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.
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
Where We're At
For the last 45 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.
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.
Meet the Cast
Hand Drawn Life - The Film
A Preview of the Opening Credits Background Video
To borrow a phrase, It takes a village to raise a film! The final additions to the team were editors Diana Jenkins, Michael Brown, and Kevin Purcell. They came in to finish the fine work started by 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 among the best in the business. Their skills helped shape the look and feel of the presentation.
The film is finally finished!!!!! It makes its broadcast premiere Nov 28th, Thanksgiving Day at 700PM PST on SoCal PBS KCET Ch 28.
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.