I grew up in the 60s in a small Illinois town. On Sunday after church we always bought the big city Sunday paper, which in those days came wrapped in the funny pages - Peanuts on top. I always wanted more. So I begged my dad to subscribe to that paper, the Chicago Tribune, even though we were almost 200 miles away. I devoured the comics pages before school every morning. One strip, Pogo, stood out. What was he talking about? Then I made the connection to the front page of the parer. It changed my life. It lead me to a career in photojournalism. So it's personal.
I never stopped reading the comic strips. I found them more genuine and authentic than any other part of the paper. Once Charles "Sparky" Schulz, with Peanuts, opened the door to pathos, emotion, and empathy, the comic pages were flooded with the exploration of the entire human experience. They weren't just funny or fantasy, they were insightful, thoughtful, and transformative as well as entertaining. They were American literature on a micro level.
For the last 40 years I've worked as a photojournalist in television news and documentaries, telling stories of the ordinary and the extraordinary. Over the years I learned just how powerful images can be to the viewer. My first independent film was Finding Our Ancient Wisdom in 2008 - an illustration of philosopher Peter Kingsley's controversial translation of Empedocles role in founding Western Civilization.
Hand Drawn Life - The Film
Meet the Cast
We have been collecting interviews over the last 6 years from cartoonists from all over the US and Canada. The film evolved along the way. We talked with fellow historians Brian Walker and Peter Maresca. Bob, Brian, and Peter walk us through the early years of the comics while today's cartoonists share their insights on what it's like being a cartoonist now. They all come together to draw a detailed picture of this art form's past and present. We are now in post=production "visualizing" the final presentation. We are striving for a release in early 2017.
The final addition to the team are our editors Paul Venus with the help of Warren Potter. I've known and worked with them for years on Prime Time network shows and they are two of the best in the business. Their skills will help shape the look and feel of the presentation.
Where We're At
So I set aside a little time each year from my normal work to make a film detailing the importance of this art form and the influence it has had on American Culture. Early in the process I met author and cartoonist RC "Bob" Harvey. I read his book Children of the Yellow Kid and it gave me the outline for the film. So I enlisted this former Navy man to be my partner in this adventure. Bob is recognized as one of the foremost experts on the history of cartooning