When scheduling this interview with Dave Blazek I had no idea I would be sitting across the table from an award-winning cartoonist and humorist.
I contacted Dave through Facebook because I enjoyed his posts. I was not familiar with his renowned “Loose Parts” cartoon that appears daily in newspapers across America, including the Washington Post and the Philadelphia Inquirer.
As a youngster, he thought the entire world had winters with several feet of snow like his hometown of Erie. He left the area to attend Penn State. It was that the time of the “Watergate Hearings” so he majored in journalism.
Dave fondly recalls his 45-minute chance meeting with Bob Woodward, the famed investigative journalist for The Washington Post.
Ten days before he was to graduate from Penn State, he met Eileen Beach at a mixer. She was from Lancaster and Dave was planning on returning to Erie. Well, things have a way of working out and they have been married for 37-years with two grown daughters.
Dave was always drawn to the newspaper world. His general knowledge of subjects and behaviors made it easy to generate daily humor cartons. His first job was in sales for the Center Daily Times at State College.
Moving through the newspaper world he landed at the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News. Being a creative person, Dave has done it all. Graphic arts, writing, plus creating and directly some 500 radio commercials plus around 100 TV commercials. He retired as Inquirer Creative Director in April of 2018.
When it came to “Loose Parts” he was confident that he could pull off writing the material but not drawing the panel. He recruited a co-worker and friend John Gilpin to do the artwork. It was a success and since 1999, “Loose Parts” has appeared daily in newspapers across America.
But the very first year, John Gilpin became ill and had to stop drawing. Dave being Dave decided to “just to sit down and gut it out” and to draw the cartoon as well. Except, he did not know how to draw by the way. Relying on Eileen’s artistic input he sat at the kitchen table and learned to draw well enough in six weeks to present to his editors. They bought it so he became an “accidental cartoonist” and now has drawn
Over 7,000 cartoons in a row and compiled seven books of “Loose Parts” cartoons, too. And last year, the National Cartoonist Society awarded Dave and “Loose Parts” a Reuben Award — the Oscar of cartooning — for producing America ‘s best newspaper comic panel.
Speaking of the kitchen table — over the years Dave would do his work there. So, he could be involved in family daily activities.
He is a print newspaper man — the paper is delivered daily to his home. Today the Blazeks live near Valley Forge National Park. In 2018, he built his own art and media studio. Dave has to be reminded that he is retired.
Dave has so many talents it is hard to mention it all. He plays the piano and guitar. He is a stand-up comedy, motivational speaker, produces greeting cards, is president of the National Cartoon Society Philly Chapter and on and on and on. Add cooking to the mix creating recipes.
DAVE BLAZEK’S BALSAMIC BEEF
1.75 lbs. chuck or round roast
1 cup beef broth
½ cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. honey
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
4 cloves garlic
Place all ingredients into slow cooker — 6 – 8 hours on low — 4 hours on high
Use drippings for gravy. Pull apart mean for sandwiches, too.