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“I’ve knocked a year or two off Aunt Fritzi,” Gilchrist says of how he draws Nancy’s curvaceous caretaker. “But not much else has changed.” This September marks the 20th anniversary of when Gilchrist and his brother Brad Gilchrist became the strip’s caretakers in 1995. Eventually, Guy took over full responsibility for writing and drawing the syndicated comic strip. Since then, Gilchrist has written and illustrated more than 7,500 “Nancy” comic strips, which he says reach 57 million readers in 80 countries each day.

Then Henson did something that surprised Gilchrist. He raised his hand up and wiggled his fingertips toward the cartoonist’s face and spoke to him as Kermit the Frog.

Gilchrist, who is also a singer/songwriter and a motivational speaker, got his start as a cartoonist in the 1970s for Weekly Reader, a private learning resource made available to schoolchildren. In the early 1980s, Gilchrist caught a career-changing break. He had heard from a friend and mentor, cartoonist Mort Walker, creator of “Beetle Bailey” and “Hi and Lois,” that Jim Henson was having difficulty finding an illustrator for a syndicated comic strip he planned to launch. As part of the evaluation process, Henson’s team for The Muppet Show asked the Gilchrist brothers to submit cartoon strips featuring the various characters from the half-hour variety show, such as the ringmaster Kermit the Frog, the vaudevillian Fozzie Bear, and, of course, the incomparable Miss Piggy.

NashvilleArts.com

September 2015 | 29

September 2015, Nashville Arts Magazine  

This month's cover is our very own Nancy (comic strip)​ drawn by Guy Gilchrist​.

September 2015, Nashville Arts Magazine  

This month's cover is our very own Nancy (comic strip)​ drawn by Guy Gilchrist​.