Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Catching up with Chris Sparks on Team Cul de Sac

by Mike Rhode

Team Cul de Sac was formed by my friend Chris Sparks to raise money for the Michael J. Fox Foundation's Team Fox charity for Parkinson's Disease research. Chris did this in response to our friend Richard Thompson's fight with and death due to the disease. Ten years ago this month Chris walked into a panel at Heroes Con in Charlotte, NC, and said "Who are you?" to Richard who was speaking about his comic strip Cul de Sac. It was something like love at first sight, at least on Chris' part, and when Richard was diagnosed, Chris turned his formidable attention to raising money for a cure (and you can donated at any time by clicking one of the links).

I talked with Chris after this year's Heroes Con put his fundraising at a new height when a sketch in a book by Bill Watterson sold for $11,000.

MR: How did Team Cul de Sac get started?

CS: I was fortunate enough to meet Richard Thompson (and Mike Rhode) at the 2008 Heroes Con, and then in 2009, Richard was diagnosed with Parkinson's. In 2010, I came up with the plan of making Team Cul de Sac through the Michael J. Fox Foundation's fund-raising arm, Team Fox. In 2011, we had the first Drink & Draw at Heroes Con for Team Cul de Sac (TCDS) and this was the eight anniversary of the Drink & Draw.

MR: The D&D started with cartoonists sitting around doing sketches and drinking beer, but it's gotten bigger than that, right?

CS: Mainly it's using blank coasters where they can sketch or 5x7" pieces of paper that they can draw on. We have it set up that it's between $5 and $50 for these little drawings. From there, we ask donations of larger pieces so we can auction them off for $200, 300, 500 at the larger Heroes Con art auction the following night. We've also had some live-painting events at a the D&D too.

MR: So when Richard was alive, he finally agreed to let people draw his characters to culminate in an auction and a book...

CS: The book is called Team Cul de Sac and that was released in June of 2012 after two years of wrangling cartoonists... like cats.

MR: And one of those was Bill Watterson who came out of retirement...

CS: Yes, Lee Salem asked big name cartoonists if they'd be interested, and he asked Garry Trudeau, Bill Watterson, Cathy Guisewite and Jim Davis. It was a big surprise when Bill donated an oil painting of Richard's Petey Otterloop.

MR: This past weekend's auction had another piece of art by Bill Watterson for TCDS, which I guess the third time he's done something for the charity?

Seth Peagler, who helps set up the Drink and Draw, Shelton Drum & Chris Sparks

CS: Well, it's more than that. Artwise, he did the painting, then three ghosted strips for Pearls Before Swine, then signed books for us to sell. He signed The Art of Richard Thompson, the catalog from his Ohio State University's Billy Ireland exhibit, and five softcover sets of the Complete Calvin & Hobbes as well as some posters.

This last donation was a sketch of Calvin and Hobbes in a wagon inscribed for Team Cul de Sac and that is one of maybe only two sketches that he's done for the public since retiring the strip. As he's said, "it's very rare." The drawing was 2 inches x 2 inches in a copy of The Complete Calvin & Hobbes.

We were trying to get more bidders involved so we did proxy bids to me until 8 pm on Saturday night (June 16th), and we also did an online aspect via Facebook. It was something that Heroes Con had never tried to do before so we were working the bugs out of that. We had the live auction on Saturday night at 9 pm. Heroes Con organizer Shelton Drum to help fund the show but made an exception for the auction of the Calvin piece. It went quite well. We had proxy bids up over $5000 before we started, and then as the bidding started we had two dueling bidders and it ended up selling for $11,000.

MR: And it sold to Tony Harris, the comic book artist?

CS: Yes, he and his son have a strong personal connection over reading C&H when his son was younger. When Tony saw the piece, he said, "That's going to be mine. We're going to go home with that." And he did. I'm very excited for Tony because he's a real fan of the strip and to me that makes it more special when a fan won it.

Shelton Drum, Tony Harris, and Mr. Harris' son
MR: You've mentioned in the past that you and Richard had sent a goal for TCDS fundraising of a quarter of a million dollars...

CS: The real truth of that is that I was swapping emails with Michael Cavna of The Washington Post when I first started the project and Richard and I had talked about how much money we could raise. I was very happy with $25,000 as a goal, but when I was writing back to Mr. Cavna, I put $250,000 and that's what he published. Richard and I had a good laugh about that. By mistake, I added one zero in an email I didn't check, and went from $25,000 to $250,000.

This weekend, before the D&D we had around $241,000. The D&D brought in about $5100 so we were about $4000 away. We broke the goal!

MR: So what's next for TCDS? Are you going to keep doing this every year, or do you think it's run its course?

CS: I don't think it's run its course for two reasons. Over the past ten years now, I've met so many people with Parkinson's and this is one event they really enjoy coming to. And the Heroes family has been such a part of this, and we have such a big draw now. It went from being in a little pizza place across from the convention center with five or six tables to now filling up the Westin Hotel ballroom with hundreds of people. It's a great camaraderie and it's great for fans at the show because it's a lot of art that they can afford, that's not $1,000 or $10,000 per piece. They have a good time and feel good about donating to a good cause. And one of the best parts about Team Fox is that every penny we raise goes to research. Very few charities can do that, and it's very important to me to know that the money's going to research.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Evan Keeling featured on Smithsonian site

Mark Wheatley's new book is just about out

I saw Mark Wheatley at the Ralph Steadman exhibit opening and he confirmed that Doctor Cthulittle, his new book as featured in Scoop recently, is about to begin shipping its limited Kickstarted edition. He wrote in,

My DOCTOR CTHULITTLE book is complete and I'll have copies from the printer in one week. Currently it is being solicited through PREVIEWS (item code JUN181840) - the PREVIEWS ONLINE link is

We are selling copies through the online store now and will be shipping starting next week: https://doctorcthulittle.com

This is a fully painted, hardback book at 64 pages plus painted endpapers and a special signing plate, signed by both creators, limited to 1000 copies. So that makes this really 69 pages of all original material.It is amazing to think that I have six years of my creative time invested in this book, and the moment of truth is at hand!

