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 – blusteringly a cartoonist.

The lawyer/cartoonist’s name was  buy Aurogra online with no perscription Greg Howard.

Greg Howard 1982
Greg Howard – circa 1982
Pic by  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

King Features

Coloring the Sunday Comics

From 1989-98 I was on staff at King as the head (and only) colorist for the King Features Comic Art Department. From 1999 on I did coloring for them freelance.

Jim Keefe - Portrait of a young colorist.
Jim Keefe – Portrait of a young colorist.

Pic from Funny Papers – Behind the Scenes of the Comics.

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.

Color guide for Blondie 7/1/2012.

And here’s what the finished version looked like.

Blondie 7/1/2012

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…

Beetle 6/10/2012
Popeye 7/22/2012
Hagar 7/1/2012

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.

Business of Cartooning


Sally Forth Comic Strip
Artist – Examples on the Comics Kingdom website

Flash Gordon
Writer & Artist – Examples on the Comics Kingdom website

Pen and Ink Drawings
Sketchbook Studies

Comics Revue
Cover Art for Adventure Strip Magazine

Company I
Snapshots of an Infantry Company in WWII
Sketchbook and Notes

Flash Gordon

Flash Gordon Story Index

Flash Gordon by Jim Keefe

  • 1. Demon From the Dark Dimension: 01/21/1996 – 4/21/1996
  • 2. Nightfall on Mongo: 4/28/1996 – 8/25/1996
  • 3. The Way it Began: 9/1/1996 – 9/29/1996
  • 4. The Return of Ming: 10/6/1996 – 12/22/1996
  • 5. Durok’s Revenge: 12/29/1996 – 5/11/1997
  • 6. Lair of the Damned: 5/18/1997 – 7/13/1997
  • 7. Wartog: 7/20/1997 – 10/12/1997
  • 8. Alania Under Siege: 10/19/1997 – 5/3/1998
  • 9. Traitor In Our Midst: 5/10/1998 – 10/18/1998
  • 10. The Way It Began: 10/25/1998 – 11/1/1998
    (a condensed version of 9/8/1996 – 9/29/1996)
  • 11. Shadowland: 11/8/1998 – 1/3/1999
  • 12. Return To Syk: 1/10/1999 – 3/28/1999
  • 13. Back to Earth: 4/4/1999 – 10/31/1999
  • 14. Garden of Evil: 11/7/1999 – 12/19/1999
  • 15. Gallery Page: 12/26/1999
    (Spotlight of Flash Gordon artists throughout the years)
  • 16. The Way It Began: 1/2/2000 – 1/9/2000
    (Reprinting 10/25/1998 – 11/1/1998)
  • 17. To Melt a Queen’s Heart: 1/16/2000 – 6/18/2000
  • 18. Operation: Escape: 6/25/2000 – 8/6/2000
  • 19. Peace Offering: 8/13/2000 – 11/5/2000
  • 20. Secret Agent X-9: 11/12/2000 to 6/17/2001
  • 21. Nesting Ground: 6/24/2001 – 8/12/2001
  • 22. Flashback: 8/19/2001 – 10/28/2001
    (In depth retelling of Flash’s origin story)
  • 23. Slithers: 11/4/2001 – 5/12/2002
  • 24. Crowning Glory: 5/19/2002 – 8/18/2002
  • 25. Hatchlings: 8/25/2002 – 9/22/2002
  • 26. Tournament of Death: 9/29/2002 – 3/16/2003

Sally Forth

Drawing Bikes

Sally Forth DVD Extra!
For the week of April 12-16 in the Sally Forth comic strip the Forth family ventured out for a bike ride. Bikes can be a headache to draw so here’s a little behind the scenes on how I attacked it.

I had my daughter Tessa take pictures of me from the 2nd floor to help me figure out the aerial shots of bikes. Hard for me to visualize otherwise. I then mashed up the different pics to figure out what worked for the layout.

Usually the staff at King Features down in Florida handles colors for the dailies, but in cases like this where I have specific colors in mind I’ll do the color separations in Photoshop myself and send that file to them as well.

For more complex shots I get the basic layout down then do pencils and inks concurrently as I figure stuff out.

Digital gives me one more run through to tighten things up (like the bike lane symbol on the pavement). Then on to coloring.

For the April 16th strip eagle-eyed people from Minneapolis may notice the Forth family is on the banks of Lake Harriet (with the bandshell visible in the distance)

Side note: I’ve noticed that whenever I include masks in Sally Forth it tends to rile up commenters on the Comics Kingdom message board. Here’s my recent post there in reply.

Thoughts on masks while I was drawing this:
These strips are drawn over a month ahead of time so you never know whether they’ll be a surge in Covid cases when it sees print (where I live there currently is). Whereas mask wearing is generally recommended by the CDC when people are out and about, I also go by what I see people doing in public. They’re wearing masks in the April 15th strip because they’re biking on city streets where there can be more people. The following day, when they’re off their bikes and a good distance from others, they have their masks off. I am by no means the authority on this and recommend following CDC guidelines. That said, I hope you’re staying safe and healthy and wishing you all the best!

Unabashed plug time.
For more Sally Forth, just head on over to Comics Kingdom.

Comics Kingdom has subscriptions available for $19.99 a year where you then have access to ten years worth of archives to all their strips – a pretty great deal!

-Jim Keefe