Tag Archives: Curt Swan

Roundup: Superman, Madame Web, Richard Scarry …

It’s taken a while.

But last night, the Board of Finance unanimously approved funds for a traffic study of Cross Highway, North Avenue and Bayberry Lane.

The project will look at intersection safety, as well as adding a sidewalk on Cross Highway and a crosswalk near The Porch @ Christie’s.

Next stop: an appropriation request to the RTM.

The North Avenue/Cross Highway intersection may be the most dangerous one in Westport without a traffic light. Another contender: Cross Highway and Bayberry Lane.

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Superman came to the Westport Library last night.

The Man of Steel arrived on the Trefz Forum big screen. Westporter Arlen Schumer presented an in-depth lecture on Curt Swan — the longtime local illustrator who for 29 years was DC Comics’ primary Superman artist.

it’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Arlen Schumer and Curt Swan at the Westport Library! (Photo/Dave Matlow)

Swan’s 3 children were all in the audience. Chris lives in Westport;  Karen Brooks is in Wilton, and Ceal Swift is in Westbrook.. (Hat tip: Dave Matlow)

Chris Swan and his sisters Ceal and Karen, in the Westport Library audience. (Photo/Dave Matlow)

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Camp A Cappella CT — the innovative program teaching vocal technique, beatboxing, ensemble skills and choreography to area youngsters —  returns this summer with an in-person program.

And another star on its faculty.

Michelle Pauker — the 2013 Staples High School graduate/Broadway performer who wowed a recent SRO MoCA crowd with an evening of song — will work her considerable magic.

Michelle earned a BA in music from Baldwin Wallace Conservatory, concentrating in musical theater. Many Westporters already know her through her private lessons.

Michelle joins music educator Amanda Violone, in the upbeat, fun camp program.

Camp A Cappella CT was created by Danielle Merlis, following the success of her Cello Camp. The award-winning musician was initially inspired at Long Lots Elementary School, earned first chair honors in the Staples High orchestra, and went on to perform with Chris Brubeck and the Eagles, at venues like Lincoln Center.

Camp A Cappella CT welcomes singers in grades 1 to 12. It runs August 22 to 27  at Christ & Holy Trinity Church, alongside The Cello Camp, now in its 7th year.

For information and registration for Camp A Cappella CT. click here.

PS: You don’t have to attend (or have a kid who does) to enjoy the camps’ final concerts (August 27, 5 p.m. cellists, 7 p.m. singers, Christ & Holy Trinity Church). Everyone is welcome.

One day at Cello Camp …

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Next up on the big screen: Westporter Kathy-Ann Hart.

She’s the latest addition to the cast of “Madame Web.” The Marvel comics-based film’s cast includes Dakota Johnson, Mike Epps, Adam Scott and Sydney Sweeney.

Though she began performing as a child in her native Trinidad, Hart is a newcomer to film. After graduating from Harvard Law School in 2003, she worked for many years as a corporate attorney and non-profit executive. She moved to Westport in 2017.

Kathy-Ann Hart

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Gas prices have dropped for over 50 straight days. They’re now nearly $1 less than this spring’s (very high) highs.

Today — and today only — you can get $1 off each gallon, at the Shell station across from Westport Country Playhouse.

They’ve renovated their interior, so it’s a brighter and better-stocked (if not particularly healthy) convenience story mart than before. They’re celebrating today, with the special $1 off offer. (Hat tip: Ifeseyi Gayle)

The Shell station opposite Westport Country Playhouse. (Photo/Ifeseyi Gayle)

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Like many places of worship, the Unitarian Church in Westport welcomes guest speakers.

But this Sunday (August 7, 10 a.m.) is special. Darcy Hicks will also make art with the congregation.

As “06880” reported last week, Darcy is part of Wings4Peace. The grassroots gun safety coalition, formed in the wake of the Uvalde shooting, creates “wings” artwork all across the nation.

The UU church invites artists, non-artists, students, builders, artisans and activists to join them, and Darcy, on Sunday.

Darcy Hicks, with her “Wings4Prace.”

