Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Personal Anthropology Trip that Yielded Magic & More

Issue #21 of "BackStage"

Researching this book project has led me to dig back through the ancient history of my early beginnings in art. It took some time and effort to bring order to the jumble of sketchbooks and publications that I contributed work to way back when. It was helpful to create a timeline of all the art/illustration events starting from my first "professional" (getting paid) illustration job when I was fifteen, a spot illo for my high school English teacher, on through the 1980s and 1990s, up to the present day. One of the many things I rediscovered through this personal anthropology trip was the illustrations I did for a Magician's newsletter called "BackStage". Technically it was my second pro job, but really my first "real-world" experience having something published. Here's a sneak preview of my memories of that time that will be in my forth-coming "Reluctant Sadist" book...

Chuck Windley
"My senior year was an easy one as I found my grades and credits allowed me to arrange a shorten school day, getting out at lunchtime. I filled my afternoons with part-time work at a theatrical magic store in Norfolk, Va. called “Magic and More” owned by the worldly and mysterious, Charles Windley. Chuck Windley was a real magician and entertainer who was a touchstone to magic’s glamorous past. He had come up through the ranks of carneys and knew all the cons and tricks of the trade, traveling the world with his magic act and rubbing elbows with some of the greats. Chuck always was ready with a humorous story and loved to talk about “the biz”. He published a monthly newsletter called “Backstage” and upon learning of my artistic talents, enlisted me to illustrate some articles helping me build my portfolio and self-confidence."

I contributed illustrations to eight issues of "BackStage" from 1982-1983 while I was employed at Magic & More. I am still in touch with Chuck Windley, he's semi-retired now, living in Williamsburg, Va. I've heard him mention that he may reprint the "BackStage" newsletters as a collected volume. In the meantime, enjoy this glimpse at issue #21 from September 1983.



  1. what a great post! One of your best! Finding those important/hidden aspects of your past is wonderful and fun and historical (dare I say) for the Comix Historical world.

    1. Thanks' Ralf! Thee's more to come! We both have a rich comix history behind us.

  2. I love looking back at old sketch books. It is great to see the past through younger eyes.