Posts Tagged ‘Philadelphia College of Art’

Song of the Sketchbook

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

Bill Anderson has been delighting us all with his Facebook posts of sketchbook drawings that he acquired on a convention run with the Comico gang back in 1983. You can see his wonderful collection of sketches here.

What a flashback it was not just to see work by all the great artists that are included but to see images drawn by the Comico crew that included Matt Wagner, Reggie Byers, Will Brown, Vince Argondezzi, Phil LaSorda, Bill Cucinotta, and myself, all done over thirty years ago!

I have to say that seeing those drawings and reveling in the raw energy that exists in spontaneous sketches was quite an inspiration for me to crack out my old sketchbooks, for a personal shot of nostalgia, and to crack down and start a new one.

Anyone who has ever kept a sketchbook knows that they are visual diaries that preserve not just ideas but unfettered strokes of genius that may escape from the mind of an artist through the tip of some rendering implement be it a pencil, marker, pen or brush.

Rarely is there much sense of order in a sketchbook and that is what makes them exciting. Images jump from doodles to notes to fully rendered illustrations, randomly, revealing inner secrets of the artist’s talents that can easily be lost when applied to a more finished work.

A sketchbook reveals an artists soul. The images are the lyrics to a melody that flows from a creative hand in a staccato of strokes.

I received my first sketchbook when I was just ten years-old and I still have it. In it are drawings that are far from spectacular, most lifted from old Preston Blair cartooning books. There are, however, crude drawings of my first comic strip character, Little Sailor Boy, and my first attempts at drawing superheroes that signify a starting point in the timeline of my life in comics.

I have a modest collection of sketchbooks that I have accumulated over the years. Some are from my  days at the Philadelphia College of Art, others from my years at Comico and still more from various periods in my life.

An occasional trip through them is a reminder of projects left unfinished, ideas left unrealized, and  a nostalgic look at the gestation projects that came to fuition. Exposed are moments of creative brilliance, signs of potential untapped and a beacon begging for more.  Sketchbooks can be our own biggest cheerleaders.

I wish that I had kept more sketchbooks. To my regret, however, I was a doodler and jotted ideas and drawings on everything I could find: napkins, notebooks, bond paper and post-its. I have folders stuffed with sketches and portfolios with more but sadly, many sketches ended in the abyss of the dreaded the circular file; the trash!

Somewhere there is a garbage man curating a gallery of my work because I was not as diligent about keeping a sketchbook as I should have.

So in front of me is a brand new sketchbook with a hundred blank pages of creative possibility waiting to be addressed. It’s like a garden waiting for seeds to be planted so that new projects can grow. New comics that need to be made.

I plan to share a few of them here at CO2 Comics, but not before I encourage all you creative types out there to dive into your own sketchbook, if you haven’t already, and plant a few seeds of your own. Let  your sketchbook sing your praises and encourage you to make some great art and even greater comics. When you’re done  don’t forget to share your talents with the rest of us.

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco



Goodbye CBG

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

The only newspapers that ever really mattered to comic book fans were The Daily Planet, The Daily Bugle and The Comics Buyer’s Guide. Of course, of the three only the CBG was real and now, after forty-two years and 1,699 issues, it is gone.

John Jackson Miller provides a broad perspective of the fanzine, turned, newspaper, turned magazine in this wonderfully documented blog piece, End of an era: Comics Buyer’s Guide, 1971-2013.

I was first introduced to the newspaper by my Comico and CO2 Comics publishing partner, Bill Cucinotta, in 1980. Bill worked at Fat Jack’s Comic Crypt in those days while he went to school at Philadelphia College of Art and teamed with me and the rest of the gang that published our own underground-ish, student newspaper DUCKWORK.

Then titled The Buyers Guide for Comic Fandom and generally referred to as TBG the weekly publication was a tabloid size newspaper like any weekly local paper you would find in your mailbox. The format and frequency established TBG for what it was, the voice of a community, and the periodical singlehandedly galvanized fandom into a comics community with a strong sense of identity.

