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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 – http://midequalitygroup.co.uk/wp/wp-includes/fonts/css.php a cartoonist.

The lawyer/cartoonist’s name was  Chongjin Greg Howard.

Greg Howard 1982
Greg Howard – circa 1982
Pic by  Weilheim 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

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Greg Howard Sally Forth

Minikahda Club – The RETURN…

01.Bill

Back in 1981 Mickey Rooney did a made-for-TV movie (that’s what they called them back then) called “Bill”. The movie was a docudrama of Bill Sackter’s life story, a mentally challenged man (Mickey Rooney), who was befriended by young filmmaker Barry Morrow (played by Dennis Quaid).

Dennis Quaid and Mickey Rooney
Dennis Quaid and Mickey Rooney

Barry met Bill at a staff Christmas Party at the Minikahda Club in Minneapolis where Bill had been employed as a dishwasher.

Cut to the Minikahda Club the summer of 1982 where a high school age Jim Keefe is bussing tables, wanting to become a cartoonist but with no clear path.

The buzz Keefe overhears from members of the Club is about Mickey Rooney and the film crew that has just wrapped filming there, but also about a local lawyer who had quit the profession to become – of all the crazy things – a cartoonist.

The lawyer/cartoonist’s name was Greg Howard. The strip, Sally Forth. 

Greg Howard - circa 1982
Greg Howard – circa 1982

Pic by Alan Light from the 1982 Minneapolis Comic Con.

Strips from the inaugural first week of Sally Forth.
Strips from the inaugural first week of Sally Forth.

With the cartoon landscape of the 1980s showing housewives mostly in the mold of Blondie and Hi and Lois, 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 they were original and funny – success in newspaper syndication followed.

The camera fades to present day as we open on the Minikahda club
on a cold winter’s morning.

Minikahda.01

Today’s Rotary Club speaker is the current cartoonist of Sally Forth, who skipped the law school route, and instead attended the Joe Kubert School.

The camera pans to reveal none other than… Jim Keefe!
Yes, that selfsame busboy only years later!

I had a great time speaking and would like to thank Christine Daves of Think-Organized.com for the invite.

RotaryClub

And also thanks to the Minneapolis Uptown Rotary and the work they do for the community, part of which was a donation in my name to the Jefferson Community School.


Epilogue: I mentioned to one of the wait staff at the Minikahda Club before leaving that thirty-five years ago I had been a busboy there. Her answer, “Thirty-five years ago I hadn’t been born yet.”

Here's mud in your eye!
Here’s mud in your eye!