Flash Gordon Year One – Learning Curve


In 1995 I was hired as the writer and artist of the Flash Gordon comic strip (my first Sunday page appeared January 21, 1996). It was my first big freelance gig, and as with all freelance work, you have whatever skills you’ve attained up to that point and then you learn on the job. My first year doing Flash Gordon it was very much about getting a feel for the characters and getting the look right.

Nightfall on Mongo was my second story that first year and I opted for werewolves as being the antagonists. I mean, who doesn’t like werewolves, right?

Drop panel from 5/26/1996

Flash comes upon Thorne, the wounded survivor of a downed craft.

Click on image to see larger.

I based Thorne’s look off of Kurt Russell.

One thing in this story that sticks out like a sore thumb to me now is the environment and wardrobe. Instead of an alien world Flash might as well be in upstate Minnesota. Also, I modified a helicopter by taking off the propellers so that it would look like a small spacecraft  – instead it just ended up looking like a helicopter without propellers…

Original art – Click on image to see larger.

Realizing I needed some strong feedback to strengthen my work, I sent pages to a couple of syndicated artists I was corresponding with at the time – George Evans and Bud Blake. Shown below are the critiques I got.

George Evans (1920-2001)

Bud Blake (1918-2005)

As far as critiques go, friends and family tend to pull punches – professionals get the job done. I had the basics down storytelling-wise, but both George and Bud showed me that I needed to amp things up. I can’t stress enough how invaluable their input was.

I’d like to add that for George and Bud to take the time to sketch up short tutorials and mail them out to me was beyond generous – especially with the ever present syndicate deadlines they were under.

As far as my learning curve went, the next story I did I purposely retold Flash Gordon’s origin in order to give myself a refresher course on all things Mongo-esque.


More Flash Gordon Flashbacks to follow…

And if you’d like to see more of my work on Flash Gordon,
King Features is currently re-releasing the strips at FlashGordon.com.
Hope you check them out!

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Sally Forth Shout Out To…Sally Forth?

With all the cosplay in this summer’s Sally Forth storyline, I thought I’d put in an Easter Egg in reference to last year’s summer escapade.

Take note of the cosplay in the foreground of the first panel for the Sally Forth comic strip for July 14, 2018.

Sally Forth – July 14, 2018

And here’s a strip from last year’s Kaiju theme park storyline…

Sally Forth – July 7, 2017

They sell a LOT of Mechagodzilla wearable heads at that theme park – just saying.

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And now an unabashed plug…

If Sally Forth isn’t in your local paper you can check it out online at…

ComicsKingdomLogo

A yearlong subscription to all of King Features’ comics (new and vintage) plus ten years worth of archives for every single strip is a pittance at $19.99 a year. Unsure? Try a 7 day trial subscription for free.

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Sally Forth Cosplay – 7/12/2018

More Cosplay in the July 12, 2018 Sally Forth strip.

Storm from the X-men, Goku from Dragon Ball Z, Black Panther, Steve from Minecraft, Elastigirl and a Battle of the Planets t-shirt thrown in for good measure.

And here’s the full strip.

For more Sally Forth Comic Con fun, check out Comics Kingdom.

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Comic Art Classes – MCAD Summer 2018

This summer I’ve been teaching Cartooning and Comic Art over at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design as part of their Continuing Education Youth Programs.

Here’s some pics from The Comic Creation I class.


And here’s some pics from The Comic Book Inside and Out class.


Pictures ©Tessa Keefe

For more info on Continuing Education classes available through the Minneapolis College of Art and Design just check out the following Link: MCAD Continuing Education

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Shout Out to Jerry Craft

Spotlight on writer/illustrator 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 with a few of his young fans.

In addition to his numerous graphic novels and books he’s illustrated, Jerry is also the creator of the acclaimed comic strip 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: Coming out next February from HarperCollins, 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…

For more info, check out this article at The Comics Beat.

I’ll be posting more info on New Kid as the release date nears.
Until then, check out Jerry’s website at  JerryCraft.net to order his other books, find out about author visits, watch his cartoons and much more!

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