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Gilchrist draws Kermit and characters for elementary students

Discussion in 'Muppet Headlines' started by Phillip, Oct 25, 2002.

  1. Phillip

    Phillip Administrator Staff Member

    Author, illustrator dares students in Shelton to dream and draw
    Courtesy of the New Haven Register

    They say good guys wear white hats, and children's author and illustrator Guy Gilchrist proved the point Thursday when he arrived at Long Hill School wearing a white cowboy hat.

    Gilchrist, whose accomplishments include 44 children's books, several syndicated comic strips and poetry, addressed students in the media center throughout the day. He captivated about 125 second-, fourth- and sixth-graders during an hour-long presentation.

    "You're going to do what I do," said Gilchrist, 45, who lives in northern Connecticut. "It doesn't matter if you think you draw crummy or you think you draw good."

    The pupils arrived with pencil and paper in hand, ready to draw.

    Gilchrist stood before an easel, black marker in hand. "We're going to draw unbelievably fast today," Gilchrist said. "You're going to make unbelievable mistakes."

    He drew two circles and a head and asked what they thought it was. "Mickey Mouse!" one boy yelled.

    Although he said it was a good guess, the head he had started to draw belonged to Kermit the Frog, one of the many Muppets he and his brother, Brad Gilchrist, created for "The Muppets" comic strip for the late Jim Henson.

    "The Muppets" strip was published worldwide in more than 660 newspapers from 1981 to 1986.

    In 1996, the brothers returned the strip "Nancy" to its legendary style. The comic appears in more than 390 newspapers worldwide.

    "We start with little shapes. It's the basis of everything we draw," Gilchrist said.

    He used an oval to illustrate the concept and asked students to suggest oval-shaped things. They came up with head, mirror, egg, pool, trampoline and hot dog. Gilchrist deftly incorporated all of the elements into a drawing.

    "Every single thing you would ever draw is made of shapes," he said.

    Gilchrist reiterated the need to draw quickly without worrying about making an error. "I draw constantly and every time I move on to something that's tougher, I make mistakes," he said.

    He said he started his career in third grade, when he drew Woody Woodpecker on his classmates' notebooks for a 5-cent fee.

    He described a trip to a conference of writers and artists in Hartford that he took when he was a boy. At the event he was inspired to work at drawing and writing after hearing a talk by the late children's author Theodore Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss.

    Gilchrist said Geisel told them if they merely dream a dream and don't do anything about it, "all you'll get is a sad old dream and a sore rump." Years later Gilchrist wrote a poem called "Dream It Then Do It."

    Fourth-grader Danielle Iorfino, 8, enjoyed the lesson. "I learned you can do anything you dream of doing by practicing," she said.

    Classmate Mark Murray, 9, said Gilchrist taught him "don't be afraid to try anything."

    Gilchrist's two most recent books are "Night Lights & Pillow Fights: Comics featuring Mudpie," a collection of the earliest daily Mudpie cartoons; and "Night Lights & Pillow Fights Genius Club: Let's Draw Cartoons!" including drawing lessons from the syndicated "Night Lights & Pillow Fights" newspaper feature.

  2. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Okay, am I the ONLY one who has never read any of the Muppet comics? I have seen some on Byron's site. They are pretty funny. I don't think my local paper carriued it, ever!

    However, I get in the Boston Herald Guy's other comic, Mudpie. Great art, but not so funny!
  3. tygerbug

    tygerbug Well-Known Member

    My father's best work is a color children's book called "Night Lights and Pillowfights" .... which he did ages ago. He just got it back into print himself.


    He just stopped doing Mudpie I guess, which is weird as it was the only personal sort of thing he was doing lately. The art was pretty good, but the strip itself was just weird to me. His best comic strip work really was The Muppets way back when.

    Here's a sampling of what I think are some of his favorites. I think he had a knack for Piggy.

  4. Janice & Mokey's Man

    Janice & Mokey's Man Well-Known Member

    Wait a minute...so, like, "tygerbug", Guy Gilchrist is your father?? Wow! How cool! :D

    Thanks for your comments on my site, and I'm glad ya enjoyed it. The only Muppet comic book I had as a kid was "Froggy Mountain Breakdown", and I still remember the times I would relish readin' it from cover to cover. :) As the only Muppet comic book I had, it was pretty darn special to me---and still is.

    Welcome to the forum, and may your dad still have many great things to come! And whatever path you're takin' in life, I hope you find great success, too.