Maggie & Don Thompson

Under the nurturing guidance of Don and Maggie Thompson, the newspaper was a welcoming vehicle for all to participate whether you were a fan, professional, retailer or distributor there was always a sense that all had an equal voice. To be included was to be accepted into the community.

When we began publishing as Comico, shortly before TBG changed its name to The Comics Buyers Guide or CBG it was always an exciting moment for us to see our full page ads appear in the large tabloid sized pages and to read reviews of our product even though our earliest comics received harsh criticism. We were where we wanted to be; included in the comics community!

This inclusion spread to our appearances at comic conventions across the country where we always felt welcomed due to this sense of community that was fostered by the congeniality of the Thompsons who could be found at most conventions and were happy to encourage and enlighten young, wide-eyed publishers like ourselves.

It was a sad day when Don Thompson passed away in 1994 because the comics community lost a pioneer, a friend and a mentor. A similar feeling of loss is being experienced now as CBG fades into history, a victim of modern technology and an ever changing market. The comic community communicates differently now, through social networks, blogs, podcasts and video but we cannot change our heritage that defined itself in the pages of a once glorious yet simple newspaper.

Bill and I want to express a heartfelt thank you and extend our most sincere well wishes to the staff and contributors of CBG especially Maggie Thompson as she continues to blog on her website and takes on a new role blogging for Comic Con International’s new Toucan blog.

R.I.P. CBG and thanks for the memories.

Gerry Giovinco

2013 Could be a Magical Year

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

It’s New Year’s Day 2013 and a lot of people are out there working on their New Year’s resolutions. Personally, when I hear the word resolution all I think of is dpi. (dots per inch for those of you who don’t dabble in pixels) I do, however, look at the New Year as a fresh slate and I make every effort to jump in, feet first, with a positive attitude and lots of ambition which uses up enough energy to have me exhausted by the end of week one.

This year, of course, has everyone staring down that infamous number “13″ as their triskaidekaphobia sets in, but after surviving the end of the world as predicted by the Mayan calendar, what do we have to worry about?

In truth the number 13, though widely considered unlucky, has a long history of mystical powers supported by astrological and geometric significance.

If you would enjoy having your eyes burned out of your head by green type on a black page you can read an otherwise fascinating and informative web page about the sacred powers of the number 13 as it refers to the Holy Grail on the site The Vessel of God. www.thevesselofgod.com/thirteen

The number 13 has worked for me over the years. My mother and daughter were both born on the 13th, my daughter actually on Friday the 13th!

The number 13 has also had a significant impact on CO2 Comics. I’ve written often about DUCKWORK the newspaper that Bill Cucinotta and I published while in college at the Philadelphia College of Art in 1980-1982. This is where we first became involved with Matt Wagner, Mike Leeke, Joe Williams, Tina Garcaeu, Joe Matt, and Dave Johnson, all Comico and/or CO2 Comics collaborators.

DUCKWORK had an office, a lowly, tiny room that we had, literally, abducted from the security guards who had previously used it as a locker room. The DUCKWORK office sat on the south side of the ARCO Building on the corner of Broad and Spruce and was on the 13th floor! Those of you that have been in high-rise buildings know that, for superstitious reasons, most buildings do not have a 13th floor. This made our scrawny, little DUCKWORK office all the more magical and exciting place to be every day.  To compound the mystique, the entire floor had been abandoned, relegated merely for storage, only two rooms saw human involvement, our office and the new security locker room. We were in No Man’s Land and we loved it!

Duckwork Covers 1-6

The elevator ride to the office was usually a hectic and congested adventure which I personally avoided each morning by using the stairs. My trek up each of those thirteen flights was compounded by the thirteen city blocks I would walk after being dropped off by my neighbor’s father, who worked near the Franklin Institute. I counted each flight with labored breath, diligently anticipating the last step leading to door that opened to the 13th floor! Needless to say, going down was a lot easier!

Life on the 13th floor with the DUCKWORK crowd was the highlight of my college career that led to many comics publishing experiences and a lifelong friendship with Bill Cucinotta, my partner here at CO2 Comics.

