twentieth) century.”

To order Kal’s new book, click on his name in the sidebar links.

All photographs in this post © 2013, Bruce Guthrie.

BOB WEBER—God I love that man!

May 30, 2008

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.)

The Big Day

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.