Categories
Conventions

Autoptic Festival 2022

Proud to announce I’ll be appearing as a Special Guest at the 2022 Autoptic Art Festival at Coffman Memorial Union on the University of Minnesota campus.

To celebrate the return of comic cons/art festivals I’ll be premiering a brand new zine – full of pen and ink work from the past few years and some commissioned pieces as well.


For more info check out http://thewoodlandretreat.com/home/the-garden-apartment Autoptic.org

– Jim Keefe

Categories
Artist Spotlight Artists - Cartoonists Dick Guindon

Guindon 1935-2022

Back cover photo from a 1977 Minneapolis Tribune Guindon cartoon collection.

Copy that went with the photo shown above:

“Dick Guindon’s first cartoons, dealing with a character called Hugger Mugger, were published in the Minnesota Daily. Hugger Mugger eventually was syndicated and appeared in 100 college newspapers. Guindon then went to New York, where, as a freelance cartoonist, he sold his work to Downbeat, Playboy, Esquire and New York Magazine. The Realist sent him abroad for a year as a kind of cartoonist-correspondent in Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan and Israel. Guindon was born December 2, 1935, in St. Paul. He began cartooning when he finished three years in the army, and he joined the Minneapolis Tribune in 1968.”

Guindon in his own words from the foreword…


I grew up on Guindon – he was one of my favorites. His cartoons nailed the archetypal Minnesotan in a way that no one else has come close. The caricatures in the Coen brothers movie Fargo are the popular stereotype, but Guindon went more to the core.


In 1981 Guindon moved from Minneapolis to Detroit. YouTube has the following time capsule of the event. There are quick cameos of a young Louie Anderson and Garrison Keillor among others…


And here’s an interview with Guindon in Detroit.


Tragedy struck in April 1987 when the studio Guindon had in a historic four-story building in Traverse City, Michigan was destroyed by fire. More than 5,000 cartoons and sketches burned.

Click on image to see larger.

In February 2005 Patty Stearns interviewed Guindon for Traverse Magazine. Here’s some excerpts…

Gaze over to the floor-to-ceiling bookcases in
Guindon’s living/dining room and scan the titles: The
Catcher in the Rye, Marcella’s Italian Kitchen, Salt: A
World History, The Lies of George W. Bush.
There’s an
entire section devoted to the works of novelist Elmore
“Dutch” Leonard, whose late wife, Carol, brought back
one of Guindon’s prized espresso pots from a trip to
Europe. A case of the cartoonist’s favorite wine,
Côtes du Rhône, fills another couple of shelves.
Next to that stands a three-quarter-sized rendition
of the artist himself—a painted board with a cutout
for a wristwatch, which is missing. Guindon calls
it his “Grandfather Clock,” although he is not yet
a grandfather.

Guindon has produced cartoons that are part of the Smithsonian
Institution’s Archives of American Art and The Ohio
State University Cartoon Research Library. He has authored
six books, and collectors sell pieces of his life from galleries and
over the Internet for big bucks.

None of this has gone to his head.

Guindon has never socialized much with his fellow cartoonists.
“I find them a little bit sad, frankly,” he says. “They
tend to work on kitchen tables and not think of themselves
very professionally and that sort of thing.” He gets a smirk on
his face.

You never really know when he’s kidding.

“Everyone who’s ever been around me is always surprised by
how much goes into it, because you always think, well, they’re
just potato heads,” Guindon says.

But screenwriter Kurt Luedtke, a friend and former executive
editor of the Free Press, has seen this artist in action.
“The truth about Guindon is that he draws unusually well; a
lot of folks miss that, I think, perceiving him as a very funny
guy with an offbeat sense of humor who’s a cartoonist. Study
those panels for a while and you realize that his oblique take
on life is just the beginning of a process that really ends with
a masterful pen.”


According to Wikipedia, Guindon announced his retirement the same year as the preceding interview – 2005.

A few Guindon cartoon collections

The Detroit Free Press reported that Richard Gordon Guindon, 86, died the evening of Feb. 27, 2022 in Northport, Michigan, after a long illness with his son at his side.

http://jamarley.com/a-knock-at-the-door/ “Can’t you do that outside?”
Original art to 1977 Minneapolis Tribune book collection.

You can check out more of Guindon’s work at
The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum Blog.

Categories
Business of Cartooning Ramblings & Reviews

Comic Strip Contemplation

Comic strips reigned supreme back in the 1930s. The Sunday sections were printed much larger than they are today and were a thing of beauty to behold.

Prince Valiant 1/29/1939 by Hal Foster

Adventure strips thrived during these years as there was room to tell a story. To see how much things have changed, just compare these two Sunday pages below from 1934 and 2002.

On the left – Flash Gordon 2/25/1934 by Alex Raymond.
On the right – Flash Gordon 9/1/2002 by Jim Keefe.

Jump ahead from 2002 to now and the comic strip Sunday pages have regrettably shrunken even smaller.

Here’s an example of my hometown paper the Star Tribune (my hand shown on the bottom left for scale). Unless you have a jewelers loupe you’re at a loss to see – much less read – what’s going on.

Here’s a comic page artist Terry Beatty (Ms. Tree, Rex Morgan M.D.) wrote and drew for Big Funny back in 2009 that really drives the point home.

Big Funny – Terry Beatty

Granted all is not doom and gloom – whereas comic strips in the newspaper may be on life support, we’re in a golden age as far as comic strip collections that are being published. Check out the Library of American Comics and Fantagraphics to name just a few.

