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!)...