Thursday, August 12, 2010

Cartoonists and a scotch with two speech balloons

Last night Flash Rosenberg invited me, and two other female friends, to attend the (largely male) monthly happy hour gathering of The National Cartoonist Society at O'Casey's bar near Grand Central Station.

I arrived early and was directed upstairs. There were two long tables. One was nearly full, with a crowd of jolly folks and the other had only two guys sitting there quietly. Assuming cartoonists were noisy, I sat at the full table. I shook hands, introduced myself, made small talk, and then someone asked me what firm I ran or worked for. Firm? Cartoonists have firms? They started to laugh deep laughs.
"We are accountants, the cartoonists must be on the other side of the room."
"Well," I said, "I am enjoying you all anyway, so I'll have a few more sips of my scotch before I join the other side. Besides, my brother is an actuary, that makes me almost related."

I made my way over to the slowly filling table of cartoonists and had the luck to sit right next to a short, sweet, funny, old man. Our patter was delightfully snappy and silly. At one point I told him I was taken and held out my ring finger, he pulled out an imaginary loop and inspected the diamond. I told him it didn't melt in the shower so the love had to be real... then I asked him what he draws.

"You mean, drew, what I drew."
"I guess I do," I replied.
"I drew Dondi, The Green Hornet, Wonder Woman, to name a few. I'm Irwin Hasen."
"WOW!" I made bowing motions. I was clearly sitting next to a flirtatious legend.
"My father loves Dondi, we always read it!" He smiled happily.
Irwin Hasen with me at the Cartoonists happy hour. Photo by Flash Rosenberg.

I also sat next to Ellen Abramowitz one of the other women Flash invited. She is the skilled, smart, and sophisticated (best dressed at any table in the joint) chairman of the board of trustees at the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art. She was brimming with good ideas, professionalism, and enthusiasm for the museum. She also tells great stories about the cartoon world, movies from cartoons, cartoonists... Cool. She knew who I was because she responded to a previous blog about my visit to their current (go see it!) show "NeoIntegrity" and had heartily agreed that the museum needs to grow in size. If comic con can fill the ENTIRE Javit's conference center, then surely, MoCCA deserves to fill a building too. One suite is just too little space for a museum. (So anybody with cash to spare, do donate.)
Ellen Abramowitz and Karen Green, photo by Flash Rosenberg

The other Flash invitee was Karen Green, both a Graphic Novels and Ancient and Medieval History and Religion Librarian at Columbia University. She, too, was fascinating to talk to. Think about how medieval manuscripts relate to graphic novel layouts. I got to ride home on the subway with her and the time flew by as she and I talked about what cartoons we devoured as we grew up, our ages being close, we went through similar stages of discovery. From daily newspaper strips to New Yorker cartoons to Edward Gorey to Crazy Cat to Archy and Mehitabel...We took a moment of silence around 86th street for the untoppable genius of Winsor McCay! Karen said (something she heard from Feiffer) "Imagine being there at the start of the golden age of cartooning and having his talent and creating Little Nemo without having to know that you would be the pinnacle that all others had to follow and could never top." Karen is great. I think all colleges should immediately contact her to come and speak to their students.

I also got to take home a truly funny new (free) newspaper full of cartoons "Coffee Talk" put together by Tony Murphy. The third strip on the front page was done by Marc Bilgrey who sat opposite me. It turns out he is also a fantasy novelist and we had both attended Lunacon a few months back and somehow I'd never heard of him or met him there. He was on the panels as a featured author and I was one of the listeners. So nice to meet someone who draws and writes fantasy. See! I'm not the only one.

I talked to so was great to meet all of you...even the accountants. Thanks Flash Rosenberg for the invitation!


Karen said...

Nice! It WAS a great evening. And a fun ride home!

One thing, though: that quote you attribute to me was actually spoken by Jules Feiffer. I was quoting him. Far be it from me to steal the words of a genius!!

Thanks for the write-up, Claudia--and double thanks to Flash and Ellen for the invitation...

Deborah Atherton said...

You go to all the best parties!

Ed Steckley said...

Great meetin' ya! See you at the next one...