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Artist update: Dan McConnell

By on December 28, 2020 in Arts with 0 Comments
Dan McConnell created a graphic novel with WWII themes, which is on display at Northwestern Museum of Arts and Culture, the MAC, in Spokane — when the museum is open.

‘I usually do a few cartoons every day, culminating in a Tuesday email submission to The New Yorker’

Dan McConnell, who regularly does the “Then and Now” cartoon for The Good Life, has been drawing for almost 40 years, everywhere from Marvel to MAD, but he still auditions for every other gig. 

He said, “If you send 10 cartoons a week to The New Yorker for a year, they’ll know you’re serious.” 

His 2012 interviewer wrote, “Like an undrafted athlete, Dan waits to be discovered. Unlike that athlete, Dan can do this for another decade or so if he stays healthy.”

He’s stayed healthy, he’s kept continuously cartooning with multiple and varied projects — a key to “discovery” — and he found Cartoon Collections, a place to store and display his work. It’s akin to an online stock photo bank, a potentially lucrative marketing site for what may eventually be 6,000 McConnell cartoons. 

One gratifying recent project was for the Northwestern Museum of Arts and Culture, the MAC, in Spokane. (The show is up until May 21 but currently closed.) Unpacking World War II involves stories from the military exploits of Flying Fortress bomber pilots and nose gunners to the harsh conditions Japanese Americans endured in the internment camps. 

The museum commissioned a graphic novel, full-page portraits and single page, multi-panel stories. 

Dan said, “While other Americans were dealing with the effects of the pandemic and our problems and uncertainties, I was dealing with the certainties of World War II.” 

His work received good attention, and he thinks teaching cartooning at the MAC in 2021 is a distinct probability.

Dan stays attuned to media and culture — he’s created a year of COVID-related cartoons — and collaborates with other writers, editors and artists on ideas that seem to flow freely in the comic world. One good connection landed him a March Reader’s Digest cartoon (his third for them).

He has 10 pages left on an 88-page superhero satire slated for publication, and he’s painted a book cover and several portraits. 

Meanwhile, Dan said, “I usually do a few cartoons every day, culminating in a Tuesday email submission to The New Yorker, which I’ve done for the past eight or more years, with no sales so far… but with hope springing eternal!”

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