The Inscrutable Mr. G
His characters are so weird. But somehow so normal.
BY PATTY LaNOUE STEARNS
He has been called an angry man, a bon vivant, an irreverent wit, an irrepressible cynic, a guy who’s a little too preoccupied with carp. Richard Guindon is all that. And on this particular December afternoon, the legendary, sometimes reclusive cartoonist is also a convivial host, delivering deadpan one-liners while whipping up a mozzarella and red pepper frittata in his Suttons Bay kitchen.
Dressed in his standard Up North khaki uniform — safari shirt and slacks — Guindon flies back and forth across the room, grabbing pans and knives and cutting boards, chopping mushrooms, red peppers and pea pods, cracking eggs like a pro. (He in fact once owned a coffeehouse.) The open, stainless-steel shelving around his high-tech, slat-walled kitchen looks like a gourmet shop and boasts a sparkling, vast and ever-expanding collection of espresso pots — some French, some Italian, some new, some vintage.
Gaze over to the floor-to-ceiling book cases in Guindon’s living/dining room and scan the titles: The Catcher in the Rye, Marcella’s Italian Kitchen, Salt: A World History, The Lies of George W. Bush. There’s an entire section devoted to the works of novelist Elmore “Dutch” Leonard, whose late wife, Carol, brought back one of Guindon’s prized espresso pots from a trip to Europe. A case of the cartoonist’s favorite wine, Cotes du Rhone, fills another couple of shelves. Next to that stands a three-quarter-sized rendition of the artist himself — a painted board with a cutout for a wristwatch, which is missing. Guindon calls it his “Grandfather Clock,” although he is not yet a grandfather.
At age 69, Dick Guindon is still the reigning off-the-wall cartoonist for the Detroit Free Press , still edgy after the 40-some years he’s put into this particular career, which began in the early 1960s in New York when he worked as an underground cartoonist for The Realist and regular contributor to The Nation, Downbeat, Esquire and Playboy. That led to syndication at the Minneapolis Tribune and later brought him to Detroit in the early 1980s. During that time he married and divorced twice; fathered a son, Grey, now 34; and lived all over the world.