Tag Archives: Harvey Pekar

Harvey Pekar

Harvey Pekar passed away very early this morning, I just heard about it now.

As anyone looking at the top of this blog will notice, Harvey Pekar’s  face is staring out at my blog readers from a story Harvey and I did together a year or so ago.  We did a few things together, and we were,  at some point in the future, supposed to do some more.

I’m afraid I’m not going to blog much about this today, because I need to take a day or so to digest his passing.  One of my heroes, one of the most interesting people I ever met, and aren’t we all lucky that we got to know him, either  through his movie,  his writing or his simply being here, and loudly refusing to shut up.

Damn, damn, damn.

I’ll give you a proper send off in a day or so, Harve.

Ty the Guy

Nepotism Thursday! Apples, Trees and Original Sin!

It’s my son’s 14th Birthday today, so naturally it’s time for another “NEPOTISM THURSDAY!” (which falls on a Wednesday this month,  quite common, I assure you).  But because the kid’s going to get lots of expensive gadgets and free food later, I’m going to talk instead about the cartooning work of my father, Charles “Chuck” Templeton, and how far apples fall from trees.  So THERE, beloved son!

Just a quick tease this time out, with a couple of Dad’s sports pieces, scanned from the original art that hangs on my wall and from clippings…Chuck had a  regular cartoon gig for the  Toronto Globe and Mail in the 30s (*actually, when Charles was 17.  By 21, he started his career as an evangelist.  kts),  for about four or five years in what was Dad’s early twenties.  He drew mostly sports,  and some political cartoons with both a remarkable skill for likeness, and a playful skill for comedy.

I had no real sense of my father’s illustrating and cartooning work until after he died.  And though he taught me one or two things about proportion and how to hold a pencil when I was very young, it was nothing like professional secrets or anything.  And since his work was all printed and packed away decades before I was born, I saw almost none of it, until it was entrusted to me when he passed away.

So, what that amazed me most about his work once I got to see a lot of a it at once, is that I see many similar things to my own style in there.  Similar compositional methods, similar lettering even, and the basic skills are in the same zone, though in different styles for different generations.

Considering how little he taught me about the biz, and how little of his work I saw growing up, how freaking odd that there are so many similarities.  My parents were divorced, and I was raised by my mother, so it’s not a question of nurture…  Is there a GENETIC component to an artist’s aesthetic?

YEESH?!?

More of my father’s work to come in future weeks.  I’ve got stacks of it, and much of it is very good.  PLUS, it’s a nice slice of history for the Canadian Comics Corner buffs out there…including Mr. Pincombe.  As for me, I’m off to teach my comic book bootcamp course tonight, and maybe buy my teenaged son a slice of cake, and sing.

NEXT:  How I turned down sitting on an upcoming panel with Stan Lee and Harvey Pekar next week, (I’m an idiot), and the stirrings of JOHNNY CANUCK!  Oh, so exciting!

Ty the Guy!

More Mad

There’s still a cover or two to show from the San Diego Comic Con Mad Magazine special edition…so I’ll be posting them to fill this space until Ty finds time (in between working on his new Mad assignment and prepping for today’s first class for the “Writing for Comics: Inspiration on a Schedule”) to rant all on his own.  I’m back to threatening to follow him around with a tape recorder…he’s been reading a book about the early days of the National Lampoon (a magazine near and dear to Ty’s comedic heart) and giving me little mini-lectures about the history of the NatLamp, SNL, and the early days of Mad. You guys gotta hear some of this stuff!

Keiren

Ty drawing Harvey Pekar for Mad Magazine–he was pretty happy with this assignment.

SOMETIMES, THE ROUGH…and another of the increasingly late Hoverboy Fridays!

Clearly, I’m mad, I tell you.  MAD.

batrobinadv sketch 11

I’m one of those guys who spend their lives liking the rough sketch better than the final art.  It’s a curse.   I have a fondness for the scribbled, eccentric, humanistic and unembarrassed linework of a rough sketch.  There’s a lovely connection to movement and thought in the first contact with the image to muscles and paper,  often softened unbearably by turning it into a final illustration.   As a professional drawer-boy, I’m always fighting between “cleaning it up” and “letting it live”.

The Batman sketch from an old, old Adventures cover, (which I just found in a box yesterday, and hence this post) is less than three inches high.  It’s drawn in pencil and a thick pentel marker which was clearly drying out, as the background becomes less dark to the right. But the sense of danger, the monster, and the expressions on everyone’s face works for me in a way the final doesn’t.

harvey pekar rough to finishMy Pekar’s AMERICAN SPLENDOR work last year did the same thing to to me.  I was going for a very sedate, “realistic” Curt Swan type of storytelling for Harvey, since that was the basic feel of this particular script…but the rough layouts had a Kirby-like energy to them, with a lively and playful sense of proportion that I wish had fit the story.

( for more Harvey online, click here)

Again, these layouts are about three inches tall, and the final art is fifteen inches high…so the movements spideytorch 2 1 roughof your hands vs. the movements of your shoulders are going to be different.

