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Gary Hallgren

I was just reading about Jerry Seinfeld in Time, about how he enjoys being a comedian. Excuse me, Jerry filthy-rich guy Seinfeld, but I could enjoy being a comedian too if I had YOUR bucks. Don’t a rich guy’s jokes seem a little funnier somehow? At least to us poor suck-ups. I could enjoy shoveling shit out of stables if it put 50 Porsches in my Manhattan garage like Jerry’s. He also mentioned comedians were naturally curmudgeonly—oh, boy, I guess I got talent now!

I like to make my paintings funny. Not make funny paintings. There IS a difference, isn’t there?

I have to draw funny –oh, all right—mildly amusing illustrations for a living, but when it comes to canvas and acrylics, tain’t funny, Mcgee. This is serious fun. Full of id and ego, ha ha ha.

If Jeff Koons had made my talking dog Hi-Fido it would be all precious and chromey and expensive and it’s hard to have fun with that. I’m still at the People’s Price stage of my fine arts career. So take this one-of-a-kind mutt home with you. He sounds just like a great big watch dog, don’t he? Only 1200 bucks—I can’t guarantee the electronics, but I’ll fix the leg and head linkages if they get broken or bent. Or if a tooth falls out, I’ll be a dog dentist. For only 1200 bucks, real chicken feed, not Seinfeld millions.

Nancy Awakens!

I, Gary Hallgren, number one in google hits for people of the same

name, was born in a city, but raised among farms. I know where shit

comes from. But I lost track of that as a student (Western

Washington State College, Bellingham, WA) when I majored in design and

shit. Now that I’m an old fart I can tell shit from shinola again,

but I tell you I am very tired of shoveling. Now it’s my turn to put

down a layer of the old shite and give the next generation some raw

material to analyze:

Sign painting beats the hell out of bucking bales as a summer job.

Running your own sign shop (Splendid Signs, Seattle 1969-71) is a

mighty educator.

Dropping out to do underground comix is fun, but foolhardy. (Air

Pirates Funnies, San Francisco 1971)

Being invited to contribute to the nation’s hottest humor magazine is

a scary thrill (National Lampoon, 1974).

Doing caricatures on the street is a scary thrill, at least for the

first season (Provincetown, MA,1973-80).

Moving to New York and getting serious about editorial illustration is

a scary thrill too.(1979)

While in New York I hooked up with some old and new cartoonist friends

and we started a band. We had a lot of fun developing new songs and

our chops and fantasizing about being rock and roll stars. Of course,

I was already over the rock ‘n roll hill by then and my baby face

fooled no one. Still, playing CBGB’s is a long long way from the

grange halls I gigged as a teenager in Western Washington. There is

actually a website chronicling these old NW bands from the 60’s and

70’s…follow the Gary Hallgren google entries far enough and you’ll

find both the original K-Otics of 1963 and the New York K-Otics of

1983.

The next thrill was joining the middle class via parenthood and home

ownership. Somehow it didn’t make me into a reactionary right-winger.

I think that’s my wife Michelle’s doing, she of Mt Holyoke College

and UC Berkeley… During this phase (the 90’s), as the K-Otics arc

hit the downslope, I started painting a little, just when I felt like

it, and just as I liked. True freedom. I am trying to hang on to

that, and it seems the only way is to be a true amateur and not depend

on it for income, I still shovel a lot of illustration work into the

YOU series by Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. Mike Roizen. These books are good

for the public health and good for my bottom line but they do require

dedication and thought. I am not painting as much as I would like,

but then a superstar is probably bogged down in media and excess

money. There is no solution but to keep your shovel sharp and pace

yourself.

The latest book, You Living Younger (Simon and Schustr) by Michael F.

Roizen, MD and Mehmet C. Oz, MD is to be released generally October 26

and I hope it sells a million as did You The Owner’s Manual and You On

A Diet.

There are also at least two parallel universes I inhabit, all the way

back to childhood–newspaper comics and Studebaker mania. I think at

last count I have been involved with the creation and execution of

maybe eight feature strips, most of which were originals offered for

syndication. But I have been ghosting part of Slylock Fox Comics for

Kids daily and Sunday feature for 20 years.

A list of non-successful titles: Rusty Wheels, Dick and Jane, Halley’s

Comic (with Mike Carlin), Star-Hazing (with TK), Sibs (with Bob Weber

Jr), Heloise (with Larry Hama), Nancy, ghosting for The Sunshine Club

(by the late Howie Schneider).

I imprinted on a 1953 Studebaker Starliner back in 1954, just when my

automotive aesthetic sense was in full hormonal bloom. I never got

over it, thanks be. You know, some say this is the most beautiful

american postwar design. I understand one hangs from the ceiling at

the Smithsonian. Anyway…I still have, drive, modify and restore

Studebaker things, and one of the reasons I bought the house in Granby

was because of its spectacular garage.–

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The Knuckle Fairy

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Insane Asylum

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Oh No

gary6.jpgIn Her Hands
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7 comments

  1. Gary! Love your comics and sense of humor! Looks like you’re having a wonderful time with music/art/Studebakers and life in general. So good to find you after all these years — would you believe I still have the card you drew for me back in ’63??


    • Linda Cadman??? The lunch-milk girl ??? I thought you were just the prettiest thing in the high school…where did we go wrong–but I try not to be such a cultural dinosaur these days. Are you still in Western WA or out in the world somewhere? I still visit Whatcom County regularly…I’m the only member of my family who got away.
      I googled myself to see what kind of new lies were being posted, and I found you. Great to hear from you. Viva Custer.


  2. Hey Gary,
    I was listening to an old Kaotics tape and wondered how you’re doing. Next think I knew I was reading your musings about shoveling shit.
    I see you haven’t lost your sense of humor. I am well, trying to scratch out a living. In catering, we work both ends of the food chain. Our latest venture is a barbecue joint tacked on to the back end of our kitchen. Yesterday was the first day we served beer and I thought of you again.

    Say hi to Michelle, All the best,

    Larry


    • Hey, Larry, sorry to be tardy in reply but I hadn’t googled myself in ages. Sometimes I look to see what I’m up to! I miss what we had going on in NYC in the 80’s but nothing is forever, is it? I think of you every time I start my Saab–I was so impressed with your imported hot rod when Bel was tiny.
      We hear from your ex and daughter now and again. And now you! Oh, frabjous joy, and good luck with the barbecue. Don’t make the sauce too sweet.


  3. Nice to see the wall outside your studio again. I dropped by there three or four years ago when I was living in West Springfield, and even though you weren’t there, it was still a gas just to gawk a little and feel like I was becoming lost inside the cavernous, dreamlike industrial building your studio was housed in. One thing I miss since moving to NY is the three canals area of Holyoke.


  4. hello gary,

    not sure if you’ll remember me or not. i was a friend of bobby’s and shary’s from seattle. i think we met briefly during a visit of yours in the late 80s.

    anyway i’d like to discuss the ancient hippy sign painting world you inhabited 2 million years ago if you’d be up for it.

    very best –
    norman hathaway


  5. Hey, Norman, we’re connected via Facebook now. I don’t normally Google myself for fun, but that’s what lead to this reply. I would be happy to reminisce about Seattle sign days.



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