The interview in Scoop was really quite complete. About the only thing I can add is that Mark told me that there are two physical paintings done for the book, but all the rest is digital. I'm going to see if I can tell when I read the e-book he's sent over to me. Mark is hoping to bring a trade edition out with a publisher, because there's only a small number of the special edition for sale now.

Politico talks to Rob Rogers' money-losing former publisher

'He's just become too angry': Pittsburgh Post-Gazette publisher defends firing cartoonist


June 21: Library of Congress Swann Fellow's Lecture on U.S.-Mexican War "Villains to be Vanquished"

Art historian and current Swann Fellow Erika Pazian will discuss her research on imagery of the U.S. – Mexican War, --specifically how each side portrayed the other.

Her talk "Villains to be Vanquished: Envisioning the Enemy in the U.S. Mexican War, 1846-1848," will be at noon, June 21, in the West Dining Room, 6th floor, Madison Building, Library of Congress.

My photographs of the opening of the Ralph Steadman exhibit at the Katzen Museum

These are unedited, and with a generic caption, but will give a sense of the scale and scope of the excellent exhibit. Some were taken the following day when I could actually see and appreciate the art.

Bruce Guthrie's Ralph Steadman's exhibit photographs

Bruce tells me his pictures of the opening of the Steadman exhibit last Saturday are online now.

The talk:

Ralph's exhibit (Note: I photographed most of his pieces but not all of them.  I need to go back when the crowd is smaller.):

The opening evening folks (everything of people except the formal presentation):

Comic Riffs on Incredible 2's director

Friday, June 15, 2018

Ann Telnaes on Rob Rogers' firing

An American editorial cartoonist has been fired for skewering Trump. He likely won't be the last.

Washington Post June 15 2018

NPR's Monkey See on Incredibles 2

Tomorrow: Ralph Steadman Exhibit Opening Weekend at the AU Museum!

American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center

Summer Opening Reception  June 16, 6 - 9 PM
free and open to the public
Mix and mingle with fellow museum patrons and meet the artists and curators behind the four new Summer exhibitions: Ralph Steadman: A Retrospective, Latitude: The Washington Women's Arts Center, FIGURES: Kiley Ames, Janice Nowinski, Kyle Staver, Jo Weiss, and Things Unseen: The Fluency of Abstraction
on view tomorrow through August 12

Join the waitlist for information about the Gallery Talk with Ralph Steadman here. Come at 4:30 to watch the talk from an overflow seating area, and sign up for the chance at an open seat. If you can't make it, watch the livestream from our Facebook page

Images (from top left):

Ralph Steadman, Hunter S Thompson 1937-2005, 2005Courtesy Ralph Steadman Art Collection.
Adrienne Gaither, Drift No. 2, 2018. Courtesy of the artist. 
Jo WeissYellow Pushback, 2018Courtesy of the artist. 
Carol Summar, Origins of Language I,1979 (detail). Courtesy of the artist. 

Mark Wheatley interviews on upcoming steampunk book

The Post on Incredibles 2

Witty and visually stunning, 'Incredibles 2' is totally worth the long wait [in print as After 14 years, a family's heroic return].

'Incredibles 2' and the power of parenting [in print as All too powerful? 'Incredibles 2' puts its heroes to task].

Express June 15 2018, p. 28
online at https://www.washingtonpost.com/express/wp/2018/06/15/incredibles-2-and-the-power-of-parenting/

Comic Riffs on Stan Lee's difficult endgame

Stan Lee's alleged elder-abuse and money issues have grown. Here's how we got to this point.

Washington Post Comic Riffs blog June 14 2018

Comic Riffs on the firing of Pittsburgh editorial cartoonist Rob Rogers

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette fires anti-Trump cartoonist, and mayor says it sends 'wrong message about press freedoms'

One of Rob Rogers's finished cartoons that were recently killed by his Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editors. (Rob Rogers / Andrews McMeel 2018)

Thursday, June 14, 2018

July 2: Cuddles & Rage at Hooray for Books

A Sweet Story Time with Liz and Jimmy Reed
Saturday, July 28: 1 pm
Husband and wife duo extraordinaire, Liz and Jimmy Reed, bring their new book for a special story time, Sweet Success. Fans of Terry Border and Drew Daywalt will devour this punny and clay-ful picture book

Recommended for readers ages 3 and up.

Hooray for Books!® | 1555 King St • Alexandria, VA 22314 | 703.548.4092

Unable to make it to an event? You still can get a signed and personalized copy of the featured book! Give us a call at 703-548-4092 or email order@hooray4books.com at least three days before the event.

Wonder Woman 2 also to film in Alexandria

Ted White editorial in Falls Church News-Press

Shortly after he had a letter appear in The Post, retired comic book writer/editor Ted White has a substantial anti-gun editorial in his local newspaper.

Guest Commentary: On School Shootings, Falls Church & the Past

By Ted White

RVA Magazine profiles Richmond-based comic book

Sink/Swim Press Releases Third Issue of Post-Apocalyptic Comic, The Savage Lyrics


David Apatoff's Saturday Evening Post columns

New Capitals caricature lands in The Palm in DC

Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis lands another D.C. prize

Washington Post June 14 2018 p. C2
online at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/reliable-source/wp/2018/06/13/washington-capitals-owner-ted-leonsis-lands-another-d-c-prize/

The caricaturist is Al Evcimen.

The Post on local Wonder Woman 2 filming