Thursday, April 02, 2009

Gary Viskupic, Shaper of My Childhood.

One of the things I was glad to rediscover when I began collecting the Newsday TV listing books of my youth was the art of Gary Viskupic. Viskupic was a Newsday staff artist who won many awards for his editorial illustrations and also for his artwork adorning science fiction novels. His creepy, often trippy pen-and-ink style rarely failed to spook me as a kid, with even the more mundane pieces tending to have an unsettling quality. Looking at it now, his work often seems a little intense for a newspaper insert meant to be left lying around the family room. There were weeks I was loath to pick the damned thing up, turning the pages slowly for fear of some nightmarish Viskupic image suddenly appearing and not soon leaving my mind.

There's not much in the way of biography on Viskupic to be searched online. Best as I can tell, he's retired from newspaper work and has recently taught illustration at the New York Institute of Technology, though I didn't see his name on this year's staff list. I tried to find an email address for him so I could ask him if it was alright for me to republish his work. I didn't succeed, although I think I found his home address. Since the notion of actually putting pen to paper and writing him seemed odd--who does that anymore?--I am just going ahead and posting these here without his knowledge or consent. I have not attempted to contact Newsday about it either. How's that for a half-assed disclaimer?

Bear in mind that I am drawing upon a very limited sample of his Newsday-published work from which I have picked and chosen. Although most of the drawings would stand alone well enough, I have kept the program descriptions (including many movie reviews written by the trenchant John Cashman) intact for edification.

I present this one first simply because I remember it so well. It simultaneously fascinated me and repelled me to the notion of ever seeing 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Here Viskupic lends a forboding air to a Mickey Rooney summer comedy series (check out who's playing his nephews) with this demonic, leering jester.

His dark, delicate cross-hatching recalls the works of another of my favorite modern artists, Edward Gorey, as in this Eskimo portrait for a Wonderful World of Disney two-parter.

It is not unusual to find eyes covered, darkened or replaced with symbols, as with this drawing for a 1972 episode of Black Journal.

Here again, the simple replacement of mouths for eyes brings an unexpected eeriness to a 1973 comedy-variety special.

It isn't that Viskupic can't draw eyes--here's three for you...
...and now one big eye, in a drawing that demonstrates his recurring theme of the melding of organic and mechanical.

He also often melds natural elements...

...or technological ones.
Here are some of his color covers: Walter Cronkite, 1972...
Bob Hope, 1973...
Jonathan Winters, 1973...

Michael Sarrazin as Frankenstein's Monster, 1973...
a World War II-themed cover from '73...
...and a 1974 fall preview cover commenting on the prevalence of violent woman cop shows.
Finally, just a few more of my favorites, with others to come at a later date, with a number of illustrations for 70's made-for-TV horror movies (you know how you love those!)...



11 Comments:

Blogger MO'SH said...

Christ Almighty! Viskupic has shocking eye for the tame, and a steady hand for the macabre! It's true -- he shaped my childhood as well, considering how often I took in his illustrations week after week as I pored over the TV listings! More Viskupic!

Thu Apr 02, 08:50:00 PM 2009  
Blogger the feeb said...

i don't really remember those. unbelievable. they kinda have a joe coleman feel.

Fri Apr 03, 12:26:00 PM 2009  
Blogger John said...

I used to collect Viskupic's drawings when I was a kid. He was an influence on my own art. I had two full books worth of his work but unfortunately they were lost when I moved. Little did I know he lived in Centerport NY not too far from where I had recording studio. I would love to track him down and do an interview with him. It would be great to put together a nice collection of his art into a comprehensive book. His drawings were strong statements of the time and always very imaginative. A real genius.

Fri Mar 26, 08:25:00 AM 2010  
Blogger Sue Anne said...

I had Gary Viskupic as an instructor at New York Tech in the early 80's. He was a very pleasant man and gave interesting assignments. Surrealism had an effect on his work; the odd element, the psychologically jarring effect. He's a master of pen and ink drawing. I loved the course and used to look for his drawings in Newsday. He must be retired by now.

Mon May 24, 02:38:00 PM 2010  
Blogger artaugogo said...

If I had been an illustrator in the 70s--this is EXACTLY what my work would have looked like. I grew up on Long Island too..and I actually COLLECT these TV guides....

