Ask A Cartoonist: Your Best Strip Ever

Recently King Features asked their cartoonists to talk about the best strip they’ve ever written or drawn, and how they were inspired to create it.

Mine was a recently rejected concept idea.

Deciding the particular look of a character in a comic strip is always a challenge. Just a couple months ago Francesco started writing strips showing how the preteen Hil, Faye and Nona would be like in their twenties.

The first strip (in color) is what the characters ended up looking like in the strip. The second version (black and white) is my first interpretation which ended up on the cutting room floor.


For examples from other cartoonists, be sure to check out the Comics Kingdom blog.
Ask A Cartoonist: Your Best Strip Ever.

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Sally Forth Easter Tradition – Art Mirrors Life

One of the first Sally Forth strips I drew solo after taking over from Craig MacIntosh was the March 31, 2013 Easter strip.


To mark the occasion, my wife and I ate the ears (more like the whole heads) of the kids’ chocolate bunnies they got for Easter that year.

Tesa and Anna

For some reason Tessa and Anna did not share in the humor of this.

For those interested in a Sally Forth chocolate bunny retrospective (covering 2004-1014), check out Sally Forth – An Easter Tradition.

And what will happen in the battle of the bunny ears this year?
Stay tuned…

Sally Forth drop panel for March 29, 2015

Sally Forth drop panel for March 29, 2015

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Mike Wolfer on Fan art/Homage art

The following is good advice from fellow Kubert School alum Mike Wolfer.
Originally posted on his Facebook page.


I’ve seen seeing quite a few stories and posts concerning “fan art/ homage art” and the legality of selling works featuring characters created by others. To all of the artists out there who have a talent for drawing and are thinking of setting up a booth at comic conventions (or on eBay, or Etsy, or Redbubble, or anywhere else), here’s some easy rules of thumb:

1. If you’re a comic pro and are selling prints of your art featuring a company-owned character, and you’ve made arrangements with or have the approval of that publisher to sell your prints, you’re good.

2. If the above applies, except you do not have the publisher’s approval, you may one day be faced with a lawsuit, as Ghost Rider creator Gary Friedrich experienced.

3. If you’re a “fan artist” and are creating original works, from your own layouts, of characters owned by others, and you’re doing commissions (i.e. you draw a single piece and sell that single, original piece to a collector), that’s generally okay.

4. If the above applies but you’re reproducing that art and selling art prints in quantity, you’re looking for trouble.

5. If you’re a “fan artist” and you’re directly tracing/swiping/lightboxing others’ work, right down to duplicating their unique and recognizable styles, and you’re hiding being the despicable dodge that it’s an “homage” and that it’s an original piece of art because you changed a few colors here or there… If I can walk up to your booth and look at your art prints featuring the work of others and easily detect 20 different artists’ works, then you need to close up shop. In fact, convention organizers should not even allow you to purchase a booth in which you’re selling mass-produced forgeries. If you’re selling these prints on eBay, Etsy, Redbubble, etc., then you need to be reported, and I would heartily encourage anyone and everyone to do so.

As an artist, if I saw my original work copied and reproduced by someone else as art prints on display at their booth, and if they were taking credit for the work that I created and were making money from it- Let’s just say that there would be immediate and quite public consequences.

I hope that clears things up.

-Mike Wolfer



When it rains, it pours…
A recent post on Scott Shaw’s Facebook page.

    I’ve been attending fan conventions since the World Science Fiction Con (WorldCon) in Berkeley, CA in 1968, so I’ve seen a lot of ‘em. Lately, I’ve been noticing that at least 25% of the retailers’ floorspace at fan shows seems to be devoted to artists selling prints (for $5 to $20) of their work using countless famous characters that they don’t own and have never drawn professionally.

    In an age where TeeFury can steal the concepts of others and sell T-shirts bearing immediately recognizable characters while using a loophole that keeps them out of court), I’d feel unethical selling prints of characters I’d never worked on. However, drawing prints featuring characters I have drawn professionally is merely self-promotion.

    Commissions are original drawings for collectors and priced accordingly. But looking around the events I’ve been attending lately, I’m getting kinda sick of seeing vein-necked super-thugs, “sexy” female characters traced from porn photos and ADVENTURE TIME rip-offs. We get enough of those in mainstream comics drawn by professionals…which just shows how the lines of demarcation have become blurred like never before.

For more on the subject, check out National Cartoonists Society President Tom Richmond’s take on this on his blog – Comic Con Print Hustlers.


Also his follow up, Parody and Copyright and Prints?

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Sally Forth – Charade


Does the picture of Sally in the first panel of the March 23-28, 2015
strips seem familiar?

Well, here’s the reference Francesco sent me to go by…

Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn

And for those who are unfamiliar with the Audrey Hepburn movie this is from,
I’ve included the original movie poster.


-Jim Keefe

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Let it snow, let it snow, let in snow…

Not many people know this, but Francesco Marciuliano is a weatherman during his off hours. This became evident with yesterday’s Sally Forth (March 22, 2015 – but written months prior).


To give you an idea how spot on Francesco was, here is the scene at the park across the street from where I live after yesterday’s snowfall.


Coincidentally, I got in from shoveling and found this postcard in the mail from sunny Florida from my Sally Forth Sensei, Craig MacIntosh.


Nothing much I can add to that, but to say it’s springtime in Minnesota.
Let us rejoice and be glad…


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John Romita Draws Flash Gordon

Today’s Flash Gordon strip (3/22/2015) originally ran on December 1, 2002.
The art is by John Romita Sr.


As King didn’t pay me much for writing and drawing Flash Gordon, I couldn’t offer Mr. Romita much money – his decision to do it pretty much hinged on the fact he grew up on Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon Sunday page. To grease the wheels some more I also mentioned that Joe Kubert had done the strip just a few weeks prior. (More on that in my previous post.)


Romita’s strip came out shortly after the first Spider-Man movie came out in 2002. Talking on the phone, one of the things he really took pride in regarding that first Spider-Man film was the prominent role Mary Jane had. (More on that in a previous post as well.)

Romita was the artist as a kid I recognized as THE Spider-Man artist. From that point on instead of buying a comic book because of the character (Spider-Man, Batman, etc.) I started following the creative team.

The following is a pic from 1993 when I was on staff at King Features. It was at some cartoon art exhibit (I forget where). My friend Jerry Craft made a point of taking the picture, as I could barely get out the words, “Me like your art good.”

Fledgling artist, Jim Keefe,  with John Romita Sr. - May 1993

Fledgling artist, Jim Keefe, with John Romita Sr. – May 1993

To then work with Romita years later on a Flash Gordon page was one of those high water marks that professionally just can’t be beat.

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Fair Trade Books – Red Wing, MN

Joshua Schaefer of Fair Trade Books

Joshua Schaefer of Fair Trade Books

Shout out to Joshua Schaefer of Fair Trade Books in Red Wing, MN for suggesting
Kim Dietch’s book, The Search for Smilin’ Ed!


One of the few books I don’t have of Deitch’s which somehow Joshua magically knew.

Unabashed plug time – if you’re in Red Wing, check out Fair Trade Books.
Great store and friendly service. It’s a win win!
On the web at

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