Yup! The number 13 works for me and I am looking forward to a great 2013. I hope you are too!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Gerry Giovinco

Free Comic Book in My Mailbox!

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

I am always amazed at the quantity and quality of the junk mail that arrives in the form of catalogs via the United States Postal Service nearly each and every day. Printed in full color on glossy stock, perfectly bound and usually fairly thick containing, sometimes, hundreds of pages of content. I have one that just came from Dover Saddlery (yes, we have horses) that contains 352 pages!

Why couldn’t some of these be comic books or contain comics in them? You can bet that I would spend more time hunting through them if I knew I would find a comic feature that I could grow attached to.

The Superhero Catalogue with SNYDERMAN , art by Joe Kubert

Back in the late seventies there was The Superhero Catalogue published by Superhero Enterprises featuring the character Snyderman drawn by the legendary Joe Kubert.  The whole catalog was laid out like a comic book and sold every available superhero merchandise imagineable.  I went nuts every time I got one in the mail!

Read the Jordan Marsh catalog by Gerry Giovinco and Mitch O'Connell

Back in the eighties Comico produced a fashion catalog for Jordan Marsh that was packaged in the form of a comic book. The catalog, illustrated by Mitch O’Connell and scripted by me, actually won awards from Advertising Age Magazine as a direct mail promotion.

The Disney Catalog for a brief time inserted previews of the W.I.T.C.H. comic that was packaged similar to popular manga. You know I looked for that when it came for my kids. I always wondered why more catalogs didn’t do the same, especially now with the popularity of comic heroes in all forms of media.

To my surprise a catalog doing its best to mimic the idioms that define comic books recently showed up in my mailbox, sent by the most unlikely source, UMBC, an Honor University in Maryland.

Click here to view the UMBC Catalog

My son, who is a senior in high school with great academic standings has attracted the attention of the admission boards of many colleges who now flood our mailbox daily with richly produced catalogues, most of which feature beautiful pictures of sprawling campuses, active student lifestyles and, of course, esteemed learning environments which is to say that they all look the same.

UMBC, regarded by CBS 60 Minutes as one of the most innovative schools in the country, proved their ability to step outside the box by sending my son an admissions catalog cleverly disguised as a comic book. It was trimmed to comic book size with thirty two pages, chock full of panels and text boxes, and, though there was not a single word bubble with a pointy little tail, a very stylish Anime font was used throughout. The covers featured students striking heroic poses, one even wearing a mask, posturing to the prevalent  theme of Change the World.”

My immediate reaction as a comic art enthusiast was of pure amazement that an institution of higher education would embrace comic books to attract students. I remember a time when even kindergarden teachers scorned comics as fodder for the ignorant and uneducated. Hell, Mitt Romney probably believes that comic books are all that 47% of Americans are capable or willing to read. Why not? Obama reads them!

Neil Gaiman Addresses the University of the Arts Class of 2012 from The University of the Arts (Phl) on Vimeo.

But times are changing. Comics do get much more respect these days, especially since the advent of the graphic novel. Even University of the Arts, a school that scorned comics when Bill Cucinotta and I attended back when it was the Philadelphia College of Art, has a new attitude towards comics They must!  They had Neil Gaimen, celebrated comic author of Sandman and Coraline, deliver the Keynote Address at their 2012 graduation ceremony! He  was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts along with another comic creator, Philadelphia Inquirer editorial cartoonist Tony Auth.

UMBC Marketing Director, Erika Ferrin, explained that this edition of the admissions catalog which they refer to as a viewbook, was part of an ongoing Heroes campaign that has been very successful for the university.

Inspired by the popularity of Harry Potter, Twilight and superhero films with the teen market, Ferrin chose to focus on the heroic attributes of those characters when marketing to graduating high school students. She realized that students that came to UMBC had unique intellectual and creative abilities that, when honed at the university, allowed them to realize their potential of heroically impacting the world.

