“Concerning Our Parrot”

“Concerning Our Parrot” (ca 1901)
by Paul Clarendon West (1871-1918)
6 x 7 in., ink on heavy board
Coppola Collection

This entire drawing and its verse just cracks me up.

A playwright and a songwriter, West was also a cartoonist for the newspapers and humor magazines. He moved from the Boston area to New York City in the late 1800s, adding newspaper editor to his resume credits.

In 1908, he co-wrote a comedy called “The Newlyweds and Their Baby,” with Aaron Hoffman, which was based on the cartoons by George McManus.

A captain in the service, he joined the battle of Château-Thierry, NE of Paris, a May 1918 action during a German spring offensive in WWI, as a part of a Red Cross support unit. He was hospitalized for some time after being gassed.

In mid-October, West disappeared. A week later, his body was found in the Seine.

Paris (The Sun), Oct. 29 —The body of Paul West of New York, who came to France to work for the American Red Cross and who disappeared last week, was found yesterday in the River Seine.

The Paris edition of the New York Herald says the body was found close to the bridge where he left his cap with a note, and which was found after his disappearance. The body had lodged beneath a barge, and was fully dressed in the Red Cross uniform and overcoat.

In general, West’s drawings have not been well loved for some of their exaggerated cartoon style.

This example is quite different, and the verse highlights the poetry that West was renowned for.

I found three examples of this one-panel strip, with verse, in “Life Magazine” (Feb 21, Mar 7, and Mar 21, 1901), with none before or after. My drawing shows the word “Life” circled with what could be “March 6” written next to it. I am guessing that this nasty parrot never saw the light of day.

Mage: Kevin Matchstick and Edsel (August, 1986)

Mage: Kevin Matchstick and Edsel (August, 1986)
by Matt Wagner (1961-)
14 x 11 in, ink on paper
Coppola Collection

Mage: The Hero Discovered, the first third of Matt Wagner’s Mage trilogy, ran from February1984 until December 1986.

Mage: The Hero Defined(Jul 1997 – Oct 1999)
Mage: The Hero Denied
(Aug 2017 – Feb 2019)

Thirty-five years in the making, The Hero Denied is the conclusion of the tale of Kevin Matchstick, who, after encountering a wizard, discovers he is the reincarnation of the legendary Pendragon and able to wield the power of the mystical weapon, Excalibur.

Matt Wagner: “The main character of Mage is Kevin Matchstick, a somewhat cynical everyman when the story first begins, he eventually meets a wily street wizard (the title character) who reveals that he is heir to a legendary power and destined to become the hero he never imagined himself to be.”

This drawing came from the August 1986 San Diego Comic Con.

What a Great Day for Mail

At this web site, over at the “Take On Me” tab, I have archived the story of writing and then commissioning the art for a 5-page comic story. I wrote the story… I saw drafts of the art… I’ve seen and posted scans of the final pages… and I even made a little book about it.

And yet none of that compares to a package being delivered that contains the original art pages.

Sixty cents worth of graphite, ink and watercolors on a buck-fifty in paper… capturing an idea in the minutes and hours of artistic labor by a pair of clever and talented guys.

Happy, happy, joy, joy… do the Snoopy dance.

Cerebus the Aardvark #151 Cover

Cerebus the Aardvark #151 Cover (October 1991)
by Gerhard (1959- )
11 x 17 in., ink and watercolor on board
Coppola Collection

This is perhaps my favorite cover from the series. I think it does such a great job at telling its story, and conveying action, with its characters (well, other than the flying book) all implied.

This cover was not, however, a favorite of its creator.

In the 2016 IDW “Cover Treasury” book, Gerhard writes: “I spent a lot of time working out the composition and perspective of this piece, but I could not get the color right. It was too orange, not the mahogany hue that I wanted, but there was nothing I could do to fix it. I hated it so much that when I hung the cover on its clip, I hung it face toward the wall.”

Dave’s response is cute: “In those situations you take the hint and just hope it’s still on its hook, face to the wall, when you come in tomorrow. It’s HIS cover.”

A hi-res image of this cover, suitable for printing is available for no cost and no obligation (see the additional image for details) along with the “Take On Me” story, by Gerhard and Carson Grubaugh, as described elsewhere.

Bringing Up Father (March 7, 1945)

Bringing Up Father (March 7, 1945)
by George McManus (1884-1954) and Zeke Zekley (1915-2005)
23.25 x 5.75 in., ink on paper
Coppola Collection

In 1904, young George McManus was hired by Pulitzer’s New York World as a cartoonist. While he was there he created such strips as The Newlyweds, which comics historians consider the first family comic strip. In 1912, William Randolph Hearst hired McManus away to start a comic strip about a guy called Jiggs, a lower class man who came into a lot of money. With their new wealth, Maggie, Jiggs’ wife, wanted to enter the upper crust of society but Jiggs just wanted to hang out with his old friends at the local bar playing cards and pool and eat his simple favorite foods. This is the classic strip Bringing Up Father, which is counted as the longest running comic strip of the 20th Century (1913-2000) after The Katzenjammer Kids, 1897-2006). A few more that started after 1913 now have longer absolute running times, post-2000.

