While attending Michigan State University as a student Phil started his cartooning career as a freshman. An ad in the college paper called for an artist to do daily editorial cartoon panels. Although he hed done funny characters in large numbers, he had never actually matched a comic picture with words. But he was game. Working up ten naively drawn cartoons about college life, he took them to the paper’s editors. They loved them. They screamed. They pointed. Between whoops they summoned the entire staff into their office. They said they’s start running the cartoons in the next day’s paper and would pay five dollars for each one. The students loved it. For four years he did those single panel cartoons – five days a week – and learned a lot about attitudes, humor, drawing and pen types.
Michigan State University
When Hallmark Cards came to Michigan State to recruit artists, he showed them a stack of college cartoons, got a job and moved to Kansas City with his wife, Marylou and young son, Phil. He worked at Hallmark for three years, beginning in 1965. During that time, fellow artists inspired him to try newspaper syndication and freelance magazine cartooning.
In 1969 he began doing college cartoons under the name ‘Frankly Speaking’ on a national scale through a syndicate that a college friend and he set up. Numerous college papers picked up these cartoons, as did the Chicago Tribute after editor Dick Hainey spotted them. Having run the cartoon for a couple of years, Hainey suggested that the panel would translate well into a daily strip which led to the idea of ‘Travels With Farley’
Compilations of Phil’s cartoons were sold as digest-sized, yellow-covered notebooks that were a memorable part of so many students’ lives. We are working on republishing a selection of these panels in a similar format. Email us so we can add you to the list of folks who are notified once these booklets are available!