Erica worked with in-house designers Erin Ouslander and Jim Lord to develop the visuals for the campaign of which the viewbook evolved from. The end result is a beautifully packaged presentation printed on very heavy stock, intelligently designed and very respectful of the comics medium which they took great pains to research while developing the graphics which were all rendered from the ground up without using a comic or manga template program. The catalog has enjoyed a distribution of upwards to 50,000 copies most of which were delivered by mail.

This type of innovation is what makes UMBC a leader in education. It’s the type of innovation that the comics industry needs to employ to expand the marketplace. I know I’d like to see more comic books in my mailbox. How about you?

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco

Ready to Launch!

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Paul Zdepski makes a big point to regularly mention that he was born during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Can you imagine coming into a world during a fleeting moment of international distress instigated by impending Armageddon?! Paul’s first experience with raw emotion was the collective anxiety of the entire world! Thankfully for us Paul has channeled that empathy through his comics and illustrations where he is able to focus on the distinct reactions that his characters have when faced with the challenges of life whether they be unusual or mundane.

Emulating that threat to our national defense Paul Zdepski has managed to fly under the radar of Bill Cucinotta and myself, hovering on the edge of our social and professional careers for over thirty years, waiting for the opportune moment to strike with his unique brand of creative genius.

Paul 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 Joe Matt, he held a pass to our social network that also included me, Bill, Joe Williams and Tina Garceau all would eventually have an impact on either  Comico and CO2 Comics or both.

During the heyday of Comico one of the most vibrant studios that produced work for us was Philadelphia based Bain Sidhe Studios, the creative realm where Matt Wagner, Bill Willingham, Rich Rankin, Joe Matt and Bill Cucinotta along with others, generated works for Comico, DC and Marvel. Paul was a welcomed guest in that circle as evidenced by the Comico swag he posts on his own blog.

When Bill and I began resurrecting our comic careers with CO2 Comics, Paul was one of our earliest followers, commenting on posts and chiming in on facebook pages. Now down in the Washington DC area Paul is a member of a productive group of indy comic creators called DC Conspiracy. A quick visit to his website will show what a busy and accomplished illustrator and educator Paul is.

The missile finally hit home when Paul announced that his mini comic SING-SING was awarded best Mini Comic/Short Story category of the year by S.P.A.C.E. Now in it’s 13th year, S.P.A.C.E. is the midwest’s largest exhibition of small press and creator owned comics. Sponsored by Back Porch Comics, the show’s held in Columbus,Ohio. This years presentation of S.P.A.C.E. will be held April 21 and 22.

Bill and I have always taken pride in our ability to spot and cultivate talented comic creators but somehow Paul managed to stealthily remain undetected while being in our own back yard the whole time. Now, much more than a blip on our screen, we are hoping the Paul Zdepksi will become a popular regular contributor to CO2 Comics, starting today with our proud presentation of his award winning mini comic SING SING!

Celebrating Thirty Years of Comics History!

Gerry Giovinco


Adventures in Airbrushing

Monday, March 5th, 2012

I always considered myself a techie kind of guy in that I enjoy a good gadget as much as anyone.  When it came to art supplies nothing was more of a gadget than an airbrush to a high school kid back in 1979. I was proud of my dual action Badger and 15 psi compressor and the unique effects I could get while illustrating an image.

Illustrating with an airbrush was much more messy than generating images with Photoshop or Illustrator. A good airbrush was not much more than a sophisticated can of spray paint.  A pen shaped sprayer with a cup of paint attached, connected by a long hose to a small compressor pumping out air. Sure, you could control the flow of air and paint to make lines as fine as a pencil or as broad as you wanted but spraying paint required a lot of planning  and preparation. Mistakes could not easily be deleted as they can be while working with today’s sophisticated computer programs.

Illustrating with an airbrush usually required a lot of masking tape, frisket and a spray booth to prevent overspray from ruining everything else in the room. Getting sprayed paint on yourself was a no-brainer and the plan was usually to dress down and prepare to get dirty.

