Categories
Artist Spotlight Artists - Cartoonists Dick Guindon

Guindon

Recently came across the following collection of Dick Guindon cartoons at a used book store.

Published by the Minneapolis Tribune – 1977
Back cover photo. Notice the Minneapolis skyline is only the IDS and the Foshay.

Here’s the 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.”

And here’s Guindon in his own words from the foreword…

I grew up on Guindon – he’s 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 goes more to the core.





In 1981 Guindon moved from Minneapolis to Detroit.
I found the following time capsule of the event on YouTube.
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 a few 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 that same year.

To wherever Guindon is now, I raise a glass of Côtes du Rhône in salute…


1/17/2013 Update:
Check out more of Guindon’s work at The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum Blog.

Categories
Artists - Cartoonists Flash Gordon

Flash Gordon Page specs

Just got a question from Jim Frankenstin regarding the specs I used for Flash Gordon – thought I would answer it here for those interested…

Here’s my basic template.

Template

This first strip is an example of a drop panel with a standard two tier layout underneath.
The drop panel is artwork the newspaper can opt not to print and it won’t affect the main body of the strip.

This second example is a drop panel followed by an irregular panel layout. Flash was offered in two formats; half page (with drop panel) and third page (without drop panel) so I could play with that bottom area however I felt as long as the proportions stayed the same.

I’ve played with different kinds of bristol and go back and forth between plate (smooth) and vellum (textured) – it usually depends on the job. I used 1-ply for awhile just because I didn’t have the best light box, but prefer 2-ply as it’s more durable.

I tended to work pretty small because the size it got printed was postage stamp size – far removed from the kind of real estate Alex Raymond had to work with in the Golden Age of the 1930s.

On the left, Flash Gordon 2/25/1934 by AlexRaymond.
On the right, Flash Gordon 11/10/2002 by Joe Kubert.

The size you work in is really dependent on the artist – as long as it stays proportional to the required specs. Patrick McDonnell on Mutts tends to work small compared to Ray Billingsley whose Curtis originals were larger than any other strip I saw during my tenure on staff at King.

Any other questions – just keep ’em coming…

Categories
Artist Spotlight Artists - Cartoonists Conventions Joe Kubert

Joe Kubert – Saying Thanks…

Joe Kubert (1926-2012)
Tribute: Part 3

I’m rounding off my tribute to Joe Kubert this week by reminising about the last time I saw Joe. It was just this past spring at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo.

For the Kubert School panel, Joe Kubert alum Anthony Marques moderated as Joe sketched and answered questions. Here’s just a few highlights featuring Joe’s comments…


The following video is Joe sketching Nite Owl from the new Before Watchmen series. The image was projected sideways on a large screen – my video is rotated to one side so the drawing can be seen correctly. While Joe sketched Anthony was fielding questions.

What amazed me during Joe’s drawing demo was that every time Joe was asked a question instead of Anthony (and this is not seen on the video) Joe was so focused on the drawing that Anthony had to repeat the question numerous times just to get Joe’s attention – repeatedly – EVERY time.

Joe finally apologized repeating what he had said moments before – that when he’s drawing,  that’s where he’s focused, so he’s not listening to the conversation going on around him.

THAT’S how focused Joe was while drawing – it was remarkable and inspiring to watch…


After the drawing demo Joe stayed for a short time to meet and greet fans. I went up to say hi and the guy standing in line in front of me told Joe he was a huge fan, then asked for Joe to sign his arm so he could then get the signature tattooed.

Joe immediately protested, “Why would you do that? I can’t…”
The fan persisted and Joe kept protesting until the guy’s friend explained it wasn’t a spur of the moment thing, that his friend really was that big a fan.

Joe finally acquiesced.

This last little clip is of Joe signing the fan’s arm.


My time with Joe was relatively brief. It had been years since I had seen him last, but he recognized who I was after I mentioned the Flash Gordon page we had worked on.
A smile lit his face and his strong handshake followed. He asked me what I had been up to and I told him about my freelance and teaching.

