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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 02/17/2009

Rate Yourself: How Well Do You Know Your Cartoons?

By Michael Cavna


How much do we know, really, about the cartoon artists who entertain us daily? Sure, many of us know that Charles Schulz had a boyhood dog; that Bill "Calvin & Hobbes" Watterson had a boyhood cat; and that Johnny "B.C." Hart had, well, a coupla vocal thoughts about religion.

In truth, though, most of us know so relatively little. So to rectify this grievous situation, Comic Riffs today kicks off "Better Know a 'Toonist." This quiz lets you test your trivial knowledge of comic artists (today's topic: the curriculum vitae--well, mainly). Know your stuff? Then make mincemeat of our so-called "test."

You're invited to post your total (non-Google-dependent) scores in the comments -- each of the 12 questions is worth five points; answers are at the end.

1. How tall does Brooke McEldowney ("9 Chickweed Lane," "Pibgorn") say he is?

a.) 5-foot-1
b.) 5-foot-4
c.) 6-foot-5
d.) 6-foot-8

2. Which one of these California cartoonists did not attend UC Berkeley?

a.) Darrin Bell ("Candorville" et al.)
b.) Stephan Pastis ("Pearls Before Swine")
c.) Scott Adams ("Dilbert")
d.) Lalo Alcaraz ("La Cucaracha")
e.) Rube Goldberg
f.) Berkeley Breathed ("Bloom County" et al.)

3. Which one of these cartoonists is not Canadian?

a.) Lynn Johnston ("For Better or for Worse")
b.) Jim Unger ("Herman")
c.) Dave Coverly ("Speed Bump")
d.) Hal Foster ("Prince Valiant")

4. Which one of these cartoonists did not attend Evergreen State (Wash.) University?

a.) Lynda Barry
b.) Gary Larson
c.) Matt Groening
d.) D.C. Simpson

5. Which one of these comic-strip cartoonists has not been a Pulitzer finalist in the past 20 years?

a.) Tom Batiuk ("Funky Winkerbean")
b.) Lynn Johnston ("For Better or for Worse")
c.) Garry Trudeau ("Doonesbury")
d.) Berkeley Breathed ("Bloom County" et al.)

6. Which one of these political cartoonists is not the recipient of at least three cartooning Pulitzers?:

a.) Paul Conrad
b.) Jeff MacNelly
c.) Rollin Kirby
d.) Herb Block

7. Which one of these cartoonists did not attend law school?

a.) Greg Howard ("Sally Forth")
b.) Stephan Pastis ("Pearls Before Swine")
c.) Batton Lash ("Supernatural Law," etc.)
d.) Chester Gould ("Dick Tracy")
e.) Ruben Bolling ("Tom the Dancing Bug")

8. Which one of these cartoonists did not attend Amherst (Mass.) College?

a.) Darby Conley ("Get Fuzzy")
b.) Bill Amend ("Fox Trot")
c.) Brad Anderson ("Marmaduke")
d.) John Cullen Murphy Jr. ("Prince Valiant")

9. Which one of these cartoonists was born on St. Patrick's Day?

a.) Patrick McDonnell ("Mutts")
b.) Reg Smythe ("Andy Capp")
c.) Walt Kelly ("Pogo")
d.) Charles E. Kelly (Dublin Opinion)

10. Which one of these cartoonists was not born in Europe?

a.) Art Spiegelman
b.) Ann Telnaes
c.) Al Jaffee
d.) Sergio Aragones

11. Which one of these illustrators boasts of being chief designer at Hallmark Cards by age 18?

a.) Bil Keane ("Family Circus")
b.) Mort Walker ("Beetle Bailey")
c.) Jim Davis ("Garfield")
d.) Jim Borgman ("Zits")

GRATUITOUS BONUS QUESTION: Which one of these cartoonists did not attend the University of California, San Diego?

a.) Mike Judge ("King of the Hill" et al.)
b.) Michael Cavna ("Warped" et al.)
c.) Steve Breen ("Grand Avenue")
d.) Dave Kellett ("Sheldon")

ANSWERS: 1. D; 2. F; 3. C; 4. B; 5. D; 6. D; 7. C; 8. C; 9. A; 10. C; 11. B; 12. C

0-15 points: Prepare for Bucky Katt to mock you mercilessly.
20-30: Time to play catch-up -- why, have we got the blog for you.
35-45: The funnypages are wooing your interest to survive.
50-plus: You embody every cartoonist's dream that 'toon groupies might yet exist.

By Michael Cavna  | February 17, 2009; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  The E-Mailbag  
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Next: Test Your Cartoon IQ: How Well Do You Know Your Characters?


Know weigh! I'd rather have a quiz on their characters than research the cartoonist. My decision on whether or not to like a cartoon is not based on whether or not I like the cartoonist.

Posted by: jimbo1949 | February 17, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Okay, so my answer to #1 was: "Wait a minute, you mean Brooke McEldowney is a dude?"

It went downhill from there.

I patiently await Buckey's mockery.

Posted by: KLaw | February 17, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

>> jimbo1949:

that's tomorrow's quiz. seriously. so till then, Judge Parker will be waiting in the basement...


Posted by: cavnam | February 17, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Wow, I thought Brooke won the dancing show! :--)

Please, teach us the ways of cartooning, rather than test us. Like, how would I learn more about a strip I remember from my boyhood called "Scamp"? Seems like it ran on Sundays, since I wasn't reading the daily paper then. My family named our first mutt after him.

Also, I didn't get the joke in one of today's cartoons. Where could I go to find out?

Thank you!

Posted by: MSchafer | February 17, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

>> MSchafer...

Ah yes, "Scamp" -- I remember it (and him) well. The strip, which had several artists, ran for many years after Scamp (son of Tramp) debuted in the '50s film "Lady and the Tramp."

Scamp is still very much alive in the Disney stable (kennel?), BTW, getting his own direct-to-DVD sequel a few years back.

Meantime: What strips' joke didn't you get? Perhaps the wider 'Riffs community can crack the gag.


Posted by: cavnam | February 17, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

UCSD? Thats a good school Cavna, what was your major?

Posted by: jessecline | February 17, 2009 5:52 PM | Report abuse

>> jessecline:

True major: Any social/political satirist who ever made me laugh, wince--or think.

Triple minor: Twain, Twain and more Mark Twain.


Posted by: cavnam | February 18, 2009 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Thanks M.C., I'd like to learn how to find answers to questions rather than just ask the question here. I spend a small amount of time in the blog before I read my faves. If a strip brings up a question in my mind, I may Google a phrase, but that's about my limit for time. I don't usually come back to the blog.

Thanks again!

Posted by: MSchafer | February 18, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse

MSchafer - don't know if you'll see this if you don't usually come back, but Michael has an excellent site recommended (top right under Fave Sites). It's Comics I Don't Understand - - it's for people who like to discuss what confusing cartoons mean. It's a great site and always entertaining.

Posted by: elyrest | February 18, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

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