Tag Archives: art archives

Hartford days part 2: the coffee shop art-kids.

At West Hartford starbucks Nov 5 1995 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesI have received more free coffee from Starbucks than probably anyone in the world.

During a period when I drank quite a LOT of coffee, I happened to make friends with some very cool art school kids who all worked at the Starbucks in West Hartford. It was across the street from the Animation Art Gallery where I worked from Fall ’95 to Spring ’96.

Woman at West Hartford Starbucks Nov 6 1995 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesMy comic book had been cancelled, and I was no longer drawing for a living.

I went to work as a courtroom artist during my last year of art school, and went right into comics from TV news. So I had been drawing all day, most days, for years. Having a day job again was a big change.

Sean at Starbucks October 1995 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesWhat did I do as soon as I started my day job?

I went back to drawing portraits in my free time! The more I look at my own history as an artist, the more I understand that I have always been a portraitist.

drawn at Starbucks October 1995 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesAny attempt to do anything other portraiture has always ended in tears for me!

My true love and true nature is making pictures of people.

Steve as Han October 1995 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesSo when I met Amy, Steve, Sean, Chad and Kevin and their circle of friends, I drew them.

This is Steve as Han Solo, for a gift I made for him.

Amy as Leia October 1995 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesAmy as Leia!

I was so lucky to meet Amy. I hope she is doing well. More pictures of her in the previous post. The group of artists and writers she was part of were so smart and creative.

Sean working at Starbucks October 1995 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesOf course, having a day job meant I had to be at the gallery by 10 a.m.

Which was pretty goddam hard on me. Not being a freelancer/self-employed person anymore felt like being on vacation, but the getting up in the morning sucked. I have a circadian rhythm disorder called Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome, and it is no joke.

Luckily, my friends behind the counter gave me all the free coffee I needed! I would waltz in multiple times a day and they would just hand me coffee.

Portrait at Starbucks October 1995 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesI was fortunate as hell to meet some cool people after landing in a town where I didn’t know anyone but family.

I’ve always had a lot of luck of both kinds.

I had completely forgotten these drawings existed. None of them had ever been photographed; until now, no record of them existed – if we had a fire or flood they would just be gone forever.

I am so grateful to my Patreon Patrons, whose monthly financial support makes it possible for me to take time to document my art archives.

Hartford drawings: Fall 1995, when everything changed in my life. With Jeanne-Claude and Christo, among others!

Jeanne Claude and Christo in Hartford Nov 6 1995 by Suzanne Forbes aka Rachel KetchumMy career in comics ended in the Fall of 1995, when I drew DC’s last issue of Star Trek: The Original Series.

My first marriage ended at the same time. What was the first thing I did when I was no longer drawing comics for a living? Start drawing portraits again, of course. Including the famous installation art team Jeanne-Claude and Christo!

Jeanne Claude in Hartford with Christo Nov 6 1995 by Suzanne Forbes aka Rachel KetchumI was living in West Hartford, just a few minutes drive from my mom.

Jeanne-Claude and Christo, then two of the most famous working artists in the world, came to give a talk in Hartford. I went to see them and made these drawings – it was a small venue and I could see them well.

I don’t usually draw very famous people, then or now, but the setting and the charming pair felt authentic. The art world treated Christo as “the artist” and a monolith, but he himself made it extremely clear at all times that the art team was Jeanne-Claude and Christo. I am glad I got to draw them. Rest in peace, JC&C.

Rob Simpson in Glastonbury Nov 5 1995 by Suzanne Forbes aka Rachel Ketchum

Above, my dear friend Rob Simpson.

Rob was an editor at DC who I met a few years earlier at a con. We became good friends in the pre-internet years when comics people used to call each other for long phone calls in the middle of the night, and he came out to St. Paul to visit me when I was living with my husband Steve. We would go have sushi and talk about science fiction. And New York, being both of us Native New Yorkers!

Rob came to see me in November, when my comic had been cancelled, and I was working at a “Cartoon Art Gallery” in West Hartford. It was run by toxic people, but there was some great art there. And I was not ready to think about looking for another comics job, not then or as it turned out not ever.

Rob Simpson Fall 1995 by Suzanne Forbes aka Rachel KetchumWhat I heard from Rob about the state of the comics industry was very scary.

Paramount pulled the license from DC’s Star Trek books, cancelling them all without notice, because they thought the sales were poor. They didn’t realize the sales were poor because the entire comic industry was about to crater. There were firings all over DC. My editor, the wonderful Margaret Clark, was laid off and actually left comics, a loss for the business.

There was a catastrophic speculation bust rolling that lasted for years, with complex distribution and Hollywood involvement issues. The Great Comics Crash of 1996 led to small publishers going under, Marvel filing for bankruptcy, the end of Cap City, and thousands of comic stores going out of business.

Rob Simpson November 1995 by Suzanne Forbes aka Rachel KetchumRob himself left DC and went to Dark Horse, on the West Coast, not that long after.

We loved each other and came close to dating, and I walked away from a really good thing, because I was not making good choices in my twenties and thirties. I was devastated by the loss of the career I’d been working towards since 1984, reeling from years of suicidal depression, and stunned by the fact that my marriage had lasted less than six months. So I blew it. It happens when you’re a trauma cookie. I still miss his laugh.

Portrait fall 1995 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne Forbes
This is my friend Amy , one of the very cool young art friends I made in Hartford.

An artist and writer, she moved to SF before I did. We would draw together and it was wonderful. More about the cool young art kids I met in Hartford soon.

And below, my boss at the gallery, Debbie .

Debbie in West Hartford Nov 1995 by Rachel Ketchum aka Suzanne ForbesIt was a good time, the nine or ten months I spend in Hartford.

My life blew up completely, and I rebuilt it, then blew it up again by moving to DC in Spring 96, then again by moving to the Bay Area in 1997. That Saturn Return when you’re 28 to 30? Mine was fucking INTENSE.

None of these drawings had ever been photographed; until now, no record of them existed – if we had a fire or flood they would just be gone forever.

I am so grateful to my Patreon Patrons, whose monthly financial support makes it possible for me to take time to document my art archives.