    Thanks for stoppin' in,


    P.S. Love the drawings ya did at 2:48 in the mornin'! LOL!!
  5. tygerbug

    tygerbug Well-Known Member

    Yeah, this site makes me feel nostalgic. =) I grew up in a very Muppety household watching Muppet tapes on Beta and my vision of who the Muppets were was colored by dad's take on them ... they just remind me of my childhood and I came back here a month ago and hadda post a couple things. It's taken me a while to separate myself from those childhood memories and see the genius behind what Jim Henson created ...

    I also thought Janice should have something to say about your site, Byron. =)

    Oh, and about the article that begins this thread --- he does that all the time, going to elementary schools. One of the nicer things he does. We talk little now, I see him at Christmas ... normally I'm in L.A., where I make movies, 8 features to date (see my website link). I also occasionally go to college.
  6. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    You know, with the Henson sale going on, I've gotta say, whoever owns them should get in contact with Gilchrist, so they can Re-release these comics into a collection of Muppet Comics Anthology. I think, from what I've seen, that these were hillarious and he drew the Muppet form great, while sticking to his style.

    I want a Muppet comic anthology! I'd buy it!
  7. murgatoad

    murgatoad Well-Known Member

    Well. Just expressing an opinion here. No-one here is required to agree.

    I hated the Muppets strip. I'm not surprised it failed, and I'm not surprised the people behind it are now doing "Nancy".

    That's that.
  8. tygerbug

    tygerbug Well-Known Member

    All to their opinion. But I must note that the Muppets strip did not "fail" and ran for a long time, longer than the actual Muppets continued to make films (the original ones before Jim's death, which ended with MTM.)

    I too hate Nancy and was very surprised when dad took the job. But I was fond of his work on the Muppets and still am, and anyone who's seen his books of poems, especially the gorgeously-illustrated Night Lights and Pillowfights, knows that he is definitely not without great talent. Wish he was doing more of that nowadays.

    I doubt the Muppets strips would be reissued, but it would be nice! I can't even find them on ebay.
  9. murgatoad

    murgatoad Well-Known Member

    A friend of mine is a newspaper editor. It was he who told me the strip failed. In his view, any strip that doesn't last a cartoonist's lifetime is a failure - unless it's purposely ended ("Bloom County", "The Far Side", "Calvin and Hobbes"). He told me the Muppets strip suffered a long slow decline. That's all I know.

    FWIW, I thought the art in the strip wasn't bad at all. It was the writing. The cartoonists didn't understand the Muppet characters, certainly didn't understand the secret of their appeal, and most definitely didn't understand what Muppet fans at the time wanted from the strip. What fans DIDN'T want, BTW, were one stupid, ancient joke after the other day after day. What the Muppets needed at that time was a Carl Barks who would expand their personalities and endeavor to make the characters work on paper. What I remember is that I and friends of mine were disappointed not only in the strip but in Jim Henson, who seemed to regard himself as above the usual merchandizing crap so many popular icons get sunk by. It seems he wasn't. Thus the strip died unmourned and unloved. A pity. There was some real potential there.
  10. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Well-Known Member


    Comic stripping is a HARD job. You have to try to come up with a universally appealing joke, something that is not offensive to anyone, something that is funny to everyone, and you will never ever meet those requirements.

    I would never trust the opinion of a newspaper editor regarding how good or bad a comic strip does or is doing because they would rather not have comic strips in a newspaper because they have to pay for them; they would rather save that space for advertising and MAKE money instead. I, too, have friends in publishing as either editors or cartoonists, and both agree to this fact.

    If a comic strip has a following at all then there is no decline. A decline would mean a loss of readers, and you can almost bet that more and more people will read a comic strip the longer it runs, so this could not possibly be what happened to the strip.

    What happens is the POPULARITY of the characters at the time. Remember those horrible Ninja Turtles or Rugrats? They're in the comics pages in (what I consider) HORRIBLE comic strips. Why? Is anybody reading them? I dunno, but they ARE popular characters, and the papers will run them for as long as they're popular. Heck, our local paper stinks. They dropped Pogo for Ninja Turtles, and now Rugrats. They also won't pick up The Buckets, and both the writer and artists are FROM THE SAME CITY!!

    Though, I'm still lost on Apartment 3-G and Mike Roper/Steve Nomad and a few others.

    Hope this sheds some light on the cartoonists' perspective of things.

    Jamie? Smig? What do you two think?

  11. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Fozzie's the man! It truely IS hard to come up with stuff like that every single day of your life.

    I remember reading a Robotman and Monty strip when Monty decides to take over the Far side after Gary Larson quit. The first cartoon he drew was a bunch of canibles cooking Chefs in a pot. The caption read, "No! Too many Chefs spoil the broth." He had to do another one, and it was the SAME comic only the caption read, "No! Too many Lawyers spoil the broth!"

