Revved Up for the ‘CARtoons Magazine’ Revival

CARtoons Feature
Images © CARtoons Magazine.

Timing is an amazing thing.

Out of the blue, I started thinking about one of my favorite pastimes as a teenager;  following the “How to Draw” guides in my brother’s CARtoons Magazine.

These were pretty basic, albeit, but they still inspired me to learn about perspective, shading and structure. Plus I was able to create some dream cars I would never in a billion years be able to recreate in real life. At least not on my current budget.

I got the itch to try some of these out again, but sadly, I hadn’t seen a CARtoons in a store since my junior year in high school. As it turns out, CARtoons Magazine, a labor of love created by Pete Millar and Carl Kohler in 1959, went bye-bye in 1991 after had a pretty good run for more than 30 years.

Well, thanks be to Google, I was able to pull up some old images of these “How to Draw” pages when I ran across something that made me giggle out loud.

CARtoons is back in print!

Yes, the magazine is newly available again in both print and digital versions, starting with a limited edition #0 “trial issue.” This new magazine rebirth was the inspired dream of Marc Methot. Methot, who refers to himself as the “reestablisher” of the magazine, ran across information on a broker website the CARtoons trademark expired four months ago. He successfully filed for it, despite the fact he had no finances, nor experience in publication (he even tried his hand at crowdfunding, with little success). He just knew this magazine needed to be a reality for fans once more.

“As an original fan of the mag, I knew this had to be done, and the support from the fans has made this possible,” he said. “With just under a year, CARtoons has just finished printing the second issue (Issue #1, following the trial issue).”

In this short span of time, Methot gave himself some hands-on experience on publishing, including scheduling the more than 50 artists from around the world currently contributing to the magazine, as well as learning about theme, editing, layout design, public and press relations, and sales, just for starters. This process has been time-consuming, to say the least, but he feels his initial efforts have been rewarding.

“You can say my job is 24/7, but I love every minute of it,” he said. “My goal is to make CARtoons better then it ever was. Issue One has turned out better then my expectations and I believe the readers will agree also.”

Artists include some original CARtoons talent such as Joe Borer, George Trosley, Fred Boatman, Jeff Slemons, Bob Hardin, Nelson Dewey, John Deaton and Jon Pogorelskin, as well as new CARtoons teammates Ben “Drag Daddy” Mitchell, Larry Williams, Jeff Norwell, Mike Yapps and Scott Fisk.

cartoonsthennow
The new CARtoons has come a long way from its early issues in the 1950s and 60s, including the option for digital issues. Images © CARtoons Magazine.

Of the names Methot mentioned, I remember Trosley the most, when I used to take my old issues to high school once and a while. My geekier friends and I would sit around, read them out loud and crack ourselves up, even though I was likely the only one into old school hot rods of any type. The rest of my friends, however, still enjoyed the comic element and a good laugh.

That’s what made this magazine so awesome to me. There were posters and other pull-outs, recurring characters, and my first encounter with having a female comic artist to look up to, Shawn Kerri. She was an incredible artist who was also known for designing merchandise for punk bands like the Circle Jerks and The Germs. Kerri, who passed away in the early 1990s, proved to me and many others not only could women draw and write stories about cars, and car-related cartoons, but they could be awesome at it. CARtoons did have a couple of other women artists, but Kerri is the one who I remember.

There were also CYCLEtoons, which introduced geeky bike enthusiasts to the characters like Hogg Ryder, a “modern” biker on constantly foiled by the old school “Ol’ Poop” riding around on his vintage Indian Scout. You always knew the Ol’ Poop was coming with the telltale sound, “pocketa-pocketa-pocketa (a sound, I think is an obscure reference to James Thurber’s Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and a fictional revolver called a Webley-Vickers 50.80). If I spelled that incorrectly, I apologize, as I’m reaching deep into my childhood stash of recently dug up memories.

My last memory I had of Hogg Ryder and the Ol’ Poop was actually in a CARtoons issue because CYCLEtoons only lasted until the mid-1970s. There were also SURFtoons and Hot Rod Cartoons, that ended around this time, but I don’t remember those very well at all. Even in the days before online publications, success in the specialized magazine business, including comic magazines, could be spotty.

Methot said the magazine market today seems to be dying a rapid rate, now, as the Internet is allowing readers free access to nearly identical information otherwise available at a cost in print issues. Keeping this in mind, he said he plans to stick to just one title, CARtoons, but hopefully incorporate some of what made similar magazines like CYCLEtoons unique.

