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Raging Pencils by Mike "Lefty" Stanfill

Penguins and Noah's Ark.

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Raging Pencils is a confusicated conceit of:

Mike Stanfill, Private Hand
Mike Stanfill, Private Hand
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Today's mystery web comic is:

start rant

A Final Word

Don PunchatzThis weekend I attended a memorial service for nationally-known illustrator Don Punchatz, an amazing man for whom I was privileged to have once worked.

The memorial was an opportunity for Don's friends and family to share stories or anecdotes about this lovely man with one another. About a hundred people arrived at the auditorium and, after about a dozen brave souls entertained us with a wacky tale or two concerning Don or his famous Sketch Pad Studio, I decided it was my turn to speak.

I had a story ready but made the mistake of coming unprepared and unrehearsed. Compounding this mistake was the fact that the moment I began speaking it suddenly occurred to me exactly how important Don had been to the most important time of my life, and so my all-too-brief offering was unexpectedly clouded by a wave of sadness. I left the stage to warm applause but very dissatisfied with myself as, wracked with emotion, I was unable to say everything I wanted.

This has eaten at me for the past two day and so the following is what I had meant to say:

In the summer of 1977 I arrived home after my 3-to-midnight shift at the machine shop. My radio was still on, just as I'd left it, tuned to a low-powered, left-wing public radio station. The midnight DJ was interviewing some strange guy who said he was looking for artists for his new fantasy magazine. It was going to the American version of Heavy Metal.

This strange person was Don Punchatz.

As it happened I'd been working on such a project in my spare time, and the next day I went down to Don's studio and showed him my meager portfolio. I was surprised when he hired me on the spot, though I was to play only a very minor creative role among my much more talented peers already hard at work in the studio.

I only worked for Don for about five months, at which time I left to earn my illustration degree, but this brief period changed my whole life.

You see, Don Punchatz was the key to a door that opened onto a vast new world. Each day has been an adventure and I've met good friends and extraordinary people purely as a result of Mr. Punchatz's largesse.

Don didn't have to run the Sketch Pad Studio. He didn't have to hire art students and take the time to teach them how to be professional illustrators, but he did. Looking back on what he accomplished it took the patience of a saint to juggle all the disparate artistic sensibilities in his employ and not go broke or insane in the process.

There's no way of knowing what my life would have been like had I walked into my apartment five minutes later that fateful summer night but there's no doubt I am the better for it.

More importantly, I think that Don had this same effect on everyone he met. I know that there are thousands of people out there enjoying the benefits of Don's spirit and his generosity at this very minute. I hope they realize it, too.

The magazine was never printed which, to me, is even more remarkable. It's as though fate had planted the seed of the idea in his head just to give him a reason to reach out and help me find a life that has never been boring.

So, thank you, Don. Thank you for everything.


end rant

Raging Pencils salutes the Mystery Reader of
Rabat, Morocco
Whoever you are, thanks for reading my funky little 'toon.

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Today's Google Chow.

Three penguins in the shadow of Noah's Ark.
Penguin One: "Bad news, guys. He says we haven't been discovered yet. Well, at least we can swim."
Penguin Three (thinks): "Uh-oh."

Caption: Just about this time Ted began to regret his double major in liberal arts rather than phys ed.