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The Weston Flea is Saturday, September 10 (9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Weston High School). This month, organizers invite anyone looking to sell home goods, tag sale items, crafts, art, new business ideas and more, to reserve space.

Popular items include toys, garage and garden items, tools, rugs, candles, soap and jewelry. The cost is $25 for 2 parking spaces ($20 for seniors).

To reserve a spot, call 203-222-2608 or email wpetty@westonct.gov.

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This fall, Fairfield Museum presents an immersive exhibit on the life and work of Richard Scarry.

The children’s book author and illustrator — known for the book “Busytown,” and characters like Huckle the Cat, Lowly Worm, Miss Honey and Mr. Frumble — lived in Westport. He began illustrating in 1948, but his work remains popular today. The Fairfield Museum show will introduce him to the next generation.

It will include original artwork, unpublished drawings, rare books, large-scale reproductions of his illustrations, a reading nook, and a museum-wide scavenger hunt.

Click here for more information. Click here and click here for 2 “06880” stories on Richard Scarry’s connections to Westport.

 

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Yale New Haven Health cut the ribbon on its new Digestive Health Center yesterday.

The facility, at 325 Riverside Avenue, provides care for medical and surgical patients, including bariatric, colorectal and hernia surgery and gastroenterology.

Yale New Haven Health, at 325 Riverside Avenue.

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Lauri Weiser writes: “I have no idea why this iris wanted to bloom again now, in my back yard. Maybe it just wanted to be a “Westport … Naturally” photo!”

(Photo/Lauri Weiser)

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And finally … getting ready for next month’s Weston Flea (see story above):

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Roundup: Curt Swan’s Superman, Starbucks’ Scalding Coffee …

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Superman at the Westport Library!

Sort of.

For many years, the legendary superhero comic strip was drawn by Westport illustrator Curt Swan.

This Wednesday (August 3, 7 p.m., Westport Library), local comic book art historian Arlen Schumer dives into the artist’s work.

Swan worked full time on Superman from 1957 to 1986. From the scenes of a doomed Krypton to soaring above Metropolis, his Superman is the standard against which all succeeding artists are judged.

Schumer is an award-winning comic book-style illustrator and pop culture historian. He writes, lectures and teaches on his passions.

Click here for more information.

From the 2002 book “Curt Swan: a Life in Comics”

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An environmentally minded, coffee-drinking reader writes: “Starbucks now uses sustainable cups, straws and lids. That’s great.

“But the lids suck. Twice this week at the drive-through one they fell off, burning my husband and me.

“When I asked for a new lid, they told me to call corporate because everyone is complaining about these flimsy sustainable lids, and ‘someone is gonna sue soon.’

“I’m all for sustainable Westport — but not at the expense of being burned.

“The good news is: They gave me a $10 gift card the second time. They saw it happen, and felt terrible.”

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Lou Weinberg is a teacher, director of our town’s Community Gradens, and a superb photographer.

Here’s what he says about today’s “Westport .. Naturally” submission:

“I was listening to this black-capped chickadee sing its song. It really went the extra mile. My exuberant applause was met with a full bow by the bird. It was a command performance!”

(Photo/Lou Weinberg)

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And finally … in honor of Arlen Schumer’s homage to Curt Swan at the Library this week (see story above):

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Friday Flashback #153

Lou Nistico is fondly remembered as part of the family that owned the Arrow — the beloved Italian restaurant in Saugatuck (it’s now Mystic Market).

In the mid-1970s though, he was also the concessionaire at Longshore. His daughter Joanne was the bartender.

At the time, Westport was the illustrators’ capital of the world. They worked at home, but socialized often.

A group of cartoonists often played golf, then headed inside for martinis. Joanne calls them a “fun and wild group of talented men.”

One day during lunch, they dashed off this collage for Lou:

Famous names are included: Tony DiPreta (who drew “Joe Palooka”), Bud Jones (“Mr. Abernathy”) and Bob Gustafson (“Tillie the Toiler”).

Dick Wingert’s “Hubert” looks half in the bag, as he raises a glass to “Lou the Great!”

