New Green Bay Packer Comic Book in the Works
Greg le Duc grew up in Green Bay and as a child grew up during the sunset of the Curly Lambeau era. Drawing from his childhood experiences and skills as a director and cinematographer, le Duc has created a comic book GRIDIRON featuring the Green Bay Packers in the 1920s.
The comic book GRIDIRON # 1 is about the infancy of professional football and all the little teams that came and went with a focus on the key survivors, Curly Lambeau’s Green Bay Packers, George Halas‘ Chicago Bears, and William Mara‘s Giants. This era was a time of pass the hat football, where men played for the love of the game. This comic book is the first in a series of seven featuring the Green Bay Packers.
The following is a Question/Answer interview with GRIDIRON #1 author Greg le Duc.
Q. Why did you choose the 1920s as the time period for this novel?
A. I wanted to start right at the beginning. I actually start the story when Curly is at Notre Dame, and maybe I have started it when Curly was at East High. He was a champion then and remained one his whole life. Curly played against Halas in college, as you will note in the first pages of the comic. It really something that this Lambeau v. Halas, Packers v. Bears really started with Curly and Notre Dame v. Halas and Navy. For as much as we Packers hate the Bears, Halas was always a real competitor.
Growing up in Green Bay in the 60’s, I knew that time period. I was too young to go to football games played at East High, or maybe I should say sneak in to games, since as a poor kid that was my means of entry. Also Curly stopped coaching just about the time I was born. What is really sort of strange or interesting is that I grew up just a short distance south of Curly’s lakeside training camp. As a kid, I saw this boarded up place, and always wondered who use to live there, later when UW-Green Bay took over they put the Department of Philosophy into the old house it still had Curly’s intials on it. One of the more famous photos of Curly was standing in front of the house in a suit.
In the early days of the Packers, Curly had a job at Stiefel’s men’s Clothing, Earl Lous “Curly” Lambeau was always a snappy dresser. During high school and college, I went to UWGB, I worked at Stiefel’s, Green Bay in my day was that kind of town—small, friendly. I think that to a large extent it still is that way.
Q. Can you describe your current project about the Packers and the unique way you seek to fund it?
A. Our current project is a series of seven comics, with the first one done, the artist and his team is paid in full. Yet now I need the money to print the comics in high quality and distribute them around Wisconsin and the Midwest. For that I have gone to www.kickstarter.com. Kickstarter is a highly respected crowd sourcing website. People who was to see us succeed & get more comics out can go to kickstarter and pledge as little as $8. For this they get e-book versions of GRIDIRON # 1 & GRIDIRON #2 as soon as it’s done.
For those that want a traditional comic, and pledge $20. they get the print version, also an 11×17 blow up of one of the pages from GRIDIRON #1 and the two e-books. There are a number of other categories. I‘m going to skip to the most fun reward category. For someone who would like to see their face on the cover of our comic, as a fan, or football player in the background, we can do that and quite a number of other rewards come with the $2,500 pledge. Our top reward of which there is only one is my piece of goalpost from the 1965 PACKER v. BROWNS championship game and the person who makes this pledge gets their face on an upcoming GRIDIRON comic and quite a few other rewards. This one only special category is $5,000 and they become my friend for life.
Q. How can readers help? What will their help underwrite? (the printing?)
A. Yes, and the distribution, which is me appearing at comic book stores, bars, sports shops, anywhere they won’t throw me out. Probably be outside Lambeau Field wherever its legal, signing the comic and talking with fellow Packer fans.
Q. What is your connection to the Green Bay Packers?
A. I was born in Green Bay in 1950, lived there through high school and went to the University of Wisconsin Green Bay for my B.A. in creative writing and cinema. I was lucky to grow up in the Lombardi era. The Packer were our movie stars, Horning, Taylor, and Nitschke. What about a player named STARR! Nowdays we have Starbucks, Star Trek, Star Wars, but how lucky was Green Bay to get the best STAR of all. Bart Starr, he was and is everything to us; he was like our President, our astronaut, our John Wayne. He’d go into a shootout and the Packers were still standing when it was all over. It gave a kid like me something to believe in—that good did win, the little guy could triumph.
