The information that follow is gleaned from various email communications. Some of it is interesting, some of it might be considered private. I share it here as a common spot for all FOGs - Friend of Gordo.
For those items of a personal nature, I elected not to include the contributer's name.
The emails have been edited for clarity and succinctness.
March 16, 2011
In an email to Jerry Deli, I ask a question about Gordo strips being reprinted (See Dailies 1980) Jerry answers:
I: - I first learned this directly from (Gus Arriola's) editors at UFS. Later Gus confirmed.
II - The details:
Gus knew he would be going into the hospital and unable to work on Gordo. [I think this might have been for a heart problem...?]Knowing the strip was uniquely his, and probably impossible to be recreated by another hand, Gus (with his editor's OK), went through his older stuff. He pulled a few weeks of stuff recent enough to look contemporaneous, but old enough not to be fresh in anyone's mind. He removed the earlier copyright indicia, and carefully and completely erased the earlier, hand written day & date.
(I think he used an electric eraser for the inked day & date- I no longer recall if I was told this by Gus, his editor, or simply assumed it)
The only indications that the strips were run previously are:
1.) A small spot on the strip where the board is thinner, where he erased the original day & date. It can be located by sight: A slightly different finish. And when held up to light or put on a light box you can see the area as slightly brighter.
2.) If the strip has Gus' coding on the upper left, the "date" portion will be crossed off and the new, or corrected date will be filled in.
3.) The strips are marked: "Return to Arriola"
A note on the return comment: These strips were not necessarily Gus's favorites that he wanted returned. Gus, like many cartoonists was under a 50% return contract. As well as returning 50% of his strips (generally every other week) the syndicate kept 50%. The strips Gus pulled and was using to be reprinted were already part of his 50% return. The syndicate already had their half, and Gus wanted to keep it that way, and keep his 50%
III - The reason why Gus 'covertly' reprinted earlier strips:
Gus, like many cartoonists was under contract to produce and provide new material. In effect, providing old material to papers could anger editors who were paying a premium. Add to that the idea that the syndicate didn't necessarily want editors to know one of their star creators was incapable of creating, even if only temporarily.
If I recall, the reprinting of earlier material may have happened twice in Gus' long career.
Nat Gertler runs the terrific PEANUTS website www.AAUGH.COM, which was one inspiration to create this GORDO website. He writes at length about the comic books in which GORDO appeared. See GORDO ITEMS FOR SALE for more on these comic books.
I just completed my run of Peanuts appearances in the comic book series Sparkle Comics, which wasn’t that tricky to do – there was only in one issue. Peanuts started in issue 33 (Feb-Mar 1954), and the series never saw an issue 34. Sparkle was published by United Features Syndicate, the folks who owned and distributed Peanuts, and is filled with various United Features strips reprinted in color. There’s Nancy, Li’l Abner, Willie, The Captain and the Kids, Little Coronado (which I think are just strips from Gus Arriola’s “Gordo” focused on one of the supporting characters), and Strange As It Seems. Oh, and a text feature on constructing things; comics of that era had such text features not because they expected people to read them, but because it was necessary to meet post office regulations for cheap mail rates.
It’s 1954, so Peanuts is not yet considered anything special – they’re not among the three strips represented on the cover. They only get two pages inside, running four daily strips. Admittedly, that doesn’t put them at the bottom of the respect list; Willie gets one page, and Strange As It Seems gets 3/4s of a page.
United Features had several series exploiting largely the same body of strips – Sparkle Comics, Sparkler Comics, Tip Top Comics, and Tip Topper Comics. If that sounds confusing, it’s probably intentional, and the clue for the likely reason is in that “Feb-Mar” date. Back in 1936, United Feature launched Tip Top as a monthly series and added Sparkler a few years later.
Then suddenly, after more than a decade, they cut Tip Top back to coming out every other month, and in months they didn’t put out that book, they put out Tip Topper. Same thing happened with Sparkler and Sparkle. Obviously, someone who was looking for Sparkler would recognize Sparkle as basically the same mag. So why would a publisher go to the extra effort and confusion of splitting the title?
Simple: because if you have two bimonthly books, you get more space on the newsstand. The retailer leaves each issue up for two months, creating more chance for each copy to sell rather than getting returned for a refund. (As long as the retailer is willing to put up with you hogging the space.)
United Features had one other long running title, Comics on Parade, which appears to have undergone a bimonthly split, but the second title was United Comics; I guess they didn’t think they could get away with Comics on Parader. But this book never included Peanuts. These books started disappearing in 1954, with the last issue of any of them being Comics on Parade for February 1955. Later that year, St. John’s would revive some of the titles, merely reprinting material from earlier issues.