McManus had masterful line work with a strong deco feel to his designs. Over time, he developed the recurring motif of animating the background paintings in certain panels, and this is generally delightful.

The whimsy in the funny papers often sits in sharp contrast to the news of the day.

By March 1945, things were looking up for the Allies. Facing a siege of Berlin by the Soviets, Hitler had withdrawn to his bunker about 3 months earlier. And in less than 2 months, on the last day of April, he would commit suicide in that bunker.

FDR was less than a month away from his death at this point. In his public report to Congress on the Yalta Conference, on March 1, he made the noteworthy and open acknowledgement of his paralysis: “I hope that you will pardon me for this unusual posture of sitting down during the presentation of what I want to say, but I know that you will realize that it makes it a lot easier for me not to have to carry about ten pounds of steel around on the bottom of my legs.”

In Germany, the Wehrmacht began calling up 15- and 16-year old boys on March 5, the same day that the US Army entered Cologne, about 375 miles from Berlin.

On March 6, 1945, the day of this particular strip, Germany launched “Operation Spring Awakening,” the last major German offensive of the war, near Budapest. After about a week, the Soviets had countered and pushed the Germans back.

By March 10, the last German troops west of the Rhine withdrew to the east as Bonn and Godesburg, along the river to the south of Cologne, we occupied by US forces.

And on March 18, the Allies made heaviest daylight bombing raid, to that point, on Berlin. The next day, Hitler ordered destruction of the country’s infrastructure to prevent their use by the Allies. Two days later, Hitler made his final public appearance, awarding medals to members of the Hitler Youth.

I also have the strip from the day before (March 6) and the composition of the two strips is interestingly parallel, ending with the 2-panel spread and including a silhouette panel in the middle.

March 6 and 7 (reformatted):

“Sanguinary Jeremiah”

“Sanguinary Jeremiah” (Collier’s September 25 1915)
by F C Yohn (1875-1933)
18 x 24 in., ink, wash, and gouache on board

A renowned painter of historical themes, Frederick Coffay “FC” Yohn’s illustration work appeared regularly, in the early 1900s, in publications including Scribner’s Magazine, McClure’s, Harper’s Magazine, and Collier’s Weekly.

Illustrations such as this one were common in his work between 1910-1920, with examples in all of these magazines. This example is not marked for time or place.

Yohn is noted for his strong sense of anatomy, detail, and spatial composition.

“You couldn’t bet ‘em diamonds against doughnuts on that horse. They’ve been stung too often.”

“Sanguinary Jeremiah” is an Old Man Curry racehorse story by Charles E Van Loan.


June 2019
Faculty Resource Network (FRN)
Summer Seminar

Over 40 years ago, NYU created the FRN to promote work in faculty development. NYU has created a network with schools in the greater New York area, and beyond, which have a high fraction of students who are underserved and/or from underrepresented populations.

One of the FRN activities is the Summer Seminar program, which brings a few hundreds of faculty members from these partner institutions into Manhattan for a weeklong program of faculty-led seminars. NYU professors are not the only seminar leaders, and I have been invited to do one of these a few times, now.

For 2019, I did a week on promoting the development of self-regulated learners. Each day, I front-loaded the agenda with an hour-long presentation followed by a Q/A/discussion. Then on three of the days, the groups were prompted with some discussion points to talk about at their tables for the rest of the morning. In the early afternoon, the tables reported out from their conversations with enough time for group discussion. Then I invited two of the participants to give a 30-minute presentation on a teaching activity from their own practice that they thought was effective and potentially generally interesting.

The participants were drawn from diverse settings and specializations, from graduate medical education to preparing teachers to be instructors of English as a second language.

Monday: A Case for Self-Regulated Learning for Students and Instructors
Tuesday: A Case Against the Way Evidence-Based Practices are Defined and Implemented
Wednesday: Student-Generated Instructional Materials (afternoon: creating video explanations)
Thursday: Teaching as a Performance Art
Friday: Negotiated Consensus (afternoon: open discussion)

In earlier times, intelligence was seen as intrinsic, stable, and transferable between tasks. You could be assessed as a genius as a kid (it is intrinsic), and you would then grow up to be a genius (it is stable), and whatever you worked on you would be good at (it is transferable).

