Entertainment Spotlight : Dick Kulpa

When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
Back in 1964 at age 11 I drew my grandmother’s tree. This was wintertime and it had no leaves, so it presented an interesting image. My sketch came out accurate, which surprised me. This was the first time I’d ever drawn from real life reference. It was then I knew.
What do you want visitors and locals to know about being an artist that they may not already know?
That is an all-encompassing question. There is ample opportunity for artists to draw and make money from this, on a local as well as national level. However, as the Wizard of Oz once said, “it’s not how much you love, but how much you are loved by others.”
Too many artists are enamored with their own work and need to see it through a viewer’s eyes. (This assumes they want to make money from it.) Speaking practically, take a drawing pad, pen and pencil – and a tip jar – to a local restaurant during a “family night”, get permission from the manager, then sketch people (especially kids.) You’ll be amazed at the results. We as artists look at brush strokes, composition, etc.,(and rightfully so), but “real people” see things differently. A cartoon “squiggle” may appeal more than an extravagant super tight image. Many don’t care how “great” you are as an artist, they care more about how relevant the picture is to them. The Internet offers a wide open frontier…giving artists an instant audience. That “focus group” is all-important in the development of your work. Music pros tell me the music field has been busted wide open due to the web, so musicians are no longer dependent on some big distributor getting their work out. (I have some music on You Tube via video, can’t say I’m getting lots of listeners…hmmm, people just don’t appreciate “genius,” I guess, maybe I’ll change my name to “MozArt!) Seriously, art, music, and even books all have the same goal: to be seen, listened to, and read, and loved…by others. And while “fans” are always good to have, I have found “critics” invaluable. Wish I’d have had more of those earlier.
What really set the stage for me as a cartoonist? My high school school newspaper.
My work rapidly evolved back then, and while I was no “Jack Kirby” I got respect. So much so that I enjoyed two years of “infamy.” Analysis shows that it was my “audacity” in my writing that carried the day, the art was merely a camera. I would see this again at the National Enquirer, where The difference between “art” and “editorial” was finite. There artists were simply seen as mere cameramen, the writers were king. Luckily for me, I served in a dual capacity (with the paychecks to prove it), and only then understood why art-heavy comic books were doing so badly. (The Enquirer, THE most disciplined, well-crafted publication in the country back then, sold 4 million a week. My publication, Weekly World News, sold 1 million weekly.)
Elvis? No, it’s me, with Elvis’ face superimposed. I was lead page 1 guy, but here the editor made me do the pose.
My “claim to fame.”To sum this up:  “writing” is the key.
(I can go on and on, and you’ll probably edit this down. I’ll move on. )

How has the industry evolved over the years?
Which industry? Comics? Hard to say, as I have not kept up. I can say that I have gone one on one with over 40,000 people (drawing their caricatures) and once in a while I’ll stumble across an actual comic book reader. Today’s comic books are too expensive, inaccessible, and computer “cookie-cutter. They seem geared to the converted. I am sure there are exceptions, but like most folks, I’m not going to risk $5 to take the chance. (Surveys have shown “price” to be the top concern/complaint in publications.) Editorially (and while people perceive me as an artist, my defacto training is as a story editor) I attempted to re-aim comic entertainment projection during my 2000 Cracked Magazine run, and got lots of creatives mad at me. They still are.
What’s the craziest thing to happen at a signing?
Um, at a Miami comic convention actress Sarah Douglas (Ursa, Superman 2) came up to me and kissed me on the LIPS! At that same con I was explaining magazine distribution to a couple at their booth, using Muncie, Indiana as an example. An hour later they came up to my CRACKED booth and asked me how I knew they were from Muncie. I didn’t know they were. At an Orlando comic con in 2003 a blonde gal came up to my booth, brimming with activity, asking what the all the fuss was about. It was Julie Newmar. At MegaCon in 2004 I walked in and was met by a guy who handed me an unexpected award: “Best Convention Sketch Artist 2004.” He was from comicconventions.com, and evidently I was in some online survey. Having driven some 29,000 miles attending (and drawing) at cons across the country, I guess someone noticed. At the Florida Supercon last month, I was approached by a guy and his gal looking for a caricature. He was from the “Star Trek group”, he said, and I responded “I’m a big Voyager fan, having seen every episode about 8 times.” “Oh really,” he exclaimed. “I appeared on that show as the driver. Tom Paris.”
“Oh. My. God,” I blurted. Robert Duncan McNeil! I had been watching the scheduled appearances for these guys (including Robert Picardo, “the Doctor”) and through my impaired vision had considerable difficulty. “Tom” brought the Doctor to my booth later, and I drew both their caricatures! This made my year. I probably scared them off with my blockbuster movie idea (and it is a sure blockbuster!) But I was on three hours sleep and giddy!
I took this cell phone shot of Robert Picardo for reference.
Who/What has been an influence in your work?
1960s Marvel Comics. The major “influence?” Dick Ayers. Sgt. Fury was THE first Marvel book I ever read that sink in. His work merged into my brain, I guess…when I drew the Star Trek newspaper strip in 1983, writer Gerry Conway thought I WAS Ayers working under a pen name.Many years later I would get the opportunity to ink Dick’s work.
My inks over Ayers in 2002.On that very day, I was called into my boss’s office and ordered to “pull the plug” on CRACKED Magazine.
People have no clue as to what really happened with CRACKED.

Me “in communion” with Dick Ayers. My digital painting, not a photoshop retouch.
What’s next for you?
I am working on the long-awaited Cracked Magazine  #366 while I still have eyesight;-).
I intend to right a few wrongs, too.
Possible cover for Cracked #366, unveiled at the 2016 Florida Supercon.I am also working with the much emulated Starlette Universe “Girly-girl” punster book series, and my own Gangbuster series.

Starlette Universe babes in action. www.starletteuniverse.comOf course, “Captain Cartoon”, South Florida Caricature Artist,  continues. Caricature events surround you with people rooting for you to succeed. Totally different from corporate settings.

That’s me today!
www.captcartoon.comI’ve been very much misunderstood, particularly in the new millennium, but hey, when you get your start at a school newspaper named “Pepper,” what can one expect?

What social media do you use?
Describe being an artist in 5 words or less
Expressive, powerful, inspiring, frustrating and redeeming.Thank you for this opportunity. Anything else you need, let me know

-Dick Kulpa

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1 Response to Entertainment Spotlight : Dick Kulpa

  1. Pingback: Dick Kulpa Unveils Pro-Trump Parody Posters | Dick Kulpa

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