Straight Out Of 1975: The Lost Sketchbook

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It’s the Third Thursday of the month, when I post The Secret Stash on my Patreon page. This category covers a wide range of material- decorated envelopes, reference photos, sketchbook roughs- from the depths of my archives. This month I’m posting drawings that I hadn’t seen in forty years, from a notebook belonging to Marcia Lepley.

David Chelsea is watching: The Painting
directed by Jean-François Laguionie

Marcia Lepley
Marcia Lepley

In 1975, Marcia (then known as Marcia Hudson), and I were members of the Storefront Theater, an experimental company in Portland, Oregon. I was a cast member in Dreams, directed by Ric Young, a kind of avant-garde vaudeville on the general theme of, well, dreams, and Marcia was the stage manager.

Poster for 'Dreams'.
Poster for ‘Dreams’.

The show itself was fittingly surreal, with copious nudity (hey, it was the 70s), and I was somewhat out of place in it. At the time I was sixteen, a virgin, and a high school student at the Metropolitan Learning Center (but I wasn’t even the youngest cast member- one of the actresses had a six year old daughter who was also in the show). Because I was only in two scenes, I had a lot of backstage down time. Apparently, I spent much of it doodling in Marcia’s stage manager’s notebook.

Drawing by Henk Pander
Drawing by Henk Pander

Marcia and I recently reconnected by Facebook, and a few weeks ago we met for coffee. She had held on to the notebook all these years as a keepsake, and was eager to show me my work. Interspersed with production notes, rehearsal schedules, and company phone numbers were a dozen or so drawings.

Cartoon by M.K. Brown
Cartoon by M.K. Brown

I kind of knew what to expect, because I have plenty of other sketchbooks from that period. My style at that time was heavily influenced by Portland poster artist Henk Pander, and National Lampoon cartoonist M.K. Brown, so you see a lot of Pander’s twisted hybrid creatures and Brown’s stipply textures. Hardly any of the drawings refer to the show itself, though there are a small number of portraits of fellow cast members. For unknown reasons, Marcia is shown hugging Jonathan Winters, fellow cast member Richard Vidan plucks off a devilish horn , and other cast member Dolores Ashkar has a monkey on her back (even in this very druggy crowd, Dolores stood out- hey, it was the 70s).

Richard Vidan
Richard Vidan

Just to show you how small a town Portland was and is, one of the other cast members, Lew Frederick, taught at my school, The Metropolitan Learning Center (and married the Principal’s daughter). Lew is now my State Representative, and running to become State Senator. It’s also his birthday today. Happy birthday, Lew!

Lew Frederick
Lew Frederick

When I moved to New York a few years later, I shed the surreal trappings and went in a more realistic illustration direction. However, with forty years of perspective, some of these scribbles aren’t bad, and suggest that I might have become a second Henk Pander if I had persisted in this macabre style. Fortunately, Henk has two sons who are carrying on his legacy.

Membership has its privileges; all Secret Stash material is viewable by Patreon sponsors at the $4.99 level and above.

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Many thanks to my sometime assistant Jacob Mercy for scanning all the drawings.

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Also on Patreon today, I’m posting two more pages of the continuing webcomic ARE YOU BEING WATCHED? In this installment, Mugg and Mandy are newlywed house hunters on the Reality TV program Nest Quest. It turns out there are a few things Mugg is only now finding out about his new bride; that she likes to grow pot in a closet, for one, and also that she has been paying rent on multiple storage units. Most of the two pages consist of Mandy listing all the stuff she has in storage: “There’s floppy discs, zip discs, compact discs, jaz discs, disc drives, screwdrivers, screwguns, popguns, corn poppers, eyedroppers, bottle stoppers, copper kettles, metal detectors, pump injectors, floor tiles, nail files, file folders, candle holders, earring backs, carpet tax, sealing wax, wax lips, licorice whips, tin snips, potato chips….”

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Because so much of the story consists of two characters standing around talking, I was able to reuse one frame multiple times. However, in order to give my Patreon subscribers their money’s worth, I decided to make tiny changes in the drawing so that adjacent frames could be viewed in stereo. The middle row on the first page are designed for “free viewing”, diverging your eyes as you would for a random dot stereogram (something most people can’t do). The bottom pair is designed for cross-eyed viewing, which most people find easier to do.
For those who can’t do either, here is an anaglyph version which can be viewed through red/blue glasses:

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Patreon is a reader-supported site, but all comics content is free. If you like what you see, tell your friends, and $how Your $upport!

On the Spencer Watch, if you didn’t see last night’s incredible three-hour finale, you must not be a Survivor fan! This season has been among the most hard-fought and suspenseful ever, and several players have said this is because they were voted on to this season by fans, not just selected by the producers, and felt an obligation to give the folks at home a good show. On the first hour, Kimmi Kappenberg, who had been cruising happily along as the fourth member of the Jeremy, Spencer & Tasha Alliance, went rogue and attempted to blindside Jeremy, but was more or less instantly found out. After Spencer won immunity, a byzantine series of maneuvers followed. Both Jeremy and Kelly, sensing danger at Tribal Council, played hidden immunity idols, resulting in the very first Council in which NONE of the votes cast counted. This was followed by a re-vote which resulted in a tie, then a few more steps which I couldn’t follow, all with the ultimate result that the treacherous Kimmi was ejected. Two more councils followed, eliminating Keith and Kelly (not a good season for people whose names begin with K), and the final three were Spencer, Tasha and Jeremy.

In my opinion, Spencer and Jeremy both played smart and strategic games, deftly steering between loyalty and treachery to hit the sweet spot, and both deserved to win (Tasha seemed to be more cruising along in the slipstream). However, as a working-class Black fireman with two kids and one on the way, Jeremy had class sympathy cards to play that privileged college kid Spencer couldn’t match, and in the end the Jury’s vote was unanimous. However, Spencer’s second-place prize should help pay off his student loan!

Spencer: A Strong Second On Survivor
Spencer: A Strong Second On Survivor