If You Be My Bodyguard
My Great Big American Trip 8.
Today I visited Brian Walker at the Mort Walker Studio at Studio Street in Stamford. He introduced me to his father, who has been a hero of mine for many years. WE had a lively discussion about a couple of cartoon related subjects. It turns out they wanted to pick my brain about some of the stuff that's up on my blog and after the first shock wore off I felt really honored. I had Mort sign a book he did with Dik Browne and they were all over me: "Where did you get that? Do you realize how rare that book is with a paper cover?" I sort of felt bad about shoving it in my travel bag all week, now. I told Mort (Jon told me I can call him Mort) how much I liked Dik Browne's work and he imediately lit up. He really appreciated him as well and of course, they were great friend. He told me some of the tricks they played on each other, like the time Mort gave a party and had his British neighbour pretend he was Andy Capp artist Reg Smythe. When he daw Dik sitting with de neighbour, he went over and started attacking him: "Don't you feel ashamed about stealing gags from American artists? I mean, that thing you have going, it's just Snuffy Smith with a funny accent, you're just stealing Snuffy Smith gags!" Dik Brown got very mad: "I won't stand for this!" and got up and left the party. Mort had to go after him to explain that he really wasn't Reg Smythe and Browne said: "It doesn't matter. You just don't talk to people like that!"
The big man... and Mort Walker.
After that we went to see Al Jaffee and just talked with him for over an hour about obscure facts from his early career. He really opened up and told us all sorts of stuff my collector friend will go apeshit over. Names, people, it just all came flowing out of him. Followers of my blog will know that I got in contact with Al (he can call me Betty) when I sent him copies of the scans I am doing of hij Tall Tales Sundays. In fact, he liked them so much, he is now bidding on them himself on ebay! He had a whole box full of copies I don't even have on the couch!
After all that I suddenly just got tired. They say that meeting your heroes is a sure way to get disappointed. But I met Will Eisner, I met Jean Giraud, I met Harvey Kurtman, I met Michael Palin and now Mort Walker and Al Jaffee. And they all proved to be even bigger in person than they were in my mind.
At the end of the day Craig (who had driven me everywhere) and I were completely wiped out. And when we were done eating he come down the stairs with a stack of original art and asked me if I wanted to see his Varsity pieces - five tiers of prime Harvey Kurtzman art. Now if I could just get him to sleep a bid longer...