On the eve of an international incident


Stephen Silver drawing one of his incredible caricatures
(Photo by Chad Carpenter)

By the time you read this, it will be too late.

Because while you were sleeping, nine cartoonists left Washington, D.C., flew overnight, and landed in Frankfurt, Germany. Their mission: to visit the troops at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center and Ramstein Air Force Base. They spent Monday at Walter Reed and the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda doing the same.

Europe may never recover.

Oh sure, they are some of the country’s top cartoonists, but you don’t know them like I know them. I have traveled with these guys.

Here is a picture from a recent visit to a U.S. Navy ship. (I’m the one in the tan fleece. The guy in the hat is one of the nine guys on this trip.)


See? See what I mean? Right now, some poor USO representative in Germany is probably getting a wet willie.

On the plus side, they put a lot of smiles on a lot of faces – the faces of those who have sacrificed on our behalf. They bring a little bit of home to the troops, and let them know they are appreciated.

There’s that, I guess.

Here are their names and what they do:

Tom Stiglich
: His cartoons have appeared in the USA Today, The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Philadelphia Daily News, The Washington Post, Newsweek, Newsweek Japan, TIME magazine, TIME.com, Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Mad Kids magazine and in the annual book series ‘Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year.’ He is a three-time recipient for the Citation of Excellence award from the United Nations.

Bruce Higdon: A retired U.S. Army Cavalry officer, is known among his fellow soldiers as the creator of El Tee, a strip which ran in Army Times for eight years. He also drew comics for a variety of Army post newspapers in the U.S. and Europe for over twenty-five years. Today, Bruce continues to draw his military cartoons for a variety of units stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan. He provides civilian humor, also, to financial, marketing, and fitness companies in the U.S. and Canada. Besides his strips, Bruce is a caricature artist who has entertained a variety of clients with his drawings, including Ronald Reagan, Bob Hope, and a whole bunch of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines.

Chad Carpenter: Chad Carpenter’s comic strip, TUNDRA first appeared in newspapers throughout his home state of Alaska, but has since been picked up by more than 350 newspapers around the world. These papers include the L.A. Times, the New York Daily News, the Chicago Tribune, the Denver Post as well as newspapers throughout Europe, Jamaica & Trinidad. Consisting of anything animal, vegetable or mineral, but with a decidedly outdoorsy slant, TUNDRA takes an offbeat view of the woodsy side of life. Whether it’s outhouses, chainsaws, fishing or even something a bit more metropolitan, everything is always in season. In 2008, TUNDRA was awarded “Best Newspaper Panel” by the National Cartoonists Society – a fact Chad continues to milk for all it’s worth.

Dave Mowder: Licensing Artist/Illustrator for Warner Bros., Disney and Peanuts. Currently illustrates children’s books, magazine, greeting cards and Christmas ornaments with the likes of Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny and Snoopy. Has worked for Hallmark Cards, Warner Bros. Worldwide Publishing and Disney Publishers. Was awarded the Reuben Award in 2008 for Best Greeting Card Cartoonist by the National Cartoonist Society.

Ed Steckley: Ed is a humorous illustrator living in NY. His work has been seen in numerous nationwide publications, including Cracked and more recently Mad magazines for DC comics. He specializes in caricature and editorial illustration, but has been known to draw really boring pictures of really boring things in order to pay the bills. He also does a lot of work is in the advertising industry, but advertising campaigns and storyboards for TV commercials aren’t nearly as much fun as Mad and Cracked. He’s also shown in galleries in and around the NYC area.

Ray Alma: A graduate of the School of Visual Arts where he majored in cartooning. A caricaturist and humorous illustrator, Ray’s work has appeared in magazines, newspapers, books and on TV. Ray is a contributor to Mad magazine, earning him the status of one of “The Usual Gang of Idiots”. The last few years have seen Ray venture into the world of animation and storyboarding where he worked on an updated version of “Speed Racer”. Ray is currently a nominee for the NCS Reuben award for best Magazine Illustration.

Rob Harrell: For the past twelve years, Rob has worked as a fine artist, cartoonist, and freelance illustrator. His figurative paintings are currently represented by the Wally Workman Gallery in Austin, TX. He created, wrote and drew the daily syndicated comic strip Big Top from April 2002 through March 2007. A Big Top book was published in 2005. As a freelance illustrator, he has worked with clients including Mad, Simon and Schuster, American Greetings, Time, Inc. and Volkswagen. He currently has taken over the art duties for the comic strip Adam @ Home. He is also writing and illustrating his own series of graphic novels, Monster On the Hill, for Top Shelf Comics.

Mason Mastroianni: B.C. comic strip artist. Mason Mastroianni, Johnny Hart’s grandson, was born and raised in upstate NY in the same small town as his grandfather. After attending the Rhode Island School of Design, Mason enrolled in The DAVE School (Digital Animation and Visual Effects) in Orlando. Upon graduation in 2004, he worked as a CG animator in Minneapolis. Mason’s work at Wet Cement Productions earned him an Emmy award for computer graphic animation. In 2007, Mason returned home to draw, write and carry on the legacy of “B.C.”

Stephen Silver: He has worked as Character Designer and Supervisor for Disney Television Animation, Sony Feature Animation and Nickelodeon Animation, designing characters such as “Kim Possible”, “Danny Phantom” and Kevin Smith’s “Clerks” the animated series, to name a few. Silver is the author and artist of five self-published books on the art of sketching, caricature and life drawing. In 2000 he received the Golden Nosey award from the National Caricaturist Network for caricaturist of the year. In 2007 he was awarded the National Cartoonists Society’s television animation award for the designs on Disney’s Kim Possible.

Thanks guys. Wish I were there with you.

UPDATE: The group has returned from their trip. I’m not surprised Germany let them leave, but I am a little taken aback that the U.S. let them back IN. Read my postscript here.


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