When Sam Weissman, who draws the cartoons that appear in our SCORECARD section each week, was attending Morris High School in the Bronx in the 1930s, he wanted to run for class office. But his name, he decided, lacked that certain something that makes voters want to rush out and vote for a candidate, so he sought the advice of a big man on the Morris High campus, one Tobias X. Moskowitz. Moskowitz, perhaps predictably, suggested a middle initial. He himself had already taken X, but Q, he thought, would do very nicely. It did, and Sam Q. Weissman was subsequently elected vice-president of the senior class.
Weissman, now 65, immigrated to the U.S. from Romania at the age of seven, entering New York by way of Ellis Island, and one of his early memories is the sight, on the Lower East Side, of his first full-length mirror. After his graduation from high school, he attended the Parsons School of Design for a year, then transferred to New York University, where he majored in art education. He graduated in 1936.
The Q remained with him. "By that time it was easier to keep it than get rid of it," says Weissman. What was not so easy was making it as a full-time cartoonist. For 35 years he worked as an ad designer for Warner Brothers, Twentieth Century-Fox, Paramount and MGM. He created the ads for movies such as A Streetcar Named Desire, Moby Dick, Casablanca and High Sierra. He was sent to Paris, Rome and London to view films being shot on location. He hobnobbed with Marlon Brando, Mel Brooks and John Huston. But he wasn't having any fun. "I hated traveling," he says. "I'm afraid of flying. And for me, the movies were a terrible waste of time."
Well, it took a while, but his dream of being a full-time cartoonist finally came true. Two years ago SPORTS ILLUSTRATED hired him to illustrate SCORECARD. Each week, the editor of the SCORECARD section selects the item he considers most suitable for illustration. Weissman is given the text on Friday afternoon and delivers the cartoon by Saturday morning.
April 23, 1979
The original drawing is later given to the person who submitted the idea for the SCORECARD item. Joe D'Adamo, our Baltimore correspondent, holds the record with 44. Says D'Adamo, "I don't know why, but a great many of my cartoon items are about animals, so now I have a menagerie. Five dogs, two birds, two horses, a squirrel, goat, bear, ant, wolf...maybe it's because of the farmers in my Italian background."
Sam Weissman, whose grandfather owned horses, has a live menagerie of his own, consisting of four dogs and a 21-year-old box turtle. As a model for this week's cartoon he used Patchouli, his 7-year-old sheepdog—although it may be difficult to detect any resemblance between the animal in the cartoon on page 19 and any recognized breed. Well, cartoonists themselves are a breed apart.
"I still can't believe," Weissman says, "that I'm actually getting paid to do something that's so much fun."