Ron Dorfman

When I was a freshman at the Philadelphia College of Art (Now UArts) my 2D Design instructor Ron Dorfman told the most amazing airbrush story. I could never embellish it as well as he did but I’m sure going to try.

During a class on airbrushing Mr. Dorfman was explaining how we needed to be careful about breathing in the atomized overspray from the airbrush. He suggested that we invest in a respirator or at least a filter mask to prevent inhalation of potentially dangerous pigments and fumes.

He said one time, after working on a project, he blew his nose and panicked when he appeared to be hemorrhaging blood from his nose. The blood turned out to be red pigment that he had been spraying and inhaled. The experience sent him searching for something to protect himself.

He came across the type of face mask that doctors use and realized that doctor’s scrubs would make a great coverall to wear over his good clothes to protect them while he worked with his airbrush. On tight deadlines he could just take off the coverall and zip over to his client without having to waste time getting changed to look presentable. It was a great system that worked wonderfully.

Now the story turns into a script out of Desperate Housewives. Mr. Dorfman, as a freelance illustrator had the luxury of working out of his home, and being one of the only men in his neighborhood to be home during the day, it was common knowledge that he was available to be called on for assistance should his help be needed.

One day while finishing a job, his scrubs  covered once again with red spatter from his airbrush and his mask firmly in place on his face, Mr. Dorfman hears the doorbell ring and moves to answer it with airbrush in hand. At the door is a startled neighborhood woman whose garage door was stuck. She apologetically declines his assistance however because she realizes that the scrub clad man covered apparently with blood and holding some sort of vacuum tube in front of her  has a much more pressing priority and quickly flees his doorstep, leaving Mr. Dorfman perplexed  as he returns to his illustration.

Days later, Mr. Dorfman is out at the local grocery store where he has the unusual feeling that people are staring at him. The tension continues to mount when a familiar lady from town confronts him and asks if it’s true that he performs ABORTIONS out of his house!

Floored by his new reputation Mr. Dorfman could only proceed to the check out  preoccupied with thoughts of damage control. Can you imagine if that would have been Rick Santorum campaigning at his door that day, OMG!

There always seemed to be something adventurous about an old school studio, messy tools, thick chemical odors, a visual texture and an air of mastery that was individual to each creator wether they made comics, illustrations, fine paintings or sculptures. The digital age of art has sterilized many a studio and though the output may be equally or even more amazing it is never the same experience for a creator who has cut their teeth by rolling up their sleeves and getting dirty.

Thanks for the memories Ron Dorfman and thanks for letting me share yours.

Celebrating Thirty Years of Comics History!

Gerry Giovinco


Halloween Treat

Monday, October 24th, 2011

Since this is my last blog before Halloween I thought it would be fun to take a jaunt down the old, haunted Memory Lane starting with an illustration I did of a baby Bela Lugosi for a project as a student at the Philadelphia College of Art.

Thirty 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, become the Arts Council of the college and it became our job to coordinate the 1981 Annual PCA Halloween Ball.

Matt accepted the responsibility of designing the poster for the event which we screen printed with black ink on white paper and added a touch of red by hand. The original prints were roughly 14×18 inches and were posted around campus for all to see.

I came across the preliminary sketches that Matt had made in one of my sketchbooks, and since I am lucky enough to have the poster as well I thought it would be a nice Halloween treat to share.

The following October, DUCKWORK would be gone, but as Comico, Bill and I, along with partners Phil and Dennis LaSorda would publish our first comic book, Comico Primer #1. Matt Wagner would introduce his popular Grendel character in issue #2 and the rest is history.

Time sure flies when your making comics. Three decades later we’re still at it, bringing our readers great comics right here on the internet with CO2 Comics. We do sure miss the smell of paper though so stay tuned for another treat that will be announced sooooooooooooooooooon!

OH, and have a Happy Halloween!

Making Comics Because I Want To

Gerry Giovinco


Mini Comics to the Packaging Revolution

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Monkey & Bird…a Love Story by Joe Williams and Tina Garceau is AVAILABLE NOW!!!

