Monday, January 16, 2012

Now and Then: Myron Waldman

The new issue of Hogan's Alley, the Magazine of the Cartoon Arts, is on the stands now. The first issue came out in 1994. It was originally intended to be a quarterly publication, but the schedule has been somewhat erratic, and it's actually coming out on close to an annual basis. It's a thick magazine, though, with lots of varied material, so each issue is worth the wait.

Hogan's Alley covers the entire gamut of the cartoon arts, past and present: comic strips, comic books, animation, editorial cartoons, gag panels, and advertising. The new issue, #18, features interviews with Cathy Guisewite (creator of Cathy) and Alvin Schwartz (writer of Superman); a history of Ren and Stimpy; articles on the classic comic strips Invisble Scarlet O'Neill, Penny and Right Around Home; the story behind Charles Schulz's creation of Franklin, the first African-American member of the Peanuts cast; the story behind why Popeye's arch-nemesis is sometimes called Bluto and sometimes Brutus; a history of the Filmation Superman cartoons of the 1960s; articles on gorillas in comic books, and the deaths of comic book characters; an editorial on the vanishing newspaper syndicates; and more.

I began a correspondence with HA editor Tom Heintjes right after the first issue came out. A few years later, when the regular writer of Now and Then (a sort of "where are they now?" column) decided to stop writing it, Tom offered it to me. I've been the writer of Now and Then since issue #12. It's given me the opportunity to get to know some of the veterans of the cartooning field.

I'm going to post my past columns on this blog over the next few days. I hope you enjoy them. If you do, I hope you'll also give the rest of Hogan's Alley a try.

There's a story behind my first column, about animator Myron Waldman. My wife and I were shopping in a neighborhood supermarket, and a young boy took notice of the Superman T-shirt I was wearing. He said to me, "My neighbor used to draw Superman." I didn't recognize the name he gave me, but when I went home, I looked it up and found that Myron Waldman was not an artist on the Superman comic books, but an animator for the 1940s Superman cartoons! Some time later, when Tom offered me the column, I used it as an an excuse to contact Myron and ask to meet him.

Myron and his wife Rosalie were wonderful hosts, and had plenty of stories to tell. Myron passed away in 2006. I'm glad I had the chance to meet him when I did.

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