Guy and Brad Gilchrist, Continuing Creators of Nancy

January 21,2005

   The comic strip featuring the round-faced, smiling “Nancy” with a big red bow on her black fuzzy hair continues to be a comics standard, long after the demise of Ernie Bushmiller, the original creator of Nancy. (See Ernie Bushmiller, Original Creator of ‘Nancy’) Brothers Guy and Brad Gilchrist create Nancy in her distinct, traditional form of humour and drawing, the style of bold lines and bright colours, poking fun with puns and stereotypes. But, Guy and Brad haven’t spent their time on one strip alone. They also have a number of cartooning projects to their credit, including the creation of The Muppets comic strip and books from 1981 to 1986.

   Guy Gilchrist was a budding cartoonist as a child. Born on January 30, 1957 in Winstead, Connecticut, his mom taught him how to draw comics as a youngster and he sold cartoons drawn on shirt-cardboard to his friends. His first disheartening rejection letter came at age 16 from Mad Magazine, telling him his work needed to be more realistic. Guy took it as good advice, learning to draw anything and everything, teaching his “hand to draw what the eye sees…or…what [his] imagination sees.” *(1)

    Weekly Reader Books hired Guy as writer and illustrator after he completed high school. A few years later, Jim Henson’s Muppets auditioned Guy and Brad to produce The Muppets comic strip. Guy and Brad worked as co-creators on the strip that appeared in 660 newspapers world-wide from 1981 to 1986 under the King Features Syndicate. *(2) During one week in 1984, the Gilchrist brothers were honoured to appear at the White House to meet then-President Ronald Reagan and Nancy, then celebrated as their Muppets artwork was inducted into the Smithsonian. Their work travelled with the Smithsonian’s “Art of the Muppets” exhibit, appearing in museums around the world.

Gilchrist 1
Gilchrist 3

   Guy opened Gilchrist Studios as a base for promoting his work. He has written and illustrated at least 44 books for children, winning the Children’s Choice Awards three times for his “Mudpie” and “Tiny Dinos” book series. At the same time, he created “Screams” and “Today’s World”, a cartoon for adults.

   In 1997, Gilchrist Publishing began operation. Guy and his wife Angela published “Night Lights & Pillow Fights: A Trip to Storyland” and “Night Lights  Pillow Fights II: The Box Set”. (The techniques used in the books are reminiscent of the beloved Shel Silverstein’s style and definitely captivating.) The second book was voted as one of the Best Children’s Books of the Year. The National Cartoonists Society paid tribute to Guy Gilchrist twice with the Reuben for “Best Book and Magazine Illustrations” for the “Night Lights & Pillow Fights” series in 1997 and 1998. He has been nominated for the Award for this year, too.

   More books have followed, including “Night Lights & Pillow Fights Comics featuring Mudpie” and Night Lights & Pillow Fights Genius Club: Let’s Draw Cartoons!” plus a weekly “Night Lights & Pillow Fights” feature for newspapers through Copley News Service. Guy has won numerous awards for his many poems and songs.

   Wanting to share his love of God and faith, Guy created Your Angels Speak, a panel feature that ran under United Feature Syndicate from March 18, 2002 until January, 2005. A weekly inspirational drawing, it is still available on the Gilchrist Studios site and in books. “Your Angels Speak is the best opportunity I have to inspire people with thoughts about the nature of contentment, peace, faith, love success and their own inner beauty,” Guy said on his website. *(3)

   Brad Gilchrist took up writing after graduating high school in 1978, working with his brother at Weekly Reader Publications. Along with working on The Muppets comic strip for five years, Brad (three years younger than his brother) also collaborated with Guy plus Greg Walker (of "Hi and Lois" fame) to design “The Rock Channel”, a comic about VJs and music.

   When the stint with The Muppets was completed, Brad began freelance work, writing for "Looney Toons" and "Tiny Toons", plus doing some artwork of licensed characters. His creative streak took him to a produce a direct-mail activity club entitled “Together Time!” for The Creative Learning Institute, reaching 40,000 families. *(2)

   A hockey fan, Brad crafts “CT Fan”, a comic that debuted in May, 1997, featuring some endearing hockey players, zamboni drivers and, of course, fans. It is featured in game-night magazines for the Hartford Whalers Hockey Club of the NHL. Installments of CT Fan can also be enjoyed at Ctfan.com.

   To the delight of traditional comics fans, the Gilchrist brothers accepted the task of creating the popular Nancy strip in 1995. Their first installment appeared on September 3 of that year. It is a team effort for Guy and Brad Gilchrist; Brad writes the gags, Guy creates the traditional-style drawings. “I grew up with Nancy like everyone else did,” noted Guy on Gilchriststudios.com, “and it feels incredible to be bringing her back in classic tradition.” *(3) Guy is also in the development stage of opening a Nancy retail store in Nashville, Tennessee, some time in the future.

Gilchrist 3

   Through speaking engagements, Guy shares his joy of cartooning. His simple but inspiring advice to students is to draw fast and not worry about mistakes, that everything can be broken down into shapes and to not be afraid of trying. *(4)

   Guy Gilchrist lives in Canton, Connecticut with his wife Angela. He has two grown children and a teenage stepdaughter. Brad Gilchrist lives in Avon, Connecticut with his wife Bethany and two young daughters.

Read Nancy at:
http://www.unitedmedia.com/comics/nancy/index.html

*(1) yourangelsspeak.com/ (no longer functional)

*(2) ctfan.com/bio.html (no longer functional)

Gilchrist Studios is a marvelous site – find daily comics of Nancy and Mudpie, games, drawing lessons, books, autographed comics, original cartoons for sale and so much more:
*(3) http://www.gilchristcartoonacademy.com

Read the Muppet Central article courtesy of the New Haven Register and Philip Chapman:
*(4) http://forum.muppetcentral.com/showthread.php?t=3179

More on The Muppets:
http://muppets.go.com/main.html

© Susanna McLeod 2005
TheCartoonists.ca  
       
(Originally published in The Cartoonists on suite101.com.)