Dana Summers, Lots of Hilarity

27 December 2002

   What do the Orlando Sentinel, Runner’s World Magazine and Tribune Media Services have in common? And how about if we add “Bound and Gagged” and “The Middletons” or “Run, Dog, Run”?
You’ve guessed it: They each share the art and imagination of the talented and prolific cartoonist, Dana Summers.

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    Dana Summers was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts. He studied his craft at the renowned Art Institute in Boston, graduating in 1971. Upon graduation, he began his cartooning career producing comics for the weekly papers around the state. In 1978, he took a position as staff artist at North Carolina’s Fayetteville Times. Three years later, Dana moved to Ohio and the Dayton Journal Herald to become the editorial cartoonist. A short year after, Dana pulled up stakes, moving to a new position in Florida. Since 1981, he has created his own brand of uproarious editorial cartoons at the Orlando Sentinel that been syndicated since 1985.

    Spreading out into other cartoon areas seems to have been easy for Dana. Using a large single panel and no specific characters, the cartoonist employed the detailed line work and quick humour familiar in his editorial cartoons to create “Bound and Gagged.” The daily strip appears across the country through the Tribune Media Services group. The topics of “Bound and Gagged” are wide-ranging and truly inspired. A recent comic portrays one of the faces on Mount Rushmore sneezing his face off into a crumble of rock and another of the faces saying, “Gesundheit.” (December 18/02.) Another shows a female angel, smiling into a mirror and pleased with look of the halos she confiscated to wear as large earrings. (December 19/02.)

    Along with fellow Orlando Sentinel cartoonist Ralph Dunagin, Dana Summers created “The Middletons,” presented also under the Tribune Media Services syndicate. In a different tone from his usual work, “The Middletons” portrays on-going characters and steady plots. It reveals an average middle-class family and their neighbours, focussing on the generation gaps and racial issues most people run up against. The characters are in-depth and appealing, and the cartoon also has some pretty cute kids of all backgrounds. It is a comic strip built on things almost all readers can relate to and is funny, to boot.

    Making use of his experience in training and participating in marathon runs with his wife, Mary Jane, Dana Summers draws the monthly cartoon for Runner’s World Magazine entitled Side Stitch.
(A title no doubt chosen from painful personal knowledge.)

    In collaboration with artist and writer Hal Higdon, Dana created the captivating drawings for a children’s e-book. Run, Dogs, Run was written in the Dr. Seuss style of stories and is a quick and easy rhyming read for youngsters. Dana drew single dogs, pairs of dogs and groups of dogs, all jogging, running, skipping and generally frolicking around. All the pictures depict motion with a few deft strokes of the artist’s pen and the characters have warm, friendly faces – and a lot of good runner’s fashion, too! The e-book is free to download from: Run, Dogs, Run.

    Dana Summers’ work has not gone unrecognized. He received the Citation of Excellence for Overseas Cartoons on Foreign Affairs twice from the Overseas Press Club. He won the Sigma Delta Chi Society of Professional Journalism Southeast Award three times, in 1983, 1989 and 1999.

I wonder if this busy cartoonist dreams in cartoon form too.

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Here’s a taste of Bound and Gagged:
http://www.ucomics.com/boundandgagged/

A short biography of Dana Summers on TMS
http://www.tmsfeatures.com/tmsfeatures/byline.jsp?custid=67&bylineid= 110

Run, Dogs, Run ebook:
http://www.halhigdon.com/rundogsrun.htm

© Susanna McLeod 2002
TheCartoonists.ca
(Originally published in The Cartoonists on suite101.com.)