However, he does feel CARtoons shouldn’t be affected by this trend, as it more of a “vehicle enthusiasts ‘comic book’ then a magazine.” For now, though, he plans to keep it simple.

“In the pages of CARtoons, we will indeed have motorcycles in the near future,” he said. “If the demand becomes at high volume, then anything is possible to start a new project. For now, one step at a time.”

The response from fans so far has been incredible, ranging from original readers to the family of Millar himself. Methot has had celebrities share how CARtoons influenced who they are today, and has made appearances on television shows and Podcasts about “the return of the most iconic magazine in history.”

As far as the return of some classic characters and comics, the names and titles will be new, but the nostalgic feel will remain the same. Readers have already been expressing their favorite new features.

“So for, readers favorite comic strips are, Mitchell’s ‘Rust In Peace,’ where three classic monsters build wacky, but cool hot rods Trosley’s ‘Deuce & Pinstripe,’ where a guy and a girl build amazing vehicles out of their shop with wacky, but brilliant ways to complete these builds, Borer’s iconic vehicles in motion illustrations, and many other entertaining stories that change each issue with lots of automotive humor from all the other top artists,” he said.

I had so much fun in the past tackling the CARtoons "How to Draw" tutorials, I can't wait to see what the new ones offer for me and my daughters. Image: Lisa Kay Tate
I had so much fun in the past tackling the CARtoons “How to Draw” tutorials, I can’t wait to see what the new ones offer for me and my daughters. Image: Lisa Kay Tate

Mostly importantly, for me however, is the return of the “How to Draw,” now called “Trosley’s Sketchbook.”

“‘My Wheels’ is back, but now is called ‘My ARTtoons,’ where talented artists from around the world can still submit their artwork with a possible chance to see it published in the pages of CARtoons, just like the good old days,” he said.

Features that are new to the revived publication include a “MiniWheels” section where readers 16 and younger can submit their vehicle-related art by email for consideration.

“You will also find articles with humor, but still being educational, spot the differences, and other great ideas that we are working on to bring into future issues,” Methot said.

Methot has so far been loving being part of being at this crossroads of a new look for a classic comic magazine. His favorite story since reviving the magazine involves his making a new friend, a “rat rod” builder, during a recent trip to the SEMA automotive trade show held each fall in Las Vegas.

“An older and wise man that still today, builds one-off custom Hot Rods and Rat Rods with his son in New Mexico, told me a story about when he was a child, he had trouble with reading and writing English,” Methot said. “He remembers his first copy of CARtoons Magazine, and because he didn’t know how to read, he learned from the pages of CARtoons. He also mentioned that many were shocked he couldn’t write, but could read no problem because he taught himself reading CARtoons Magazine. It’s stories like this, that remind me of how lucky I am to own such a historical and popular magazine.”

Fans should be able to pick up the magazine soon at books sellers Barnes & Noble and Chapters, but he said other major retailers are also expressing interest. Fans can keep up with the latest publications’ availability via Facebook and Twitter, as well.

Methot hopes to see this magazine appeal to all comic lovers, regardless of their interest in cars.

“You don’t have to be a gearhead to enjoy the humor and adventurous stories, the various characters you will grow to love, educational and humorous articles and the various different styles of amazing talented artwork in the pages of CARtoons,” he said. “In the illustration world, your have superheroes and super villians. Now let’s add custom car culture to the list because CARtoons is here to stay for as long as the readers want it.”

From a comic book fan who spent a lot of time in her daddy’s garage reading yellowed CARtoons issues, trying use a “How To Draw” lead sled tutorial to create a custom Batmobile, I can’t tell you how happy this makes me.

Now, if we could only get some new “Shawn Kerris,” on board that would be swell but all in the timing, right boys?

I’m just elated to be hitting the road with them, once more.

 

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Lisa Kay Tate is a veteran feature writer with 20 years experience in newspaper, magazine and freelance writing. In addition to serving as Associate Editor for her local arts and entertainment guide, El Paso Scene, she has been a regular contributor to the site ihogeek.com and maintains her own blogsite at lisathegeekmom.wordpress.com. She and her husband, writer/photographer Rick, live on the edge of "New Texico" where they keep busy raising their two geeklings and sharing space with their dog, Sirius Black, and cat, Loki.