Once More Around the Sun, Rick Geary!

« Hey — if you’re looking for that curly machine, I saw some beasts run off with it. »

Missouri native Rick Geary, born 72 years ago today, on February 25, 1946 (in Kansas City, which isn’t in Kansas, despite its name) is in a classe à part: a true iconoclast, he’s quietly, steadfastly carved out for himself (and his fans) a varied and consistently strong œuvre, seemingly free from petty compromise.

A 1985 self-portrait.

He first gained notice in the mid-70s through his fanciful contributions to National Lampoon and Heavy Metal, and just kept up the pace from there. These days, he mostly concentrates on his true crime graphic novels series, published by NBM. One gets a sense of a man who works in comics because he’s passionate about the possibilities the form offers. A 1994 recipient of the National Cartoonist Society’s Magazine and Book Illustration Award, he certainly doesn’t need to work in the comics industry.

This charming one-pager saw print in the anthology Animal Confidential (May 1992, Dark Horse.)

He’s collaborated with fellow oddball genius Bob Burden, of Flaming Carrot fame, a dream pairing that manages to surpass the lofty expectations it implies. Their take on Art Clokey‘s legendary claymation characters Gumby and Pokey manages to be true to its source and to espouse both Burden and Geary’s respective slants.

Here’s a sequence from Gumby no. 1 (July 2006, Wildcard Ink.) Story by Burden, art by Geary, and let’s not forget the contribution of hue ace Steve Oliff. When it comes to Gumby comics, however, mind your step: don’t settle for anything less than Burden (whether with Arthur Adams or Rick Geary). A recent revival fumbles the childlike mood of infinite possibility and mires itself in mere childishness instead.

GearyGumby1AGearyGumby2AThe Exploits of the Junior Carrot Patrol (2 issues, 1989-1990) was a solo Geary endeavour, but  « based upon characters and concepts created by Bob Burden ». Pictured here is #2. From left to right: Dusty, Ethel and Chuck.


Perhaps the ultimate bonafide as a Geary-head: I am the proud possessor of a rubber stamp designed by the great man himself. Furthermore, I have it on good authority that one of our regular readers proudly wields a genuine Geary rubber stamp of his own, albeit a different one. For this particular print, I took advantage of the vegetable world’s finest provider of ink: a slice of beet.

Happy birthday, dear Mr. Geary!

– RG

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