Medical Advice and Rodent News

The drawing above, originally published during the 1980s in American Health magazine, has always been a special favorite of mine by virtue of the fact that it was a favorite of Eddie’s parents, who kept the original art for it framed in their living room for decades.

I had given the artwork to Hesh in advance of a surgical procedure he was facing quite early in Eddie’s and my relationship. Hesh and Eddie’s mom Evelyn were amused enough to keep the drawing perpetually on display thereafter.

Hesh and Evelyn both passed on in the last few years, which is why I find myself in possession once more of the drawing that I gave them so long ago. At this point the artwork’s colors are in sad shape indeed, having faded drastically as a result of years of uninterrupted exposure to light.

Much of my color art from the late-’70s and early-’80s has suffered the same fate, I regret to say. This has provided me with a sad lesson about the need for choosing one’s pigments judiciously in the first place. Somehow or other a product called Dr. Martin’s fluorescent dyes had become my medium of choice around the time I moved from Alabama to New York City, and that’s the medium I began using to color many of my drawings as I began getting color assignments late in the 1970s.

It took me a while to discover how unstable those dyes could be if you didn’t keep them out of direct sunlight. As a result of that misstep, no small number of my color drawings from that era can now be mistaken for black-and-white ones.

I might have remained under Dr. Martin’s sway even longer had it not been for the fact that you just couldn’t get an attractive violent from the palette of dyes the good doctor provided. Try as I might, anything I mixed up by combining blues and reds turned out muddy and ugly. This was a big problem, since I really, really craved the services of a good violet for an illustration I was in the middle of painting for Bananas magazine.

I finally dropped my brushes and paid an emergency visit to a Manhattan art supply store, on whose shelves I discovered tubes galore of Winsor and Newton Designer Gouache, offering me at least as vibrant a selection of colors as the Dr. Martin selection I had previously been making do with. A very nice violet hue was among them.

Above: The Bananas illustration that led to my discovery of designer gouache.

So gouache is what I subwayed home from the art store with. And as it turned out, not only did I return to my drawing board with a good violet in tow, I was soon to learn that gouache colors had way more staying power over the long term than dyes did.

Hence my swift defection to gouache in the months that followed. And that, my children, is why most of my color art from the second half of the 1980s, unlike much that preceded it, is still color art today.

POSTSCRIPT: By now, of course, I color my art with Adobe Photoshop, whose digital magic has allowed me to restore the desired vibrancy to "Resist Unnecessary Surgery" as seen above.

Rodent News Update

In my last blog entry I told you about the role played in my career by a particular variety of rodent—namely squirrels. So it’s fitting that I mention in passing that I was recently commissioned to render a drawing of a friendly rat for a web site promoting The Rat Shop, which is an enterprise that caters to owners of the cute branch of ratdom that are fortunate enough to be nurtured as pets and which are not to be confused with their less cultured cousins who can be seen foraging in restaurant dumpsters or skulking along the grimy subway tracks of New York City.

The designer of the logo from whose typography my rat emblem can be seen discreetly peeking, by the way, is a skilled California designer named Dickinson Prentiss Jr. Dick and I have joined forces before, I should mention: ten years ago I provided an impudent logo for his similarly impudent web site (since discontinued) called Mooned.com. That drawing can still be found on mugs and t-shirts that are part of my CafePress line of merchandise.
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About Howard

I'm a cartoonist and writer, best known for my graphic novel, Stuck Rubber Baby, and my comic strip from the 1980s, Wendel.
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3 Responses to Medical Advice and Rodent News

  1. Kevin Moore says:

    In light of the recent health care, um, “debate”, that image of a patient with a gun aimed at his doctor sparked different connotations in my head. Damn funny, tho.

    Love the moon.

  2. Your rat is much cuter than the giant specimens at my local park.

  3. Eddie says:

    I get mooned every morning, with that butt on my coffee mug, and enjoy it to the last drop!