Among many pursuits, I drew the official Star Trek newspaper strip in 1983 as its seventh (and final) artist. 9 years later I created the iconic Bat Boy, half bat, half baby who just so happens to have Mr. Spock’s pointy ears (adding them seemed logical at the time.)
Needless to say, Leonard Nimoy’s passing had an impact on me. AND, people were expecting some kind of statement.
Here you go, short and sweet. Click on the image to see a much larger view.
By Michael K. Todd
The looming eye operation promised to be tenuous, to say the least. Captain Cartoon’s severe cataract blocked the surgeons’ view of the detaching retina, so that had to be fixed as well. Therein lay the miracle, however. The uninsured caricaturist – having to work through that cataract for six long years – would soon be liberated from a fog-shrouded existence!
To be sure, there is considerable cost associated with a dual cataract/detached retina operation, and upon hearing the projected amount, he instinctively elected to return home and let that curtain fall. Nearing the parking lot, however, common sense prevailed . . . and Dick Kulpa trudged back up to the Bascom-Palmer Eye Institute’s sixth floor to face the music.
Not to understate the tremendous efforts, expertise and execution wielded by the two main surgeons involved, there is little that can be said here about the actual operation. Patients remain semi-conscious during these types of operations, posing no problem for the Captain who is semi-conscious by nature. And while Kulpa posted a gag cartoon about the operation on Facebook, fact was, both procedures went flawless. This, as opposed to previous eye surgeries by local eye surgeons which were everything but.
Upon next day’s bandage removal is when an eye-popping miracle occurred. Kulpa could see and recognize his driver from over three feet away – all the way across the street! This newly-discovered clarity was astounding. Signs could now be read and more importantly, faces could be seen in all their detail by this long-time caricature artist! Freckles…eye color…..even those much-dreaded wrinkles were now plain as day.
It was as if a six-year fog had been lifted, especially when Kulpa went back to his studio work. That’s because, while his caricature markers were all labeled making coloring pretty accurate, such was not the same on computer. Upon opening a file for his latest book “Lil’ Lilly” is when the Captain, with renewed vision as good as his cat’s, discovered what heretofore was virtually impossible for him to see.
The illustrations below make the point:
Unfortunately, a down side emerged post-op. It seems a neighbor lady who’d been hitting on the Captain was inadvertently exposed when he got a second look – through his new eye – and drew an updated caricature of her.
So, Just how does Captain Cartoon feel after getting his sight back? Find out here!
By Michael K. Todd
Down to one good eye, Dick Kulpa’s remaining retina was steadily detaching. He had 24-72 hours to get this fixed, with no jury-rigging, no options, no credit and unfortunately, no insurance.
“When somebody shorts you $50 grand in a tainted magazine sale that ultimately was never closed, that tends to limit one’s options,” he explained. “When they got an award from the President himself, that took the cake. Unfortunately I could not do a thing about it in my condition.”
“My forthcoming book will cover all that'” he added. “As one can see, I had mighty good reasons why I was hog-tied.”
He’s limped along on a heavily-cataracted left eye after losing his right eye to a detached retina in 2008. “I was grounded, but I could still see to draw,” he proudly proclaimed, “and I did just that. I knew the jig would be up at some point, however, because that cataract was getting worse.”
As the retinal curtain steadily fell, Kulpa communicated his crisis to Boca Raton attorney and fellow creative collaborator Kathy Johnson, who immediately researched Dick’s available options. “You need to get to Bascom-Palmer Eye Institute at the University of Miami Hospital,” she advised. “They will work with you.”
She was proven absolutely right, so Dick went to Miami. Albeit reluctantly.
Why reluctantly? Kulpa, former cartoonist for the Chicago Bear Report newspaper, always “hated” Miami. While having many friends and events there, he never forgave that city’s Miami Dolphins for denying the 1985 Chicago Bears a perfect winning season.
Dick frequently drew Bears cartoons along with “anti-Red Russian Menace” cartoons back in the 1980s-90s, never expecting to need his life saved, as it would turn out…by representatives of both Miami and Russia. That’s because his surgeon-savior was a Russian-born doctor out of St. Petersburg, the former Leningrad of Russia. “And,” says Kulpa, “she, along with the cataract removal surgeon, were damned good at it.”
“Everything about that place was solid…staff, equipment, even the coffee. There’s a good reason why the Miami University Bascom-Palmer Eye Institute is number one in the world,” Kulpa said.
“I saw that with my own eye!”
“I now love Miami and I am also very happy we never nuked Russia,” he added.
- Tomorrow: Eye of the Tiger! Dick Kulpa gets the shock of his life when he “really” sees everything he had missed, the color “yellow” being one of them.
- “My restoration appears to be geometric, going beyond vision issues,” says Kulpa. Find out why.
- “Before and after” cartoons will be posted.
“Captain Cartoon” exists as my most successful creation, but Gangbuster is right up there with him.
As gangs continue to riddle the country with death, drugs and blood-spattered violence, cartoonist Dick Kulpa has decided to re-energize a program with a rich history of positive results. GANGBUSTER!
Originally issued in 1986, the Gangbuster comic book project continues to be distributed by several police agencies, albeit on a small scale (and one within reach of Kulpa’s limited resources.)
“Police agencies who’ve distributed Gangbuster see this as an ideal “bridge-builder”, a way to break the ice when communicating with kids,” Kulpa says. “A comic book is non-threatening and looks downright fun. Upon its reading, however, is when Gangbuster’s ‘Trojan Horse’ value emerges — kids learn obvious, common sense lessons as to why gangs are bad for them.”
“In its short and sweet 8-page format, these lessons are easily absorbed,” Kulpa added.
Gangbuster met with phenomenal acceptance in his initial Rockford, Illinois debut, and subsequent surveys distributed by youth-gang counselors…
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I am prejudiced, of course….prejudiced towards this comic book as a highly effective deterrent against (better yet, a far more favorable alternative to) youth gang activity.
This digest history of my most popular — and also useful — super hero: Gangbuster has just been posted.
This cat works to save kids from falling into the clutches of street gangs. Police department youth services divisions distribute his comics.
Check out the fun and colorful photos — plus, there’s a link to a free Gangbuster E-book…seek and ye shall find;-)