Friday, January 31, 2014

Morrie Turner 1923-2014

Morrie Turner, cartoonist and creator of the syndicated comic strip, Wee Pals, died Saturday, January 25 at the age of 90.

Turner is usually credited as the first African-American cartoonist to draw a syndicated comic strip.

Back in the 1960’s, as a teenager (and hopeful cartoonist) living in the SF bay area, I got wind of the fact that Morrie Turner lived in Berkeley. I somehow found away to contact him and he invited me over for a visit to his studio.

At the time I lived south of Oakland and had to take a long succession of buses (no rapid transit then) to get to his place. I arrived late which he ignored. Morrie Turner was very gracious man. He showed me his set up, what kind of pens and materials he used, told me of his many years of struggle to make it as a cartoonist and ultimately invited me stay for dinner with his family. When I left he gave me an original Wee Pals.

I‘m still not precisely certain how it all came together but sometime later Morrie Turner became the focal point of my high school humanities project.

For my project I chose to do a presentation on comic art (big surprise).  I had a display on the history of cartooning and an exhibit of original art (I had some comic book originals at the time and work by Milton Caniff, Charlie Schulz, Al Vermmer and a few others including, of course, Morrie).

Somehow it came to pass that Morrie was scheduled to appear at my high school to speak to the journalism class. I ran into him there and told him about my humanities project and he offered to be my guest speaker (!).

That certainly made my day (and probably helped my grade).

You will note that every obit and testimonial you read about Morrie Turner will talk about his openness, his enthusiasm, his supportiveness and kindness.

I just wanted to second the motion.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Gary Arlington Part II

Here are a few more clippings and photos of the late Gary Arlington.

From Gary's art shows in San Francisco

Bruce Simon, Paul Mavrides and I paid a visit on Gary at his last apartment which was filled with his drawings. He drew everyday.

Paul in Gary's apartment
Bruce and Gary

Another newspaper clipping from the early 70's about Gary.
This one is from California Living.

A few good articles and remembrances can be found at these links

Rio Yanez remembers Gary:

The Comics Journal article "No Longer of This Planet" by Patrick Rosenkranz

San Francisco Chronicle

The Comics Beat remembrance by Bob Calhoun

For more Gary related posts on this  artblog check the archives or type in Arlington in the search at the top.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Molly's Turn! Larry has been encouraging me to post photos of the on-going art class I hold in my studio.

When I start with new students I always ask them to become familiar with both the canvas, different size paint brushes and paint, before we attempt a full on painting.  Here are three students and the beginning to almost done process for them! We had such fun!!


Here is Kate Parun's first time playing with paint and canvas.
Blocking-in painting
Getting the paint on -lights and darks
Learning to blend

Kate at work on portrait of her Aunt
WOW!! Almost done!  BEAUTIFUL

Kate with her painting

Kate as her painting!


Here is Liz Campana's blocking-in of her portrait of her daughter

Getting the paint on


And refining

Here  Liz is working on the hands

WOW!! Almost done. BEAUTIFUL!!

Liz with her painting of her daughter Sophia

This is Scott Barrett's blocking-in of a photo which inspired him.
Getting the paint on



WOW!! Almost done. BEAUTIFUL!!

Scott working on blending and shading

Scott with his almost done painting

Three wonderful students!!!
I have so much fun working with these guys!

And look who decided to join our class!
Larry's and my grandson, Kaden.

Kaden taking good care of his brush.

Class is "on" in my studio

Scott Barrett, Molly Rea, Kate Parun, Liz Campana
I feel so lucky to be able to teach Beginning Acrylic Painting here in my studio. On February 27th, I will also be teaching a class from 10:30 to 12:30 on Thursday mornings at Rileystreet Art Supply on 4th street in San Rafael. They have a great space to teach in a warm environment with a much larger space than my studio. I will continue to teach here at my studio but its nice to have a second venue.  Please pass the word to anyone you might know that would like to join us.