    Besides, some comics that didn't make it were great, like U.S. Acres which Jim Davis cancelled, but was wildly successful as a back up feature on the Garfield Show!

    Like wise, some comics that last long are HORRIBLE!!!! Look at Sylvia, for example...

    Whoever drew that needs to go back to school! And the worst thing is that this is one of her better strips. It doesn't have poorly drawn cats carrying signs.
  12. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Well-Known Member

    Bear. It's a bear. With a magenta nose and a twin who is a frog.

    There's more to the art of comic stripping than most people know about for them to appreciate it The process is one thing, but what is the worst is that the reproduction of comic strips on cheap newsprint does NOTHING for the art. It's a throw-away art in the eyes of many people.

    I've seen some original comic strips on Bristol board, and it's SO WONDERFUL!

    Then, when you see it in print, reduced to it's smallest size, it loses something.

    Like, I dunno...value?

    I dislike newspaper editors because of it.

  13. murgatoad

    murgatoad Well-Known Member

    I'm not saying doing a comic strip isn't hard. It is **** hard. It's a lonely existence where you're chained to the **** drawing board. You don't get the instant feedback - good or bad - of a live audience. You see your work shrunk down to practically postage-stamp size. And there's no tenure.

    All that, however, doesn't excuse bad work. Sure, there are some strips out there - like "Nancy" ;) - that don't really deserve to exist. But sometimes if a thing is around long enough, it gains a certain regard from an audience (or readership). This editor friend of mine detests "Gasoline Alley". He has been trying on and off to dump it. He told me that the hillbilly characters with the kitten make him want to hurl. But every time he tries to dump the strip he gets a flurry of mail from old-timers screaming for his blood. Now, since "Gasoline Alley" does lousy in readers' polls, he would be perfectly justified in dumping it anyway. But he feels compassion for people who want to keep reading a strip they grew up with. Which is why "Nancy" also still exists, I suppose.

    But you can bet **** few people screamed when the Muppets strip got dumped. Enough said.

    BTW, I think the "Rugrats" strip is actually okay. It's well-drawn (at least the characters look the way they should), and its writing is on a par with the cartoon. If you like the cartoon, you'll like the strip. I read it to my niece when she visits, and it's nice to have a comic strip just for kids IMO.

    ANYWAY - the reason I mentioned my dislike of the Muppets strip is because it was the first crack in my high regard for Jim Henson and co. It was the first step towards alienating many Muppet fans. And it's a shame so much potential was wasted IMO.

    BTW, in case anyone is wondering, my favorite comic strip is "Foxtrot". Brilliantly written with well-designed characters. My second-favorite strip is "Zippy the Pinhead". You can guess how the author of that strips feels when he sees his heavily-detailed, cross-hatched pen work reduced to the size of ant droppings! ;)
  14. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Well-Known Member


    Yup! FOXTROT is a good one.

    My all-time love will be Peanuts. I also have enjoyed BC, Wizard of Id, and I like Over the Hedges.

    I enjoy The Buckets as well, but I may be biased since I know the dudes who work on it.

    Some of the comic strips in the paper are just standards, that if you don't see them you realize they're gone (Hagar, Donald Duck, Garfield, and a few others like Ziggy), but they aren't big laughs to me.

    Hagar the Horrible had a comic strip.
    Hagar: Helga, where's my beer mug?
    Helga: Your what? (She looks at his mug with flowers in it on a table).

    Did anybody laugh?
    Me neither.

    Chris Browne took over and forgot what his father was doing. Sound familiar?? !! Chris should STUDY what his father did and stick to what works...like other famous sons...

    How's that for a transition back to Muppet Convo?
  15. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    In case you want to know, some of my all time favorite comic strips are:



    Far Side

    Calvin an' Hobbes

    Mother Goose and Grimm


    Wizard of ID

    Early 1970's Doonesburry (before the writer became a Yuppie and a psuedo born again hippy)

    Mr. Potatohead (I love this guy in any darn form!)

    Popeye (classic strips)


    Fox Trot


    Off The Mark


    and so on.

    My least favorite strips are


    Hellen Sweetheart of the internet (both look like they were done in five seconds)

    Family Circus (once it started to get all religious)

    Get Fuzzy...I just can't get into it

    Any serious strip that isn't Spiderman or any Super hero like that

    various other one shot deals.

    Zippy I do like, but sometimes it's just toooo weird, even for me! Fabulous art though! If this guy were to sell his original strips, he'd make a fortune!

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