Photographing an Artist, Capturing a Legacy

B.C. comic strip cartoonist Mason Mastroianni, surrounded by his Grandfather's artwork.

B.C. comic strip cartoonist Mason Mastroianni, surrounded by his Grandfather's artwork.

A recent project for me that was both fun and interesting was that of photographing local cartoonist and artist Mason Mastroianni, grandson of Johnny Hart, the original artist and creator of the nationally famous comic strip “B.C.”. After his grandfather’s passing in 2007, Mason took over at the drawing board and he and his family now perpetuate his grandfathers legacy.

Stay Healthy cover photoI was contracted by United Health Services (UHS) and charged with the task of photographing Mason in his art studio for an article in the Spring 2009 issue of Stay Healthy magazine, which is produced by UHS. The images would be used as art for the magazine cover (shown at right) and would also be included in the content of the article itself. But first, I had to get there, to the art studio that is.

Making my way to the shoot location in rural upstate NY, my instructions were to call when I arrived at the driveway entrance. I quickly understood why as I was guided into the property on the phone. On a sprawling parcel of land, the studio itself was nestled near the back of the property surrounded by beautiful mature trees and at least one large pond.

Mason had cleared his entire afternoon for the purposes of our photo shoot. After a tour of the various studio settings available for our photography we settled on two or three scenes to work from. At least one of these scenes allowed me to photograph Mason at the very same art table where his grandfather had crafted the B.C. comic strip over the preceding decades. It would be one of the images captured at his grandfathers art table which would eventually make it to the cover of the Stay Healthy magazine issue, as shown above.

While there at the John Hart Studios it was also my pleasure to meet more of the team, all family members, who work together to keep the B.C. strip in newspaper comics nationwide. Mason’s mother, Patti Pomeroy, and his brother, Mick Mastroianni, made my job easy and kept the mood light as good natured ribbing seemed to be the order of the day. As best I could tell, the teasing, often at each others expense, seemed to be pretty evenly distributed among the three of them.

Mastroianni self-portrait

Mason working on a self portrait.

When all was said and done, we had created a great selection of images for UHS and the Stay Healthy magazine to choose from. It was a pleasure to meet Mason and his family and get a glimpse at the inner workings of a nationally syndicated cartoonists art studio. And as cold as this winter day was, the warmth of this group of creatives more than compensated. My thanks to everyone at John Hart Studios for an enjoyable afternoon!

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