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.
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.
If you’re a fan of techno-thrillers, check out Craig MacIntosh’s books at cjmacintosh.com. Highly recommended!
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.
The 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.
Because of this, and the fact that the strips were original and funny, success in newspaper syndication followed.
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.
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.
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.
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”
For my entire run coloring for King I worked “old school.” Here’s the process…
King Features down in Florida does the color separations, so my job was to provide them with a color guide.
Here’s the color palette I used.
Using watercolor, I colored the black and white art and then put in the color indications using the numbers from the color palette. The actual watercolors didn’t have to be exact, that’s what the numbering was for.
And here’s what the finished version looked like.
It’s a very conscious decision to keep the coloring simple and not over render so the color is not competing with the clean line of the artwork. Here’s some more examples of my work…
And as of November of 2021, a little over 30 years total, I’m calling it a day. It’s been a good run, but time commitments with my current work schedule just made it impossible to continue.
Wrapping up with a pic the great Dick Hodgins Jr. (1931-2016) sent me awhile back. Something I’ll always treasure.