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.

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

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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!

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(For more on the path it took to get to work on Sally Forth, including my apprenticeship with cartoonist and writer extraordinaire Craig MacIntosh, you can check out my previous post.)


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

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.
RotaryClub


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!

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Francesco Marciuliano and Jim Keefe Interview

Check out Francesco Marciuliano and myself on Tall Tale Radio.
Hosted by the one and only Tom Racine.

TallTaleRadioPodcast

Update: Part Two is now up…

InterviewPart2


And here’s a quick pick from the recording session – no photoshop involved.
(An inside joke that at the most three people will get…)

TallTaleRadio

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Bettina, the Mobile Queen

2014.02.16

Today’s Sally Forth (February 16, 2015) received the following comment from Kim Carpasian on the Comics Kingdom Sally Forth message board.

carpasian


In answer to that, today’s strip actually references a scene from Jackie’s baby shower.

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Note: I color the Sundays, but not the dailies, which accounts for the slight color discrepancy.


So in answer to how many mobiles does Bettina need, the answer is sixteen.

Many thanks for your comments and keep ‘em coming!

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Charles Schulz 1922-2000

Schulz_Charles.02

On the eve of his final strip being published, Charles Schulz passed away in his sleep at his home in Santa Rosa, California. He was 77 years old. When he was diagnosed with colon cancer in November of ’99 he decided to end the strip so he could concentrate on getting better. Deciding that the Peanuts comic strip would not continue without him at the helm, Schulz stipulated in his contract that the syndicate could not hire someone else to draw the strip in his place. The last daily appeared on January 3, 2000. The last Sunday, February 13, 2000.

FinalStrip


I was fortunate enough to meet Charles Schulz at the Reuben awards in New York back in 1996. Some common ground we shared was that we were both native Minnesotans. When I mentioned that I had just started doing Flash Gordon but it wasn’t in many papers, he responded by saying that when he first started Peanuts he wasn’t in too many papers either.

He was an inspiration to me growing up, not only because of his enormous talent, but because he was a native Minnesotan – someone from the same background who made it, who drew cartoons for a living. When interviewed by Whoopi Goldberg back in the ’90s, Schulz once said, “I always wanted to be suave. Y’know, I’m from Minnesota… there’s no suave people in Minnesota, it’s too cold.”

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He may have not considered himself suave, but he was definitely a shining example of someone at the top of his field. Schulz put his whole heart and soul into his art, and because of that, Peanuts is the gold standard of how good a comic strip can be.

He’ll be sorely missed.

-Jim Keefe

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Cartoon I drew November of ’99 for a get well card.

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E. Simms Campbell – 1932 Map of Harlem

E. Simms Campbell (1906–1971)
The first African-American syndicated cartoonist, particularly known for his illustrations for Esquire magazine. – from Biography.com

Campbell.Pic

Pic from Ariel S. Winter’s blog.


The following is a map of Harlem he drew in 1932 – at the end of the Jazz age.

Campbell_Harlem


To see more of the detail, here’s a larger version you can click on.

Campbell_Harlem.large


For more on E. Simms Campbell, check out the following link from
the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum.
Found in the Collection: E. Simms Campbell Letters

There’s also a great retrospective at Ariel S. Winter’s blog.

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Flash Gordon – Queen Aura

Today’s Flash Gordon strip (2/8/2015) originally ran on October 20, 2002.
(Click on artwork to see larger.)

2002.10.20


The aspect I really had fun with in this storyline was bringing back Aura’s devilish side.

To give some context, here’s how Aura was portrayed by Alex Raymond in 1941 in a storyline after Ming had been deposed as Mongo’s ruler.

1941.06.22


Compare that to this excerpt from 1935…

1935.12.15

And make sure to click on the black and white of Raymond’s artwork so you can zoom in and really see the lush line work he employed. In most reproductions of Raymond’s work the printing usually misses out on this.

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A quick mention also that my version of Aura is greatly influenced by Stan Drake and his work on “The Heart of juliet Jones”. He could draw beautiful women like nobody’s business. For comparison, here’s a pic of Aura I drew followed by some Stan Drake strips featuring Juliet’s younger sister, Eve.

Aura

(Click on Stan Drake strips to see larger.)

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1954.03.10

1954.03.29


For more of Stan Drake’s work I highly recommend the Juliet Jones collections put out by Classic Comic Press.

JulietJones


All for now – deadlines are looming…

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My Mutant Superpower

A quick picture of the bone spurt on the middle finger of my right hand from holding drawing tools for so many years.

My body mutates to suit my needs – just like the X-men!

bonespurt.2

And the yellow skin isn’t jaundice – it’s from watercolor.
Just saying…

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