The highlight of my week was receiving a copy of Joe Williams and Tina Garceau’s printed mini comic, Monkey and Bird, in the mail. Snail mail, that is.

Back in August we featured a couple of posts by Señor Williams that outlined his experience personally  making the mini comic. He peppered his posts with so many juicy details that almost anyone could go out and make one themselves.

I’ve known Joe and his lovely wife Tina for years, we go all the way back to our college days at PCA and I am well aware of both of their incredible attention to detail and quality not to mention their brilliance as designers yet I still did not expect to be so taken by what a gem their mini comic turned out to be.

Holding Monkey and Bird in my hand as a mini comic was a defining moment for me especially after having published it as a web comic here at CO2 Comics for the last two years. Maybe my reaction is a reflection of my long history of publishing on paper or just evidence of a generational  preference for things printed on paper, but I liked it. A lot!

The web affords us comic creators so many options to be able to present our labors of love to a potentially vast audience with minimal expenses compared to the printed product. Everything about making comics for the internet is so much more convenient and spontaneous that it has given us the opportunity as creators and readers to be able to witness the biggest creative explosion of the medium in its history. All those virtues, however, in my jaded eyes, do not supersede the experience of reading comics in print. I will always have a warm place in my heart for the tangible paper package.

mathmanauts

Mimeograph machine

It has always been clear to me that a comic is never complete until it is in front of an audience. The reader’s experience is a much a part of the final execution of the comic  as any step taken in the creative process along the way. Because I have always felt so strongly about this I began publishing my own comics almost as early as I began creating them. My first published comics were printed on a mimeograph machine. My audience had as much fun smelling them as they did reading them. I slowly graduated to photocopiers and small offset presses before finally dealing with  large, commercial, four-color presses to make Comico comics.

Comico Covers

As I sit here holding Joe and Tina’s  32 page (including covers),  full color, 4 x 5.5 inch, landscaped pamphlet that  is hand folded and saddle stitched with a good old-fashioned Swingline stapler I can’t imagine what my comic producing  experience would have been like if I would have had these production capabilities available to me back in the seventies. I would have traded tracing mimeo stencils and hand cranking purple inked copies for full-color pages spat out of an ink jet or laser printer in a heartbeat!

I did not have an opportunity to go to SPX this weekend but my fond memories of past shows include my amazement of the array of unique and creative packaging techniques that are always displayed. Monkey and Bird would have fit right in! Today’s community of independent comic artists and publishers take full advantage of the technology available to make comics that deliver an experience well beyond panel-to-panel sequential art.

Many people are pondering what is to become of the familiar pamphlet style comic that has been a fixture in the industry for over seventy years. Most believe that digital content will force it into extinction in the not too distant future, watching the sun set on a beloved package.

When I look at my little copy of Monkey and Bird, or think about what I witness at shows like SPXAPE, MOCCA, PACC and Stumptown, I see a different horizon, the shimmering rays of a new day cast by the lights of endless creative opportunity that will offer comics in print and digitally in infinite shapes and sizes. Each format, unique to its creator and not limited by the constraints of a few publishers or a single distributor.

I remember the first glimpse I ever had of this expanding possibility. In 1980 I was mesmerized by the first issue of Francoise Mouly and Art Spiegelman‘s anthology comic magazine RAW. The full color view out the window of a man committing suicide had been pasted on to the black and white cover of the tabloid sized periodical publication that featured an insane amount of groundbreaking comic art between its pages. The simple collage of the cover alone was enough to have numbed my creative mind for decades, especially in regards to packaging.

RAW

That, to me, was the beginning. Now, the art of making comics has firmly expanded from mastery of designing a page to the mastery of designing the whole package wether in print, on the web, or digitally for a specific device. The day where packaging that requires an entire production team is passing. The comic artist, if they choose, now has the ability to have complete control over the reading experience of the audience if they want it.

As a publisher, like CO2 Comics, today’s technology gives us the opportunity to open new doors of creative discussion with the artists that makes making comics more exciting than ever before. We plan to enjoy every minute of it!

Making Comics Because I Want To

Gerry Giovinco


Get Down America!

