A Sally Forth Christmas

Here’s the Sally Forth Sunday page for November 29, 2015.
Click on image to enlarge.


And here’s Francesco Marciuliano’s script for the logo panel.

Scene: Christmas Tree Lot, Exterior, Day.
Hilary, Sally, and Ted gather (in that order) around the very same tree from the “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” They all look down at it.
Ted: Nope.



Look close and you’ll notice, I even gave Ted Charlie Brown’s hat and coat.

As 2015 marks the 50th Anniversary of A Charlie Brown Christmas, hope you enjoy this little tip of the hat to Schulz From Francesco and I.


Side note: The soundtrack always sets the mood around my house this time of year.

Posted in Charles Schulz, Francesco Marciuliano, Sally Forth | Tagged | Comments Off on A Sally Forth Christmas

King Features – Frank Chillino

When I was hired to work on staff in the Comic Art bullpen at King Features back in 1989 my immediate boss was Production Supervisor Frank Chillino (1920-2007).

1993 King Features Christmas party in New York City Left to right - Jim Keefe, Frank Chillino and Jerry Craft.

1993 King Features Christmas party in New York City
Left to right – Jim Keefe, Frank Chillino and Jerry Craft.

Frank worked under a number of Comic Art department heads – among them…
Sylvan Byck (1904-1982): Head of the Comic Art department from the 1950s until 1978.
Bill Yates (1921-2001): Head of the Comic Art department from 1978 until 1988.
Jay Kennedy (1956-2007): Head of the Comic Art department from 1988 until 2007.

Frank Chillino was the guy at King Features who made sure the trains ran on time. He also devised and implemented the standardized system to format strips for newspapers that’s still used today – a template where a strip drawn in a half page format could be reformatted to a third or quarter page quickly and efficiently. It helped streamline the process saving countless hours of production time (and money) for King.

He was there with the pioneers of the industry – Chic Young, George McManus, Harold Foster, Alex Raymond, Jimmy Hatlo, Roy Crane, Milton Caniff, Fred Lasswell and Bela Zaboly just to name a few.

In a feature piece in Cartoonist Profile he recalled, “When I joined the bullpen in January 1944, I was twenty four years old. Brad Kelly, who was the comics editor, hired me and placed me at a drawing table next to Bud Saggendorf who was then handling production. For my first assignment, Bud sent me to the supply room for a bucket of benday dots which were used on daily strips for grey tones. Being young and naive I did what he requested. Irving Winters who handled supplies said, “Hey kid, he’s pulling your leg! There’s no such thing as benday dots, only a benday acetate sheet with dots printed on it.” Was my face red! When I brought back the sheets and an empty bucket we all had a good laugh. This was the beginning of a lasting friendship between Saggendorf and myself… About a year later Sag was assigned to draw the Popeye comic books. With his suggestion to Brad Kelly I was appointed comic art production supervisor.”

Some other of Frank’s recollections…

“King had a room set aside for visiting cartoonists then, which offered us the opportunity to watch them at work. These guys could ink their strips without penciling. Roy Crane worked on craft tint paper and when he brought the tones up with his brush on backgrounds, the strips would virtually explode with action.”

“Jose Luis Salinas was brought up in 1950 to pen The Cisco Kid which I lettered for 18 years. He was one of our finest illustrators. Alex Raymond, also a great illustrator, idolized Salinas work. Whenever Alex came to KFS he would sit and watch Salinas pencil and brush through his Cisco strips for hours at a time. Jose worked in our bullpen for about six months before he returned to Argentina.”

“There was an aura about them (the cartoonists) when they visited the bullpen. They were fun guys always playing jokes on one another.”

Frank once wrote of his job at King, “I always believed that maintaining a rapport with our (King Features) cartoonists was of utmost importance. Letting them know we cared, and knew that they were out there doing their thing for us – drawing cartoons.”

When he retired in 1990 he had 45 years at the Syndicate under his belt.
The following piece ran in Cartoonist Profiles #88, December 1990 (cited above) and pretty much encapsulates the history of the syndicated newspaper strip.


Frank Chillino – Truly one of King Features’ greats!

-Jim Keefe



Posted in King Features | Tagged | Comments Off on King Features – Frank Chillino

Using Reference – Sally Forth 11/10/15


Script description from writer Francesco Marciuliano for first panel:

Scene: Exterior, Plane in flight in very early morning.
Sally and Ted’s dialogue come from the midpoint in the plane’s cabin in that order.
Sally: You’re doing it again, Ted.
Ted: Doing what?

After some searching on the internet, I came up with the following for “airplane” and “sunrise.”



The finished drawing.


A couple of tips for finding and using reference:

Never use the first image that pops up in your search just for expediency’s sake. Take the time to find the image that best works for your layout. The layout should dictate the reference you use.

