PENMEN® Creator Gary Blehm
Since first drawing Penman the Optimist in a one room school house near Aspen, Colorado in 1977 Gary Blehm has vowed to make spreading the power of optimism his life purpose. The popular PENMEN® posters and wordless comic strip first published in 1989. The posters were being sold by retailers nationally by the end of that year and then put on display at the New York Art Expo by 1992. A book deal came along by 1994 and the comic strip was picked up for national syndication in newspapers. Blehm was on his way pursuing his childhood dream.
A Story of Optimism Begins:
It was 1977. A 12 year old Gary Blehm sat doodling at his desk in a one room school house not far from Aspen, Colorado where his family often went for holiday parades and summer fun in the park. His father worked in Aspen and would often bring gifts home to his three sons back home on the ranch. One gift that Gary remembers was a book of B.C. comic strip collections. He poured through the book and began collecting all that he could get his hands on. He wanted to be a cartoonist like Johnny Hart, and Charles Schulz. He only needed to come up with his own character and the sky would be the limit.
As Gary doodled he drew a character with a half moon shaped smile. The moment he saw that giant grin looking up at him he leapt to his feet. He had done it! There is was. He knew right then and there what he would spend his life doing. It was an epiphony. He just knew it!
That night that 12 year old boy showed the drawing to his parents and announced proudly that he would draw that character for a living the rest of his life! Little did they know but he would attempt to do just that.
Gary’s parents were always supportive of their sons’ talents and ambitions. For his 13th birthday Gary was given a drawing table and accompanying t-square. The young wild eyed cartoonistput the wooden parts together with the package of hardware that came with the drawing table kit. The table soon faced out of the second floor window toward the distant mountains. The t-square rested up over the top of the table and Gary was on fire with creative ambition. It was time to get started!