Monthly Archives: February 2014

Victory At ‘See’ Part 3: Eye of the Tiger

Cat illustration by Captain Cartoon

Captain Cartoon’s first post-eye operation studio board drawing.

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.

eye operation cartoon

Here’s what the Captain always fears during any eye operation. Fortunately this did not happen here.

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:

Lil Lilly book pages

LIL’ LILLY book: The left page is what Kulpa colorized prior to his operation, the right page is as he thought it appeared. Dick could not see yellow properly, nor could he see contrast. In the revised version he has recolored the black outline around Ollie, the little boy. That itself was not the problem: Kulpa saw no onscreen difference in the fleshtones.

Before-and-after look at Lil Lilly book back cover

A more dramatic look at what Captain Cartoon could not see in his computer colorization: This “Lil’ Lilly” book’s back cover, while shown in various stages, gives a dramatic insight into what Kulpa could not see properly onscreen: The color yellow.
That rainbow star at the left was supposed to be the same color as the rainbow star on the right. To the Captain, it looked as red on the left side as it now is on the right side.
The red you see on both sides occurred because Dick simply used the pallet box to set that color. But not for the rainbow.

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.

before and after caricature

That cataract-retina operation was a real eye-opener for the Captain, who finally saw his neighbor lady as she really looked.

So, Just how does Captain Cartoon feel after getting his sight back? Find out here!

Dick Kulpa published CRACKED Magazine and is former artist of the Star Trek, Bruce Lee and Ghost Story Club syndicated newspaper strips. He is also known as the creator of Bat Boy.

Victory At ‘See’ Part 2: Miracle in Miami

Captain cartoon at the Sailfish Marina

Two weeks after emergency retinal eye surgery, Captain Cartoon was back at it. Here he is shown giving life to Lil’ Lilly, a creation of author Kathy Johnson for her Starlette Universe book series. Lil’ Lilly’s book “What a Babe” is on sale now, in fact!

By Michael K. Todd

retinal detachment chart

Using a scene from the Graceland TV show featuring Captain Cartoon, here is how a detaching retina looks:
1. Dark area appears, in this case, the upper left corner. It’s actually the lower right corner of your eye.
2. Within a day, the “curtain” progresses.
3. Within 3 days, it can move toward the center. Once that center area detaches, it’s…
4….all she wrote. Oddly enough, this is what I saw in 2008 with a complete detachment.

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.

Chicago Bear Report cartoon

Dick says he’ll dig up a Dolphins cartoon later. The Packers have replaced the ‘Fins as public enemy no. 1, he adds.

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.

Yuri Andropov death cartoon

Dick Kulpa cartoon about Communist Russia drawn in the 1980s.

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!”

First Captain Cartoon post-eye-op cartoon

Kulpa’s first post-operation cartoon posted on Facebook. The Captain communicated with cartoons because he could not see to type.

“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.