WHO OWNS THE COPYRIGHTS TO GORDO?
This is not a definitive answer, but merely responses from many people who are involved with Gus Arriola.
Kit Parker tells me he has "the performing (movies, plays, etc.) arts, and merchandizing rights (and) the balance of copyrights to the artwork are split between the University of California and Mr. and Mrs. Arriola’s grand-daughter. I don’t own the rights to the play, but no play could be exploited without my permission."
RC Harvey, author of the terrific ACCIDENTAL AMBASSADOR GORDO, writes:
"Gordo's copyright is a tangled mess. When Gus and I did the book, he insisted that he owned the copyright. What he had to prove it was a statement from a local lawyer asserting that he had the copyright. His syndicate, however, did not agree. The comics editor there phoned me to ask why I didn't credit United Feature as the copyright holder in the book. Answer: Gus said he had the copyright.
The tangled part is this: some years earlier, Gus had manufactured two or three Gordo strip reprint books, which were published locally (or self-published). For the first one, he wrote the syndicate, asking permission. They never replied. So Gus printed the books anyhow. And that, I surmise, is how he got his copyright. There's a legal proviso that those who hold copyrights must defend them or they lose 'em. United Feature did not "defend" its copyright of Gordo when Gus published his reprint tomes, so United Feature "lost" the copyright.
Gus's granddaughter presumably "holds" the copyright, but I suspect she doesn't know it."
However, in a separate email, Kit Parker writes:
"Ramona Arriola, (the Arriola's grand-daughter) has no rights to Gordo in any way, nor did Gus himself. It was all a work for hire, with Scripps owning everything. I've seen the contracts; sorry!"
RAMONA SKYE ARRIOLA MCNAMARA
I am not completely comfortable writing about the grand-daughter of Gus and Mary Francis Arriola. I would like her to know that the legacy her grandfather left is one that is much loved by many people. On the other hand, she is not seeking any publicity and her privacy must be respected. While I will leave out the specific addresses I have for her, I believe her story is an important part of the Gus Arriola story and perhaps someday she will be interested in it.
A Friend of Gordo - Nancy - writes "We entered Gus' life when Carlin exited, having died from a car accident. Carlin's daughter was about the same age as our daughter. Gus spoke of his granddaughter, but didn't see her. We'd get bits and pieces (of information), if the conversation warranted, but Tom (Bethancourt, Nancy's husband and author of GORDO A FAMILY MUSICAL IN TWO ACTS) would never pry or ask questions: he just listened."
Regarding Gus Arriola specifically, Nancy writes: "Gus spoke of happier days living in the "big house" in Carmel. I have a few pictures I took when we picnicked at Doc Ricketts lab. The lab was Gus and his pals club house. I don't know what become of the place. The members all had shares and gathered for their meetings (partying)."
The "club house" Nancy writes of is the Doc Ricketts lab. Doc Ricketts was a good friend of John Steinbeck and featured in many of his books as a fictional or non-fictional character. He actually operated the DOC RICKETS PACIFIC BIOLOGICAL LABORATORIES, which can still be found on Cannery Row in Monterey, California. Gus spent his retirement years in nearby
Ramona Skye Arriola McNamara had her wedding in Monterey/Carmel area in order to have Gus and Francis there for it. Her last known address was in Brooklyn, NY but a letter to that address was returned. If she ever learns of this website, I hope it helps her realize the wonderful gift her grandfather left for all of us.
TRIBUTES TO GUS ARRIOLA
If you are new to Gus Arriola and GORDO, you may be wondering "what's the fuss?" This page is a reminder of how Sr. Arriola affected so many of us.
July 23, 1917 - February 2, 2008
Born in Florence, Arizona. Gus moved with his family to Los Angeles, California when he was nine years old. He went to work for MGM Studios animation department in 1937 where he met his future wife, Mary Frances Sevier. They were married on January 16, 1943. GORDO is first published on Monday, November 24. 1941. Son Carlin is born January 23, 1946. The family moves from Culver City to La Jolla to Phoenix and, in 1956, to Carmel, California where Gus Arriola continued to produce GORDO until his retirement on March 1, 1985.
Internet protocol says it is proper to list the web link instead of reprinting the information. To that end, we have two sections - one for the work of Gus Arriola while he was still alive and a second for notices after his passing.
