To explain my wheelchair (young children view it enviously,) I have a terrific, gut wrenching mountaineering tragedy story in development, but for now, this will have to do.
Staged photo (with real mustache) on the summit
of Lower Cathedral Spire in Yosemite Valley 1976
In 1983 I was in the hospital for 5 weeks, blind, near deaf, left side of my body paralyzed. All I could do was lay there and smoke cigarettes with my right hand. (Apparently not a health-risk in those days) I remember, as my vision improved, the first thing I was able to read was a large size reprint of an old EC comic. It took a day or two but it was well worth it!
I left the hospital in a wheelchair with an MS diagnosis and flew up to a pal's house in SF. A week later 2 canes, next week one, next Dr. visit (sans cane); "Whatever you're doing, Gary, keep it up!"
1984-1986, quit smoking cigarettes, drinking, eating meat, re-started an old love; rock climbing, back to work as a union ironworker on skyscrapers, metro-rail, etc (perhaps the most physically demanding job there is).
1994 was my best rock-climbing season ever. Yosemite, Washington state, Joshua Tree and elsewhere. Since then a long, slow, steady decline. 1995 started using a cane, 1997 my last time climbing, 1998 in a wheelchair, lost driver's license in 2003. Still car/chair transfer solo, feed, bathes, dress myself (thank you very much).
Top photo of me with hat and moustache was taken on this summit (Lower Cathedral Spire) in 1976.
Young Gary Cifra, age 8
As to my history of involvement with comic books...
1972- 1976, Started my own business of selling rare comics through the mail, including Superman #7. I received a "We Seal Of Approval" (WSA #1035), officially recognizing my sales, condition grading and advertising integrity.
1976, was a consultant to Clay Geerdes for the annual Underground Comix Convention at Berkeley, CA - I still have the official program.
1990-2002, was a proofreader for Robert Williams, checking spelling and grammar in three of his art books. I was thanked on their title pages. A terrific artist, a legendary cartoonist and a great experience!
1995, I became co-founder of Lines On Paper, an organization formed to bring artists together and assist them in showing their work and breaking into the industry. We managed large events and launched our website, www.lineonpaper.com.
1997, began producing benefit art auctions at La Luz De Jesus Gallery in Los Angeles, CA and I'm still working with them today.
1998, produced another benefit art auction at the Julie Rico Gallery in Venice, CA, including art by thirty-six name cartoonists. The show was featured on cable television, focusing on Julie Rico and the success of her gallery. I gained sole ownership of Lines On Paper.
2004, started up my non-profit idea for Kids On Paper. An organization established to bring the exciting world of sequential art to kids from all backgrounds. Began contacting everyone I knew from over the years to help bring this great idea to fruition.
This is my passion, my dream - and it's been a post for me to lean on over the years. Kids On Paper, Lines On Paper, my shows at the galleries, and meeting most of my artistic heroes, has made things all worthwhile. Even though I've lost much in life, I can truly say I'm not doing badly. I surreptitiously appreciate the things I (and we) once took for granted. When measured with expensive, highly sophisticated instruments, it can actually be "proven" that I appreciate more than your average healthy, good looking, well-to-do, urbane sophisticate.
Gary Cifra, Director of Kids On Paper