The cognitive revolution in the 1960s started to demolish these ideas, and we are currently in the cognitive-contextual era of understanding intelligence, where a fully balanced view of nature and nurture operates. Talent is more derived from a combination of character (as a person, as a learner, as a leader, as a creator) and context.

Teaching and learning resources are the same. A tool is a tool, more or less neutral, and whose effect depends on the context in which it is used as well as how it is used. Learning how to select a tool and how you use it depends on your experience and your understanding about it, your ability to implement it and match it to your needs. Teaching strategies have all the same features. Even the much-maligned straw man of higher education, the lecture, is something that can be used well or used badly.

There are no magic bullets: the poor use of a method should never be confused with the use of a poor method.

During the week, my participants thought about the way that providing a diverse set of learning resources for students, along with both guidance and with free choice, can promote the development of self-regulation… and they also saw the sub-text, that the same thing held for them as instructors.


“Army Induction Center” (Among Us Mortals, 01/28/1942)

“Army Induction Center” (Among Us Mortals, 01/28/1942)
by W.E. (William Ely) Hill (1887-1962)
24 x 19 in., ink on board
Coppola Collection

W.E. (William Ely) Hill (1887-1962) was known for his masterful black and white

Sunday page, Among Us Mortals, sometimes referred to as the Hill Page.

His 1915 drawing for Puck, “My Wife and My Mother-in-law,” is perhaps one of the best-known examples of a dual image–it is a drawing that at once depicts a young woman and an old crone, where the young woman’s chin serves as the nose of the old woman. The image originally appeared on an 1888 German postcard, but Hill’s interpretation is the one that ended up in the psychology textbooks.

Hill also drew the dust jacket art for the first editions of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise(1920) and Flappers and Philosophers(1920). Bohemians and artists, commuters and theater-goers all found themselves captured (and sometimes caricatured) in drawings of W. E. Hill.

Hill’s Among Us Mortalsfeature began in 1916, starting out in the New York Tribune. It began syndication by the Chicago Tribunein 1922, and then jointly by the Chicago Tribune-New York Daily Newsfrom 1934 until it ended in 1960. Hill was a masterful observer of human beings, and each Sunday page was devoted to a particular slice of observation.

Hill’s work got a lot of attention quite rapidly. Franklin P. Adams writes in his preface to Among Us Mortals(1917): “Hill is popular, by which I mean universal, because you think his pictures look like somebody you know, like Eddie, or Marjorie, or Aunt Em. But they don’t; they look like you. Or if you prefer, like me. He is popular because he draws the folks everybody knows.” The collected volume showcases W. E. Hill’s satirical images of modern Americans, including his take on modern art appreciation.

There was no one doing pen and ink artwork in the newspapers like Hill. The original artwork, with its delicate hatching, cross-hatching, and stippling, probably to not even translate that will to newsprint.

In this January 28, 1942 edition, titled “Army Induction Center”, Hill presents a look at the swirl of emotions surrounding the event of young men signing up and going off to war.

From a profile and interview with Hill:

Practically no one who sees Mr. Hill without being introduced to him would guess for an instant that this modest and retiring young man is the creator of the most human and true life sketches ever printed in America.From coast to coast and in foreign countries his work is admired for its fidelity to nature and to types. Everyone who has seen his drawings of people one meets in the streets, in the theater or other gathering places, never fails to remark, ‘I’ve seen exactly that type, and the artist must have sketched some one I’ve seen.’

 Mr. Hill pictures people at work, at play, on their way to work, at home, at meals, or on picnics. He doesn’t try to make any one handsome who is not handsome, and men and women wearing eyeglasses appear frequently in his sketches, not because he wears them himself and likes to draw them but because he finds these people wherever he goes to faithfully and truly reproduce what he sees.

  “I learned very early in my career as an artist that if you stick pretty close to the people you see about you, every day you need not draw on your imagination for types,’ said Mr. Hill.“People, just plain, everyday, commonplace people, alive and in motion fascinate me far more than anything else in the world.” he continued.“They look and dress, and do everything that they could be imagined doing, and they are everywhere that there is anywhere to be.When I made my first sketch of people as I really found them, I had no idea of keeping it up. That was simply one day’s work. I remember the first sketch very distinctly. It was made only a year and a half ago and was a few glimpses at the Easter parade in New York City.When that was printed it suggested another sketch of human life as it is and every sketch suggests a great many others. Human nature is an exhaustible subject and a man might draw types of men, women and children for a hundred years and still not scratch the surface of his subject.”