Wed Jun 02, 09:30:00 PM 2010  
Blogger Tony said...

I grew up on Viskupic's work as a Newsday reader (even though I had a Daily News route).

I was a newsroom clerk at Newsday in both Garden City and when we moved to Melville (1977-1981). I don't recall working with Viskupic as he was "up" in the editorial area.

However, I did run into him occasionally at the Xerox copier! The machine was the size of a small aircraft carrier. If you study Gary's graphics you can see he incorporates high-contrast copy-of-a-copy-of-a-copy-of-a-copy elements. If you've ever played around with a copier like that you can get the same broken lines as grays disappear. For color illustrations he apparently just inked over the Xerox copy.

Wonderful blog - thank you!

Wed Feb 15, 04:50:00 PM 2012  
Blogger inkyabyss said...

Beautiful stuff. I really enjoyed those. Could you add a larger version of the Sarrazin/Frankenstein: The True Story? That was an important memory from my childhood.

Thanks! Love the blog!
Chris

Mon Aug 15, 07:22:00 PM 2016  
Blogger Joe Giuffrida said...

I was introduced to Gary's artwork by his brother Ernie and in English class at Deer Park High School in 1971. Ernie would occasionally bring in clips of Gary's political cartoons from news day. This gave me the inspiration to enroll in Lewis a Wilson's technological school program for commercial art. Sadly for me I became so intimidated by the work other students were doing that I switched out and into a carpentry program. I've always regretted this. Now at sixty, Im finally returning to my first love as an artist. I lost over forty years, but better late than never. Great article.

Tue Aug 30, 10:58:00 AM 2016  
Blogger Rob S said...

After living in Centerport for 30+ years, I just found out he lived 2 doors down from me and he was a hoarder... They just emptied his house ((40) 30 yard dumpsters full) of his life in the garbage including TONS of his art - I wish I had known this a week earlier. Apparently he also was a Nazi War Collector - he had MILLIONS of dollars of artifacts in his home. Transparently he was the biggest seller of this memorabilia on eBay.. I took a bunch of books and photographs including albums from the trash to go through... What I found out about him is intriguing me!

Wed Oct 18, 07:26:00 PM 2017  
Blogger Ernie Viskupic said...

Rob S: As Gary's brother, I'd like to clarify some of the inaccuracies in your post. First, due to his health issues, we found it in his best interest for Gary to be cared for in an assisted living facility, where he is doing quite well. True, my brother had become somewhat of a hoarder. But his hoard consisted mainly of books. He was always collecting books, especially if he could use them for reference in his artwork. In preparing the property for sale, a clean-out was performed. Yes, there were a number of large dumpsters used, but certainly nowhere near the 40 you mention. As for the “TONS” of artwork discarded, his art was inventoried in the clean-out process. Whatever was discarded was deemed too damaged to keep. The rest has been preserved offsite. It is true that he collected militaria, but his focus was on Imperial German artifacts, items used in World War I and before. While he collected some World War II items and thus inevitably some Nazi items, his collection was 98% Imperial. Although his collection was valuable, I can assure you it is not worth MILLIONS. The collection has also been moved offsite. True, he had an account with eBay, but he in no way was the "biggest seller of this memorabilia". He did a bit of trading, but I am sure he bought many more items than he sold. As anything discarded in a dumpster is fair game, I can't fault you for "liberating" items from them. I've been known to do the same in the past. What is somewhat disturbing is to think that any personal photos and albums were mistakenly discarded, but I'm glad you find them intriguing. Ernie Viskupic

Fri Oct 20, 02:36:00 PM 2017  
Blogger psaur said...

Ernie, thank you for the edification. I had actually just been looking for a way to get in touch with you, as I was very disturbed by what Rob had reported. I was hoping it would turn out to be inaccurate, as the thought of your brother's work being left in a Dumpster on the street was sickening to me (not to mention an extensive collection of war memorabilia). I'm glad to hear he's well, and please give him my regards as a lifelong fan. If he's aware of this blog and my continuing posts showing his Newsday work over the years, I hope he's okay with that. If you care to do so, drop me a line at hugo1000faces (at) gmail (dot) com.
And Rob, if the things you took from the trash were indeed personal items, I hope you'll find a way to return them to the family (but yes, I'd have done the same since trash is fair game).

Fri Oct 20, 03:16:00 PM 2017  

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