Saturday, November 28, 2009


The new Pibgorn books are available for purchase. Volume 2, "Pibgorn and The Poltergeist in The Piano," and Volume 3, "Pibgorn and The Borgia Cantus," can now be ordered. For full details and instructions, log on to

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


N. B. The original noun in this cartoon was not "imbecile" but "asshole."

However, such words cause syndicate editors to clench their buttocks so suddenly that they actually achieve liftoff from their cubicle chairs. So I wrote "imbecile." But all that doesn't matter. As if experiencing the intense need to prove the theory, a reader wrote it to object to the above cartoon. I didn't read the note (I never do), but my wife let me know that we had our winner. And a hissing and spitting winner he or she was too, I am told, evidently feeling that all my readers are dolts and idiots who should take up pitchforks and torches against the gag.

But this is the thing. IT WAS A GAG. It was also a universal truth about cartooning - not just my cartooning, everybody's. Immerse yourself among cartoonists, and the equal-and-opposite theory will surface, usually accompanied by the word "asshole" (a trademark expression belonging to the cartooning profession).

All that aside, our winner lets the rest of us off the hook. THE EQUAL-AND-OPPOSITE HAS BEEN IDENTIFIED. Only, I don't know who he or she is. I only know that my wife is laughing.

That's enough for me.

Monday, October 19, 2009


A question is posed from a reader on Gocomics as to the progression of events that formed today's 9 Chickweed Lane cartoon - the chick or the egg, so to speak. (click the image for a larger view.)

What I had planned for this daily cartoon was another in what is now a series in which the black background merges with the black dancewear in which Edda is attired. Essentially, I had planned that Edda would be nothing but a head and shoulders, hands and feet, on a black backdrop. Body positions would be implied. When I prepare these cartoons, I go to the length of drawing her completely, as you can make out through the sketchy crosshatching. I then fill in the black to merge with her duds, at which point a transformation takes place that always amazes me. (Take a look at the work of Coles Phillips,,c.htm, who was doing this sort of thing with brilliance nearly a century ago.)

However, when I composed the cartoon, I began to sketch in the background as you see, partially obscuring the shape of her body. And then, I stopped. This was just the final study for the cartoon as yet to be drawn. But I really liked what had evolved. Sometimes, you just have to stop yourself from going further and screwing up an image that you like, i.e., liking it to death; so I forbore and, without excuses or explanation, sent in the cartoon to my syndicate.

Most of the best things I do I cannot explain, I do not plan, are entirely accidental. I have played a movement of, for instance, the Märchenbilder of Robert Schumann when, out of nowhere my accompanist and I found ourselves doing something with the music so moving that on succeeding days we tried again and again and again to recapture it, and without success. Those moments don't yield to force of will. They just appear, then evanesce.

I'm not suggesting the cartoon above is anything like that. However, I liked it, and I had the sense to leave it alone.

Post Script: I am glad that at this stage of Chickweed's existence, my abiding readers are willing and disposed to welcome such images. However, I know that by the end of the day someone will write in to object. And it will be a choleric objection. It is part of cartooning, like the short straw, and always a source of amazement and amusement.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Lately I have heard some speculation about the Friday cartoon for Pibgorn (below).

The speculation, on record at the Pibgorn page of Gocomics, concerns how I drew it, whether it was copy-and-paste, if I actually drew any part of it at all, und so weiter. When I happen upon such discussions, I hesitate to provide the answer only because I sense that the puzzle truly seems more enjoyable when unencumbered by a solution. However, in this case, I thought I'd supply the answer with the hope that it doesn't poop the party.

The above picture is the result of five layers of images (there were five when I finished assembling the image; I'm not sure what each one was). I wanted a fairly accurate representation of New York City and environs, so I first caught a satellite image of the area and, using Photoshop, distorted it to give the impression of a view of Manhattan from the south. I then carefully outlined the bodies of water in the picture, using those as the basis for the cartoon (the line art gives a basic feeling of cartooning with which I did not want to dispense). I then colored in the city, the surrounding boroughs, New Jersey, Westchester County and so forth. This was all by hand. Next I took another satellite image, distorted it, and used it to overlay my drawing at something like 60% opacity so some of my coloring and line art would show through. Following that, I shaded the whole image in such a way that night would appear to be encroaching on the city from all directions. (There was no logic to this. I just liked the look.) Finally I drew in the explosion, if you want to call it that. I did not cut and paste it, or any part of it. I did not use a photograph as a model. I just drew it. After looking at the layers I'd assembled, and making adjustments for shading and opacity, I merged them and called it an evening.

