Okay… so here is my Prince story.
It was June 21st 1997 when I was driving to my home in Moine, IL. I was picking something up before meeting up with some friends later on. As I was passing by the Jewel Osco I couldn’t help but notice that there was a long white stretch limo parked right along the curb.
I thought, “That’s strange, why would anyone around here have a limo… let alone where you needed to do a pit stop at the Jewel Osco?”
A second later it came to me.
Prince had a concert that night at the Mark.
“Holy Crap, It’s Prince!”
Without a second thought I turned the car around and parked in the nearly deserted parking lot. I started to walk up to the door when a large burly man in a dark suit and sunglasses calmly, yet firmly, held up a hand.
“Can’t go in there.”
“What’s going on?”
“Prince is in there.”
I knew it! I was right!
So they had kicked everyone who was in there out. I, along with about five other people, camped right by his limo and waited for him to inevitably come out.
About ten minutes later the automatic doors swung open and guarded by two other burly men in suits was Prince himself with a beautiful woman on his arm.
We all whooped and whoo-hooed as he came out. He kept his cool, but gave a little smile and lifted his hand slightly in a little wave. And soon enough the was back in his limo and drove off. All of us were all smiling and couldn’t believe what had just happened.
I got in the car, picked up my stuff, and met up with my friends. And proceeded to tell them that I just saw Prince.
I always imagined that he stopped in for some Hostess Cupcakes.
I may be wrong.
Last fall I got a call from an old friend of mine. Back in 1993 she and I were both in a production of Fiddler on the Roof together (she played Tzeitel while I played the random bearded villager), and then later on in 2011 we were in a production of God of Carnage (Where I trimmed up to a mere goatee. Maybe one day we’ll be in a show where I’m clean shaven.)
But I digress…
She called me up asking if I would be available to help her Girl Scout Troop get their Comic Artist Badge, and teach them some cartooning techniques. Of course I said I would. Not just because of our friendship, but because–in my life–I was once a full fledged Girl Scout.
When I was a student at the Savannah College of Art and Design, in Savannah GA, I was a tour guide at the Juliette Gordon Low house. And for those who might not know who this remarkable woman is, she was the founder of the Girl Scouts. And when you work there you have to sign up into the organization.
Usually this little tid-bit about me will have the listeners raise their eyebrows, and they will slowly tilt their head to the side in a questioningly sort of way.
The first question that I usually answer before it’s even asked is: No, I didn’t have to wear the uniform. Men got to wear a tie.
The second question: No, they don’t sell the Girl Scout cookies there.
I am no stranger to teaching lessons to Girl Scout troops. I have helped a few troops earn their Comic Artist Badge over the years, either privately, with the help of the leaders, or through the Figge Art Museum here in Davenport. My long time friend wanted to do something special at the same time. Not just to have me teach the lesson, but asked if she could hire me to do a cartoon of the troop as well. Which I thought was a fun idea.
I went in and the girls were really great. They all listened and participated, and, all the while, asking really great questions about my cartooning. And at the end of the lesson we presented the girls their cartoon. Their eyes lit up as they looked at it and pointing at it, recognizing each other and laughing. Especially since I put in little bit of their own personalities in the piece.
It was a fun afternoon.
But last week my long time friend shot me a message and let me know that her daughter, who was in the troop, was still cartooning. And not just cartooning, but had drawn a cartoon of yours truly. How cool is that, right?? Not only can I see some of the techniques that I taught her that afternoon, but I can also see others influences as her talent grows. And most importantly… you can see that she’s having fun with it.
That’s the point, isn’t it?
One of the best things about being an artist is when you hand over a piece of work that you created and seeing the person’s eyes light up. How their smile starts to broaden. And, especially if it’s a personal gift, see how it touches them. It’s one of the best things to witness. I just so happened to be on the receiving end this time. And how awesome is that?
It totally made my day.