These links are culled from the various search engines. Please let me know if there are any links that should be included or updated at firstname.lastname@example.org
GORDO and GUS ARRIOLA
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=5567772923&topic=13217#!/topic.php?uid=5567772923&topic=13217
Carmel Art Association - http://www.carmelart.org/artists_pages/arriola/arriola.html
Gus Arriola draws cartoons for children - http://content.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/hb9m3nb6bk/
Hogan's Alley interview - http://www.cagle.com/hogan/interviews/arriola/home.asp
A video interview from Sam Klemke with Gus Arriola - at http://soundofnepal.com/videos/video/8_eFNpbeZz8/Gordo-Cartoonist-Gus-Arriola-in-Carmel-CA-in-2000.html and at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_eFNpbeZz8
Star Words Interview by Susan Cantrell - http://www.starwordsonline.com/interviews4.htm
A video of Allen Richmond reading Gus Arriola's acceptance of his Lifetime Achievement Award on January 19, 2008 from the Arts Council of Monterey Tributes to Champions - http://www.blip.tv/file/763147
The History of the Comic by Thomas Staedeli - http://www.cyranos.ch/comic-e.htm
Comic Strip Fan with a Color Guide for a Gordo strip - http://www.comicstripfan.com/newspaper/g/gordo.htm
FWAK Blog - http://fwak.xanga.com/283931792/item/
?Que Pasa, OSU? (4th paragraph) - http://quepasa.osu.edu/issues/fall09/article11.html
Carmel Pine Cone article about the Bancroft Library donation - http://www.pineconearchive.com/070810PCA.pdf
A nice summary and remembrance by Tom Matson at Comics 411, it is the article that this website hopes to be - http://comics.gearlive.com/comix411/article/q308-gus-arriola-and-gordo/
SFGate.com - http://articles.sfgate.com/2008-02-03/bay-area/20872771_1_mexican-culture-strip-chronicle
Mark Evanier's excellent News From ME - http://www.newsfromme.com/archives/2008_02_02.html
Comics Buyers Guide - http://cbgxtra.com/comics-news-and-notes/gordo-creator-gus-arriola-dies
Life in Legacy - http://www.lifeinlegacy.com/display.php?weekof=2008-02-02
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada - http://www.saultstar.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?archive=true&e=887621
Lambiek.net - http://lambiek.net/artists/a/arriola_gus.htm
A nice note about Gus Arriola's work going to the Bancroft Library - http://www.redroom.com/blog/steve-hauk/on-gus-arriola-and-what-happens-your-art-and-manuscripts-when-you-die
Legacy.com - http://www.legacy.com/ns/obituary.aspx?n=gus-arriola&pid=102476961&ua=u8dtpjxdfbesgvuvqoduqq%3D%3D
The Guest Book from Legacy.com - http://www.legacy.com/guestbook/guestbook.aspx?n=gus-arriola&pid=102476961
Annex Galleries - includes links to original art for sale - http://www.annexgalleries.com/artists/biography/83/Arriola/Gus
From Mellart - http://www.mellart.com/2008/02/gus-arriola-is-dead.html
Bits and Pieces - http://mitchkief.blogspot.com/2008/02/gus-arriola-passes-away.html
Comics Beat - http://www.comicsbeat.com/2008/02/03/rip-gus-arriola/
Baldo Comics (Scroll down) - http://www.baldocomics.com/
Millard Fillmore's Bathtub - http://timpanogos.wordpress.com/2008/02/20/goodbye-gus-cartoonist-arriola/
Comics Journal Message Board - http://archives.tcj.com/messboard/viewtopic.php?p=53367&sid=241545ad5774079cb19e90599e26c117
Bergen County, New Jersey The Record - http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P1-148894556.html
RC Harvey - http://www.rcharvey.com/gordo.html
Bancroft Library, to whom Gus Arriola donated his collection - http://www.berkeley.edu/news/berkeleyan/2008/03/05_gordo.shtml
Mentions Arriola’s grand-daughter, Ramona Skye Arriola McNamara - http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jabberwock-berkeley/message/370
Depicting music in comics - http://madinkbeard.com/archives/arriola-draws-music
Mentions Arriola's winning of The Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco's Sparky Award -http://www.sharkforum.org/mt/mt-search.cgi?search=arriola&IncludeBlogs=1&limit=20
In the COMIC STRIP AS ART collection belonging to Mr. and Mrs. George Sturman from the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago - http://www.renaissancesociety.org/site/Exhibitions/Intro.Comic-Strip-As-Art.206.html
Kit Parker owns the performing arts and merchandising rights to the Gordo comic strip and related characters.- http://www.kitparker.com/