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Another artist's evolution cartoons

John Stegmann's drawing is striking in its elemental symmetry and simplicity. Gary Varvel's drawings are more detailed, but more whimsical and less realistic. The animals and people are all caricatures.

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Gary Varvel

Tom Healy, one of the organizers of the 1984 International Human Powered Speed Championships, recalls the genesis of Varvel's cartoons as follows (interpolations in square brackets are by John S. Allen):

Nothing in my files contradicts John [Stegmann] as being the progenitor of the image. My first exposure to the image was from an Effective Cycling Instructor News newsletter dated Spring, 1983 which featured John's cartoon on the mailing panel. (interesting note, the ECI News editor was Karen Missavage who later served as a practical vehicle competition judge at one Indy IHPSC)...[the 1984 IHPSC]

I was taken with the image and showed it to other members of the Indy Chapter of the IHPVA. As we put together a proposal to host the IHPSC, I floated the idea of using the image past the group. They enthusiastically agreed it should be used and I enlisted Gary Varvel, an artist at the evening newspaper, the Indianapolis NEWS, where I served as, among other things, bicycle columnist, to flesh out John's concept.

His first version [above] is merely a cartoon recreation of the original.

Taking the image back to the Indy Chapter, we talked it over and I returned to offer Gary additional art direction which resulted in the image which John Allen has posted [below] ... As noted, this was the image used on the IHPSC T-shirts at the 10th championships.

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Gary Varvel

[The 10th International Human Powered Speed Championships were conducted by the International Human Powered Vehicle Association in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA in 1984. The T-shirt cartoon shows more stages of evolution, including one that is entirely fictitious and anachronistic -- a caveman riding a  bicycle whose appearance clearly is modeled on that of vehicles in the popular animated cartoon TV series, The Flintstones.

[For later IHPSC's] Gary added further refinement to the image by adding two important images - illustrated in [the cartoon below].

The additions were:

a) Olympic "funny bikes." IHPVA co-founder Chester Kyle had substantial input in their design which contributed to the flurry of interest in the sport of cycling in the mid-1980s which led, in no small part, to the construction of bicycle racing facilities around the country, including the Major Taylor Velodrome which was a site not only for testing the "funny bikes" but also a venue for the 3 IHPSCs in Indy. It seemed appropriate to offer homage to Chet - plus the image fits into the "evolution" in between upright and recumbent.

b) Gardner Martin's Easy Racer - the "world's fastest bicycle." Honoring the winner of the Dupont Prize seemed like a no-brainer - though out of nostalgia we kept the initial streamlined HPV image. I suppose if I had it to do all over again, I'd have switched the position of the last two images so that Gardner's design could have been the last image...

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Gary Varvel

This cartoon by Gary Varvel has in turn been brazenly copied and the copy has been used as a trademark! Have a look!]

The NEWS is now defunct, like so many other evening dailies, and Gary has moved on to become the editorial cartoonist at the morning daily, the Indianapolis STAR, and I moved onto the joys of entrepreneurship in the printing/publishing industry. Gary received a comp t-shirt and profuse gratitude for his work.

Hope this info is helpful. It was quite a trip down memory lane for me, digging through files from 16 years ago and reliving all the excitement and enthusiasm of those times. It was a heady period - not only for HPVs but also globally with the decline and incipient fall of the Soviet Union and the "end" of the Cold War; the ending of apartheid and a renewed vision by some of us for a world of peace, ecological awareness and international cooperation. We were going to accomplish it with Human Power! (sigh) I'd like to think we still could...

Peace to all of you and best wishes in the coming year -

Tom Healy
[from an e-mail message dated December 15, 2001]

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Contents  2000, 2001, John S. Allen
except cartoons IHPVA
and/or Gary Varvel.