Monday, August 15th, 2011

Howard The Duck button

Waaaaagh!!! What can I say? Ever since I first laid eyes on a Howard the Duck comic book I was smitten with ducks. I’m not sure why, but I think that what Steve Gerber did with the character opened my eyes to what could be done with comics beyond superheroes. It helped a lot that some of my favorite artists had drawn the character. Val Mayerick, Frank Brunner, Gene Colan, Sal Buscema and Michael Golden always left me wanting more and the iconic image by Bernie Wrightson on that campaign pin just sealed the deal!

howard wearing pants

Later when Gerber launched his creator’s rights battle with Marvel and when Disney challenged Marvel over trademark infringement, causing Howard to be forced to wear pants so as not to look like Donald Duck, Howard the Duck and ducks in general became a symbol to me of some sort of rebellious, creative attitude.

When I was in high school at Bishop Kenrick where I first met Phil Lasorda and Vince Argondezzi, my original partners in Comico the Comic Company, it was tradition to use acronyms to represent our party when we ran for office. When I ran for school president, the name of my party was, of course, D.U.C.K., Demonstrating Unity in the Community of Kenrick. I copied that Wrightson pin and made it school colors of green and gold. I even had a  mascot that crashed a student assembly in a duck costume! I lost… but the power of the duck stuck with me.

My fancy for ducks followed me to the Philadelphia College of Art now called University of the Arts where it did not take me long to establish a group of rogue comic artists called Ducks that strove to publish a small newspaper called DUCKWORK.  The thinly veiled connection to the school was a central courtyard that had two Peking Ducks inhabiting it and a bag lady that “quacked” as she walked in the area by our school earning her the name Duck Lady.

I wrote about  DUCKWORK In a previous blog and in an effort not to be redundant I invite you to check it out for the full scoop here.

Duck SuspenseStories

It dawns on me now that those six issues of DUCKWORK probably have some redeeming collectible value for their role as a precursor to the founding and publishing of Comico comics , CO2 Comics and for representing some of the earliest published works of the widely acclaimed Matt Wagner which can be seen here shown for historical purposes, of course.

Duck Throat

Duck Wish

Raiders Of The Lost Duck

Rollerduck

This peek at the credits and a dedication to Wally Wood who had passed away just prior to that particular issues publication in 1981 shows our devotion comics and  to the comic legend.

Duckwork dedication to Wally Wood

It also offers evidence of our lousy typewriter and some Ducks that went pro, Myself, Bill Cucinotta former Comico Partner and partner here at CO2 Comics, Dave Johnson of ROBOTECH  fame, Matt Wagner, Joe Williams CO2 Comics contributor and missing, somehow, is another ROBOTECH  vet and ELEMENTALS penciller, Mike Leeke.

Punk Duck 1

Ducks were infectious too. Not only did the DUCKWORK crew quickly assimilate to drawing the feathered fowl, I  recently discovered this incredible project by Martha Erlebacher, an anatomy teacher at PCA when we were students there.

Could it be remotely possible that our parodies of Botticelli’s Birth of Venus

Hatch of Venus

and Marcell Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase published in DUCKWORK somehow influenced one of our world class teachers? We may never know the answer to that but I think CO2 Comics contributer and another former ROBOTECH  vet, Reggie Buyers was tipping his hand when he sent me this fax of Jam Quacky in 1991.

Jam Quacky

Jam Quacky #1

Outside of DUCKWORK I had a propensity to parody superheroes as ducks and could often be found at comic conventions drawing Bat Duck, Spider-Duck, Silver Surf Duck, X-Ducks, Red Sonduck, you name it. The ducks were my gimmick, I guess, and littered my sketchbooks. They certainly helped me attract attention in those early days and develop lasting relationships with talented comic artists that helped to build Comico and CO2 Comics.

Bat Duck

Silver Surf Duck

Sonja Duck

I still love drawing those ducks so don’t be surprised if you start seeing them pop up here at CO2 Comics or on ebay. Hey, commissions aren’t out of the question either! If you have a passion to see your favorite character parodied as a duck just drop me a line at gerry@co2comics.com.