As a 15 year old I went to New York City, the biggest city in the USA. You could put ALL of Green Bay in some of the larger highrise buildings. What I thought was that Vince and Curly before him came to this metropolis and like superheroes and TRIUMPHED. They beat incredible odds every year.
From the 1920’s to the present. More importantly, when the PACKERS were bad, just like parents with a problem child you love them more. You want the best for them. Other cities may have teams, Green Bay has an extended family. Any of the athletes could show up at any given house on any given day and the residents would be thrilled, more thrilled than with some of their own relatives showing up. These athletes could and they don’t but they could ask to stay for dinner, get a lift because their car isn’t working. In the past many Players have settle in Green Bay because once they become part of the family its hard to leave. I met Tony Canadeo while working on this project. He came to Green Bay in the 40’s and never left. He started a business and became a part of the community. Granted it’s hard for some players to get use to the weather, still they have the warmth of the city to keep them going on the below zero days. Me, I traveled to Cali, Canada, D.C. with the Catholic shcool as a kid, but I will always have Green Bay in my heart and soul. Just like everyone that grows up here or around this great state.
Q. What do the Green Bay Packers mean to you?
A. Since the Packers are owned by the people, for the people, the Packers mean that an enterprise can succeed when all the regular people believe in something and support it.
Q. Do you have a favorite player?
A. As a kid, it was Hornung, Starr and Taylor, yet I really liked all the players from the Lombardi era. I even got to meet them when they came to the store.
Q. Have you been to Lambeau Field? If so, describe your experience.
A. As a poor kid, Lambeau Field was something to conquer. My friends and I didn’t have money for the games, so we charged the fence, scaled it and half the time got into the game. If we made it in we felt like winners. It was stupid, luckily none of us ever got hurt or when to jail. It was easier in the 60s. Now the fences are so high, I don’t see anyone being as dumb as we were.
For the famous Ice Bowl, we snuck in and I didn’t have a hat or gloves, my main memory of that game is “I’M COLD, I’M COLD, PLEASE WIN THE GAME SO WE CAN GO HOME.” After the game I ran down onto the field to get another piece of goalpost, then realize just before grabbing the steel post that my skin would stick to it. Since I already had gotten the goalpost from the BROWNS game, I left.
Q. How did you become interested in comics?
A. For GRIDIRON and all foreseeable comics I’m both the writer and an idea guy. I will do stick figure sketches or cut and paste.
Ron Randall is the head artist. He and his crew do the penciling, inking, lettering. Ron and I bounce ideas off each other as how the cover or pages should develop. I never knew so much work and detail went into creating a comic book. Ron’s whole life has been dedicated to drawing comics. He’s done work for D.C., Marvel, Dark Horse and many, many other comic books companies. He is also a founding partner in one of the largest comic book and graphic arts studios in the country.
Q. Do you have anything else you would like to share with readers of Packer Focus about your project?
I started this project in 1997 after meeting Marguerite Lambeau and videotaping that meeting. It seemed no one really knew much about that early period in Packer history. It was such a long time ago. Then I met Art Daley, a Press Gazette sports writer who started during the Lambeau era. I videotaped him. I wanted to write a screenplay and at the same time thought I might do a documentary on Curly. After that I went to Tony Canadeo’s and shot footage of him, talking about Curly and his playing days.
Sadly, my camera had a problem so I got very little footage of Tony. All of these people were so friendly and helpful. It probably was a little easier being a local boy and they knew my parents. So I became obsession with the story, writing and re-writing it from 1997 up to 2008, when I won the WorldFest Houston Platinuum award for GRIDIRON. Along the way, I also wrote a 360-page traditional novel. Now everyone knows how hard it is to get a movie made. Also producers in Hollywood do not really like to read. The reason so many comic books get made into movies is that they are not a challenge from a text heavy standpoint, very few word and a lot of pictures. Comics are very similar to storyboards, so they provide a guideline for the producer, director, everyone involved in creating that world. So creating a comic book series seemed like a natural next step. Surprisingly I think that in the end, it will make the script and the movie better as Ron and I have put a lot of time into refining the visual.
To contact Greg le Duc via e-mail: email@example.com
For more information about GRIDIRON visit: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/gridirongreg/gridiron-1-a-true-life-underdog-sports-story