Lee Salem 1946-2019

The first famous person I ever saw at ComicCon was Lee Salem. It was my first year attending that convention, before I even had a table. One of my early stops was to the Universal Press Syndicate booth. To my complete shock I saw the man himself, talking with a few other editors. I approached him with the awe appropriate to kings and religious figures, and I think he was baffled by this young man’s recognition. I shook his hand, mumbled something about how great it was to meet him, then moved on. That moment stands as one of my all-time ComicCon highlights (and I’ve met the voice of SpongeBob).

As longtime readers of this here blog know, I wanted to be a newspaper cartoonist since I was a kid. Calvin and Hobbes has been my guiding light since around age 10. Through that strip, I’ve learned just about everything I know about making good comics. Of course there have been others, but Watterson’s work has become so ingrained I believe you can see some of the jokes written in my DNA.

At some point I learned that Lee Salem was Bill Watterson’s editor. I later learned he edited many of the greatest comics to ever grace the pages of newspapers. This was a man I needed to know. As any good writer knows, they are only as good as their editor (Salem’s suggestion on an early submission from Watterson, to focus on the younger brother of the main character, led to the creation of Calvin and Hobbes). When I was old enough to submit comics to syndicates, my first letter was always addressed to Mr. Lee Salem.

Though I never got to work with him (he was promoted to President of Universal Press Syndicate before his retirement) his legacy left a lasting impression on me.

Bill Watterson’s retirement gift to Lee Salem

It feels strange to miss a man whose work was, for the most part, invisible. He helped innumerable cartoonists be funnier. He led the industry to give creators more rights. He was president of a comics syndicate during a time of great uncertainty and change. He did all these things well. I am sorry to hear that he is no longer with us. I am grateful for the good work he did.

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Tomb of the Zombies on GoComics

tomb-of-the-zombies-cover-lowMy dream as a kid was to be a syndicated cartoonist. Calvin and Hobbes, a comic strip some of you may remember, ran via Universal Press Syndicate. Now known by its 21st century name uclick, it’s one of the very few remaining syndicates. They have wisely diversified into both the book publishing world and online.

GoComics is pretty much the best place to read comics on the internet. They have many of the syndicated superstars and they also occasionally take a chance on Kid Nobody from Palookaville. Well I’m here to tell you that this month, I am that Kid!

Kid Shay Comics makes its debut on GoComics this month with the COMPLETE Tomb of the Zombies. I will be posting two pages a week until it is all up. If you haven’t had the chance to read my epic tale of love, redemption, and werewolf manservants, now is the time.

HERE is the link to my page on GoComics. Once you’re done reading the most current page, you can click right over to see what La Cucaracha is up to.

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comic strip superstar

ryan_seacrestSince the beginning of American Idol, cartoonists across this great country of ours have been pining away at our drawing tables for a similar contest to come along. Why couldn’t there be an American Cartoonist? Aren’t we “hip” to the “jive”?*

We wanted the chance to go on live television and draw funny pictures in little boxes.

Finally, we got this chance.** Comic Strip Superstar is a contest put on by Andrews McMeel Publishing and In it, you create a totally new comic strip, draw 10 dailies and two Sundays, and send it through a series of tubes to the good people at Universal Press Syndicate. The overworked, malnourished Universal Press Syndicate editors, as well as a panel of All-Star judges, will read all submissions and narrow them down to the top ten. Those ten will be posted on and the ultimate winner will be chosen by reader vote. Jimmy Carter will be on hand to make sure the election is fair and untainted.

As winner, you’ll be crowned Comic Strip Superstar and given gobs of money, a book deal, and a chance to draw comics for the rest of your natural life. I think you also get to meet Garfield.

Naturally, I entered the contest. Who knows, right now some Universal editor could be pouring over my scribbles and thinking “the kid has talent!”

My submission is called “Blavin and Blobbes,” about a young girl and her best friend, a living blob of nuclear waste. Together they start a club: Boys Are Really aFul (BARF). It is both original and fun for the whole family; I am certain I’ve got a winner.

Seriously, I can’t reveal my real submission because I don’t want to get disqualified. But I will keep you updated with any news or information I glean in the next couple months. If I’m one of the lucky ten, you can be sure to read about it here. If I’m dumped after the first round, you can bet I’ll be bitter until the end of my days, drinking myself to death while muttering obscenities under the Hawthorne Bridge. Maybe I’ll meet some other cartoonists down there!

Kid Shay out.

**Sort of.