Category Archives: cartoon art

A Thank-You Postcard from Burning Man

Just got back from a fairly intense stay in the Nevada desert. Alkali dust, all the time, from an ancient sea bed filled with the pulverized shells of long-dead shellfish. Breathe that stuff, eat it, get coated with it like a sugar donut. That’s the way it is at Burning Man.

But after a period of acclimation, it can be a good thing. It got a lot better when Colleen and I got with the spirit of giving (one of the ten principles of The Burn) and started gifting these postcards to people.

“Thank You from Burning Man MMXII”

We printed up a couple hundred, stamped ’em, and encouraged people to write a thank you to someone back home or wherever, and we would see they were mailed. A little tip o’ the cap from Burning Man. Colleen’s suggestion, and a fine sentiment, to be sure, but I didn’t expect the reaction we got.

We were swamped. The first woman we met was hoping to send postcards back home, but had just missed one opportunity to do it. Then, boom. We showed up and she got her wish. Uncanny coincidences like that happen all the time at Burning Man. I conjured a root beer out of thin air once.

Another girl started to write a note home and began crying as she was doing it, big old tears running down her dusty cheeks. Foreigners flocked to us, ready to spread thanks around the globe. Kids sent thanks to parents, and parents to kids. It was sweet.

We sent a few, too (and saved a few extras), so you might see one soon. We were surprised to get quick reactions from a couple of folks who already received ours. The moral of the story is this: say thanks to people. Right now. Do it. They’ll appreciate it, and so might you.

… and a tip o’ the pith helmet from Mr. Bob Hope. Bob HOPE, ladies and gentlemen! Bob Hope!

Thanks for reading!

YOUR U.S. Snail Service, always at the ready….


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What I’m Reading Now Dept.: Mineshaft

Where did they go, all those underground comic books of yore? Well, many tanked. But R. Crumb kept it going with Weirdo for a while there. Art Spiegelman had Raw, but that was more artsy. Anyway, we have a new winner: Mineshaft, published by Everett Rand and Gioia Palmieri in North Carolina. They’re up to issue number 27, and from what I’ve seen, they’re getting better and better, featuring old timers like Crumb and newer masters like Christoph Mueller and Nina Bunjevac. Each issue is surprising and deep and worthwhile and nourishing. Check it out.

Latest issue of “Mineshaft”

by C. Mueller

by Nina Bunjevac


Early Mineshaft cover by R. Crumb



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“Who Will Save Us?” (a nice article by Stephanie Thompson)

(The following is a little write-up by Brooklyn arts reporter Stephanie Thompson on the recent show I have in Park Slope which ends Friday. Thanks, Steph!)

Who Will Save Us?

The Art of John Tebeau

It could be the bacon or the inviting open doors that draws one first into the new Dizzy’s Diner on the corner of President St. and Park Slope’s bustling 5th Ave. But once inside, the bold poster-style art that screams from the walls is the big star.

The arresting images by John Tebeau, up until July 27, immediately bring a warm smile of recognition followed by a giggle at the artist’s sly clever twists on the


familiar. In the powerful illustrated montage, 1978, there is the full white-toothed smile and solid stand-up breasts of Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman, power bracelets braced and ready. There is Steve Martin, mouth and eyes open wide, an arrow through his head. There is Cap’n Crunch and the Play-Do primary-colored O-faced grin of Mr. Bill. There too are the gun-toting feather-haired girls of Charlie’s Angels, the Grease logo and John Belushi’s mug atop a “College” sweatshirt. There they all are and there we are, those of us who remember, brought back to a comfortable time and place, secure.

As a longtime illustrator and packaging designer, Mr. Tebeau clearly understands the power of icons and symbols to motivate emotions and drive people to action.

“I try to inspire or excite people with iconography, I want my art to be useful,” Mr. Tebeau said in the same earnest winking tone of his fabulously entertaining images. “If it makes somebody feel better or focuses them in a way, great, then it’s worked.”

Stroh’s, That Seventies Brew

And it has. The blue-skinned James Bond depiction, the purple-hued Duke Ellington, the orangey-red rendering of Star Trek’s Uhura, not to mention the Stroh’s beer can, all goose the diner-goer to stop mid-bite of bacon and reflect on the great motivational power of heroes, superheroes and icons from a certain place and time in history. Time past always seems better, more hopeful somehow. We can see the changes that artists make more easily with hindsight.

Mr. Tebeau’s work is inspired by artists Peter Max, Wes Wilson and Victor Moscoso whose bold posters reflected what he calls thejoyous optimism” of San Francisco in the fast-changing ‘60s and ‘70s.

By hearkening back to that time, Mr. Tebeau well captures that optimism and the necessity of bringing it back again.

