Thursday, November 3, 2011

Dick Gackenbach

You my not recognize the name but I hope you do. I have always been a fan of author and illustrator Dick Gackenbach. When I was a teen in CT I remember going to an amazing bookstore in the town of Washington Depot. They had a small section of locally authored books and that's when I first found out about Mr Gackenbach. I was instantly taken by his humorous drawings and simple, thoughtful stories.

He had worked as an Art Director at J.C. Penny and took to illustrating after he retired. As a struggling illustrator myself at the time I had hopes that I could do the same thing.

Years later when I worked at Houghton Mifflin I was put in charge of hiring artists to do a series of posters for a reading series. I used it as an opportunity to track Dick down and see if I could get him to work for me. Those were the days before the internet but he still lived in Washington Depot and I found him easily. He not only did the poster work but I got to use him on a few other projects.

I've mentioned before how one big perk of doing what I do is to get to work with artists whose work I loved. Dick was no exception. He was easy to work with and he always let me know about his new trade books long before they came out.

I lost touch after a few years but stayed a fan of his new books, Only recently I found out that he past away in 2001. But I still have a collection of his books and smile every time I read them. His work for J.C. Penny may never be remembered but his books live on.


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  2. Thanks for sharing your memories of Mr. G. I adored Harry as a kid, and have been tracking down his other books to share with my own kids, too.

    My son asked me what ever happened to Sheldon at the end of Harry & The Terrible Whatsit, and we've started to make up our own story, featuring the Whatsit, Sheldon, and the other creatures on the cover of the book, we call them the Whosits.

    As a sometimes writer and cartoonist myself I've been thinking of contacting Mr. Gackenbach to see if he would mind my continuing the story. I'm sad to hear he's no longer with us.

    Thanks for the inspiration, I guess we'll just see where our little project goes...

    Brian Gunning