The Style Conversational
The Style Conversational
Loser-friendly discussion with The Empress of The Style Invitational

Week 937: We’re stuck on (or at least with) Staake

By The E, Pat Myers

In this week’s contest we further inflate the ego of Mr. Robert Staake, for whom the only thing he’s ever had that approximates a regular job has been his once-a-week cartoons for The Style Invitational ever since he replaced the original cartoonist, Marc Rosenthal, in May 1994, in the Invite’s second year. Bob, has, however, found a few other sources of pocket money — such as creating illustrations and other artwork for innumerable corporate clients from AT&T to ... well, something that begins with Z, no doubt, and for newspapers and magazines from Time to Mad. And, as we glimpse this week, Bob has illustrated more than 50 children’s books, many of which he’s the author as well. Some of the best known are “The Donut Chef,” “The Red Lemon” and Peter Stein’s “Cars Galore” — and “The Red Lemon” was even the inspiration for a symphony.)

The four books we’ll be taking out of context in Week 937 are:
“I’m a Truck,” featuring a good-ol’-boy semi named Big Blue Bill, from the classic Little Golden Books series (you know those, right, those thin little ones with the foil spines?).
“Mary Had a Little Lamp,” text by Jack Lechner, which is about a girl who prefers being accompanied by an appliance rather than an ovine (“Their doctor said, “I’ve never seen so puzzling a condition. / But lamps are not my specialty. You need an electrician”).
“Pets Go Pop,” a pop-up book.
●And the darkest of the lot, the rare “Struwwelpeter,” an adaptation of tales by Heinrich Hoffmann, a 19th-century German mental hospital director.

Bob has created all of these books — unlike most of Bob’s cartoons for the Invite — with the ingenious use of the old-school Photoshop version 3.0 (it’s now up to 12) to create the basic shapes and colors that Bob then manipulates so artfully. Here’s a 3-minute video in which you can watch Bob forming and refining a totally Bob character on the screen from a few circles and ovals.

So will this author of books for tots be offended if the Losers write captions that are, let’s say, not exactly suitable for the pre-K school library? Hahahaha. I mean, I doubt it. Those you are Facebook friends of Bob and gets his many crazily creative and often profane posts can attest to that. While Bob won’t be involved in the contest judging, I’ll bounce the finalists off him (ow!) and he can tell me his faves.

Hoo boy, with all these hymns of praise, plugs for his books, etc., does Bob owe me or what? Maybe he’ll stop drawing me like the Bride of Frankenstein.


It was harder than I thought. I’m afraid most of the entries didn’t work for me: Maybe it was too unstructured an assignment, or maybe the unrelieved soggy grayness outside. Anyway, congratulations to Invite fixtures Lawrence McGuire and Nan Reiner plus First Offender Ron Shafer. Sunday Style Editor Lynn Medford's “Haw”: Randy Lee’s cowboy vampire tale.

If you’re on the Style Invitational e-mail list, you should have received an invitation on Friday from me to the Losers’ own 16th annual Flushies awards — this year, a picnic at Granville Gude Park in Laurel, Md., on Saturday, Oct. 1, 1 to 5 p.m., rain or shine (there’s an open-air pavilion that will hold 80 people).

I’m hoping to meet some new Losers and Style Invitational Devotees there as well as the vets. Along with the award presentations — led this year by Kyle Hendrickson, taking over for longtime emcee Russell Beland, who can’t make it this time — there should be lots of time to chow down on barbecue and assorted sides, plus soft drinks or your own brought-in alcohol, and then manage to smear sauce over some Loser you’d always wanted to meet. (It’s okay, he/she’s a Loser!)

Be sure to mail in your check ($25 a person) to Elden Carnahan as soon as possible; not only do coordinators Pie Snelson and Dave Prevar need to get a good count to ensure the right amount of food, but we’ve had as many as 75 attendees in past years, and you want to be sure you can get under that pavilion roof.

If you didn’t get the e-mail, contact me at and I’ll forward you the pertinent information. (Be sure to mention “Flushies” in the subject line, so I’ll notice it.)

See you there — I’ll be the one in the Loser Tiara.

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