As the Sally Forth Halloween story kicks into high gear this week, I have something kinda cool to help promote it. A promo piece with art by none other than horror master telepathically Stephen Bissette!
http://pulsobeat.com/tag/a-las-nueve/ Stephen Bissette is an award winning cartoonist, teacher and publisher. He’s most notably known for his iconic run on Swamp Thing, Tyrant and the comics anthology Taboo.
And how did this creepy collaboration come about you may ask? Well earlier this month I posted a Sally Forth panel that I had drawn that had a wall full of demons (as sometimes happens).
The panel being part of writer Francesco Marciuliano’s Halloween story where weird things are happening inside the Forth home.
I also mentioned online that the inspiration for the panel came from a Stephen Bissette/John Totleben comic book page drawn during their award winning run on Swamp Thing (in collaboration with writer Alan Moore).
Shortly after that post I got the following message.
Followed by my reaction.
I immediately gave a thumbs up and then sent Stephen a rough of Hillary in the foreground with a demon doll and horrific creatures slithering in the background. In short order I was sent the following inks.
And THAT in a nutshell is how Francesco and I ended up with a very cool promo piece for the current Sally Forth Halloween story.
I want to give a special thanks to Stephen Bissette for taking time out of his busy teaching schedule at the Center for Cartoon Studies to do this – Greatly appreciated!
And with that said – Hope everyone stays tuned as our Sally Forth Halloween Story continues…
“As Jim Keefe and I prepare to enter “Phase Two” of the “Sally Forth Comic Strip Universe” this September (or “Phase 147,” depending on how many times you think I’ve altered/ruined the strip in my 22 years of writing it), we begin to say farewell to a few of the hallmark stories that made “Sally Forth”—in the words of one critical rave—”Available in print and online.”
First up is “Sally Forth Eats the Ears off Her Own Child’s Chocolate Easter Bunny Every Year,” a long-ago inherited running gag that began what I assume as a touching tribute to poor boundary issues and in the last two decades has evolved into a loving tale of parental mind games and ensuing childhood mental breakdowns.”
– Francesco Marcuiliano Easter 2019
So without further ado, presenting a nostalgic chocolate bunny-eared look back at a Sally Forth Easter tradition!
Side note and further ado… Sally Forth first premiered in 1982 written and drawn by Greg Howard. The bunny ear storyline retrospective shown here only goes back to 1999 due to the digital files that were available.
For those keeping track: The writing credit switch from Greg Howard to Francesco Marciuliano can be found on the top of the strip in the credit line.
For art credit: The strips start off in 1999 with Craig Macintosh handling the drawing chores, then in 2011 Craig hired Jim Keefe to assist with inking and coloring the Sunday pages. The March 31, 2013 Sunday page was where Jim was in charge of the whole package – pencils, inks, lettering and coloring.
– Click on images to see larger –
Special Added Bonus! Here’s two links to the Sunday Comics Department blog’s spotlight on chocolate bunny ears past – Greg Howard edition! Chew Your Ears Off
It’s the small details that makes or breaks a good illustration, and that’s why it’s so important for me to get the best reference I can.
If something in the Sally Forth comic strip looks off it breaks the reader’s suspension of belief and then they’re focused on the bad drawing instead of the joke or story we’re trying to tell.
So when Francesco Marciuliano writes a scene in Sally Forth that calls for a specific locale (grocery store, movie theater, etcetera) I’ll often use spots around my hometown of Minneapolis for reference. Being that Sally Forth is a homegrown original (created by Minnesotan Greg Howard in 1992) it only seems natural.
This blog post will be the catch basin for those strips (which means I’ll be updating this post from time to time). So for those interested, I hope you enjoy this little behind the scenes look at the making of the Sally Forth comic strip.
For the 9/19/2017 Sally Forth strip Francesco called for me to create an arts & craft/greeting card store called Small Wonders.
I always prefer taking my own reference pics over google images in cases like this so I can get a real feel for the set I want to use. Scouting out locations I chose one in biking distance of me called Digs Studio.
Using the reference pic above, here is how Small Wonders ended up looking.
Digs’ owner, Katie Koster, was very generous in letting me take lots of reference pics. Invaluable for getting a good bead on the particulars of a gift shop like hers.
And here’s Jackie’s new boss, Tashsa, with Jackie behind the counter.
Excerpt from Francesco Marciuliano’s script for 9/22/2016.
Scene: Exterior. Sidewalk. Right Outside Comic Book Store. Hilary and Faye exit the comic book store. Each has a bag showing a comic book purchase.
For Hil and Faye’s local comic book shop I picked Comic Book College (this was back when it was on Hennepin Ave near 32nd Street).
And here’s another strip featuring Comic Book College.
I used this comic book shop as it holds a lot of nostalgia for me. When I was growing up in Minneapolis in the 1970s the collector’s market for comics was just getting underway. The two places to get back issues were Shinders on 7th and Comic City. Shinders on 7th was torn down decades ago but Comic City survived, morphing over the years into Comic Book College.
Since drawing these strips Comic Book College moved to it’s new location at 4632 Nicollet Avenue. Still one of the best comic book shops around!
Other locations around Minneapolis I’ve used include…
Last but not least…
This isn’t a location I used as reference per se, but when I first took over the reigns of drawing Sally Forth back in 2013 I had just wrapped up my tenure as Visiting Artist at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. So it only seemed natural to throw some MCAD students into the strip.
1st Row (Foreground): Caitlin Skaalrud and Amaya Goldsmith.
2nd Row: Mandie Brasington, Jack Kotz and Jay Rasgorshek.
3rd Row: Jaime Willems and Mason (character from the strip).
4th Row: April Kasulis, Ben Tye, Lindsey Hall and Mr. Croptoff.
As I mostly taught Comic Art at MCAD I’m including a link to the MCAD Comic Art Tumblr so you can see some of the incredible work they’ve been up to.
Side note: All the students pictured are now copyrighted by King Features Syndicate, Inc. World rights reserved. Just saying…
Unabashed plug time!
If Sally Forth isn’t in your local paper you can check it out online at…
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Something as innocuous as Hillary and Duncan going to a school dance together in the Sally Forth comic strip seems to be riling up certain readers.
“…having Hillary going with a black kid to the prom was too much for me. I guess you are trying to make some kind of statement or something but again this is a Comic Strip. Please stop trying to teach life lessons and get back to something I can laugh about.”
And before this strip even came out…
“I hope you are not going to get Hillary into an interracial affair. If so then I will boycott your comic strip.”
Suffice it to say that comic strips aren’t “For Whites Only.” That this has to be even stated in 2018 seems surreal to me.
And yet it reminds me of the statement by historian Barbara Fields at the end of the Ken Burns documentary the Civil War.
“The Civil War is still going on. It’s still to be fought and regrettably it can still be lost.”