Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A Visit to Rina Piccolo's Studio

I drove from Brooklyn to Queens to see cartoonist Rina Piccolo. I was picking up a couple of framed originals for the upcoming Great Neck Arts Center original cartoon show, which runs from August 12 to Ocotber 1.

As you know, Rina has 2 strips with King Features Syndicate: Tina's Groove and she's one of the Six Chix.

She lives in one of these semidetached houses. Beyond those trees, to the west, you can see the buildings of Midtown Manhattan.

It was one of those days where it's hot in the sun, cool in the shade. Here's the front door. I buzzed the buzzer and I heard a voice from the second floor window, "Is that Mike Lynch?" Rina was pressing her face to the screen, looking down at me.

Like a lot of us, Rina has a pet. Yes, this is a real bird. She's the yellow shape on the left, her mirror and bell is on the right. Her name is Olive and she eats bird food and greens and grapes and a bit of apple. Once a week she receives a half a teaspoon of egg yolk which she is crazy about.

Totchkes! Looks at all these terrific little statues. The coolest one is the Snoopy head.

It's a bit overexposed, but as you can see, you can twist Snoopy's right ear and get a little series of images moving in a filmstrip fashion in an aperture in the back of his head! What a whacky thing!

Rina's hubby Brendan Burford has a collection of old records. Brendan's not just a collector of old jazz records, he's a cartoonist as well, as you may know since he regularly attends the MoCCA Fest and other comic conventions, and he's been recently mentioned on the drawn.ca and ComicsReporter.com Web sites. Go to Brendan's own Syncopated Comics site when you get a moment, will you?

She showed me this old portable phonograph that plays 78 rpm records. First you crank it 8-10 times in front there -- like an old car in Gasoline Alley! The speaker is covered by brown fabric right there, to the left of the turntable. I asked her if you could still buy needles for something like that, and she said yes.

Here we are in the Piccolo studio, where Rina works 6 days a week. This is a bit of her book collection.

This is poster from a recent signing. I think it was from the San Diego Comicon. And below are some Tina's Groove proofs from the syndicate. That postcard of the Chrysler Building is apt. You can see it from the end of their mews, glittering in the sun.

Here's the drawing board. I like the inky cloth hanging from the lamp arm. They moved into the house a couple of months ago, and she still hasn't had the time to put up a lot of things on the wall.

On the left of her drawing table are pens and other items at hand. "Do you know what to do when your ink gets all thick and gloopy?" I did not. "You add this," she said, picking up a small sealed jar of ammonia. "Just a few drops."

Detail from the table top. What are those doodles? She was trying out a new pen nib. Geez! I didn't tell her, but I coveted that little piece of paper! Rina's doodles are better than some people's finished cartoons!

Rina draws her strips with a brush, and letters with a dip pen.

More of the studio. That's my can of soda. I think Brendan and Rina drink healthier things! Sometimes she listens to old radio shows on CD while she draws. That's a Darwin Fish up top.

One of the best time-savers I've seen. The cardboard is a "daily strip template" and she just traces around it instead of measuring. She has a template for the daily panel and the Sunday editions, natch!

Parting Factoid: Reed Brennan does the coloring of her dailies, and Brendan himself colors her Sunday strips on a Mac in his adjoining studio.


Mark Anderson said...

What a great studio! I love looking around in artists' places. Thanks for posting that Mikey!

Tim Peckham said...

I knew Rina when she lived in Toronto. She is one of the nicest people I have ever known.