  “I have come to Washington because life here is very different from anywhere else in the United States and types are to he found here which could not be found in any other city in the country.The vast army of Government employees rushing to their work, the crowds fighting to get on already overcrowded street cars, the blank look on the voteless inhabitants of the city, the rich and the poor, the humble and the great mingling together on your streets, the omnipresent soldier, sailor and marine; the children of the rich playing in the parks, the visitors at the Capitol, the tourists, the scenes at markets, all hold a tremendous interest for me and doubtless would for any one coming to Washington for the first time.Selection and elimination will be my only trouble here, for there are a vast number of types I have not seen before.”

As my personal commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the start of the 300-issue “Cerebus” saga (1977-2004), I wrote a 5-page outline for a story and commissioned artists and storytellers Gerhard (“Ger”) and Carson Grubaugh as collaborators.

With me more or less cheering from the sidelines, waving my billfold, they turned the idea into an actual, physical, real-life 5-page story.

The Director’s Cut describes the development and background of the project. Downloadable copies are provided below at no cost and with no obligation. High-resolution scans of the 5-page story are likewise available, also below, along with a few other art selections.

If you are inclined to make a gesture of appreciation for the available copies of the artwork done by Gerhard and Carson, please consider a charitable donation in any amount to the Pride Stables.

Pride Stables offers therapeutic horseback riding to people with disabilities. Ger and his partner Shelly (“Shel”) both volunteer at Pride.

Pride uses canadahelps.org for direct online contributions:

General information about Pride Stables:

General information about Pride contributions:

Excerpt from The Director’s Cut:

As issue #200 is winding up, the Cerebus character is shown having an inner monologue with Dave. Dave plays himself, perfectly aware of himself as the writer and artist. Cerebus, on the other hand, is interacting with his creator, and has no context whatsoever for understanding what that means.

This same theme is perhaps best played out in a terrific book called “Flatland” (Edwin Abbott, 1884), in which the inhabitants of a 2D universe cannot conceptualize what it is like to exist in 3D. Using “Flatland” as a comparison is delightful and apt, given that a comic book page is a 2D universe. An implication that Abbott leaves as an open question is that there is no reason to think the universe ends with the 3D existence we perceive, but that a higher dimension is as unknowable and incomprehensible to us as the 3D universe is to the 2D Flatlanders. Abbott’s work is poetic in its beauty.

As it is in Flatland, the metaphor that Dave is playing out is explicitly religious, and he makes the clear point through his own Flatlander, Cerebus, that we cannot understand it, anyhow, when our creator is revealed to us. At this point, quite playfully, Dave imagines that what is true for Cerebus could be true for us: as inherently unknowable and incomprehensible, our creator might just as well be a couple of guys at drawing boards as anything else. The nature of unknowable (versus simply unknown) makes all stories true as none can be falsified.

And a whimsical creator, pushing a pen around on a blank canvas, is also the point that Philip K Dick makes in The Adjustment Bureau…

Pages (high resolution):

36 MB scan (.tif) of page 1
42 MB scan (.tif) of page 2
45 MB scan (.tif) of page 3
48 MB scan (.tif) of page 4
39 MB scan (.tif) of page 5

Director’s Cut Edition (e-book):

Read Online as e-book (patience needed depending on connection speed)
Director’s Cut edition (download 23 MB .pdf version)
Director’s Cut edition (download 13 MB .pdf “reduced size pdf” version)
Director’s Cut edition (download 200 MB e-book as .zip that you can play locally)

Director’s Cut Edition (print book – available at cost, no money to me):


note: not made with print-ready images (i.e., I used 72 dpi downloads), but it looks fine
single-copy print on demand from lulu.com is ~$6 plus shipping, if you want a hard copy

[someone can “remaster” it later when it hits the NYT Bestseller List – mwah hah hah]

Bonus downloads (these are monster-sized dpi files that you can take to Kinko’s, or wherever, and get yourself some wall-hanging art, if you want; they are the scans I provided to Sean Robinson for the restoration project)

Cerebus #80 p 11 (200 MB)

Cerebus #80 p 11 (detail) (3.5 MB)

Logo 1 (50 MB)

Logo 2 (50 MB)

World Tour Book Cover (160 MB)

Guys… I’m Right Here! (250 MB)

Cerebus #151 Cover (30 MB)

“Paying off the Captain” (1919)

“Paying off the Captain” (1919) in Collier’s
by F C Yohn (1875-1933)
15 x 22 in., ink, pencil and wash on board

A renowned painter of historical themes, Frederick Coffay “FC” Yohn’s illustration work appeared regularly, in the early 1900s, in publications including Scribner’s Magazine, McClure’s, Harper’s Magazine, and Collier’s Weekly.

Illustrations such as this one were common in his work between 1910-1920, with examples in all of these magazines. This example is not marked for time or place.

Yohn is noted for his strong sense of anatomy, detail, and spatial composition.