Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Cartoonists need to eat, too

When 10-year-old Steven Hess got into his groove, remembering to eat wasn’t always at the top of his list. But in 1969, the budding cartoonist had already begun a career that would eventually bring him national acclaim.

The son of Henry and Betty Hess of Pendleton, Steve began drawing at a very young age when he saw a little boy’s face in a spoonful of peas. His grandmother encouraged him to draw what he saw, and a passion for art was born. “I’ll draw all day long until I am real, real tired, then rest,” Steve said. “I’ll eat, of course, then start drawing again.”

By the age of ten Steve had created a comic strip featuring two crickets, Freddy the Freeloader and his rich cousin Richy, and the conniving Baron Von Dudley, who was always scheming to steal Richy’s money, in a round-the-world chase. “The Baron is real mean, but not tough enough to fight bare-handed,” Steve said in an Aug. 14, 1969 interview with the East Oregonian. “He sneaks around and carries a sword. The Baron doesn’t know that Richy keeps his money and treasure map in his hat.”
Steve Hess of Pendleton works on his comic in this Aug. 14, 1969 East Oregonian photo.
Steve continued to draw comics throughout his school years, and then studied illustration at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland and the School of Visual Concepts in Seattle.

Steve didn’t always dream of being a cartoonist, though. When he was younger, he wanted to be a comedian. And while stand-up was never in the cards for him, he has made his contribution to the world of comedy, illustrating storyboards, characters and backgrounds for commercials, television shows such as “Saturday Night Live,” and Cartoon Network.

Steve worked as a lead illustrator and storyboard artist for Bent Image Lab and Happy Trails Animation in Portland from the early 1990s through 2008, and is currently helping care for his elderly parents.

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