John Read | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

John Read


Comic artist John Read is the editor of Stay Tuned! magazine and organizer of "One Fine Sunday in the Funny Pages" exhibit.

As the publisher and editor of Stay Tooned!, a magazine for cartoonists, John Read has turned his passion for cartoon art into a career.

"I walk in Barnes & Noble or Borders, and I see seven magazine devoted to tattoo artists, but you don't see any magazines devoted to cartoonists," says Read, who started his magazine three years ago. "I can tell you there's a whole lot more people in America who enjoy cartoons than ... tattoos."

Read, 53, is the organizer of "One Fine Sunday in the Funny Pages," an art exhibit currently at Northpark Mall. The exhibit features 140 original comic strips that were all published April 11, 2010, in newspapers throughout the country. Last December, Read starting calling and writing hundreds of national cartoonists to tell them about his idea for the exhibit. The majority of the artists he called agreed to loan their comic strips to the exhibit, which will travel through out the country next month. A native of Texas, Read wanted the exhibit's first stop to be in Mississippi where he has spent the majority of his life.

Within nine months of graduating from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1980 with a degree in film production, Read worked on three films: "Don't Look Back," "The Jaws of Satan," and "The Beast Within." His most notable production work includes the films "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" and "The Patriot."

After working in the film industry for 21 years, Read decided he was getting too old to continue moving across the South to work on films. For the past 10 years, Read has worked as a graphic designer, a cartoon freelancer and an art teacher. After his favorite magazine, Cartoonist Profiles, ended with the death of its publisher three years ago, Read felt compelled to start a similar magazine.

Stay Tooned! is distributed internationally and published three times a year. The magazine includes profiles of cartoon artists in editorial, comic book, greeting card and comic-strip fields.

The new editor says he has always had an interest in drawing. "It's almost like I was holding a pencil when I came out of the womb," he says, laughing. Read says his father, who bought him his first comic book, sparked his interest in cartoon art. Read recalls copying comic strips out of the newspaper and comic books while he was growing up.

Read lives in Madison with his wife, Renee, of 28 years. He has two daughters: Erin, 24, and Hannah, 15. He wants to teach more children's art classes in the coming months and aspires to have a cartoon art museum of his own someday.

"One Fine Sunday in the Funny Pages" is at Northpark Mall through Aug. 31. The exhibit is located at center court next to Yankee Candle. Exhibit hours are noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, noon to 7 p.m Friday through Saturday, and noon to 6 p.m. Sundays. [/]

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