The Comic Company:
Duckwork

 

Enter at your own risk

 
An ominous, orange glow cast its pall across South Philadelphia in the spring of 1981. It was a sign plastered with fluorescent tempera paint on a thirteenth floor window of the ARCO Building on Broad and Spruce streets, home of most of the classes taught at PCA, Philadelphia College of Art which is now known as the University of the Arts, one of the most respected art colleges in the country.
 

Room with a view

 
The letters that read “DUCKWORK” could be seen as far south as Veterans Stadium where the Phillies had won the World Series just months before and marched past PCA in their triumphant parade that rocked the City of Brotherly Love.

Behind the window was the office of a motley group of art students banded together to publish a “student” newspaper by the same name.
 

John "Bondo" Rondeau settles in front of a huge print that we had "aquired" from a show at PCA that featured a famous cartoonist alumnus, Anrnold Roth, who ironically had been expelled from the school when he was a student.

 
DUCKWORK, though tacitly supported by the school, was never a school newspaper. It was a publication commandeered by an assembly of comic art enthusiasts led by myself that defiantly produced comics in an educational environment that, at the time, considered the medium to be kitsch and derivative.
 

DUCKWORK Covers 1 & 2, Cover #1 illustrated by Bill "Fostex" Foster, #2 by Gerry Giovinco with inks by Bill Anderson

 
Our pseudo-fraternity proclaimed each of us as DUCKS and, as a proud rogue clan, we wreaked havoc on the school with our publication and our mischievous pranks some of which might have us arrested if done today.
 

Bill Bryan who is now at CBR Woodworking where thay make incredible furniture for offices and corporate spaces among other things. http://www.cbrwoodworking.com/index.html


 

Evan Nurse was a Jr. Duck who attended a cartooning class on weekends at PCA for young students. Evan's senior prank at Sharon hill H.S. was to join the girls Lacross team. They let him play but they made him wear the kilt. He is now an AV instructor at an area High School.

 
PCA had very little sense of community at the time. Because of this, our little group managed to control Student Council and Arts Council giving us the opportunity to allocate funds and office space for our ventures. The DUCKS ruled!
 

DUCKWORK Covers 3 & 4, both illustrated by Gerry Giovinco

 
DUCKWORK quickly became a magnet for cartoonists especially after it became known that I was attempting to start a comic book company named Comico with two friends of mine from high school, Phil LaSorda and Vince Argondezzi.
 

DUCKWORK Covers 5 & 6, #5 illustrated by Bill "Cooch" Cucinotta, #6 by Matt wagner

 
Bill Cucinotta, my partner here at CO2 Comics, knew of me and Comico from Creation Conventions and was enthusiastically involved with DUCKWORK from the start.

Nick-named Cooch, his loyalty and ability to get the job done whenever needed along with his knowledge of the direct market derived from his experience working retail at Fat Jack’s Comic Crypt, Philly’s premier comic shop made him invaluable. It would later make him the most logical choice to fill the void left by Vince Argondezzi’s abrupt departure from Comico’s initial partnership well before our first book Comico Primer would be published.
 

Edwin Arocho is now a fine artist and musician living in San Juan, Puerto Rico

 
The list of colorful guys and gals that frequented DUCKWORK’s office is peppered with talented artists that went on to creative careers. I’ve included photos of several DUCKS. It is easy to see that besides comics, we were seemingly, also influenced by the movie Animal House!
 

Danny "Hank" Lange followed his dream and actually learned to play that guitar. He recently did a sound track for an award winning film. Check Dan out here: http://www.myspace.com/buskersblues


 

The fall of 1981 brought a new landscape to PCA. Two older buildings across the street had been purchased by the school and turned into dorms. One of these dorms would quickly become a DUCKWORK annex and be dubbed the SWAMP. The SWAMP was home to new DUCKS, Matt Wagner, Mike Leeke, and Dave Johnson, three guys that each would later play a role in the accomplishments of Comico.

 

Joe Cursio was another Jr. Duck who hung out at DUCKWORK and is now living

 
DUCKWORK was populated by students that lived on campus and commuters who often crashed at the office or the SWAMP. SEPTA strikes were usually great bonding experiences for the commuters of which I was one.
 

Joe "Zig" Zigler rarely showed up with clothes on... Joe is a fun pal that we've managed to lose touch with. Joe, if you are out there, drop us a line!

 
One commuting DUCK who recently has emerged on the web-pages of CO2 Comics with his wife and former PCA alumnus, Tina Garceau, is Joe Williams who has recently posted several great flashbacks about DUCKWORK on his blog at www.willceau.com.
You can read Joe’s 5 part DUCKWORK retrospective here.
 
By the time the spring semester had ended in 1982, a total of six issues of DUCKWORK had been published.

It was the end of my junior year at PCA. Phil Lasorda’s older brother Dennis had just purchased a duplex in Norristown for his Physical Therapy practice. He had offered us the opportunity to run Comico out of the half he was not using.

It was time for this DUCK to sink or swim. I left PCA to pursue a dream. Cooch came along as well. Without its leaders DUCKWORK quicky faded away but Comico was about to become official.

When it came time to take the big leap of faith, Vince chose not to commit and Bill took his seat at the drums. Phil, Cooch and I were now the standing partners of Comico as we began to solicit our first publication.
 
