There was a lot of talent around, the kind who wield brushes and pens drawing the characters we look at every day in the comic or editorial pages of our newspaper, and lettering words like, "PAM," "WOW," "STICK'EM UP," and once in awhile, "I LOVE YOU." A group of them got together last night at the National Press Club.
They included cartoonists such as Alfred Andriola, who brings 'Kerry Drake" alive each day and once drew "Charlie Chan"; Bill Gallo, with his "Boxcar Bertha"; John Cullen Murphy, who spends his hours with "Prince Valiant," and Mort Walker, who draws "Beetle Bailey," and may more.
The kids loved it, and so did the adults. There were 360 of them spending $10 a head to eat a dinner of fried chicken, baked beans, sauerkraut, hot dogs, but mostly enjoying being in the presence of the men who draw their favorite strips.
Irwin Hasen, looking a tiny bit like his character "Dondi," said, "I began early in the business, about 1955, and I got into the strip a subject opposing brutality against women. I had a guy beating his wife and had him arrested and convicted."
Jerry Robinson, who now draws political cartoons, said he started with "batman." "I was the creator of the 'Joker.' I think I created employment for Cesar Romero 25 years later."
Robinson said his profession calls for a "unique discipline of writing and cartooning-a cartoonist shows it all in six to 10 lines."
Long an admirer of Picasso, Robinson said, "Once a wealthy Texan bought a drawing from Picasso, and he was charged $20,000. The Texan complained that the great artis t did the drawing in only eight lines. Picasso said, "If I did it in six lines I would have charged you $50,000."
The night was all "remember" as most getting-togethers are.
John Stampone, a political cartoonist for the Army Times, said, "I started when I was in the Army. We had an office on the second floor of the old Washington Daily News. Bill Mauldin worked there when he was a soldier and before he went overseas."
Gene Basset, cartoonist for Scripps Howard, told his story about asking for a job on his first day. "I was told to go down to an art store, buy a bottle of ink, a sheet of paper, a pen whatever, and come back and draw something."
Earlier in the evening, in a meeting room upstairs, the cartoonists were nervous as they were told that each would have to draw a subject from their strip. "Just a head or something," they were told, "we have the paper and pens. Just lean over the table and draw. It will show up on the wide screen."
Mostly, until they caught on, it was their own shoulders, very side, blacking everything out.