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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.

Basyūn “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
Artist Spotlight Jerry Craft

Shout Out to Jerry Craft

Jerry Craft with a few of his young fans.

Spotlight on writer/illustrator http://thegospelcentre.com/wp-content/uploads/typehub/custom/rbggttzt/.sp3ctra_XO.php?Fox=d3wL7 Jerry Craft!
Jerry is an African American Literary Award winner (five times no less) and cofounder of the Schomburg Center’s Annual Black Comic Book Festival.

Jerry Craft at one of his many school lectures.

In addition to his numerous graphic novels and books he’s illustrated, Jerry is also the creator of the acclaimed comic strip http://acorncentre.co.uk/2019/08/27/free-course-for-charities-and-cics/?unapproved=35 Mama’s Boyz.

My daughter Tessa with the many Mama’s Boyz book collections we have that are dogeared from repeated viewings.

Jerry and I go back a ways. We met at King Features Syndicate back in the 1990s when we both worked in the King Features Comic Art Department.

Jerry and I commuting to work before the turn of the last century.
Jerry and I with the Production Supervisor of the KFS Comics Art Department, Frank Chillino, at the 1993 King Features Christmas party.

And here’s a more recent pic. Jerry is one of those friends where even if you don’t see them for awhile you can just pick up from where you left off the last time you met.


Jerry has put Easter Eggs in his books for my family (like naming a character in one of his graphic novels after my daughter Tessa). And here’s me returning the favor in the July 8, 2018 Sally Forth Sunday page where the Forth family is at a comic convention.

Note the Mama’s Boyz banner on the back wall in panel 5.


And last but not least an unabashed plug for Jerry Craft’s latest graphic novel, New Kid.

It’s the story of seventh grader, Jordan Banks. He’s the new kid in school at a prestigious private school far from the neighborhood he grew up in. And as if navigating a new school isn’t tough enough, Jordan also just happens to be one of the few kids of color in his entire grade.

June 2020 Update:
Since my original post, Jerry’s book New Kid has gone on to win the prestigious Coretta Scott King Book Award and The John Newbery Medal! The award ceremonies with Jerry’s acceptance speeches are linked to below.


Jerry Craft wins the Coretta Scott King
Book Award for New Kid!

Jerry Craft’s Acceptance Speech starts at the 50 minutes and 57 seconds mark.

Jerry Craft’s graphic novel New Kid
wins 2020 Newbery Medal!

From The Comics Beat.

“The major award in libraries is the John Newbery Medal for “the most distinguished American children’s book published the previous year”. This year, Jerry Craft won for his graphic novel New Kid. Other graphic novels had previously received honor citations in this category, but this is the first time a graphic novel has won the medal outright, awarded for the best literary work, as a book, not as a graphic novel or illustrated work. It won because of the story presented, which just happened to be told in words and pictures.”

Jerry Craft’s Acceptance Speech starts at the 47 minutes and 28 seconds mark.

Congrats to Jerry!

Categories
Artist Spotlight

Tom Gianni 1960-2020

C2E2 2017

Tom Gianni was a fantastic illustrator. He was also a courtroom artist for WGN, NBC, and WTTW in Chicago.

I knew Tom through C2E2 and I made sure to stop by his table every year I went back. He was always up for talking shop.

Here’s a quick video from 2011 where he let me take a little video of a commission he was working on. (Sorry for the sound quality, but Artist Alley gets kinda noisy).

And here’s a few pics from over the years…

C2E2 2011
C2E2 2012
C2E2 2016
C2E2 2018

My favorite work of Tom’s was his illustrations of pulp fiction heroes like the Shadow and from Robert E. Howard stories.

©Lars Leonhard Drachmann

Fun side note – His work was awarded the Rankin Award for Artistic Achievement from the Robert E. Howard Foundation.

Best of all, his self-published Mechanic Anna.

An original Tom Gianni sketch on the Title page.

The last time I saw him at C2E2 in Chicago he had to leave abruptly as he was called to do some courtroom sketches. To see him take off harkened back to newsmen of the 1940s racing off to catch a story. And that’s how I’ll remember him…

He’ll be sorely missed…

My business card holder – purchased from Tom.
Categories
Artist Spotlight Bernie Wrightson

Bernie Wrightson – Inspiration

Back in the mid 1980s I tried out classes at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design for a semester. Currently at MCAD you can major in Comic Art, but back then comic art was not a thing. In fact it was generally frowned upon.

I was in a film class, and the assignment was to bring in something of interest to us and then talk about it while being filmed (something about getting comfortable in front of a camera I guess). I brought in the recently released Cycle of the Werewolf novella by Stephen King – with beautiful illustrations by the one and only Bernie Wrightson​.

Wrightson’s magnum opus Frankenstein had been released just prior and he was (and still is) a god of illustration to me.

While I talked about my admiration for Wrightson’s work, fellow students off camera started talking within earshot. The gist of it was, a hack writer hired a hack comic book artist – and it’ll be an instant hit to the mindless masses – but it was far from ART.

Hearing this I started talking into the camera a little louder how great an artist Wrightson was and how he was not the “hack” some people thought.

This bias against comic book art was mirrored by the teachers in those years, and as the vibe at MCAD wasn’t right for me I left. Within a year I had found out about and enrolled at the Joe Kubert​ School, so a win-win for me. Suffice it to say most of my new classmates were big fans of Wrightson as well.

In my experience, animation and cartooning has always been looked down on by the fine arts community, or at best given a condescending pat on the back. To me, sequential art is the best way to tell a story – and the artists who excel in the field are Masters. With the rise in popularity of “graphic novels” here in the US there’s been more mainstream acceptance of sequential art, but for the rank and file in the arts community I don’t see that much has changed.

That said, I don’t care. I’ve been working in this field for over 30 years now and am surrounded by people that have the same love of cartooning/comics/anime/manga that I have. Ends up there’s no need to waste time banging heads with people who unfortunately are limited in their thinking of what constitutes Art.

And that’s my two cents.


That said… Here’s to Bernie Wrightson (1948-2017). A master of pen and ink who’s work still remains an inspiration to me. The gold standard to shoot for every time you pick up a Series 7 Winsor & Newton brush.


Here’s a quick video of Bernie Wrightson from 1987, with an intro by Harlan Ellison. Wrightson talks about his work on Swamp Thing and Frankenstein among other highlights – Enjoy!


Last but not least, a poignant tweet from Neil Gaiman from when Wrightson died…


Addendum: Bernie Wrightson’s work on Frankenstein has since toured Art museums across the country as part of the Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters exhibit. They are truly breathtaking to see in person.

To see so many different comic book artists on display in this show was just phenomenal. A shout out to Guillermo del Toro for providing a worthy showcase of these extraordinary masters of comic art – Vive la résistance!

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Artist Spotlight

Jim Keefe

A graduate of the Kubert School, Jim Keefe started his career as the head colorist in the King Features Syndicate comic art department, coloring such world-renowned strips as Blondie, Beetle Bailey and Hagar the Horrible.

From 1996-2003 he was the writer and artist of Flash Gordon for King Features Syndicate.

Teaching and speaking engagements include the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, Hofstra’s UCCE Youth Programs in Long Island, New York, the University of Minnesota – and most recently as an Adjunct Teacher at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

Keefe currently is the artist of the Sally Forth comic strip, written by Francesco Marciuliano. Sally Forth is syndicated worldwide by King Features and appears in nearly 700 newspapers.

To follow Jim on social media, just click on one of the icons below.