Check out:

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Gary Arlington

Gary Arlington died this week in San Francisco at the age of 75.

Photo from newspaper clipping circa late 1960's

Gary founded what was arguably the first comic book store in the country.

The San Francisco Comic Book Company existed before most anyone had ever heard of –or conceived of--a comic book shop.

Beyond that his shop was the focal point, ground zero, for the underground comic book movement of the late 1960’s.

In those early days one could wander in to Gary’s shop in the mission district and find Robert Crumb, S. Clay Wilson, Rick Griffin, Greg Irons, George Metzger, Spain or Jaxon hanging out in the tiny, narrow store.  Rory Hayes worked behind the counter.  Many of the artists lived within blocks of the shop.

There was always someone standing around with original artwork in hand.

By the late 1970’s the underground scene diminished or at least transmutated into the broader alternative comics movement and, eventually, graphic novels.

The scene left, but Gary’s shop remained. He moved down the street a couple of storefronts and continued to sell comics—whether they were Archie, the Incredible Hulk or Maus.  Over the years his place got more dilapidated and cluttered.

I was a little taken aback when I met a younger generation San Francisco cartoonist who regarded Gary just as some old weird guy who ran a comic shop. 

I had assumed Gary’s legacy was intact even if his physical shop wasn’t so much.

But Gary has never really got his due.

Beyond his proprietorship Gary was always a creative mind who dreamed up quirky plots, great comic book titles and entire comic book series. He made connections and provided support for cartoonists, which could include a job, cash or a place to stay.

Gary also created, published or edited many titles including Man from Utopia, The New Gravity, All Stars, San Francisco Comic Book, Boogieman, Skull, Nickel Library and the first mini-comics.

I, like many other would-be cartoonists, found my way to Gary’s shop in the late 1960’s.  I also later became his employee working the mail order business (and even later at the shop).

In the beginning of the 70’s, my girlfriend of the time and I became roommates with Gary.  At one point or another Kim Deitch, Sally Cruikshank and Simon Deitch were there as well.  The nearby storefront where Gary’s mail order business was also served as the home for Rory Hayes.  Don Donahue, another resident, had his printing press there. Other cartoonists often crashed there as well. There were some pretty exotic times but I think that those stories may be for another occasion.

Gary was a one of a kind. He could make the most unanticipated comments. He always had an unusal take on things. He was open to taking on crazy projects. He had a deep and abiding affection for EC comics and for the work of artists like Wally Wood, Rick Griffin and Carl Barks. And he really did have a sign in the window that warned against “psychic vampires”

He was a very important and influential part of my life. 

From Gary's messiah phase. Photo from All Stars

I offer here a sort of random scrapbook of clippings, drawings and photos.

I’m always surprised how few photos are available from that era (no cell phones in the back pocket).

Almost no one seemed to carry a camera around (exception: Clay Geerdes) —it was certainly rare to have access to a super 8, or 16 mm movie camera…hence, precious few photos or film.

Gary 1972
This is me in the late 1960's after one of my first purchases at Gary's shop.

From Clay Geerdes' Comix World newsletter
I drew these ads for Gary's shop and mail order business. They appeared in the Douglas Comix Catalog (1972)
One of Gary's mini comics (1972)

This Clay Geerdes article "Underground Comix Become an Industry"
appeared in Eric Fromm's Comics & Stories, January 1973

                                                                                   (click on this to enlarge)

My comic strip from this same issue.
Gary outside his shop circa early 1980's
(The man in the background is Ray. He dropped in almost everyday)

A latter day take on Gary:

A panel from "The Haunted Comic Shop" by Mats from the New Mission News, Feb. 2003
(Artwork copyright Mats)

Later in life Gary started drawing on a daily basis.

He exhibited at the Mina Dresden Gallery and the Muddy Waters Cafe.

Last Gasp published a collection appropriately titled I An Not of This Planet: The Art of Gary Edson Arlington (2011)