Dear Acquisitions Committee Members,
I am writing you regarding a collection of artwork and publications that a friend of mine, Jim Newberry, is interested in donating. The collection was created by his partner of 40 years, John Klamik, artist and activist, known as “Sean the Artist.” I am enclosing a cd with digital images of many of the works in the collection as well as an inventory.
John was born 22 July 1935 in Chicago, IL and later studied at the Chicago Art Institute (he passed away a couple of years ago). “Sean” moved to West Hollywood, CA in 1961 and worked as an artist and display director for the Akron Stores, combining his loves for art and activism as the editorial cartoonist for Buckshot, which appeared in the original Advocate newspaper..
Over the next three decades, “Sean” contributed cartoons to mainstream gay newspapers and magazines as well as to special interest gay publications, including Drummer, Bound & Gagged, and Red Tails. He also created murals for a number of famous Hollywood sites (restaurants, bars, houses, and bath-houses) such as Manspace, Hollywood Spa, and The Sewers of Paris, as well as for sites in Los Angeles, San Diego, Palm Springs, and San Francisco.
Further, “Sean” illustrated many books and short stories for writers such as Larry Townsend and R. F. M. (Roger Mays). He was a pioneer in the genre, creating his own comic-strip-style magazines, Biff, Biff Bound, and Big Foot and a Half. Nova Publications published 18 of his sex-adventure stories and innumerable illustrations and gag cartoons. “Sean” also worked with Nova Films, as set decorator, art director, scriptwriter, and occasional phantom fluffer. “Sean” also published soft-core comic strips including Jake, Dick Darling, Hollywood Cover Boy, Johnny Guitar, Tony & Trent, Up the Block, Ben Him, and Boy-Boy.
“Sean’s” work has been exhibited in the Tom of Finland Foundation art exhibitions, and his original works are owned by collectors worldwide. “Sean’s” erotic story illustrations have been translated into French and ran in Gay Comix. His life work is estimated at over 10,000 drawings, making him one of the most prolific artists in the genre.
Many of “Sean’s” designs have been used in gay pride festivals as advertising art, t-shirt art, logos, album covers, and event posters. He was active in the fight for gay rights, picketing, sitting in, and repeatedly serving on the board of directors for Los Angeles organizations such as The Kingmasters, and Christopher Street West. He also served on the planning committee for the Los Angeles/West Hollywood annual gay pride parade and festival. .
This collection relates to the history and cultural significance of less-well-studied aspects of human sexuality. It includes the original artwork, and in many cases, the publications the works were subsequently used in. These materials have not been widely collected and are even more scare in public collections. As the executor of the estate, Mr. Newberry has the right to transfer the copyright for these works to you. The collection is in good condition with the exception of the need for archival housing.
“Sean’s” collection includes historical ephemera for your research library, and a wealth of artwork for your exhibitions. My hope is that you will be interested in this collection that would otherwise have been destroyed or discarded. I look forward to hearing from you soon.