Friday, December 31, 2010

A Cat for Class President

Remember this cat?  Woodstock moved onto the Third East floor of East Campus sometime in late 1975.  In the Spring of 1976, he was entered as a candidate for president of the Class of 1978.  His electoral prospects seemed remote at the time - until the image above appeared on the cover of the March 11, 1976 edition of thursday, at which point he became a campus sensation, garnering votes for any number of offices - Undergraduate Association president, vice-president, dogcatcher.  All of the votes were thrown out, of course, but Woodstock's notoriety was established.  He only lived another year, but his name appeared on ballots as a write-in for several years.  He also became the model for the cat that appeared in the Stickles cartoons that followed; this one dates to October 1977.
For me, politics has been very ripe for parody.  In high school, I created three fictitious candidates and a fictitious class office (Class Libertarian), and proceeded to plaster the school halls with posters for the candidates, sneaking them in amongst the posters for the legitimate candidates.  They were probably all very diligent, earnest and hard-working, and they all really wanted to win, for the betterment of student life and their college transcripts, but I thought the vast expenditure of energy was, if nothing, worthy of an equally energetic campaign making fun of it all.  Real world politics has been another matter altogether - much rougher and meaner in spirit, though no less ripe for satire.  I included my share of political sentiment in my cartoons over the years.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

And another roach cartoon...

This one followed "Outtada pool" by a semester.  Fall 1976.

Starting Out

"Stickles" is a cartoon that began when the first strip was published in thursday, an MIT student newspaper, beginning in the Spring of  1975.  It continued off and on in print form until 1985, appearing in four different student newspapers on three different college campuses.  It also appeared briefly in DFW People, an in-house magazine for the employee community at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.  It was truly a labor of love - it's hard work being a cartoonist.  You have to learn how to be funny 365 days a year, and then you have to draw your humor with a practiced hand.  Those are not talents I possessed.  I could draw rudimentary cartoons, but my hand was very unsteady, and my results were sort of a cross between Peanuts and Dilbert (you want to see talented artists at work, check out Hal Foster, who drew the original Prince Valiant, or Stan Lynde, who drew the original Ric O'Shay).  And I had enough gags to create perhaps 400 cartoons.  But I soon learned I could not do it day in and day out, so I did not entertain thoughts of making a career out of it for long.  But for ten years, I drew enough cartoons to become notorious, though how notorious was not revealed to me until some of the original strips in The Tech were posted online.

I kept a scrapbook of all my cartoons, but did not try to save them in an electronic form until very recently.  These are not necessarily the first Stickles to get published, or even the first ones to be drawn (I think the first one was inked when I was 13 and was reprinted on mimeograph paper by a student newspaper at my high school).  But they are the first to get uploaded, and while some are classics, some are only now seeing the light of day).

Speaking of classics, this is probably the one that made Stickles a campus phenomenon.  In 1976, dormitory living was as spartan as it gets, and East Campus (my dorm) became the test kitchen for the Roach Motel ("they check in but they don't check out").  Roaches were everywhere, and they became the subject of more than one Stickles cartoon...
I hear life in the dorms has improved; even the Harvard Coop in the MIT Student Center has become Neiman Coop-us.

By the way, Happy New Year to all, and I'll try to post more of the old strips in 2011.  Enjoy!