Matt Wagner was a prolific contributer to DUCKWORK and continued to contribute as Comico took off. Matt’s feature Grendel first appeared in Comico Primer #2 and went on to become an iconic character in comics. Comico also published Matt’s Mage the Hero Discovered.
 

Matt Wagner, The Comic Artist Discovered.

 
Mike Leeke was significant as an artist on ROBOTECH and later went on to pencil Bill Willingham’s popular ELEMENTALS.
Mike’s contributation to CO2 Comics. The Amazing Liberteens, can be seen Here.
 

Mike Leeke, who would later become the penciler extraordinare of ROBOTECH and ELEMENTALS is just thrilled that he can hide all of his mechanical pencils and rapidograph pens in his tremendous fro!

 
Dave Johnson was also a penciler on the ROBOTECH series.
 

Dave Johnson, former denizen of the SWAMP and penciler on ROBOTECH The Next Generation for Comico.

 
Joe Williams along with his wife Tina Garceau creates Monkey and Bird which is featured here on CO2 Comics.
 

Joe Williams is now a featured artist here on CO2 Comics with his wife Tina

 
Bill and I have ironically redeveloped our webs. We’ve gone from DUCKWORK to Web Comics with a long history in between.
 

Bill "Cooch" Cucinotta reclines on a cardboard 3-D project that was retired to the hall in front of the DUCKWORK office

Ouch! Gerry Giovinco, is another Duck trapped in a world he never made!

 
NOTE: In 1984, two years after the DUCKWORK crew had disbanded at PCA, Jim Carrey makes his Hollywood debut in an NBC television series titled “The Duck Factory” about a quirky group of animators trying to keep their studio alive. Kinda makes you wonder…

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16 Responses to “The Comic Company:
Duckwork”

  1. […] I start this entry, head over to CO2 Comics’ Blog NOW and read Gerry Giovinco’s history of DUCKWORK. He fills in some of the enormous gaps left […]

  2. Joe Williams says:

    WOW! Thanks Gerry and Bill. I didn’t know these photos existed, but it’s great seeing them! Well, sort of… I could have done without the picture of me wearing my AMAZING Woman-Proof Eyeglasses! The shots of the office are amazing. I remember the junk and books piled everywhere, but I actually forgot about the painted window. I got a real nostalgia rush seeing them! Thanks for beautifully documenting a place and time!

    I do my own meager wrap-up of DUCKWORK here:
    http://willceau.com/news/?p=1450

  3. Tina Garceau says:

    My thought by looking at this post is that the photos represent perhaps the majority of heterosexual males in PCA at the time. Grim times for a straight gal.

    …and I ended up marrying the one with The Son of Sam glasses.

  4. Bill Bryan says:

    Gerry!! this is incredible!!! Wow now I remember college, I actually showed up mom, I have proof on film, its great seeing everyone.

    But seriously, I also forgot the painted window, I remember seeing from the sidewalk,
    Wasn’t that office really just a place to hang out and cut class? I never thought of that use for a mouse trap.

    Joe…now that you mention it the glasses.. man you didn’t want to miss a thing wearing them huh.
    Thanks for this, great memories!

  5. Joe Williams says:

    Bill, I think I was channeling Charles Nelson Reilly as far as the glasses.

  6. Justin Sycamore says:

    I’ve really enjoyed these posts on the history of Comico! You’re really fortunate to have taken and kept so many great photos.

    I always thought that the Dave Johnson who worked on the New Generation of Robotech was the same who’s done all the covers for 100 Bullets.

    Great Stuff!

  7. paul zdepski says:

    So great to read this! I wanted to be a Duck in the worst way… I just didn’t have the storylines. Matt Wagner tried to kick me in the ass and gave me tips, but I didn’t follow through.

    too much “Art” not enough “School”

    Great to see the photos… exactly how I remember everyone in my head.

    I ended up being a lurker in Matt’s studio on S. Broad St… skateboard and sketchbook.

    …still illustrating.
    z

  8. John "Bondo" Rondeau says:

    First of all- hey guys! Second of all-where did all my hair go? I really loved this article, it bought back so many memories. I really enjoyed the time I spent at PCA & at Duckwork. It’s great to see all of you.

    Til next time! (oh and be weary of strangers offering you t-squares)
    Bondo

  9. […] when I was in art school hanging with the DUCKWORK crowd who would eventually morph into the Comico crowd, we would compare notes about art supplies […]

  10. […] and I were also instrumental in publishing a student newspaper, DUCKWORK, at PCA and managed to appropriate the photostat print that was mounted on foamcore after the show […]

  11. […] years ago, when Bill Cucinotta and I were still hacking away with friends at our student newspaper, DUCKWORK, Matt Wagner had joined our little band of ducks. The DUCKWORK staff had that year, by proxy, […]

  12. Linda says:

    Now I can recall John Rondeau…at first on FB he looked like Joe the security guard???

    Is Cooch trying to model?

    Have you seen Bill’s profile pic on FB…he should have his own show there!

    Did Dave Johnson teach at Ohio State?

  13. […] toured the periphery of our college escapades as we published DUCKWORK at the then Philadelphia College of Art. Classmates with Matt Wagner, Mike Leeke, Dave Johnson and […]

  14. […] The Comic Company: Duckwork […]

  15. […] where I met my long time publishing partner Bill Cucinotta, we published a student newspaper, DUCKWORK , with a bunch of like-minded friends that all had an interest in comics.  We were doing our own […]

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