Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Rick Marschall Remembers cartoonist Dick Hodgins, Jr.

(From the collection of John Province: HALF HITCH meets HENRY in this ink and watercolor original by Dick Hodgins, Jr. from 1996.)

Comics historian and my friend Rick Marschall wrote about Dick Hodgins, Jr. on Facebook. Rick, as you know, wrote

" ... 74 books and hundreds of magazine articles in many fields, from popular culture (Bostoniamagazine called him "perhaps America's foremost authority on popular culture") to history and criticism; country music; television history; biography; and children's books. He is a former political cartoonist, editor of Marvel Comics, and writer for Disney comics." From his bio. I figure you know this, but it bears repeating. He's an expert, and I don't think he sleeps!

I asked if I could share his memories of the late cartoonist on this blog. He said it was OK.

Here's Rick Marschall on cartoonist Dick Hodgins, Jr.:

The weekly blog I write was published this morning, and is partly about my old friend Dick Hodgins, Jr. I was going to call and run it by him or Richard III, but my computer crashed and... God, or the internet gods, must have intervened, because Richard and his brother were busy, their beloved dad having passed away last night. 
I met Dick Hodgins when I was 13, one of the first cartoonists I ever met. He worked at the Associated Press; I was not aware of him previously, as I nervously made the rounds as a punk cartooning aspirant in Manhattan, on school vacations. I showed him my sketches. Gently fibbing through his teeth, he told me if I were five years older he would have AP offer me a job. 
That was all it took. We remained friends, laughing more than two humans had a right to; sometimes crying on each others' shoulders. In Connecticut -- and among MANY other activities -- he became Dik Browne's right-hand (man) on HAGAR THE HORRIBLE. He was political cartoonist for the New York Daily News, and Connecticut papers. He ghosted HALF HITCH for Hank Ketcham and nobly continued the iconic strip HENRY for years. (Dick was versatile, a wonderful cartoonist!) 
And more. He and I (and Bill Crouch) co-edited the National Cartoonists Society magazine for a stretch. Dick and I collaborated on a grand project, the graphic novel HAGAR, KING OF ENGLAND; anonymously, I did the script and Dick did the (wonderful) art. And so forth. 
Dick was a fan of old jazz like Bix; old radio like Jean Shepherd; and never-old laughmakers like Bob and Ray. It was a point of contact: I pitched a book idea to Bob and Ray and got to know them; the book would have been BOB AND RAY'S CAST OF THOUSANDS, a Who's Who of all their crazy characters. They wrote some sample material... their Broadway show, a surprising success and a road tour, intervened... and I had Dick do the proposal's (wonderful) illustrations. Sorry, Mort Drucker: but this was going to be a Hodgins production. 
I specify the "Jr." in Dick's name because of the amazing bloodline: his dad was political cartoonist for the Orlando Sentinel and elsewhere, the nicest of guys. Richard III has been following in the ink-stained footsteps. A few months ago, at my last meeting with Dick, he leaned forward, a little misty-eyed while his son went out for pizza, and said how proud he was of him. What a great teacher, not just a great father, he must have been. 
Following is the blog that came out this morning, with reference to Dick (and two other friends). I didn't want to mention names, but now all of Dick's friends -- including the friends he never met but laughed, and laughed, and laughed because of him -- should know. 
This is the first day Dick made any of us sad.

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