About the Artist
Gary Hallgren was a youngster in a farming county in Western Washington. He has seen calves born, horses copulating, tractors, cow pies, flies and lots of hay bales. But his father was not a farmer, he was a printer, a linotype operator at a print job shop and then at a newspaper in Bellingham. In the job shop was a resident free-lance commercial artist and THAT business looked attractive. Gary's high school art teacher started a little part-time sign business and hired Gary to help out. It lasted only a season, but its closing launched Gary into freelancing forever. Anything but farm work! Gary worked his way through college in Bellingham drawing cartoons for the faculty newspaper, designing and printing posters for the theater department, laying out neon lettering at a local sign shop and playing sax in a rock and roll band. Lest this sound like an ideal existence, he lived at home in the county, and drove to campus. In a Studebaker, naturally, but his college peers failed to see the coolness and referred to him disparagingly as a "Townie". By the time he graduated in 1968 with a degree in painting and design, he was a third-year signwriter apprentice, playing music in a dance lounge, had moved out of the house and gotten married. Busy boy. After graduation, Gary worked for a large sign company in Seattle and after a year was fired for being a long-haired, commune-living, suspicious counterculture type. Within a week, Gary found artist Doug Fast and they agreed to open Splendid Sign Company in a storefront near the University of Washington. Splendid did pretty well and attracted other talented people. Remember, these were heady times, pun intended. Underground comix and newspapers were jumping, antiwar protests happening, pot was smoking, and more. Gary got the idea he wanted to be an underground cartoonist after seeing Zap Comix #2, and besides, it was looking like he was going to be a signpainter forever,. Not to knock it, that seemed inadequate. When Gary and his wife attended the Sky River Rock Festival in 1970, a runner from the media booth found them in their makeshift shelter and informed them a cartoonist was at the booth, drawing his daily strip and inquiring about the possible presence of a Splendid principal at the event. It seems one of the sound tech trucks behind the stage had a Splendid sign on it. Dan O'Neill was recruiting, and he was indeed working on his daily Odd Bodkins when Gary found him. Dan had a plan, and it did not fall on deaf ears. Now begins the tale of Air Pirates Studio. See The Pirates and The Mouse by Bob Levin, Fantagraphics books 2006 for details. Willy Murphy introduced Gary to Provincetown in 1974--a gold mine for street artists at the time. Albert Morse got Gary a job from producer Erik Jacobsen illustrating Norman Greenbaum's latest LP. Doug Kenney saw a page Gary did in El Perfecto Comix and invited him to visit at the National Lampoon in New York. Mark Hecker brought Gary to the attention of Larry Flynt and Gary did some big illos for Hustler. Then Gary honed his airbrush style doing color cartoons for skin mags. Steven Heller at the Times is no stranger to that world, and soon Gary was using his airbrush at the other end of the publishing spectrum. Times leads to Forbes to Business Week to New York to Vanity Fair, all publications Gary has enjoyed working with, except maybe Hustler. Larry Flynt never returned the art from his first assignment there. Along with all this relatively august publishing, there was the cartoon side: Topps Gum, King Features, Marvel Comics, Mad. And between 1974 and 2008, a fair number of failed efforts at creating a syndicated newspaper feature. Maybe that's just as well, considering what's going on with newspapers today.
13 Aldrich St,
Granby MA 01033
News & Announcements
Diversity is the deal here... If I keep this site dynamic, with new content added regularly--everybody will be entertained. If you have any problems with navigation, or questions about the art or merchandise, just shoot me an email.
By the way... Don't use anything without permission, unless you are a satirist or parodist. Good luck with that.
The Someday Funnies...new old book
Assembled in 1973, published in 2011. A new benchmark in slo-mo book production. Editor Michel Choquette was an editor at National Lampoon among other things and his idea for a look back at the Sixties by current counterculure visual artists found acceptance by all concerned. Then ideas went wrong, deals fell through, big names didn't deliver, etc. etc. and the whole thing disappeared. It became mythical, even, until author Bob Levin (The Pirates And The Mouse) wrote about it in The Comics Journal and revived interest. Et Voila, resurrection! The big, colorful coffee-table tome is like a time capsule, full of cartoonists , writers and even filmmakers that were hot then and some still hot today...yours truly included (ahem) in that category. Abrams Art books, 2011.
The first Great Holyoke Brick Race was held May 14, 2011 on Race St. in front of Paper City Studios with 27 highly creative entrants. Please see my gallery "3-D things" for a picture of my brick racer which took People's Choice in design and 2nd in speed.
Interview by writer, film historian, college instructor, and former radio talk show host Mike Dobbs.
Article about Gary Hallgren on Oprah Winfrey's Radio Show.