Years in print:
By Elizabeth Freeman
Snicker, billed as “The Humor Magazine of St. Louis,” showcases the cartoon work of an entirely homegrown cast in its premier issue. Familiar names like R.J. Shay, formerly of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and John Blair Moore, who pens “Pop Gasket’s New Ace Hardware Store” are featured, along with the work of others like Bob Staake, Rich Balducci, and Kevin Belford (who does backgrounds for the Voltron show). Newcomers Dick Drennon, who pens “Survival Man,” and Mike O’Day who cartoons “Working for A Living” also offer entertaining reading.
Editor and publisher Rich Balducci, who works for The Every Other Weekly, says he wanted to start a humor magazine that would offer established artists a creative outlet and provide a springboard for young and lesser-known area cartoonists.
“Originally I wanted to call the publication ‘Medium Rare,’ meaning the medium was art, and the material was rare, or unusual,” says Balducci. “I was the only one who thought that was the greatest thing. Kathleen Quirk, my associate publisher, said ‘No, no, no! It’ll sell three copies or something.’ So I was dying. I went for days and days and couldn’t think of anything. It seemed like all the good names were taken – you know, Time, Newsweek. So I was at the Weekly, and I was walking out of the office past the candy bar machine, and I saw a Snickers bar. I thought that would be a pretty good name if you just took off the second “s.” It’s a good thing there wasn’t a Baby Ruth in there. It could have turned out a lot weirder,” Balducci explains.
When Balducci began to market his monthly publication to area merchants, bookstores were particularly hard to convince. But when the galley proofs became available, the job was much easier except for one tough customer who didn’t bite – St. Louis University, says Balducci.
The paper sells for 50 cents – half for the merchant and half for Snicker. The artists usually work on trade, producing a page or two of cartoon material in exchange for a quarter-page ad to promote their services as illustrator.
The publication’s material ranges from Balducci’s clever “A Tax Reform Feary Tail! How the Gipper Stole Christmas!” to Shay’s outrageous “South Side Auto Bodies- A Visitor’s Guide.” And if you’ve been a regular reader of Moore’s “Pop Gasket” in St. Louis Home, you may be interested in knowing that Pop’s new residence will be at Snicker – at least for the time being.
Balducci considers the first issue of his publication – which hit the stores in late March – a big success, thanks to people like Shay, “The Marlon Brando of Snicker. He attracted a lot of credibility and other artists to us.” St. Louis already has its share of famous cartoonists, Balducci says, like Mike Peters, Mary Englebright and Gahan Wilson. “I thought it would be great to get some young talented people some work.
“Some have to wash dishes and wait on tables, when they should be behind the drawing board.”
(Originally published in the St. Louis Journalism Review 5/1987).