I first became interested in drawing around the age of three. I would scribble in the margins of some of my dads favorite books using the cool U.S. GOVERNMENT military issue black ballpoint pens he brought home by the truckload. For some odd reason dad didn’t appreciate my artistic efforts at all! Encouraged to move on to greener pastures I tackled entire blank pages found typically at the front or very end of most hardback books. Years later I would occasionally get a call from mom telling me that dad found another long forgotten art craft of my design! He seemed reconciled to the fact that I must have inked just about everything he owned at one time or another. It became a little detective game for my dad and gave him much satisfaction to find another fine old volume with the unexpected addition of a detailed birds-eye-view schematic of a Barbary Coast slave ship fully loaded with chained prisoners and barrels of rancid water!
Around the age of eight I discovered the Walter Foster “How To Draw” Art Books. I was hooked! Besides some great editions on fundamental art skills like drawing, painting, perspective… there was “Comics”, “Modern Cartoon”, and “Animation”. These titles provided everything you needed to get started as a cartoonist, and soon I was hacking away at it daily. I started collecting and researching everything I could find about the subject. One of my early favorites was “Pogo” by Walt Kelly. This amazing comic strip has stayed close to me ever since. Pogo was huge back in the fifties and sixties. You could find the reprint volumes in just about every type of store. I first found mine in a craft store my mother used to visit at the old Caprock Shopping Center in Lubbock, Texas. For a small boy living on the moonscape known as the West Texas Plains it was like an E-Ticket at Disneyland! The reprint books were not expensive, usually one or two dollars at most. But for those readers who don’t know any better, that was a lot of extra money for a kid to scratch together back then. What with absolutely necessary expenses like candy, firecrackers, and ticket money for the Saturday Matinee at the Cactus Theatre downtown.
Like the old “Rocky and Bullwinkle Show” on television, Pogo was written on two completely different levels. Biting commentary on political and current event topics was offered up for adult consumption, while at the same time the farcical comic situations kept the kids amused. I didn’t understand a lot of the adult references but it inspired me to find out more on my own. Actually, it was pretty heady stuff for an eight-year-old boy from West Texas. And the artwork was simply gorgeous. Walt Kelly’s depiction of the Okefenokee Swamp was beautifully detailed and simple at the same time. His characterizations of the various denizens of the swamp were brilliantly conceived.
For more information about Pogo check out the following website; “I Go Pogo”, http://www.igopogo.com/index.html .