“It’s easy to get distracted in life, especially the way it is now, with a lot of stimulus and not all of it good,” he said. For Mr. Tebeau personally and, he believes, universally, images and icons offer up necessary inspiration and focus to drive one’s intended life work.

“I see work as a form of salvation, although maybe that sounds too religious,” Mr. Tebeau said. “But ‘work’ is what you’re supposed to do in life. John D. Rockefeller said, ‘If you want the key to happiness, find something you do fairly well and do it with all your heart and soul.’”

As the regulated work world morphs more and more into unstructured freelance, necessitating greater self-motivation, Mr. Tebeau’s suggestion is actually faith-based: we need to trust and believe in a fair bit of divine intervention.

In Universe, Mr. Tebeau reflects the hand of God offering Adam an Ace of Hearts.

Divine Intervention

“It’s about good luck and love and the divine, about the unlikely opportunities and interventions that can come into your life that you need to seize and claim, that can help motivate you,” he said.

It is reflective of Mr. Tebeau’s own great joyous optimism that he believes this can happen to people, to anyone.

“If you focus on a vision of what you want, you can bring it to yourself, draw it to you…” he said.

As proof, he offers up the story of an investigative journalist who asked him for a rendering of his hero, Edward R. Murrow. After hanging the image over his

Murrow Five-Way

work space, the man went on to win three Edward R. Murrow awards.

Mr. Tebeau is commissioned for such work but also wants to inspire more widely with his images.

“Art doesn’t work if no one sees it,” Mr. Tebeau says, grateful extending thanks to Dizzy’s owner Matheo Pisciotta and his wife, Mary Fraioli.

The couple works with Park Slope-based art curating service Radar Curatorial to set up shows featuring local artists like Mr. Tebeau every three months at the new location on 5th Ave. as well as on the original location at 9th St. and 8th Ave.

“We have such amazing talent in Brooklyn, it’s great to support them,” Ms. Fraioli said.

Her husband agrees. “I say, ‘Buy art, save lives.’” Is the saving just of the starving artists, or is it ourselves, that is the question.

The couple has featured the art and music of staff as well as that of friends and neighbors since they first opened their doors in 1997, among those they gave their start the now well-renown photographer Lori Berkowitz.  More recently, they formalized the effort by hiring Michele Jaslow and Spring Hofeldt of Radar and offering wait-staff a 5% commission for any art they sell.

Visit Dizzy’s for the bacon, for sure, but think of buying some salve for the soul as well.


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Blast From Past Dept: “Want Some Bacon?”, a 1995 Sketchbook Piece Commemorating Pulp Fiction

Thanks to shoulder surgery, I’m posting reruns. Here’s a little chestnut from my sketchbook circa 1995, based on the infectious dialogue from Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. Enjoy!

Personality Goes a Long Way

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Power of Imagery: Wish Paintings

Colleen’s Wish Painting

Ever hear of a “vision board?” They’re where you cut out pictures of things you want from magazines and paste them on a piece of posterboard. The idea is you see it every day, and magically draw these things to you. I don’t know the science, people, alls I know is that through some kinda metaphysical whattaya call it… “Law of Attraction,” things will come to you.

Anyway, Wifey and I took this a step further and turned the junior high girl’s locker exercise into art. Excuse me… AHT. The fine kind. The fine cartoon kind, anyway, as I was the AHTISTE behind the endeavor. As a gift, I designed and executed a “wish” or “spell” painting for her, incorporating elements of things she wanted more of in her life (music, dogs, socializing with friends, booze – I mean fine wine, etc.). The result is below, and here’s the thing: it works. Oh, yeah! Consider it proven. Ask the wife.

So, you need a really special holiday gift for someone? Let’s go! Contact me ( and let’s get the ball rolling. We’ll confab, I’ll work up some sketches, and we’ll get this done by December. I can even have it framed for you and shipped right to the recipient. I only have time for a couple of these, so let me know by November 1. We can work out an EZ installment payment plan and work within your budget.

Oh, and holiday cards? I’m doing those, too. You can have an original design for as low as $125. Again, let me know by Nov. 1, as time (as we perceive it) is of the essence.

Here’s one I did based on the It’s a Wonderful Life poster for Wifey and me a couple years back:

Xmas Card

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The Lineage of My Artwork

Show alert: the fall group exhibition at BWAC (aka: The Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition, “Where EVERYBODY Can Be a Contenda!”) opens on September 25. Over 300 artists are showing their stuff and the theme is LINEAGE. As in your own, personal artistic lineage.