This, as is everything I draw in Pibgorn, was what I call white-knuckling it with the muse. I have a story, I have a plan for daily drawings…but they all go out the window as soon as I sit to draw. I find it hard to keep my grip on the reins, which is the way it will always be. When and if these images are assembled to make a book, changes will occur, new drawings will be created, old ones ditched, and more critical thought will be brought to bear. For the present, it's all rodeo.

On another front, there was a question regarding the story I call "Pibgorn, Mozart and The Demon Lover." Thorax asked Mozart (who was removed from 1791 Vienna to the present, somewhere in North America) if he might oblige everybody by performing a piano sonata. When Mozart saw the modern piano, he fell back in astonishment, asking what in heaven's name he was looking at. A present-day, acoustic Steinway (to pick one example) was an unknown instrument in Mozart's day, as removed from the fortepiano of Cristofori as an army tank is from a horse-drawn cannon. Likewise, modern classical performance would sound extraordinary to Mozart, not because of clarity, but because of instrumental color, volume and most of all intonation. The well-tempered system of tuning an instrument, common to all western classical music now (the Holy Bible of which is Bach's "Das Wohltemperierte Klavier"), was still new-fangled in Mozart's day, meantone temperament being the more common, and very raw-sounding intonation employed (notwithstanding the fact that musicians in those days were not altogether devoted to tuning to a common A, or, for that matter, tuning at all). Aside from that, instruments were simply softer in sound and entirely different in color from their present-day versions.

However, in the Pibgorn story Mozart fell back because he simply didn't recognize the grand as a piano.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Doppelgänger at the Staatsballett Berlin

Every once in awhile, conversation turns to actors or actresses who would be good impersonators of one's cartoon inventions. Not long ago I was reading online about (I think it was) Darcey Bussell when, upon the same site, a photograph appeared of Iana Salenko, first solo dancer of the Staatsballett Berlin. It fairly rocked me back in my chair. She was almost the exact incarnation of what I think Edda would and should look like. She's in the right profession as well. These publicity photos were taken by the redoubtable Enrico Nawrath, whose EN imprint you will see. The first photograph features Dinu Tamazlacaru as her partner. The last two shots are of Iana Salenko with her husband as well as partner Marian Walter.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Whilst in San Diego for the Comic Con International (where people dress up in full body makeup in order to produce full body makeup blisters of sweat), I was able to take time out of my own busy schedule of sweating in order to spend time with Alan Dean Foster, which was a delight (the time with Alan was the delight, not the time sweating). In the process, I got a couple of nice shots looking out on the harbor from Peohe's on Coronado Island (where "Some Like It Hot," was filmed). My daughter, Nicola, was also present, making me more attractive company than I might otherwise have been.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Regarding the copying and posting of copyright material (cartoons, for instance) online, or anywhere else, without permission, this statement, from Wikipedia, is succinct and accurate:

"Copyright infringement (or copyright violation) is the unauthorized use of material that is covered by copyright law, in a manner that violates one of the copyright owner's exclusive rights, such as the right to reproduce or perform the copyrighted work, or to make derivative works."

Recently I, as well as another cartoonist whose rights were equally violated, took up this fine point with Yahoo, whose infringement department (yes, they have one) acknowledged that the point was not only fine, but had the strength of drop-forged steel. The violation was effaced from their pages.

Possibly I haven't enough cockles in my heart, but those that I possess were warmed.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


Many thanks to Skulker for alerting me to the spreading stench at the comments for Chickweed. A reader wrote to ask why the space suddenly closed up. This, with a few revisions, was my answer to him, which I then posted at the Pibgorn page on Gocomics. Members of the Order of The Couch there suggested I post the note here as well, and I take their advice.

“The comments section was walled up because I instructed my syndicate to do so. I began talking to my syndicate about closing it a few weeks back because of the few posts that kept creeping, on a daily basis, into the general discussion – comments that were, one way or the other, hateful, ugly, misogynistic, somewhat abusive or even threatening. Add to that, links to images that not only infringe upon my copyright but libel me into the bargain. My syndicate tried to dissuade me from closing up the commentary option; but I have to admit, every time I became aware of yet another flight of ugly fancy within its precincts, I became less convinced of the virtue of reserving it. I would seem to be punishing the many because of the actions of a few; however, I look upon commentary areas as watering holes where people can gather to talk and opine. When the water becomes polluted, I really think everybody should move to some nicer spot.

