Wednesday, June 6, 2012

An Interview with Team Cul de Sac's Chris Sparks!

Last year, I had the opportunity to participate in the HeroesCon Drink and Draw.  In addition to working the table with the art supplies, I was able to observe the creation of works from a lot of wonderful artists that were donated for sale to raise money for Team Cul de Sac which works to raise money and awareness of Parkinson's disease.  The efforts of Team Cul de Sac are spearheaded by Chris Sparks and their largest project to date is an impressive art book featuring a wide array of artists.  I was able to talk to Chris about this wonderful art book and the efforts behind it. 

Heather Peagler (HP): What was the inspiration behind this book?

Chris Sparks (CS): The inspiration was reading a book one night by Michael J. Fox: Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist.  I figured if an actor that I admired could start a foundation to help cure Parkinson's, I could do something to raise money for the MJFF and honor my friend Richard Thompson, the creator of the syndicated strip Cul de Sac. 
I was struck by Michael's ability to be the face (if he wanted to or not) of this terrible disease. Before I asked Richard for his blessing of me doing a fundraiser, I had to think if I would be willing to put myself out there like Richard would have to. It was a no brainer, yes I would do it and if he said yes, I would go about this full steam. 
Richard gave me his blessing and off I went on coming up with a plan for Team Cul de Sac.

HP: How did you meet Richard?

CS: I met Richard at Heroescon in 2008. I had heard such nice things about him from Dusty that I really had to see if Richard was as amazing as everyone said. Well he is. I became a fan/stalker/friend from the moment I met him. He is one of the most talented cartoonist I have ever met. Plus, he is a great guy!

HP: How did you go about gathering the work for the book?

CS: Richard posted information on his blog and Mike Rhode, a mutual friend in DC, spread the news and then it kept spreading. This was almost a total social media effort.
Then Watterson contributed and BAMMM, contributions started to pour in. I also went to Baltimorecon , Heroescon, and the Reuben awards last year in Boston and asked folks. Lee Salem, the president of Universal Uclick syndicate, also asked some of the big guns to contribute. 

HP: How did you team up with the Michael J. Fox Foundation for this project?

CS: They have a great fundraising system called TEAM FOX. It is a grassroots fundraising section of the MJFF. Each year they have over 1500 Team Fox members raising money. So I formed Team Cul de Sac.

HP: Which artists are you most excited about including?

CS: I admire so many. Top on my list is Richard do the amazing cover. What a thrill. Also, Sergio Aragones is just one of my heroes in so many ways. He has been one of the biggest inspirations in my life. Bill Watterson, Bill is one of the best storytellers ever. To have him pick this project to showcase his first public art in 16 years is an honor. Plus, his name recognition made everyone take notice of TCDS. Pat Oliphant... Pat Oliphant, I am still shocked by his contribution. Mo Williams, Lincoln Pierce, Tim is really amazing. I might as well list everyone. The talent of both the professionals and fans is quite amazing.

HP: What's been your happiest moment during this project?

CS: It has to be getting emails from people with Parkinson’s or their families emailing me about how much this means to them. To have a lighter look at something that is just not that funny. Also, the outpouring of support for the project and for Richard has been such a blessing. Cartoonists and fans for our hobby are the best folks in the world. I am glad to be a part of this wonderful world we love.

Here at Exile, we're super excited to be able to promote such an awesome book that supports such a great cause.  Seth and I can't wait to pick up our copy of Team Cul de Sac this June at HeroesCon. Plus if you buy your book at HeroesCon, you'll also be able to purchase the special HeroesCon incentive print (pictured below) by Roger Langridge! Books will be $30 at the show with a percentage of the proceeds going to the Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF).  There may also be copies of the Author's Edition, which are $60 with $20 going to the MJFF.  All proceeds from the sale of the HeroesCon print will also go to MJFF.

Chris may also have books by Richard at his booth this year since Richard's health has restricted his travel.  So be sure to stop by his booth and pick up some great art to support both the MJFF and Richard! 

You can also add to your art collection before HeroesCon through the Heritage Team Cul de Sac auction currently running until June 10, 2012. 

Thanks so much to Chris Sparks for taking the time to speak to us and for being such a dedicated person in the fight against Parkinson's disease.

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