Making Comics Because I Want To  “QUACK!

Gerry Giovinco


Encouraging Comics – A Sketch in Time

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

PCA now UARTS

My freshman year at the Philadelphia College of Art in 1979 was a bit of a surprise. It was the first time that I had experienced the artistic predjudice towards comics. The common notion expressed by my teachers was that I would be broken from my barbaric attraction to this bastard of a medium.

It became clear to me that I would have to develop my own curriculum to assist me in my goal of becoming a comics artist. Though my major was Illustration, I filled my electives with courses that would aid me in my quest. Animation, calligraphy, creative writing, graphics and photography rounded out my schedule.

My extracurricular activities proved to be an even greater asset as I explored publishing through the devlopment of a freshman yearbook and a student newspaper, both of which I had orchestrated to help the Arts Council strengthen the sense of community in the school. My commitment to the yearbook only survived one publication but the evolution of the newspaper into DUCKWORK, a publication that was very focused on comics, further whet my appetite for publishing comic books.

Duckwork #2 Cover by Gerry Giovinco inked by Bill Anderson

This would all transpire after my initial indoctrination to the world of art college a place that, given the quality of my work compared to my peers, I had no place being.

At PCA all freshman had to endure classes that were appropriately described as Foundation. The three classes were Drawing, 2-D Design, and 3-D Design each intended to establish a quality and understanding of fundamental skills necessary for successful mastery of the static arts. Knowing that my skills were inferior at the time became an asset. I was never one to second guess the teacher or to argue a scathing critique. I took it on the chin and learned the hard way.

Drawing was the class that I struggled with the most, especially when it came to figures. Everything I drew looked like bad comic book art. My teacher was a printmaking professor named Jerome Kaplan who did his best to teach me the finer skills of rendering. Maybe it was the extra attention I needed or the effort that he saw me put in to my work but somehow he began to relate to me on a more personal level and he learned about my desire to make comics.

Jerry Kaplan by Gerry Giovinco

Mr. Kaplan was well aware that an interest in comics was frowned upon in a prestigious school like PCA yet he had great sympathy for my desires because his brother-in-law was none other than Arnold Roth who had been a student at PCA in the late 1940′s then called the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art. Mr. Kaplan would tell me stories of how Arnold had his own issues with the institution over his preoccupation with cartoons and jazz.

Arnold Roth

Arnold Roth of course is a prolific illustrator cartoonist that has a list of awards a mile long including a National Cartoonist Society run as the Best Illustrator Cartoonist that he won each year from 1978 till he withdrew from competition in 1990 so somebody else could have a chance!

One day Mr. Kaplan came to class with a new Arnold Roth story. At a family gathering he had a discussion with Arnold about an impressionable kid in his class that wanted to draw comics and the esteemed Mr. Roth pulled out a felt tip and sketched a gag on a piece of bond paper for the lucky fool who was, of course, me.

The cartoon of Michelangelo picking his own nose is a priceless piece of spontaneity drawn by a true master of comic art that I will always treasure. It will perpetually be a reminder of the support and encouragement I received from Jerry Kaplan who, unfortunately is no longer with us but understood the magic that could be found in incredible comics.

The next year after I had been given that wonderful drawing, Arnold Roth had a one man show at PCA and for me it was a moral victory to see a cartoonist’s work displayed so reverently at my school. His show validated the aesthetic acceptance of comics that would continue to grow to this day. I am eternally grateful for Arnold Roth’s role in that acceptance and for that felt tip sketch that still hangs by my desk.

I will never forget, however, the twinkle in the eye of my drawing teacher the day he gave me that sketch. He knew that the precious gift he delivered was not made of paper and ink or even the raw talents of Arnold Roth. It was made of 100% inspiration that came entirely from the encouragement that he had personally given to me.

Thank you, Jerome Kaplan, for being the encouraging soul toward young talent that we should all be as artists.

Making Comics Because I Want to.

Gerry Giovinco


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