Flash Gordon

Uncle Whit and Aunt Pat

You end up using a lot of friends and family as reference when drawing comics. Take the following Flash Gordon page from October 31, 1999.

Quick story synopsis: Ming’s attempts to conquer the Earth by means of a gigantic space portal in Boston linking Earth to Mongo has failed, but Flash and Dale are now literally worlds apart – Flash on Mongo and Dale on Earth. Lisa (a woman who befriended Flash) is one of the few on Earth left who knows what really happened…

Click on image to see larger.


Lisa’s character is based on a friend my wife went to school with who’s name is also Lisa.

The elderly couple are my Uncle Whit and Aunt Pat (they have since both passed away). This page was an homage to them as they always supported my comic art career. An artist herself, two of my Aunt Pat’s pieces of sculpture were chosen for juried exhibition at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. My Uncle Whit was a poet and educator.

They faithfully picked up the Boston Herald each Sunday to see my work on Flash Gordon. This even though they subscribed to the much more “respectable” Boston Globe – my Aunt told me stories of my Uncle Whit sneaking out at first light on Sunday morning to go out and grab a copy, being careful not to be seen.

My Aunt Pat’s support of my comics/art career went farther back than that though. When I was a kid and my local Minneapolis paper stopped running the Spider-Man newspaper strip (which I had been diligently clipping out every day) she clipped them from her Boston paper and sent them to me every week for the next two years.
(More about that at this link.)

And even though she came from a Fine arts background, my Aunt Pat never differentiated to me between “high art” and the “low art” in regards to comic art (that I got later from teachers at the local art college). She just kept faithfully sending them to me so I wouldn’t miss out on any of the John Romita comic art I loved so much.

Best support I could have gotten and I’ll always be grateful for it.

Pat and Donald Whittredge

Note: To see more of my Flash Gordon work, just go to

By Jim Keefe

Jim Keefe is the current artist of the Sally Forth comic strip. From 1996-2003 he was the writer and artist of the Flash Gordon comic strip. A graduate of the Joe Kubert School, Keefe likewise teaches Comic Art. Teaching and speaking engagements include SVA in Manhattan, Hofstra’s UCCE Youth Programs, and most recently the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

2 replies on “Uncle Whit and Aunt Pat”

Susan Wells Taylorsays:

Such wonderful people. My favorite memory of your uncle was how he cheered for the Red Sox at home. So much excitement and passion. Your aunt was truly a gem.

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