I also feel like comic strips are being given a renewed life and readership online as fans of the medium now have the ability to binge weeks worth at a time. The big two comic strip sites being King Feature’s Comics Kingdom and AMU’s GoComics.

As times changes, so does the comics biz. Another example of this is that even though comic book sales have shrunk over the years, graphic novels have increased in popularity.

From an article in Publishers Weekly;
“Over the past five years, the North American graphic novel market has welcomed a wave of new readers and grown from about $805 million in sales in 2012 to more than $1 billion in 2017.”

From the Comics Beat;
“Overall, graphic novel sales in 2021 were up 65% from 2020…The growth was led by adult graphic novels, up 107%, but it’s important to note that this category includes manga which led the charge, up 17 million units.”


To sum up…

In the early 1900s onwards comic strips reigned supreme. By the 1940s comic books had taken off. In the 1960s indie comics/undergrounds entered the fray. In the 1980s self-published/alternative comics joined in at the same time graphic novels were just getting their sea legs. In the 1990s online content joined the mix. And now in the 21st century graphic novels and manga have taken flight.

And that’s not to say comic strips and comic books have been replaced and have gone away, it’s just that they aren’t the only game in town anymore.

Cartoons, comics, graphic novels – whatever you want to call it – the packaging keeps changing, but sequential art is just as popular now as it’s ever been. And as long as the stories are strong and the artwork delivers, the art form will continue to have an audience.

And that’s my two cents. See you in the funny papers…

-Jim Keefe

Categories
Craig MacIntosh Sally Forth

Craig MacIntosh – Mentor

Writer Craig MacIntosh at a book signing.

Sally Forth 40th Anniversary Flashback:

Back in 2010 I began working as an assistant to Craig MacIntosh. It started with inking a few dailies which lead to a job inking and coloring the Sally Forth Sunday pages. When Craig decided to retire at the end of 2012 I worked up some samples (under Craig’s watchful eye) which were then submitted to King Features Syndicate. After navigating the proper channels the word was given from on high at King and I was given the green light.

I can’t say enough about how great it was working with Craig. He’s the consummate professional who makes the incredibly stellar work he does look easy – a great friend and mentor.

Sally Forth spot art by Craig MacIntosh
Photo by Claire Ramsay

Craig Macintosh as the featured artist in the Rosemount Area Arts Council’s Fall 2021 Gallery Show at the Robert Trail Library in Rosemount, Minnesota.


If you’re a fan of techno-thrillers,
check out Craig MacIntosh’s books at 
Sukhothai cjmacintosh.com.
Highly recommended!

Categories
Craig MacIntosh Greg Howard Sally Forth

Meeting Greg Howard

 Cut to the Minikahda Country Club the summer of 1982 where a high school age Jim Keefe is busy bussing tables. The goal is to someday become a comic book artist, but there’s no clear path for that pipe dream.

The buzz Keefe overhears from the ritzy club members is about a local lawyer who had quit his well paying profession to become – of all the crazy things – a cartoonist.

The lawyer/cartoonist’s name was Greg Howard.

Greg Howard 1982
Greg Howard – circa 1982
Pic by Alan Light from the 
1982 Mpls Comic Con.

The comic strip, Sally Forth.

With the cartoon landscape of the early 1980s showing woman only in the role of housewives, Sally Forth would become part of a new generation of comic strips – along with Lynn Johnston’s For Better or For Worse and Cathy Guisewite’s, Cathy – that showed woman taking center stage in a more modern setting.

Strips from the inaugural first week of Sally Forth.

Because of this, and the fact that the strips were original and funny, success in newspaper syndication followed.

Minneapolis Star – January 8, 1982

Jump ahead to 1998 and I would be working on staff as a colorist at King Features Syndicate when Greg Howard would decide to retire from his writing chores on Sally (now drawn by Craig MacIntosh). I sent him a letter relaying the Minikahda Country Club story along with a Sally Forth collection from the early days that King had in-house.

His reply:

Thanks for your nice letter and the copy of the first “Sally Forth” book. It was very thoughtful of you to pass it along.

It’s true that I sold Sally to King Features and have skulked off into the sunset. I’ve spent the summer enjoying the relief from the inexorable deadlines. You’re familiar with those. I’m not sure what comes next but haven’t grown overly anxious about it yet.

I enjoyed your story about the Minikahda club gossip revolving around my career change 20 years ago. Thanks for sharing it with me.

Greg Howard


I got to meet Greg Howard just once in 2012 before I took over the drawing chores on Sally Forth. Francesco Marciuliano was writing Sally by this time and I had been working as an assistant to Craig MacIntosh for a couple years. Craig suggested we meet with Greg in regards to working out me signing on with King as the new artist.

It was truly memorable as Craig hadn’t seen Greg for awhile and I got to watch two comic strip greats catch up and just shoot the sh*t over lunch. I had brought along a King Features sales kit of Sally Forth from back in the day and took the following pic.

Greg Howard and Craig MacIntosh circa 2012

Sally Forth is 40 years old as of January 2022 with Francesco Marciuliano at the helm writing and myself drawing. It’s a different comic strip than when Greg Howard and Craig MacIntosh were steering the ship, but Francesco and I wouldn’t have this gig if not for the bedrock of success Greg Howard’s original Sally Forth had. To that I say, many thanks – and hope Mr. Howard is still “enjoying the relief from the inexorable deadlines”

-Jim Keefe