August 4, 2010

Richie Rich artist collaborates on book with daughter

Richie Rich cartoonist introduces audience to art masters



Forgotten treasures

Inspiration strikes most, says Couchey legend, before the dawn after a late-night snack of cold spaghetti.

Pushed to find words to describe the workings of his artist's brain, however, Sid said, "I just anticipate if this or that happened, what would be the consequences."

Selecting pieces for the show, both for the opening and to replace sold works, Sid rummaged through his home studio and turned up some almost forgotten treasures.

"I get a big kick out of that," he said.

There's a line drawing Sid did to promote an ambulance fundraiser some 40 years ago. It appeared on the cover of the local paper, showing the various booths and displays promised at the event.

"There's another one I'm excited about," Sid said, "a thing called 'Tangling Heroes.'"

Dated 1954, the work shows Dick Tracy firing a cork pistol at Superman and other characters brawling, among them Tarzan and Joe Palooka. A newcomer is Richie Rich with "2010" noted beside him.

"I want to get that framed," Sid said.

Humor has been a key ingredient in the mix all his life — he can't help but surprise friends with cartoons that feature them in funny situations. He can't help but utter deadpan observations: "When you're a fine artist, you hate to demean yourself," he said. "But I have no choice because I'm thought of in a silly way."

Chicken or egg? Sid knows which.

"I couldn't do it any other way — I find it hard to be serious about myself."

At 91, Sid's agile mind keeps ticking away, his hand remains sure as ever, though fatigue has become a factor. Considering the volume of work he accomplished "back when," he said, "I can't imagine how I spent the time and the energy to do it.

"I'm just thankful to the Lord I've got whatever it takes to draw cartoons or realistically.

"I'm more thankful than proud."

His gratitude includes luck in love, too. He and Ruth will soon celebrate 51 years of marriage, and she's his partner through and through.

"She draws quite well," Sid said.

He relies on her compositions skills.

"Of course, some of (his works) are just silly; others require some perspective, some lights and darks and balance."

One of the "Masters" series shows Champy in a fishing shanty.

"She thought that one was much too light and yellow.

Over the winter in South Carolina, Sid worked on a few commissions and eight or so other projects simultaneously.

"Of course, this one with my daughter, I think I'll enjoy as much as I ever did anything."

Laura is onboard with that.

When Sid Couchey's your dad, she said, "it just inspires people to be artists."

E-mail Suzanne Moore at:

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