I then told him, “I just wanted to thank you for my career.”
That warm smile again and the handshake.

And that was the last time I saw Joe Kubert.

There’s more to say, much more, but I’m going to leave it at that.
My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends – he’ll be sorely missed.

Joe Kubert self-portrait from back in the day…

A few of the posts regarding Joe from around the web:

New York Times Obituary

Washington Post

NPR

Dick Siegel: National Enquirer

Tom Spurgeon: The Comics Reporter

Bill Schelly: The Comics Journal

The Comics Journal: Joe Kubert interview from 1994

Neal Adams

Steve Bissette – Updated

Mark McMurray’s Tribute
Long time friend and classmate from the Kubert School,
ever since sitting in the back row that very first year…

Categories
Artist Spotlight Artists - Cartoonists Joe Kubert

The Kubert School – Acceptance

Joe Kubert (1926-2012)
Tribute: Part 2

Joe Kubert legitimized drawing comics/cartoons as a career.

Graduating High School I had no direction. I grew up inspired by comic book artists, but saying you wanted to draw comics was as remote in the late 1970’s and early 80’s as saying you were going to be an astronaut and go to the moon. Sure, people did it – but there didn’t seem to be any clear path to actually doing so. My first step was a local art school called Atelier Lack (Now The Atelier). Founded by local Minneapolis artist Richard Lack, the school focused on traditional skills and techniques starting with figure drawing and charcoal studies leading up to oil painting. I took a summer course there, which was a great foundation, but my goal was not to work in oils. Next up was the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. At that time the instruction I received veered away from the traditional and was more conceptual. The disdain I got regarding comic art from teachers and students alike at that time had me bowing out after one semester.

I had actually stopped buying comics in High School – they were not conducive to getting dates – but started picking them up again around this time when Stephen Bissette and John Totleben’s artwork started to appear in Swamp Thing (teamed with a new writer by the name of Alan Moore). This is when comics were still on the newsstand, not hidden away in specialty shops away from the prying eyes of the general public. The artwork and storytelling FLOORED me.

Stephan Bissette – penciler • John Totleben – inker • Tatjana Wood – colorist

The Comics Journal hit the newsstand with Swamp Thing on the cover and I snatched it up. In it Bissette and Totleben mentioned a new school they had attended founded by a veteran comic book artist – Joe Kubert. Seeing a copy of The Joe Kubert School presents: 1st Folio, I picked that up as well.

Reading Joe’s introduction on the inside front cover I felt like he was almost talking to me personally…

It seemed a long shot, but I eventually got up nerve to apply. After a portfolio review and interview by Joe Kubert himself (done long distance as I was out of state) there followed the anxiety that my work wouldn’t be up to par. Time past and I eventually received my letter of acceptance – I still have it, and reading blogs and Facebook postings after Joe’s death, I’m finding out many others saved theirs as well.

Acceptance letter.

My parents were always supportive of my aspirations to be a cartoonist – as long as I was actually pursuing it. The Joe Kubert School legitimized that career track. With Joe at the helm, the school actually nurtured this love of comic art and storytelling WAY before “graphic novels” starting seeping into the general public’s lexicon and acceptance.

Recently I moved back to Minnesota and taught at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. They now have a whole department devoted to Comic Art  headed up by Barb Schulz. Steve Bissette now teaches at the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, Vermont. These schools – along with SVA in Manhattan and SCAD in Atlanta – are among the growing number of colleges that recognize comics and cartooning as a legitimate art form.

But the first school solely devoted to Comic Art was Joe Kubert’s.
He lit the way for me and SOOOOOOO many others.

Joe Kubert at his drawing desk.     ©Librado Romero/The New York Times

That the school will still thrive with his sons Andy and Adam at the helm is a testament to the hard work, spirit and love of the craft that Joe and his wife Muriel put into it for over 30 years. I’m proud and honored to be counted as an alumnus.

