In 1981, Guy Gilchrist, with his brother Brad Gilchrist as writer, created the daily comic strip The Muppets, which was printed worldwide in over 660 newspapers from 1981 to 1986. He was 24 years old when the strip began. Guy was the artist and occasional writer for the strip.
Beetle Bailey creator Mort Walker had recommended Gilchrist for the job. There was a lengthy audition process. Gilchrist's early strips were based directly on the television show, the puppets and the work of Michael Frith. His art style became more simplified and streamlined as the strip continued.
Said Jim Henson in 1982, "We worked for a long time. We spent a year and a half or two years working with different cartoon teams trying to find a good combination before we found Guy and Brad Gilchrist, and I'm very happy with the way they're coming, and the strip is growing quite nicely. ... It was immediately bought very broadly and it sold to more newspapers than most strips ever launch with. We immediately had - I don't know the figure right now - but several hundreds of newspapers, but after that first little bloom, a lot of people dropped it. Not a lot, but a few. Actually, I don't think it's gone down that much, but to me the guys are doing really a nice job and I think it's catching on. It's a growth process and all these characters always take a bit of time to settle in."
In 1984, President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan invited Gilchrist to be guest of honor at the Easter at the White House celebration. Later that week, Gilchrist's Muppets artwork was permanently enshrined in the Smithsonian Institution. Gilchrist's Muppet artwork was chosen to be part of the touring The Art of the Muppets exhibit and has appeared in museums worldwide.
Gilchrist created Muppet comics in color for Muppet Magazine. The characters were also seen in a storybook style for the 1984 computer game Kermit's Electronic StoryMaker, and in a coloring-book and comic-book-like Western story for the Crayola Colorfun Theater.
He also drew licensed merchandise for Henson, most notably material with Muppet Babies and Fraggle Rock characters. A Gilchrist Kermit can be recognized by the three lines around each side of the smile on his face. This style of Kermit persisted for many years and can still be seen on some merchandise.
Notable merchandise line for the Muppet Babies included a long line of Dixie cups, coloring books, child-sized drum sets , a board game , a toy guitar, a Baby Rowlf Piano, and a lunch box for Thermos spoofing Star Wars, fairy tales and Raiders of the Lost Ark (which can be seen as a prop in 2011's The Muppets ). Fraggle Rock merchandise includes a stationery set by Empire. Merchandise such as a child's puzzle was also created for the short-lived Little Muppet Monsters series. Gilchrist also drew envelope artwork for the launch of the U.S. Postal Service's 1986 "Love Stamp." The stamp bears an image of a childlike drawing of a puppy, while the cachet depicts Rowlf the Dog as a postmaster. Gilchrist also drew several sample comics for an unpublished Muppet Babies comic strip.
During the 1980s, Guy Gilchrist created a fairly popular line of children's books called the Tiny Dinos, which was merchandised by LJN and Applause. Tiny Dinos puppets (in the Muppet style) were built for Toy Fair appearances and two TV commercials, with Gilchrist himself voicing Rex and Sir Waldo, and Noel MacNeal puppeteering Plateo. Gilchrist voiced many characters on a Tiny Dinos 900 number that children could call, and an animated pilot was storyboarded but never produced.
With Greg Walker, Guy drew the comic strip The Rock Channel, spoofing MTV culture in a style similar to the TV series WKRP in Cincinatti.
His other possible franchises of the early 80s were Little Ages (starring a tiny wizard) and Mudpie (a young-boy cat character who appeared in several children's books and later starred in the religiously-themed comic strip Night Lights and Fairy Flights). He also attempted to sell Jack B. Nimble, a Calvin-and-Hobbes-like strip about a young boy with an overactive imagination, and Bearly Angels, a group of angelic bears (later merchandised as sculptures in 2013). There were other ideas, such as a line for women called PositiveEnergy (starring a Fido Dido like female character), and Screams, a single-panel strip about monsters.
In about 1988 he wrote and drew Night Lights & Pillow Fights: A Trip To Storyland, a collection of illustrated poems for children, inspired by his heroes Dr. Seuss, Arthur Rackham and Walt Kelly, with coloring by Tom Brenner and Marie Andersen Gilchrist. A shorter sequel, Just Imagine, was published as a Little Golden Book. He continued to write and draw poems in the same style, drawn more simply as roughs with a ball-point pen. These went unpublished until 1997, when he pulled them out of boxes and published Night Lights & Pillow Fights Two: The Box Set, as well as a comic strip titled Night Lights and Fairy Flights which featured new and old poems and the Mudpie character. Another comic strip featured idealized male and female angels.
During the 1980s and 1990s, Guy Gilchrist and his studio created many children's books based on popular cartoon characters, such as the Looney Tunes and Tiny Toon Adventures, Minnie Mouse, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, X-Men, and Wild West C.O.W.-Boys of Moo Mesa.
- ↑ Jim's Red Book - 8/29/1983 - Shooting Muppet Babies in Movie
- ↑ "'Nancy' comic strip's Guy Gilchrist to step away after 22 years of Sluggo-ing it out." The Tennessean. January 2, 2018