Remembering iconoclast artist
We are saddened to learn of the loss of former Planet Jackson Hole cartoonist James Todd, found dead this weekend at the Pioneer Motel.
For those of you who have been loyal readers of “The Planet” since we pushed out our first issue in Cynthia Huyffer’s basement in 2002, you may remember that many of our early issues included the grungy, controversial illustrations of Todd. Yep, pot leaves, Neo-Nazis from Lander … oh and Cheney as a Nazi? There are still advertisers who boycott us as a result of the pot leaf that appeared on our cover in 2003.
But Todd also did some of our iconic and hilarious cartoons as well, like the Jackson Town Council for our Council Chronicle column. (Remember the one depicting them as the Wizard of Oz characters or the Village People?). His Galloping Grandma cartoon still appears in the paper these days. (Did you know Todd drew himself sitting next to Grandma in that cartoon?).
Council Chronicles ‘Lord of the Rings’ cartoon by James Todd
Council Chronicles founding reporter Ed Bushnell remembered Todd. “James was immensely talented and it was these cartoons of the Town Council that gave Council Chronicles personality and a voice,” Bushnell said by phone. “I always looked forward to the cartoons and I thought they were one of the best things about the paper. My favorite was the one of them as Lord of the Rings characters, with Scott Anderson as Gollum.”
If you didn’t know Todd very well you would probably be scared at first glance. He was rugged, tattooed, and pretty crabby – the perfect character for a Quentin Tarantino movie. But I loved that about Todd (and by the way, he wasn’t mean at all. At least not to me). And when contrasted against the backdrop of our sometimes pretentious Jackson Hole artist scene, it made him a true iconoclast. He was a great artist, learned and skilled, yet rarely invited into the local arts scene. I think he preferred it that way.