I will sometimes place the image right on the layout (in Photoshop), but I never pencil the image verbatim. Doing so makes for a stiff drawing. You should use your reference as a jumping off point for your drawing – translate it and make a drawing that best suits the storytelling.


Unabashed plug time!

If Sally Forth isn’t in your local paper you can check it out online at…


A yearlong subscription to all of King Features’ comics (new and vintage) plus two years worth of archives for every single strip is a pittance at $19.99 a year. Unsure? Try a 7 day trial subscription for free.

Posted in Francesco Marciuliano, Sally Forth | Comments Off on Using Reference – Sally Forth 11/10/15


Phil Oliveira of the Rhode Island School of Design recently wrote in asking;

I just discovered your blog and was wondering what you’re using under your hand here when you ink? Is it just a scrap of paper?


It looks raised, I have a bad habit of smudging my inks and any tricks to keep that from happening would be much obliged!

Thank you for your time.

It takes practice not to smudge, and a scrap of paper underneath your drawing hand will not only keep you from mistakenly dragging your hand through wet ink, but keep the oils of your hand off the paper as well. The scrap of paper I’m using is a piece of watercolor paper (for extra absorbency).


I use the hand I’m not drawing with to move the scrap of paper around – and rotate my bristol around constantly to keep wet spots of ink at bay as well.


Another thing I do is work on more than one page at a time so if a page I’m working on has a lot of wet ink I can trade off to a different page so that it has time to dry.

Another thing I’d recommend is cloth gloves. In the pic below you’ll see that I’ve cut off the tip of the thumb and index finger for a better grip.

I don’t use them for inking as much as I use them when working on the Wacom tablet. This prevents the oils from my hand from building up/sticking to the plastic so I can get a smoother line.


Granted, no matter how careful you try to be, accidents happen…

The time I rolled my arm over wet ink and miraculously didn't smudge the drawing.

The time I rolled my arm over wet ink and miraculously didn’t smudge the drawing.

Remember, white out is your friend – so are x-acto blades. And for really big smudges/mistakes it’s time for Photoshop and the wacom tablet.

Here’s hoping the preceding was of assistance.
For more info on my tools of the trade, check out my previous blog post
Comics – Tools of the Trade

All for now and all the best!

Posted in Business of Cartooning, Ramblings & Reviews | Tagged , | Comments Off on Smudging

On the Drawing Board 11/2/15

Upcoming Sally Forth Sunday page – including drop panel.
Click on image to see larger.


I’m usually about a month and a half ahead of the print date for Sundays.
This one is ready to scan, touch up and then add lettering.


Posted in Sally Forth | Comments Off on On the Drawing Board 11/2/15

Sidebar – Signing Off

From left to right, Dwight, Swain and Adrian.

From left to right, Dwight, Swain and Adrian.
Dragon Con – 2010

All good things must come to an end, and so it is the case with the comic art and pop culture podcast, Sidebar.

Hosts Swain, Dwight and Adrian’s strengths as interviewers came from the fact that they didn’t just ask questions of their guests – they would have actual conversations.

The interview which I discovered Sidebar was with legendary cartoonist, Bernie Wrightson.

The interview that got me hooked was with artist George Pratt.
The first half of the interview covers Pratt’s comic book and teaching career (fascinating in and of itself), but then by the second half the interview just takes off. You travel deep into the Mississippi Delta as Pratt describes research for a novel (See You in Hell, Blind Boy) and meeting Blues men like Jack Owens and Mississippi John Hurt.
If interested, here’s a link to an excerpt of the documentary.
See You in Hell, Blind Boy.

But I digress…

I met Swain, Dwight and Adrian at Dragon Con 2010 when I was lucky enough to table next to them – and then they were generous enough to interview me.

What made that con really memorable was that our tables were right across from Neal Adams. This made for some very memorable sightings.

Stan Lee having a quick chat with Neal Adams. DragonCon 2010

Stan Lee having a quick chat with Neal Adams.
Dragon Con 2010

Later that same con Sidebar moderated a Batman panel featuring Neal Adams, Paul Dini, Tim Sale and Brian Stelfreeze – it just don’t get much better than that.

I could go on and on, but best you check them out yourself if you haven’t already. HIGHLY recommended.


And to Swain, Dwight and Adrian – Thanks for all the hard work you put into your show. It was greatly appreciated. Wishing you guys all the best – onwards and upwards!

-Jim Keefe

Posted in Ramblings & Reviews | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Sidebar – Signing Off

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Ted Forth!

Drop panel for the 10/25 Sunday page.


(Click on image to see larger.)




Posted in Sally Forth | Tagged , , | Comments Off on It’s the Great Pumpkin, Ted Forth!