Merry December! What did you think of this week’s snow? Do you have a winter outfit like the woman in the above photograph? The picture is titled MobileHome, it was taken by Isabelle Kiser, and it won the 2020 School of the Museum of Fine Arts Photography Prize at Tufts University. Check out more of Kiser’s photos and the work of other SMFA winners here!


Haddon “Sunny” Sundblom was a famous twentieth-century advertising artist—he painted an updated version of the Quaker for the Quaker Oats packaging in 1957, for instance—but he is best remembered for the portraits of Santa Claus he did for the Coca-Cola Company. As this article from the company points out, Sundblom painted Santa portraits for over thirty years (from 1931 to 1964) for Coke’s advertising, and his images of St. Nick (based on the description in Clement Clark Moore’s poem “’Twas the Night Before Christmas”) were wildly popular. There’s a nice gallery of Sundblom’s Santas here, to get you in the holiday mood.


A Year of Free Comics: Gwendy & Ghost is a heartwarming tale of a girl and her ghost BFF - ComictaQThe long-running webcomic Gwendy and Ghost by Doublemaximus is a sweet fable about a kindergarten girl who befriends a friendly ghost haunting her new home. As Deanna Destito points out in her review on the Comics Beat site, Gwendy is buffeted by the changes in her life: “New house. Mom is pregnant but going through some trauma of her own. A new Kindergarten class with a teacher not known for being warm and fuzzy. Her protector—her rock—is the ghost she befriends in the house. When things go bump in the night or Gwendy is feeling alone, Ghost is always there.” Start with the first episode of Gwendy and Ghost. (Be aware that Gwendy grows up over the course of the series, and on rare occasions the strip wanders into material more appropriate for teen readers, though always with sensitivity and warmth.)



Garfield | Daily Comic Strip on March 1st, 1992 in 2020 | Garfield comics, Comic strips, Cartoons comicsOn his website, David Malki!—whose webcomic Wondermark has been running since 2003 (!)—explores an unexpectedly fascinating topic: the bizarre coloring in Jim Davis’ Garfield comic strip, in both its print and online versions. (Malki’s takeaway: the comics don’t “necessarily have to have an ‘official, canonical’ version. The same work can be presented in different ways depending on the context.”) Of course, if you want to see for yourself Garfield’s “bonkers color palette,” there’s a deep archive of Garfield strips at the GoComics website. And everyone should know about my favorite satirical variation on Garfield, Dan Walsh’s Garfield Minus Garfield.


For older comics fans: On November 19, the Charles M. Schulz Museum sponsored an online discussion titled “Cartoonists in Conversation: The Power of Black Ink,” featuring artists Robb Armstrong, Darrin Bell, Keith Knight, Elizabeth Montague, and Bianca Xunise. The creators talk about a controversy over one of Xunise’s cartoons for the syndicated comic strip Six Chix (the cartoon is reproduced here); other topics include the co-optation of Black Lives Matter rhetoric; the challenge of doing a daily comic strip; and the importance of developing your own cartooning voice. After you watch the video, visit the website of the Schulz Museum, where you can find a timeline of Schulz’s life, highlights from the Museum’s collection, and a portal to extensive digital holdings too.







Also for older readers: On Journalist’s Resource, comics journalist Josh Neufeld has written and drawn “A Tale of Two Pandemics: Historical Insights on Persistent Racial Disparities,” which despite its title is an accessible comics story about three doctors who explore the reasons why both the 1918 influenza and 2020 Covid pandemics have been more harmful in communities of color. (One big problem: rumors and false claims circulating about “Black immunity” to both viruses.) In a complimentary article, Neufeld is interviewed about what comics journalism is (“As a comics journalist, I research, report, and tell true-life stories”) and how he put together “A Tale of Two Pandemics.” This second article also includes more links: to other examples of comics journalism on Neufeld’s own site, to Dan Archer’s history of comics journalism, and to the nonfiction comics site The Nib, which recently published Rebecca Roher’s piece on how seniors at an elder care facility in Halifax are coping with Covid.

This weekly blog post is written and compiled by Craig Fischer. To send along recommendations, ideas, and comments, contact Craig at [.]

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Playhouse Comics Club, Issue #31 (November 27, 2020)Playhouse Comics Club, Issue #33 (December 11, 2020)

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