Wonderful World of Comics! By Donnie Pitchford, Cartoonist

Panola College to host Wonderful World of Comics

By Cartoonist Donnie Pitchford

The M.P. Baker Library of Panola College will host an exhibit of cartoons, illustrations, and associated artwork by Donnie Pitchford from March 19, 2019 to April 18, 2019 in the Fay Allison Gallery. An opening reception for the exhibit will be held on Wednesday, March 20, 2019 at 2 p.m.

Mr. Pitchford holds a B.F.A in Art Education from Stephen F. Austin State University and a M.A. in Art, Journalism, and Music from the University of Texas at Tyler. Since earning his degrees Mr. Pitchford has worked in graphic arts, as an instructor for Hawkins High School and Carthage ISD, and as an adjunct professor for Panola College. Most recently he has worked as a freelancer for a variety of publications and art projects including serving as guest writer for the comic strip, Dick Tracy but he is best known for his work as the writer, artist, voice actor, and audio producer for the Lum and Abner comic strip.

According to Mr. Pitchford, he decided to become a cartoonist at age five. Following his broadcast teaching career, he hit the ground running in 2011 with the Lum and Abner comic strip, based on the classic radio/movie series. With this endeavor he’s been able to work with old friends and mentors George Wildman, Nick Cuti, Hy Eisman, John Rose, and others. Lum and Abner appears each week and includes an audio adaptation for blind friends.

Mr. Pitchford has earned multiple awards including "Who's Who: Art" Kilgore College in 1979 and multiple state championships for his work with CHS-TV student teams, including repeated Best of Show, Best of Fair, First Place, Second Place, and Honorable Mention from 1988-2008. He has been honored as the regional Outstanding Educator for the Texas Society of CPAs, Student-chosen Outstanding Teacher in 2003 and 2008 and he was the Pine Burr Dedicatee for Carthage High School in 2010. He was featured in the 2018 SFA Sawdust magazine and honored as the 2018 Distinguished Alumni of Spring Hill ISD Alumni Association.

"Lum and Abner" is a Registered Trademark of the Estate of Chester H. Lauck Jr. Used by Permission.

"Lum and Abner" art (c) 2019 the Estate of Chester H. Lauck Jr. and Donnie Pitchford.

Beginning in 1933, Lum and Abner aired a Christmas story that became an annual classic. For a graduate course in printmaking at the University of Texas at Tyler, I produced this illustration based on the story. Symbolic of the journey of the Three Wise Men to Bethlehem, Lum, Abner and Grandpappy Spears carry provisions to an abandoned old barn in which a poor traveling husband and wife have been forced to stop. The local doctor tended to them and delivered a child in that barn. Lum, Abner and Grandpappy Spears reflect on the coincidence, recalling the "first Christmas" and how these events have changed their lives. My composition was scribed and etched into the zinc plate with various applications of acid. Ink was later applied to the plate, the excess ink was removed, and the image was printed to paper with great pressure using a roller press. The image became the cover of the 1984 Christmas edition of The Jot 'Em Down Journal, the bimonthly publication of the National Lum and Abner Society, a radio historical organization. It was also released as a limited-edition offset print in 1985. In 2011, the image was painted in color and became the first Lum and Abner Christmas comic strip.
“Popeye Classics” Comic book cover process 1. Colored pencil, marker rough on paper 2. Transferred blue pencil and India ink on Bristol 3. Printed comic book, IDW-Yoe Comics, 2016 The character Popeye was a favorite in animation when I first saw him as a child. Later, I discovered the 1960s comic books by Bud Sagendorf, and in 1970, I found a new artist producing the illustrations: George Wildman. I found Mr. Wildman receptive to correspondence, and from 1971 until he passed away in 2016, we stayed in touch. George Wildman and current Popeye newspaper strip artist Hy Eisman are important friends and comics mentors to me. It was a dream come true when Editor Craig Yoe asked me to produce the art for an issue of his Bud Sagendorf reprint series, Popeye Classics. My rough design was approved, and I moved from there to the inked version, done traditionally with a Gillott 170 flexible pen dipped into Speedball Superblack India ink. Digital scanning, touchup, and then color completed the image, which was sent via Dropbox to Craig Yoe and designer Clizia Guisonni in New York. Popeye (c) 2019 King Features Syndicate, Inc./TM Hearst Holdings, Inc. George Wildman portrait (c) 2011 Donnie Pitchford. Charlton Spotlight #7 (c) 2011 Argo Press.
In 2018, writer Mike Curtis and artist Joe Staton based a character, "Peter Pitchblende," on Carthage cartoonist Donnie Pitchford. Later, Pitchford was asked to write a 15-day "Dick Tracy" series entitled "Minit Mysteries" which concluded in January 2019. The original art, hand-penciled and inked by award-winning Joe Staton, was donated for this exhibit. "Dick Tracy" art (c) 2019 Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
"MasterMind" is a story in progress which will be published in "Charlton Spotlight" edited by Michael Ambrose. Nicola Cuti, a winner of both the Ray Bradbury Award and the Inkpot, scripted the story. Hand-lettering was crafted by veteran letterer-editor-artist Bill Pearson. Multiple award-winner Joe Staton produced the pencil-and-ink art. Donnie Pitchford is currently producing the digital coloring. "MasterMind" (c) 2019 Nicola Cuti and Joe Staton.
In 2014, I was asked to write two comic books scripts which were illustrated by my longtime friend and mentor, George Wildman. These were published in Charlton Spotlight Comics, edited by Michael Ambrose of Argo Press. A year later, another script was commissioned. As before, we chose a vintage character from the early days of Charlton Comics: Atomic Rabbit! The character had not been published in over a half-century, and we had the honor of bringing back one of the original artists, George Wildman himself. I was asked to add another Charlton character George had worked on Pudgy Pig. To round the story out, I wrote in one of George's creations, Brother George. George penciled the story but requested an inker to complete it. I was approved for that job, and it was an honor to ink George's pencils, provide the hand lettering, and finish the story off with digital color. Every step of the process was traditional with the exception of the color process. Sadly, this would be the final collaboration of this type. George Wildman passed away in 2016.
This is the head portion of a sculpture of a small boy. The complete piece was created by Carthage sculptor Bob Harness for the Red River Valley Veterans Memorial in Paris, Texas. I assisted in the commission and sculpted the boy who is standing beside his grieving mother. Much of the clay original was damaged or destroyed in the process of rubber molds being made for eventual casting in bronze. Marks are visible in the boy's face where shimming was applied to separate the portions of the molds. The finished bronze statue will be dedicated in 2019.
At left is a portrait of Leon Rausch, a 2018 inductee in the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame. From this clay sculpture, a rubber mold (at right) is made. This is used to cast the final version which is mounted to the plaques. One was presented to Mr. Rausch and the other hangs in the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame in Carthage.
Created By
Shay Joines

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