June 14th, 2017

Ask A Cartoonist: Fan Stories

by Tea

This week, our cartoonists are talking about fan interactions! Lots of cartoonists are fans themselves– and have been for as long as they can remember. Many more spend lots of time drawing sketches, signing books, and reading fan letters, and every cartoonist has a favorite– or a few favorite– fan stories. I asked our cartoonists to share some of them with me here: stories about being a fan and stories about favorite contacts with fans.

Bill Griffith, Zippy The Pinhead:

Here’s my favorite piece of Zippy fan art–sent to me in 2005. The only name I have for its creator is “E M”. I especially like that it shows the “man behind the pinhead”—Zippy as the CEO of Zippy Industries, at work in his office, fondllng his Nancy & Sluggo originals and puffing on a donut-emitting pipe.


The other item is a letter From John Belushi to Zippy from 1978, written on NBC stationery. Belushi asks if Zippy would host an upcoming Saturday Night Live show in New York. It’s been in my possession since I received it in 1978.



( I responded as Zippy, saying I’d love to host SNL. My only requiremwnt was that my dressing room be filled with canned asparagus. Never got a response after that.)

It’s for sale on the Zippy website

Ron Ferdinand, Dennis the Menace:

It’s fun when a DENNIS fan supplies an interesting item to draw on. Dennis and Calvin…together at LAST!


Bill Holbrook, Kevin & Kell, On the Fastrack, & Safe Havens

I’ve been honored that a number of my peers have drawn Dethany of Fastrack, including Dave Reddick, Joe Staton, Paul Taylor and Greg Cravens. Dethany also has some talented readers who have sent me their own interpretations of Dethany and Lenore. Here are two excellent examples by Laura Monticelli and Embry Quinn. (Embry Quinn also sent fan art of Fi, which was entitiled, “I *am* smiling.”)







Terri Libenson, The Pajama Diaries

I do get fan letters (emails), but they are usually from adults. This is a rare one from a kid, so I really value it. He made comic strips about my comic strip. Love!


John Rose, Barney Google and Snuffy Smith:

I am constantly amazed at how incredible Snuffy Smith fans are! Earlier this year, friends of mine in Georgia told me that their newspaper, the Rome News-Tribune (which is a Snuffy Smith comic strip subscriber), ran a story about a big Snuffy Smith comic strip fan. The story was titled “Fan Identifies With Snuffy” and it was about a local woman named Sue Davis who has clipped and collected hundreds of her favorite Snuffy Smith comic strips and placed them in a binder for over 50 years! The first entry in her binder is a Snuffy Smith comic strip her future father-in-law gave her in 1964 about babies. He was hinting that he wanted lots of grandchildren one day! From that point on, Sue began clipping, collecting and creating her own Snuffy Smith book collection! And she still does to this day! Since she is such a dedicated fan, I mailed her my two Snuffy Smith comic strip book collections to put on the shelf with her wonderful homemade Snuffy Smith collection! It is an honor for me to know my books sit alongside her incredible 50 year collection!


James Allen, Mark Trail:

When I was a kid, I was certainly a “fan” of several artists. Among them were classic artists such as Alex Raymond and Wally Wood. In my very early teens I bumped into “Den” by Richard Corben in the pages of Heavy Metal. I was instantly hooked and became a huge lifelong fan of his work! Through my pursuit of anything Corben did, I got familiar with other artists such as Boris Vallejo, Frank Frazetta, Bernie Wroghtson and countless others. I had discovered a floodgate of creativity through underground comics and comic magazines as well as mainstream comics and fantasy publications. ALL of it swirled around in my mind and inspired me!

Fast forward several decades and I am now fortunate enough to be the creative force behind Mark Trail. Like all syndicated comic artists I get my fair share of emails and letters from my readers. They run the gamut from praise to folks asking for original art to criticism. Some of it is unexpected!

Recently I received a letter from a reader praising my attention to detail in the wildlife art that runs in Mark Trail (not just in the anatomy, but in the behavior of the animals being portrayed as well). Much to my utter amazement, the email was signed by Julie Bell (and her husband) Boris Vallejo! Both of them are extremely talented and Julie’s wildlife art astonishes me! When I was a kid, while seeing and admiring the fantastic imagery Boris created, you would NEVER have been able to convince me that someday he would be admiring my work and go so far as to reach out and tell me! I am humbled!

The communication I have had with “fans” has taught me several things and FIRST among them is – you never know just who might be reading and admiring your work!

John Hambrock, The Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee:

Occasionally I’ll put the name of a famous person in the strip. More often than not, I’ll get a response from them. I like to write “The Price is Right” jokes, and when this strip ran it prompted an email from the show’s announcer George Gray requesting the original.


David Reddick, Intelligent Life:

Here’s my entry, with a few different pix to show what I GET and what I SEND, lol! (I’m sending the imagery as two versions (so YOU can decide how you wanna pop it in) – as one single horizontal piece and as two separate square pieces (perhaps what I recieve at top and what I send under my text?) (Let me know this makes sense!!)




I thought it was a fun angle to not only show what i get, but what I nerd out and send too! LOL


Mort Walker, Beetle Bailey:

My father had to go to St. Louis onces, and I asked if I could go with him. I’d read that one of my favorite comic strip cartoonists lived in St. Louis, and I wanted to visit him. When I got there, I looked in the phone book and found out where he lived. My father drove me there. I rang his doorbell, and he came to the door. I told him that I was a big fan and would like his autograph. He just quietly closed the door in my face. I was so hurt, and I pledged I would never treat a fan like that. I sign lots of autographs every day, and I just finished doing 100 sketches on bookplates to go into a new book of my earliest drawings called “Birth of Beetle” for my fans.

If you are interested in an autographed photo, print or drawing, visit MORTWALKER.COM




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