I became a fan of Bill Nighy’s performance of the “actor come amateur sleuth” almost immediately after hearing only the first three minutes of the BBC radio play, Sicken and So Die in a broadcast in 2007. And from there on I was hooked. The series is adapted by Jeremy Front, from the novels of Simon Brett.
Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve always been a big fan of radio drama. Ever since I was a kid I really enjoyed listening to story records and imagining what was happening within the scene. And, at times, it would always creep me out when the first side of the record would end, and the record would have that end of the side record silence. <shutter>
I also am a big fan of BBC’s adaptations of Agatha Christie’s novels. Both John Moffat’s performance as Hercule Poirot, and June Whitfield as Miss Marple are fantastic.
But as much as I love the Agatha Christie’s there is something about the modern Charles Paris that I find hilariously close to home. Charles, an aging actor who is living with his estranged wife, Francis, can’t seem to let well enough alone. This is a mystery after all, and eventually, within the first episode, something will happen that will not only pique Charles’s interest, but ours as well. But like any other mystery that is out there, the really great ones are the ones that are character driven. And Charles Paris is always top-notch with Sally Avens’s direction.
These are fantastic for anyone, but especially so if you are in the realm of acting in any way. Because, since Charles is knee deep in it himself, you get a lot of inside humor that goes along with it. With my 20 plus years on stage, there are more than one moment that will come across and I’ll think, “been there”. What a great feeling.
It had been a few years since the last Charles Paris installment, and I was wondering if there would ever be a new on produced. And–much to my surprise–Sally Avens shot me a tweet, in December 2015, letting me know that they were heading into production of a new adventure. I just about jumped out of my chair. Anxiously I waited for the new episode and–lo and behold it appeared last week.
Yes, I was excited about seeing Star Wars.
Yes, I am excited to hear that there is going to be a new Indiana Jones.
But Charles Paris is right along side them to me.
You too have an opportunity to catch the latest Charles Paris Mystery: A Decent Interval on BBC 4 right now.
In my line there are few opportunities to hang out with a professional peer. Unless we are out at conventions, or social events, we tend to stay in our caves and draw by the swinging arm lamp above our desks.
I always check out GoComic’s newest additions, and this was no different this past December when they announced their newest comic, Wyatt, by Eric Gapstur (www.gocomics.com/wyatt). I had never heard of him, but I was really drawn to his style. The line work was really great, but something else, I noticed that he was able to capture movement really well.
Wyatt is the story of an 8 year old boy who discovers that he has super powers, how he keeps it a secret and how his family is having to adjust their way of living.
Soon after it’s launch I noticed a tweet of GoComics tagging Eric. I looked him up, and noticed that we lived within sixty miles of each other and wished him congrats from one Iowan to another. We started chatting and found out that we had both gone to SCAD. I was an illustration major there and he was in the Rising Star program while he was in high school. So we had a lot in common.
My friend, and fellow cartoonist, Jim Allen (www.eddycomics.com) was excited to hear of another cartoonist to live in the region.
While Jim wasn’t able to come along, Eric and I got together to talk shop yesterday. And it was a blast. We talked about the origins of our comics, our process (him traditional, me digital), the love of classic and current cartoonists that we both appreciate and admire, and how our work has grown throughout the years.
When Eric had found out that my work was done digitally he said (via twitter), “How are we going to trade originals then?” Which made me laugh. Out of all the positives to come from working digitally, this was always a hiccup. Trading or selling originals is never really an option when you work in a digital format.
I gave him a copy of my Mister & Me book Dream (found on this website) and signed and drew a picture of Newell in it, along with a print of one of the first Mister & Me’s that he saw. I totally wasn’t expecting it, but he gave me one of the originals of his comic Wyatt. And I got to tell you, reading a comic in the paper, or online, is one thing. But seeing the original. Seeing the original line work, and changes that the artist’s make along the way always is a joy to see.
I know that there are a lot of comic artists who will often trade or collect original pieces. And I maybe late in the game, but I have officially have my first original piece from another cartoonist.
Subscribe to Eric Gapstur’s Wyatt for free on GoComics. www.gocomics.com/wyatt