Art Galleries Art Resources
"My independence means everything to me, that's why I'm a member."
Creating art relationships that last a lifetime.
...and there you go, as your website is securely sent out into the world.

Art Articles & Reviews

2023 | 2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 |

My Funnies Valentine - a Portrait Show of Comic Couples

Posted: February 22, 2005
} My Funnies Valentine - a Portrait Show of Comic Couples from the Sunday Funnies By Robert Amos Michael Lewis was brought up on the Sunday funnies - the colour comics that come in the weekend newspapers. He was a child in the early 1950’s when those weekly cartoons evolved into comic books and films and television programs, but it was those he read in the Sunday papers that had the biggest impact on the little fellow. Since then, comic characters have often played a role in his paintings. Recently Lewis was getting his glasses attended to at Goo Goo Goggles, a quirky new shop on Fort Street. He mentioned to the owner that probably the name was derived from a comic character Barney Google - “the one with the goo-goo-googly eyes”. This comment drew a blank stare - never heard of him! So Lewis went home and painted a portrait of Barney Google for the shop. “And then I thought I’d do one for myself,” Lewis continued, “and I did one of Sparkplug, his horse, to go with it. And then I got the idea of a Valentine’s Day show, with portraits of all the couples in the comics.” The result is a collection of 46 small oil paintings of inseparable pairs, on show appropriately at Legend’s Comics, (633 Johnson Street, until February 28). Maggie and Jiggs. Superman and Lois Lane. Mammy and Pappy Yoakum. Nancy and Sluggo. The list is endless. Lewis had absorbed these strips in his early childhood, from ages 3 to 10. They were funny, for sure. And artistic, in fact. Upon reflection, it’s clear that many of these strips reflected the values of an earlier time. “A lot of this stuff came out of the Depression,” Lewis explained. “Popeye was on TV, yes, but that comic strip was set in a very poor community.” I recalled Wimpy, always hoping for a hamburger and the loan of some money to buy it with. Popeye and Olive Oyl are in the current show, of course, and Wimpy is there too, lusting after his hamburger. Looking back on those early years, Lewis feels that it was from the comic strips that he learned the essential facts of human relations. “Maggie and Jiggs,” he proposed: “Maggy was always trying to be upper class, while Jiggs liked to go to the bar with his hod-carrying buddies. Dagwood was lazy, and Blondie was busy, always doing things. I learned that’s how adults interact.” The range of characters he has painted runs from Barney Google to the Addams Family. Though Barney Google goes ‘way back, in the 1950’s Lewis discovered him as a “hold-over” in another “hillbilly strip”, a spin-off called Snuffy Smith. And though, to me, the Addams Family always refers to the familiar TV show, Lewis noted that they were drawn by Charles Addams for the New Yorker Magazine in the 1940’s. I mentioned that it must be easy to reproduce the simple features of a comic character in oil paints. Lewis replied that painting these “portraits” gave him a better understanding of just how artistic the originals were. “Milt Caniff’s Dragon Lady,” he reminisced, “-he was so brilliant with the use of ink and brush. When you try to reproduce something really simple you find it’s not that simple at all. To keep with the 40’s look I chose to do my Archie [and Betty and Veronica and Jughead] in the Bob Montana style. It isn’t that easy!” It may not be easy, but Lewis’s paintings are infused with fun and affection. Small in scale and presented in thrift shop frames, they retail for $175 a pair. Clearly they don’t have the price or pretension of pop artist Roy Lichtenstein’s recycling of cartoons, but there is a lot of pleasure here on offer. ___________________________________________ Copyright © 2005 Robert Amos Robert Amos is an artist and art writer who lives in Victoria, B. C.. He can be contacted by e-mail and you can view his paintings at