With a tip of my Joe Kubert hat…

Categories
Artist Spotlight Artists - Cartoonists Flash Gordon Joe Kubert King Features

Joe Kubert – Flash Gordon page

Joe Kubert (1926-2012)
Tribute: Part 1

Back in 2002 I dropped Joe Kubert a line asking if he’d be interested in drawing a Flash Gordon Sunday page for the small sum I could afford to pay at the time. I figured I had a shot at him accepting as first, I was a Kubert School alum, and secondly (and more importantly) because of his fondness of the strip and its creator, Alex Raymond.

He said yes with the stipulation that he would have full control over the finished product. In essence, for the paltry sum I had offered, he was willing to do not just the art but also the lettering, coloring and color separations as well. He also wanted to include as many classic Raymond characters as possible. I sent him some reference (Raymond clip art and color specs) and a loose script that I told him not to adhere to – to just use as a springboard. I gave him the page well in advance so I would have plenty of time to fashion the surrounding Sunday pages in regards to continuity.

Example of Alex Raymond clip art sent to Joe Kubert as reference.

Flash Gordon Sunday page: Loose script

Panel 1
Direction:
Reaction shot of Flash, Vultan and Thun to creature (creature as yet unseen).
Vultan and Thun are momentarily frozen to the spot.
Flash springing forward into action.

Flash and Thun have swords, Vultan has spear. See reference for costume.
Note: Flash wearing holster but gun has been removed.

Text Box: As the grisly creature enters the arena, Flash springs into action!
Flash: Vultan, Thun, no time to waste… That thing is headed straight for Dale!

Panel 2 (inset in panel 3)
Direction:
Close up on Ming in his spectator’s booth. A look of macabre enjoyment lights his face.

Text Box: Far above the horrible spectacle, Ming issues a proclamation as old on Mongo as time itself…
Ming: Let the Tournaments of Death Begin!

Panel 3
Direction:
Flash, Vultan and Thun engaging creature as it reaches Dale. Dale is chained to center of arena (see reference), straining at bonds.
Vultan flying, swooping in for the attack.

Creature is your design – go nuts!

Text Box (lower right hand corner): To be continued!


Promptly and WAY before deadline, he emailed me the finished artwork.

Click on image to enlarge.

The changes he made to the script were sublime.
Flash entering with weapons? Where’s the fun in that?
Joe had Flash and his allies chained in the center of the arena – defenseless.

The layout: Panoramic establishing shot followed by reaction shots of our helpless captives leading up to the cliffhanger as the creature is released.
A master storyteller, Joe had amped up the drama from my initial script to a fevered pitch.

After the page saw print I sent Joe a copy of it from the Boston Herald’s Sunday Comics section. A few week later I got the following response…


December 2, 2002

Dear Jim,
It’s amazing and sad the depths to which syndication has sunk. I was sorry that they distorted the strip to the extent that they did, but what do people say about crying over spilt milk?

I hope the New Year brings good things for you.

Take care,
Joe


To fully understand Joe’s reaction I’ve included the following quick visual showing what Joe Kubert grew up reading in the 1930’s compared to what Sunday comics look like today.

Left to right: Flash Gordon 2/25/1934 by Alex Raymond – Flash Gordon 11/10/2002 by Joe Kubert

A short time afterward Mark McMurray and I (a fellow alum) were visiting Joe in his studio and I asked (if it wasn’t any trouble) if I could get a copy of his Flash Gordon Sunday page artwork full size. Joe found the art and asked me if I would rather just have the original instead – dumbfounded I accepted. He bent forward to sign it for me, and before pen touched paper he turned to me and said, “I better not see this on eBay tomorrow.”

—————————————-

Footnote: Suffice it to say, it did NOT go on eBay. As a matter of fact it went on display in the fall of 2012 at the Stamford Museum & Nature Center for the exhibit, Flash Gordon and the Heroes of the Universe. Also on display were Works by Alex Raymond, Al Williamson, George Evans and myself.

flash.exhibit