But check out Stan Drake’s “Juliet Jones,” and his/her R-rated comment.

Then look at Curt Swan’s Superman next to Grace — and his wandering eyes.

They make a nice couple. Their cartoon kids would have been gorgeous.

When Comics Were King

Over the years, Westport has been known nationally for a few things.

During the Civil War, our onions helped Northern troops stave off illness. In the ’70s and ’80s we were awash in marketing companies.

And for a longer period of time — the 1950s through ’90s — we were part of “the comic strip capital of the world.”

Vanity Fair’s September issue explores that funny period in our history. Writer Cullen Murphy — whose father was one of those illustrious illustrators — looks at all of Fairfield County as the world capital. It was

where most of the country’s comic-strip artists, gag cartoonists, and magazine illustrators chose to make their home. The group must have numbered 100 or more, and it constituted an all-embracing subculture …. In the conventional telling, the milieu of Wilton and Westport, Greenwich and Darien, was the natural habitat of The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit — and I was certainly aware of the commuters who took the train into Manhattan every morning from my own hometown of Cos Cob. But, for me, those salarymen with their briefcases seemed like outlandish outliers.

Murphy cites Westport’s “large cluster” of cartoonists Bud Sagendorf (“Popeye”), Leonard Starr (“On Stage,” “Little Orphan Annie”), Dick Wingert (“Hubert”), Stan Drake (“The Heart of Juliet Jones,” “Blondie”), Jack Tippit (“Amy”), John Prentice (“Rip Kirby”) and Mel Casson (“Mixed Singles/Boomer”).

Bernie Fuchs’ famous studio. It was demolished earlier this year.

Murphy’s father compared Bernie Fuchs to Degas. The writer adds: “Fuchs’s career was all the more remarkable because he had lost 3 fingers on his drawing hand in an accident when he was a teenager.”

Murphy does not mention Curt Swan (“Superman”). I’m sure he’s missed others.

From the 2002 book “Curt Swan: a Life in Comics”

Murphy offers a few reasons why this area attracted so many illustrators: lack of a state income tax; affordable homes, and of course the presence of other artists.

It was solitary work — which is why so many Fairfield County illustrators got together in groups, here and on Wednesdays when they brought their art to their editors in the city. They talked about their work. They also ate and drank.

Murphy notes:

One defining reality about the cartoonists was that although their characters —Beetle Bailey, Snoopy, Prince Valiant, Blondie — were known worldwide, they themselves passed through life more or less anonymously. Unlike actors or sports figures or reality-TV stars, they were never stopped on the street. They didn’t have a “gal” to protect them or “people” to speak for them.

Semi-domesticated, they depended heavily on their families, especially wives, who in many ways held the entire enterprise together, from basic finances to rudimentary social cues…. Life was interrupted mainly by mundane chores. More than a few collectors have bought original comic strips and found notations like “prescription ready” or “diapers, bologna, Chesterfields” in the margins.

Bud Sagendorf, and his most well-known character.

Of course, nothing lasts forever. Murphy writes:

The concentration of cartoon talent in Fairfield County was a product of special circumstances, and those circumstances have disappeared. Newspaper comic strips are not the force they were, and few magazines still publish gag cartoons.

The New York City newspaper strike of 1962–63 led to the demise of the Hearst flagship, the New York Journal-American, whose funny pages were the best in the country. Making it there was like opening at the Roxy. Now it was gone.

New York remains the center of the publishing industry, but the railroad is no longer a lifeline: the Internet has meant that artists can send their work from anywhere. Connecticut has a state income tax now, though that’s not what has made Fairfield County unaffordable — Wall Street is responsible for that.

Westport, of course, is now a financial capital — both as headquarters to the world’s largest hedge fund, and home to many financial executives.

I wonder what kind of cartoon Bud Sagendorf, Stan Drake, Mel Casson or any of the others would draw about that.

(Click here to read the entire Vanity Fair story. Hat tips: Doug Bonnell and Paul Delano)

From comics to capitalism: Westport is now home to Bridgewater, the world’s largest hedge fund.