aspiring cartoonists: Get ready! Get set! Draw! Have your pencils,
crayons, Sharpies and paper at the ready, because there's something fun
coming soon to McCormick Street: Saturday morning cartoons.
King, a pro in the field with a portfolio that overflows, has spiffy
space ready for budding artists in the historic Old Sullivan House on
artsy McCormick Street in downtown Prescott where, on Saturday, Sept.
12, he will begin giving free lessons to both children and adults. He
has tables all set with drawing paper and crayons of all sizes and
colors in a room where the sun shines brightly through massive windows
- just the place for creative hands to learn the art King has
perfected. Hour-long classes begin at 10 a.m.
For King, after
many years of working as a "ghost artist" on "other people's characters
and trademarks anonymously," he said he "feels like I'm just becoming
what I want to be." He envisions expanding his gallery over the next
couple of years into a home for his art, which he describes as "a
fusion between popular culture and whimsical."
51, who was an artist-in-residence at the Charles M. Schulz Museum in
2008, has had a pen or pencil in his hand since he was 4 years old when
he copied the newspaper's funnies. In elementary school, classmates
asked him to draw pictures for them, and in high school, he "took to
drawing elaborate murals on his desk top," scenes depicting the beach,
waves, inner tubes and surfing, all reflecting the culture of San
Clemente, Calif., where he lived at the time.
During his years
in college, he remembers taking just one basic drawing class, and the
instructor critiqued his work as "too cartoony."
"I guess he was right," King said. "Why fight it?"
who was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 2004, was hardly discouraged
by the instructor's opinion, and has never veered from his raison
d'etre over the span of his 30-year career.
Early on, taking a
friend's advice that "you have got to start somewhere," his first job
was in an advertising agency working in the darkroom. With the debut of
the first "Star Wars" movie, the world was suddenly exposed to computer
graphics, and the same friend told King, "If you don't learn computers,
you might as well forget it."
"I took that to heart," King said.
mastered the trade and built his portfolio, designing video games and
products and packaging for major toy companies. His epiphany came when
he gave up working behind the scenes and struck out on his own by
publishing electronically a comic book of his creation, "Men from
Earth." The space shuttle Challenger had just disintegrated and many of
its crew were South Bay (California) residents, King said.
wanted to tell the story of the space program, so he came up with a
fictitious astronaut and launched his book, which was an instant
success. Plans for turning it into a movie dissipated, though, when
money to produce it dried up.
"So, it was back to the drawing
board," he said, and he kept turning out comic strips and editorial
cartoons for the printed page.
Seeking a simpler life he moved
from Southern California to Morro Bay in the northern region of the
state, still on a similar path, until his arrival in Phoenix.
named his Prescott gallery Valen-Toons, a name that came about
serendipitously when he was ill in 2008. He had been e-mailing his high
school sweetheart, Stephanie, after reconnecting with her on
Classmates.com. She flew from her Phoenix home to his bedside, their
relationship began anew, and they married several months ago.
that Prescott is King's "outpost" until he drops anchor here,
Prescottonians may spot him, drawing board and pen in hand, capturing
"slices of life" as he did in Morro Bay. He drew more than a hundred
comic strips that "reflected the community in an affectionate way." The
strips are now a compilation in his book "Old Sebastian's," the
proceeds from which he donated to Morro Bay organizations.
"I love to draw my hometown," King said. "So I'll be out on the sidewalk sketching."
more information about King's cartoon classes, call him at (480)
478-4457. For a look at his cartooning career, visit his website, funnypaperz.com.
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