The Cartoonists by Susanna McLeod                        Susanna@thecartoonists.ca

 

Busting Health Myths by Cartoon: "Health Capsules" by Creator Bron Smith

October 30, 2012

 

Easy to understand, quick to read and with an illustration to send the point home, "Health Capsules" are a great way to eliminate myths about health. Taking over the cartooned panel in 19xx, illustrator and cartoonist Bron Smith has created over 3,000 instalments of "Health Capsules," with many more to come. Smith's knowledge doesn't stop at health - among other innovations, he is also the creator of "Fun Maps USA."

   

Creator Bron Smith

Born in 1948, Bron Smith grew up in a great era. When he was in Grade One at the Sequim, Washington public school, Smith watched one cartooning's big names in action. Roy Disney, brother of famed Walt, took his marker and rapidly brought Disney characters to life in the Mickey Mouse Club. The small boy was captivated.

"Watching him draw inspired me," said Smith on his website. "I was five years old when I decided I wanted to be a cartoonist when I grew up." The die was cast and Smith followed his dream to success.

Magazine cartooning caught Smith's attention a few years later, and he dove into creating gag cartoons. Sending submissions to all kinds of magazines, he faced a lot of rejection but didn't give up. HIs first cartoon appeared in Skin Diver Magazine and he was paid $3.50 for his comic. The new cartoonist was in Grade 8 and about twelve years of age.

A graduate of Los Angeles' Art Centre College of Design in the late 1960s, Smith first found work doing greeting card designs.

Illustrator, Cartoonist and Creator, Bron Smith

Living creatively, Bron Smith's life took interesting turns and twists, including a job as a performer. Working on a children's television program, Smith played Captain Sea Tech. He also worked in television as a weatherman.

Bringing his pen out again, Smith illustrated a number of books for both adults and children, and developed his own work with "Fun Maps USA" and an ongoing storyline with beautiful artwork in "The Trowbridge Chronicles."

Diverging to the topic of health issues, Smith's feature, "To Your Health" was a self-syndicated production. A contract with the big syndicates just did not happen, so Smith got on the phone himself. "...for every few hundred calls he made to an editor, he'd see his health cartoon "To Your Health" go in one newspaper," according to Matthew Nash in "Drawing home, again," in the Sequim Gazette (April 12, 2012).

In 2003, Universal Features Syndicated received Smith's health submission. He was in the right place at the right time - the original illustrator and co-creator of "Health Capsules" had just retired. Creating the feature in 1961 with Dr. Michael Petti, Jud Hurd was a prominent editor, cartoonist and creator. For forty years, Hurd answered questions on health issues, facts and research. An award-winning artist, Hurd passed away in September 2005 at age 92..

Smith's proposal and work in health information gave him the advantage to take on "Health Capsules," - and let's not forget Smith's wonderful cartooning skills. After submitting more samples, the Syndicate offered him a contract. Syndication was his at last!

"Health Capsules" by Bron Smith
"Health Capsules" by Bron Smith, © United Featues Syndicate

Dividing up his work projects, Smith writes "a week's worth of comic panels in longhand at a nearby cofee shop or at the mall food court," said Smith's website. "I try to have them written by the weekend. Then on Saturday I try to have that week penciled and inked so that a week's worth of panels can be sent out early in the week."

And, Smith added, "I never tire of writing and rawing the feature... it's always great fun to work on."

Creating unique maps of neighbourhoods in American cities and towns is another big project of the illustrator. Starting with northwest cities, Smith's intricate and appealling maps caught on; he now works on more than a dozen at a time. Using Google Maps as a foundation for a layout, said Nash, Smith will "hand draw the map before he and sometimes his wife, Jacqui, digitally color and refine the maps. She also designed ads for the maps, too." Creating fun art, Smith adds wonderful details and surprises to each map.

Snippet from "Fun Maps USA" by Bron Smith
Snippet from "Fun Maps USA" © Bron Smith
"The Trowbridge Chronicles" by Bron Smith

His own hometown of Sequim hired him to complete a delightful version of the city's downtown - but only after the original artist selected dropped the project. The organizers didn't realize Smith was from Sequim and that the map style was his specialty. Printing 50,000 copies, the delightful art map designed to attract tourism was in two versions, as a pad map, said Nash, and also a folded type in racks.

Rarely using watercolor paper and paints any more, Smith prefers markers and copy paper for his creations. His favourite tools and Micron Pigma pens, Prismacolor pencils and Pilot Gel 2 pens.

Giving talks and workshops about his work, Smith gives solid advice from his own experience. The most important?Keep drawing. Don't give up.

   
"The Trowbridge Chronicles" by Creator Bron Smith    

Visit "Health Capsules" at GoComics for a smile and a daily dose of good and healthy advice as only Bron Smith can give.

Puyallup, Washington is the home of Bron and Jacqui Smith. They have two sons. Eye-catching, informative, colourful and fun, Bron Smith's work is definitely a success.

   

© Susanna McLeod 2012
TheCartoonists.ca