When artist Bill Morrison was a student at Lincoln Park High School, teachers yelled at him for drawing comic book pictures in class.
So who could blame the world-renowned comic book artist and illustrator for finding irony that today Lincoln Park is praising him for doing what got him into trouble.
Morrison recently created a visual tribute to his hometown, an original work of art titled “Made in Lincoln Park,” with proceeds benefiting the Lincoln Park Historical Museum.
Morrison and others he honored in his works visited the museum in December to sign posters honoring their achievements and meet their admirers. The poster’s subjects are all individuals from the city’s history who have made significant contributions to the American cultural landscape.
The poster was intended to help commemorate the city’s centenary of incorporation in 2021, but posters are still available and provide a financial boost to the museum.
“So far, nearly $1,500 has been raised through poster sales,” said Jeff Day, curator of the Lincoln Park Historical Museum.
Morrison said the idea of creating a tribute to his hometown started with a casual chat he had with Day at a Downriver comic book convention held at Lincoln Park High School there. a few years.
“It was surreal for me to be in my high school gymnasium, the high school where I had teachers yelling at me for drawing comic pictures in class, and now I’m being invited into their gymnasium to draw comic book pictures,” the 1977 graduate said.
Morrison shared table space with the Lincoln Park Historical Museum at this event, where he and Day found time to “talk back” about Lincoln Park natives who have excelled in their careers or left their mark in history.
He recalled an art exhibit about 10 years ago called Detroit Pop, which was held at the River’s Edge Gallery in Wyandotte.
“It was celebrating the rock and pop artists that came out of Detroit,” Morrison said. “It was kind of in my head.”
Speaking with Day of notable Lincoln Parkers alumni, Morrison said he knew The MC5, an alternative rock band that emerged from the city in the mid-1960s. He knew the inventor and automobile pioneer Preston Tucker, who worked as a motorcycle patroller in his early twenties; and he also knew actor Lyn Osborn, who starred as Cadet Happy in the first sci-fi series “Space Patrol” from 1950 to 1955.
But then Day told him about Gary Grimshaw, a friend of MC5 singer Rob Tyner, who started his career as a poster artist for the legendary Grande Ballroom concert hall.
He also mentioned Mary Moore, who in the early 1950s played with the Springfield Sallies and the Battle Creek Belles in the All American Girls Professional Baseball League. The league’s history was depicted in the 1992 film “A League Apart”.
Another notable figure in the city’s history, Day told him, was Chuck Miller, a designer-builder of custom automobiles, who created his large-scale award-winning The Fire Truck and The Red Baron Roadster, as well as its series of half-scale monster engines. “Zingers! which brought him national fame.
That’s when a light bulb went on in Morrison’s head about a future project.
“I thought it would be fun to do an impression, a little fundraiser for the museum,” Morrison said. “I see this as a precursor to making more individual portraits of the people depicted in this poster.”
One of the people depicted in his poster is himself, alongside the image of Homer Simpson, one of the main characters from the animated sitcom ‘The Simpsons’.
Morrison, who comes from an illustration background, got his start as a movie poster artist when he first went to Hollywood.
“When you’re a young illustrator, you don’t get the big jobs — you get the low-budget stuff,” he said. “So I did a lot of posters for 80s horror movies, teen comedies and that kind of stuff.”
But Morrison is probably most closely associated with “The Simpsons.” He’s been with the show almost from the very beginning, only about a month after it premiered on December 17, 1989.
He is known among fans of the series thanks to his decades-long stint as creative director of The Simpsons creator Matt Groening’s publishing company, Bongo Entertainment. He has also drawn thousands of images of The Simpsons for advertising, promotion and limited edition fine art. Additionally, Morrison has produced designs for episodes of the television series, as well as “The Simpsons Movie”.
Morrison also worked with Groening on the television series “Futurama”, serving as the series’ art director; and most recently with Groening on his Netflix series, “Disenchantment.”
At public events, Morrison mainly draws Simpsons cartoons, but also receives requests for drawings of Futurama and even Disney characters, as he has painted dozens of movie posters for Walt Disney Pictures, including La Petite Mermaid, Bambi, Peter Pan and The Jungle Book. .
But the talented artist also receives requests for drawings from the Beatles, as he drew the graphic novel adaptation of The Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine” for Titan Comics in 2020.
Doing these benefit events in and around his hometown no longer requires hiking across the country. Living in California since he was 23, he and his wife, Karen, moved back to Michigan in November 2019.
“I was the editor of Mad Magazine, and then that job ended,” Morrison said. “Mad is now a reprinted version of himself, so they didn’t really need a publisher.”
The magazine’s last issue as an original magazine was April 2018. Morrison then worked under an animation contract, but at the end of the six-month period he said he was trying to figure out what to do next.
His sister, who lives in Novi, had been trying to get him back to Michigan, so she texted him that she had searched for his house on Zillow and based on the value of the house, he probably could. buy two houses. in Michigan, in addition to having money for a vacation home.
“I thought it was fun, but I didn’t think it was something my wife would be interested in doing,” he said.
His wife, who goes by the professional name Kayre Morrison, is also from Michigan. They met in college and then started dating at Lincoln Park High School. She also has family in Michigan, but as an actress he thought she wouldn’t be interested in moving back to the Great Lakes state. However, she surprised him.
“I told her what my sister texted, so she went to Zillow, looked at it, and said ‘hmmm…'” he said.
Not having the opportunity to see her mother, sister and brother as often as she would like, the idea appealed to her.
So they made the bold decision to return to their home country, only to see things shut down a few months later at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For many years, they returned to Michigan at least twice a year to maintain ties with family and friends, some of whom they have known since childhood. Now that they’ve returned to their home country and things have started to open up as the pandemic ends, fans will likely see a lot more of Morrison in the months and years to come.
And if you want to see some of his works, look no further than the Lincoln Park Historical Museum, 1335 Southfield Road. The museum features a Morrison exhibit that includes pieces from his career, spanning over 40 years.
You’ll also find exhibits or photographs and other historical information about the other Lincoln Park natives honored in Morrison’s poster: Preston Tucker, Lyn Osborn, Mary Moore, Chuck Miller, The MC5 and Gary Grimshaw.
Signed posters are available for members of the Lincoln Park Historical Society for $35 and $40 for the general public. The posters are signed by Morrison, Moore and Miller.
Unsigned “Made in Lincoln Park” posters are available for $25 and can be purchased during normal museum hours: 1-6 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays. There are no admission fees.