I just got through reading an issue of Marvel’s new “STRANGE TALES” comic, with folks like Peter Bagge, and James  Kochalka doing very indy looking work on Marvel super-heroes.  Astoundingly great fun, and some of the pages have the same feel as my rough pages do…before I clean myself up.

If only I hadn’t seen so much Harvey Kurtzman while growing up.  I could rid myself of this demon of liking the roughs.

AND NOW—

FOR THOSE WHO DEMAND THEIR HOVERBOY FRIDAYS ON FRIDAY, I GIVE A FIE TO THEE!  A FEE FIE!

hovermuppetHoverboy Fridays continue to wander the calendar, and we find one barging into Sunday.  I’m only making this rare exception to move Hoverboy Fridays from its regular spot on Tuesdays, to this weekend, because the most recent update is topical!  It has to do with Hoverboy’s very tenuous connection to Sesame Street, which celebrated it’s 40th, or 45th anniversary this week, I wasn’t paying enough attention when Wolf Blitzer mentioned it.

Go to the Hoverboy museum and read more about this astounding connection between Kermit the Frog and The Boy Who Hovers.

www.hoverboy.com (for those who don’t hyper link well).

Ty the Guy.  AWAAAY!

My inner Mad

021 jay leno

00 spockWhen I put up those Harvey Pekar sketches last week, I mentioned that neither of the drawings were in my “usual” style of doing a likeness.  At this point in my career, I’m not sure I have a style, but I do have some vague idea of what sort of final drawing will look right to my eyes, and these ideas are usually rooted in Mort Drucker and John Severin…two of the great Mad artists of my youth.

As you can see by the drawing of a young Jay Leno (done for a Canadian TV Guide some years ago) and the Movie Spock (done for my own amusement last year), my line work tends towards Drucker’s when I’m just trying to make a portrait.

00 woody

Oddly enough, when I fit a likeness into a story (as I did with these panels from various editions of the Factoid BIG BOOK series, or as I’m currently doing with my fun Dexter gig), I find my line work and sensibility tends towards John Severin.   Probably because Severin was slavishly realistic, and Drucker was more playful.

00 orsonEither way, when you add the Jack Davis influence in the Pekar drawing below (coupled with a blatant attempt to inject a little R. Crumb in there, another Harvey Kurtzman protege), I’ve obviously never gotten over my early crush on Mad Magazine.

And I ain’t never gonna.

Ty the Guy

00 frank and mia

Happy 70th Birthday, Harvey Pekar.

Here’s a couple of drawings I did this week to celebrate Harvey Pekar’s 70th Birthday.

Harvey 1


(Click to see the many lovely contributions from a host of other artists at the Harvey Pekar Project Online at smithmag.net)

The realistic portrait I did first– sort of in the the style of Gene Day.  My wife had recently coloured a portrait of Gene for her work, and it had caused a mild nostalgia in me, enough to pull out a bunch of Gene’s Batmans and Masters of Kung Fu… With all those comics in my brain Gene’s style crept into my hands as I was sketching this portrait of Harvey, which it’s never done before, but I’m clearly more of a Zelig than I wish to be.  AK!  GHOST OF GENE DAY!!

Harvey 2

In the long run, I didn’t like the Gene Day-ish drawing because it’s basically just a portrait of Harvey, sketched from a photo, and really, didn’t bring anything to his unique and iconic character– beyond my skills to capture a likeness, and an odd departure for the way I usually draw (which, when I do portraits,  is far more like Mort Drucker –I’ll show you guys later…).

So after an hour or so of carefully capturing Mr. Pekar’s likeness, and inking and washing it in a casual style (to disguise all the labour and erasing in doing the basic portrait), I tossed the whole thing out, and did a cartoon of Harvey out of my head in about three minutes that feels like HARVEY PEKAR to me, even if it doesn’t look as exactly like him.  The madness, the beauty and the Harvey-ness of the character is more “correct” IMHO, when rendered in an expressionist and unconscious way.  Somehow, making it look too much like Harvey the human being, is almost a disservice to Harvey, the beloved comic character.

And I know he’d disagree with me, which is why I LOVE the man.

Happy Birthday Harvey.  You are a treasure to our medium, and it’s always a joy to share a page or a conversation with you.

Harvey 1

Harvey 2

Now, is it just me, or does the second one look like “Middle-Aged Man Logan?”.

Ty the Guy.

Something New…

Just added into The Art Store the Mad Magazine piece, the Superman drawing, the Harvey portraits and a page from Secret Origins with Elongated Man and Flash. More to come as soon as Ty loads up the scanner…

Artwork Deux

Ty decided to try something new with his American Splendor pages. He’s always been a perfectionist with his inking, and is known for his clean, tight style.  For this, he aimed for a looser style, and was drawing on paper rather than board–his thinking was that, on board, an artist has the idea that they have to get every line right (there’s only so much erasing you can do without ruining the board and having to do a patch).  With paper, he could just crumple it and throw it out; this freed him just to put the lines down and not stress.  Ty was pretty pleased with how it came out.

pekar splendor panels