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Funny page opinions off the funnies page

For the past 25 years, Sequim's personalities and news bits have been immortalized in "toons" by Tim Quinn.

His first editorial cartoon, for the Aug. 29, 1984, edition of the Jimmy Come-Lately Gazette, was about the town's mayor. Quinn feels he's grown since then as an artist.

"It took me awhile to get comfortable," he said.

"My early ones were shabby - I'm glad to have seen it come a long way."

Quinn came a long way to work on art and cartoons after living in Huntington Beach, Calif., and the Seattle area before moving to Sequim in 1984. He experimented with art when he was young but said, "I never got higher than a B or C in art classes because I didn't go by the book and do what the teacher wanted."

He graduated with a degree in graphic arts from Fullerton College in Southern California.

However, cartooning wasn't the first thing on his mind when he moved to Sequim. Quinn had a hard time finding steady work so he took casual labor jobs such as bucking hay and pulling cattails from ponds.

One day Gazette advertising salesman Russell Micenheimer saw him doodling on a napkin and complimented his pictures. He thought it'd be a good idea to have Quinn draw editorial cartoons about Sequim.

"I told him I wasn't much of a cartoonist, but they offered me $15 for each piece, so I said yes," Quinn said.

"However, it turned out to be a dollar an hour at first because I worked on the pencils all through the night, erasing and starting over."



Progressive painter

His hard work paid off, though, as cartooning led to more artistic connections and endeavors.

Quinn has created designs for silk-screened T-shirts, cartoon maps and caricatures, sculpted, done stained glass and painted signs and murals all around the county.

He considers himself more of a carver, though.

He makes chain saw, driftwood, ivory and Kodiak bear-tooth carvings; sand sculptures and carved peace pipes.

"When I carve, it's therapeutic," he said.

"I have a few projects I have for myself but most of the time when I create, it's for work."

His reputation spread by word-of-mouth and Quinn became a full-time artist.

"I grew up wanting to be a cowboy but I discovered it's a lot of work and didn't pay much," he said.

His talent continued to be recognized by community members and one of his paintings was chosen as the theme artwork for the 100th anniversary of the Sequim Irrigation Festival.



Process

Quinn said his favorite cartoonist is Mort Drucker, an old caricaturist for "MAD Magazine."

However, Quinn doesn't feel pressure to make his cartoons a certain way, namely funny.

"Some are sarcastic, but it isn't about being funny or not. It's about what's going on now," he said.

"But usually I'm just being sarcastic."

His source material comes from talk from friends and acquaintances and his contacts behind-the-scenes.

"It might be gossip, but if I can confirm it from a story in the paper, then I'm good to go."

Mondays typically are dedicated to crafting the cartoon; he gives himself until 6 p.m. to prepare for the Wednesday edition of the Sequim Gazette.

He's proud of the layering that he sometimes puts into the comics. Over the years, he's inserted several hidden quirks, which he is surprised people haven't noticed.

"I signed my name Tim Sequim once, but I didn't get one comment."

Every cartoon contains Slick the Slug, often hidden in the landscape, a weekly challenge for readers to find.

Sequim Gazette publisher Sue Ellen Riesau called Quinn's cartoons "a huge positive" for the paper.

"We have our own cartoonist, which few papers can claim," she said.

She never has censored his work.

"An editorial cartoonist to me is sacred, not someone I would ask to change," she said.

"He's done some great cartoons based on what's happening in the community."

Some people who've felt the sting of his sarcasm have complained, but some people call and say Tim's right on, Riesau said.

After 25 years, he is such an institution that readers accept his viewpoint.

"I think Tim's great and I think we're lucky to have him."

Jim Casey, Gazette editor, said a local cartoonist is a luxury for a weekly paper and draws readers to the Opinion pages.

"Humor is a wonderful element to add to the mix," Casey said, "especially in an artistic format."

The Gazette's owner, Brown Maloney, said, "I met Tim Quinn 21 years ago this month when I purchased what was then called The Jimmy Come Lately Gazette. Since I was already a reader of the newspaper, I was familiar with Tim's cartoons.

"It was very unusual then that a weeky newspaper would have a local cartoonists and it is just as unusual today.

"The Sequim Gazette loves the message that can be sent through a good editorial cartoon. It is for that reason that we took on a second cartoon (drawn by Frank Shiers) with more af a statewide message.

"Now go and find the slug."

Quinn also is recreating his mural behind the Conrad Dyer Memorial Fountain on First Street in downtown Port Angeles. It pictures a grand landscape of the Olympic Mountains.

More information on Quinn can be found at www.timquinnart.com.



Reach Matthew Nash at mnash@sequimgazette.com.

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