Artists are providing narrative sheets to display with their work, explaining the significance of the pieces they choose to show. The idea is to enlighten the viewer concerning their artistic development, path, history. I’ll share mine here, along with images of the four pieces I have in the show. Hope to see you on the afternoon of the 25th. It’s in Red Hook, waaaaay down at the south end of Van Brunt, in the civil-war era warehouse across from Fairway. Come for the art, stay for the unbeatable deal on brisket– this week only $8.99 a pound!


For BWAC’s Lineage show I chose four pieces that illustrate my own personal artistic lineage from cartoonist to pop painter: a lover of humor, nostalgia and place.

First we have “Domm Da Dom Domm”, an homage to two of the finest cartoonists America has ever produced: Harvey Kurtzman and William Elder. Like so many others, I started drawing thanks to Mad magazine, and have maintained the touch of a cartoonist ever since. Kurtzman was the editor of Mad back in the 1950s and Elder was one of his stable of cartoon superstars. This painting is a faithful reproduction of a panel from their classic 1954 spoof of the TV show Dragnet, with its heavy-handed theme music – “Domm da dom-domm! (pause, pause, pause, pause) Dommm da dom-dom-DOMMMM!” ­– which blasted forth at even the slightest dramatic provocation.

"Domm Da Dom Domm," after Kurtzman & Elder

Thanks to guys like Kurtzman and Elder (and Mad magazine in general, and Wacky Packages, and Stan Freberg, and SNL, etc), parody and lampoon became a standard part of my artistic voice. And like all guys in their 20s, I read the beat classics by Jack Kerouac. He was trying to use the typewriter like Charlie Parker played the sax. I wondered what an LP would look like if Kerouac had been a musician instead of a writer. It would have been released by Blue Note, of course, with a cover in the style of designer Reid Miles. Neal surely would have been Jack’s sideman, and it would have featured Ginsberg, Orlovsky and Burroughs, too. “On the Road LP” (a print of an original painting) is a perfect example of parody in my work.

"On the Road LP"

Pop art and San Francisco played major roles in my evolution as an artist, and they’re both part of “7-Up There” (here as a print of my original acrylic on canvas painting). Warhol, Jasper Johns, Rauschenberg, Ruscha… all those pop artists made the whole messy modern world look like art, and when I lived in SF I felt like I was in a pop art museum 24/7, snapping hundreds of pictures during my two years there. One that I took in North Beach (turf of the beats) featured a remarkable 7-Up sign from the 1970s, mounted on a Victorian storefront/home. Double nostalgia, double pop art. And San Francisco is where I started painting in earnest (as opposed to exclusively cartooning), so as a place it’s an important part of my artistic story, too

"7-Up There"

“Blue Front” typifies my love of line, pop art, street scenes and another place near and dear to my heart: Ann Arbor, Michigan. As an undergrad I shopped at Blue Front and years later, when I returned to Ann Arbor to live, I noticed they still had their old Pepsi sign out front, along with the classic wall-painting from the 1930s still in tact. I took a picture on a November day (typically grey, clean and chilly) and reinterpreted it in acrylic on canvas. I had my first art show in Ann Arbor, and it will always be an important part of who I am, as a person and an artist.

"Blue Front"

There you have it. Be there on Sept. 25 or, you know, be an equiangular, equilateral, quadrilateral. Glayvin. Bur-HOY!

In Frink We Trvst


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When an Artist Curates a Show, Good Things Happen: “NeoIntegrity” at MoCCA

“Artists make great exhibition curators. They have expert eyes, a personal stake in the game and contacts with all kinds of other artists, including those who ride under the establishment radar. Museum surveys of contemporary art rarely produce surprises. Artist-organized gallery shows almost always do.”

So wrote the art critic Holland Cotter a couple years ago in the New York Times, upon reviewing the excellent “NeoIntegrity” show at Derek Eller Gallery, curated by artist Keith Mayerson. Mayerson’s at it again, and this time it’s comics.

The Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art (MoCCA) kicked off “NeoIntegrity: Comics Edition” in their SoHo digs on Friday March 12. Curated by Mr. Mayerson, the exhibit features the work of over 200 cartoonists, including R. Crumb, Peter Bagge, Lynda Barry, Charles Addams, Julie Doucet (yummy website, Julie!), Daniel Clowes, Charles Burns, Roz Chast, Al Jaffee, Harvey Kurtzman, Isabella Bannerman, Jules Feiffer, Art Spiegelman…. [catching breath!] It’s a veritable cornucopia, my friends. A CAVALCADE of TALENT. (though it’s too bad Nina Paley’s not on the list) Still, the mind is, how you say, boggled by the breadth and depth of the line-up: a Murderers Row of the ink set. Do yourself a favor and go see it.

“NeoIntegrity: Comics Edition” runs from through May 30 at the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, 594 Broadway (between Houston and Prince), fourth floor.

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