Mad Peck Studios Providence Poster
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The Standard Model
The Providence Poster (black & white) - Size 16 x 23 inches - $5.00
Color Collectors Edition
The Providence Poster (color) - Size 12 x 18 inches - $15.00
The genesis of the Providence poster goes back to the winter of 1961-62. Shortly after hitting town, the mysterious Doc Daniels accompanied us on a Downcity trip. When we were crossing Friendship street, he remarked with a mixture of surprise and indignation, “My third grade teacher was wrong! Friendship isn’t a two-way street! At least not in Providence.”
We all thought this was inspired wisdom. Thereafter, whenever one of us got the shaft from somebody, we would recite the mantra, “Well, in Providence friendship is a one-way street.” If the malefaction was of a financial nature, which it usually was, I would chime in, “And rich folks live on Power street.”
Many years later, the fabulous I. C. Lotz, perhaps growing weary of our self satisfaction with our own wittiness proclaimed, “Yeah, but most of us live off Hope!” At first we distained her contribution. After all, Doc and I were published writers. Eventually we came around as did the publishing world. But that’s another story.
Moving ahead to 1978 , I had become a semi-famous cartoonist for the rock press. I volunteered to do a comic page for a local student publication, whose name escapes me. Desperate for subject, matter I decided to illustrate our old chant in the style of golden age comic books.
Quicker’n you could say, “Who stole the matches again?” I had “created” the Providence poster, but it was a while before it actually appeared in poster form. The image’s first mass market incarnation was a slightly oversize post card. I had shown my opus to Patucci, the proprietress of The Front Porch, a Thayer street shop that specialized in exotic soaps and lotions, vintage clothing, utensils and other useful items from the past. It was her idea to sell the image on a post card.
As the 1970’s lurched into the 1980’s, Patucci suggested we should also produce a poster version. I was dubious, because by then the world was awash in posters both decorative and promotional (and occasionally both). But of course, she was right. Every year a new crop of callow youth would pour into the not yet Renaissance City for the purpose of matriculation. Mostly they were completely unprepared emotionally for the Providence experience, and soon sought relief wherever they could find it.
The poster began appearing on student walls all over the East Side. The upper crust started framing them. The Brown Graduate Center Pub had it reproduced as a mural. It graced the offices of a mayor and a university president. It showed up in a made for TV movie, and it may have inspired a question on Jeopardy.
What had started as a wise aleck goof became a heavy responsibility. I now had a valuable copyright to protect. A professor of English plagiarized the text in his unflattering fictional portrait of our fair city. And of course, the people over at The Providence Journal appropriated it several times under less than respectable circumstances, thus proving that integrity, if not friendship, is indeed a one-way street.
At times I would get embarrassed when a well meaning fan would gush that I had nailed the gestalt of Providence like Kipling had captured the essence of India. Either they were too easily impressed, or standards have slipped badly in the last hundred years. Victor Moscoso said it best about the graphic arts, “It’s just marks on paper.” Sometimes you get lucky.
Not that I’m not grateful. I enjoy investing the proceeds in cigarettes (Camel non-filters, please. Thank you). I really enjoy the special camaraderie that exists between retailers and the supplier of a viable product. Is this a great effin’ country, or what?
I would have been perfectly happy to rest on my laurels, but crime marches on. The price of tolerable tobacco has reached despicable heights, and computer technology has eliminated the need for many hard learned crafts.
When I collaborated with Mr. Monkey Productions on an unrelated project, I realized that color, which was previously beyond me and my publishers’ means had become a real option. Since my more upscale outlets had been asking me to come up with a new variant whose price was more in line with their overhead, I didn’t have much choice.
Thanks to Mr. Monkey’s digital diligence and his extensive knowledge of comic book art, the Providence poster is now available in color. And if you adjust for inflation, it will cost you just about the same as the black and white one did in 1980.
---The Mad Peck
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