He knew I'd attended Billy's school and he thought it would bring back memories. It sure did. I just ran across it myself .
I attended Billy's in 1953-54 right out of high school. Having taken a Greyhound bus from Tucson, Arizona with $600.00 in my pocket, I was on my way to become a magazine cartoonist and nothing was going to stop me. Shortly in my first year, just turning 18, I sold my first freelance cartoon to a farm trade journal called The Prarie Farmer for four dollars. I said to myself: Dick Cavalli, VIP, Cobean, Dempsey, Henderson, Lamb, Key, Fine - - " Move over, because there's a new show in town !" ( Of course, It was an arrogant, dumb, naive, stupid statement to make ) As I said before, back then, I was young and dumb, - - - now, I'm no longer young.
The ad came out in a trade journal called THE AMERICAN CARTOONIST ( Put out by a couple cartoonists from California, I remember ). There was also a small ad for THE CARTOON GAGWRITER by Don Ulsh, 123-35 82nd Road, Kew Gardens, 15 -Gagwriter: You can flood the mails with funny stuff, but if it ain't slanted right it's wasted effort. For two dollars, Don's book will give you the proper angle.
Another ad said: Collector wants originals of Happy Hooligan, Krazy Kat,Foxy Grandpa, Buster Brown, etc. A. PASHOW, 1662 Cropsey Ave., Brooklyn , N.Y. ( I thought to myself, No Kidding ! )
And still another one inch ad said: CARTOONISTS - Get in on the ground floor of new markets as they open up by getting the dope while it's HOT. " CARTOONISTS' WEEKLY MARKET LETTER " supplies you with the latest market info as well as news and inter-studio chit-chat of just about everybody in the freelance gag-cartoon business. FREE sample copy. CARTOONISTS' WEEKLY MARKET LETTER, La Habra, Calif.
I'd subscribed for a couple years to The Cartoonists' Market Letter. It was produced by a trade journal cartoonist named Lew Card. He lived in an exurb of L.A., La Habra. His address I still remember: 513 College Circle.
One Saturday a fellow student from the school, Bob Van den Berghe and I called Lew and asked if we could drop by and say hello. He'd seemed to be a real friendly guy and had mentioned in his magazine that anyone was welcome to his house, so we took him up on it.
I remember we arrived late in the morning. It was a small town. This was before shopping malls and before a lot of things !
We found his house and he quickly invited us to stick around for a spaghetti dinner, which we did., and turned out to be extraordinarily tasty. We chatted around the kitchen table for a couple hours and couldn't help noticing at least 6-7 kids aged from about 3 to 15 running in and out of the house. Found out it was his second marriage and the two families made for a full house. Also he told us that he had a drinking problem so he moved way the hell out away from any place he could buy alcohol. It seemed to work for him.
On another Saturday we decided to call Mel Millar. Mel had worked for Disney for years and his name appears on the credits on many films.
I remember he lived out in Burbank. He had a beautiful white stucco Spanish style house with a mission tile roof. The driveway curved into a half-circle with a large Pepper tree smack dab in the middle. Mel by now was doing a helluva lot of trade journal cartoons and supplemented his income by lettering at least a half-dozen comic books. He had one he was working on and one of the 20x30 bristol boards was on his drafting table, he was about half way finished doing an entire Tweety Bird comic book. The panels were all pencilled in and the balloons with the lettering was roughed in. So Mel would ink in the lettering and balloons, then someone would pick them up, take them to the inker and complete the job.
Mel was an excellent lettering guy and was well-known for it. Helluva cartoonist and gentleman.