“I know some readers will feel that closing this avenue of expression smacks of censorship. However, my cartoons are always subject to detailed editorial review and censorship. I believe that misogynistic tirades and the general broadcast of hateful ugliness certainly deserve the same review. In my view, despite so many well-wishers, the watering hole is being repeatedly poisoned, and I don’t believe it should be an accompaniment to my work.”

I can only add to the above that I never object to criticism or dispute of my work. On the whole, I stay out of those issues, because I am going to do things the way I do them. I owe that to my readers, who can then argue the finer points.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Recently, just after Hilary Hahn's recital with Valentina Lisitsa at Town Hall in NYC, I was kindly and adroitly shepherded backstage by Hilary's parents (left to my own resources, I'd still be disoriented beneath the stage purloining stale blintzes from the slower rodents). When Hilary emerged from her last encore, her mom obliged us with a couple photos, which I append here for those who wondered if I was taking abominable liberties by including her in the story of Edda and Amos in Brussels.

This second shot includes my
daughter Nicola, a.k.a The Snark.

Friday, May 29, 2009


...that there is a new, piping hot snark over at Snarkland, a.k.a., The Snark Ascending. Grab the link at the left and don't forget to take along Toto.

Nuff sed.

Just read.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


I should make note that I will be attending the reputably zoological San Diego Comic Con in the end of July. Details can be found online. Erratically I will be found at the Sunday Press Books booth, No. 1217, under the UClick banner – the rest of the time, I am informed, I will simply be trampled underfoot, but that's all the fun of the Con.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


I receive from time to time requests to see the first actual story arc I drew in "9 Chickweed Lane," which began on August 25th, 1997.  The idea for it began as a reverie on how Juliette would react upon hearing that her daughter had been accidentally shot as school.  The idea generated from there.  I considered and reconsidered it a lot, because "9 Chickweed Lane" had always been pretty much a gag-a-day strip, and never particularly dramatic.  This idea was a definite departure.  It was not intended as a social polemic or a political diatribe, but as soon as it hatched in the papers it was taken as both, and it made a lot of readers mad at me.  Most of their ire was caused by where they thought I was going to go with the story (not where I ultimately went), and I asked them to reserve their anger until the story had played out, then tell me what they thought.  I did not ask my editor at the time (not to be confused with my editor now or my editor previously) for permission to draw these strips.  The answer would have been "no."

You will see, of course, as you would with any strip that goes through an evolution over the course of years, that Edda, Amos, Juliette, et al., have changed in appearance.  You will also see Sister Aramus, who has since become Diane, wife of Francis Durly.  You will also see Amos and Edda's first definitely serious kiss.  They were 15 at the time.

Anyway, here are the strips.  If you click them, you should see a larger view.  I hope.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


It is the most understandable of reactions, when you tread in a mass of excrement, to look at the sole of your shoe and mutter, "Aw sh...!" It is a statement that, in all brevity, identifies and simultaneously offers critical assessment.

The same thing happens when you come upon a cartoon (for instance) that you truly deplore. You scrape it off your metaphorical shoe, offer your brief appraisal, and depart in disgust. That is the sane and appropriate response. Consider, however, the miscreant who returns again and again just to step back into the excrement and rail about it. This raises severe questions regarding his mental state, to wit that he is bonkers and wishes to draw attention to his condition without let or hindrance. We know these people. On my comics sites, the regular readers call them "trolls."

Tilting at trolls, I feel, does little more than to egg them on by blessing them with the attention they so desire; and although rising in defense of the cartoon seems only right and loyal, one wonders if insanity can be combated by talking to it. Perhaps it is just as well the insane take pot shots at a cartoon, rather than mete out their frustrations by urinating on people in bus queues or seeking public office.

If my little drawings can entice the repeated focus and ire of the seething wacko, perhaps I have not only entertained the loyal who enjoy my work, but given purpose and containment to citizens who might otherwise foam publicly at the mouth and screw around with tax legislation, or run Merrill Lynch. Call it my public service.

Brooke (not a candidate, and I pay my taxes)