Mell’s Piano

My recently departed friend Mell Lazarus (cartoonist of the comic strip Momma) has a white baby grand piano in his living room that he invited visiting cartoonists to draw on. It has sketches on it from the likes of Charles Schulz, Gary Trudeau, Will Eisner, Eric Goldberg, Gary Baseman, Bil Keane, Patrick McDonnell, Mort Drucker, Stephan Pastis, Barbara Dale, Tony Bancroft, Jack Davis, Lynn Johnston, Mike Kunkel, and many, many more. Perhaps you’ll recognize the characters even if you don’t know the artists names.

Back in 1997 when this project was pretty new and there were only a handful of sketches on it, Mell invited me to add a drawing. I had JUST moved to California to work for Disney, and was only a kid in the biz, so it was pretty intimidating – so intimidating that I drew a pretty terrible drawing. A few years later after the piano had filled up much more, I saw my bad drawing and asked Mell if I could redo it. He agreed (both to it being terrible, and to redoing it), so he pulled out some sandpaper from the piano bench, and I gently rubbed away my old drawing, and redrew the exact same thing, only better. 

You can see my piece around the 2:28 mark in this video shot by friend and fellow cartoonist Rick Detorie (One Big Happy comic strip). Best of all, Mell’s legacy lives on as you hear him talking about the piano.