University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota
(Next post on Monday: Joe Sinnott, 1942–1946)
Amash: Who worked on staff then?#13, March 2002
Fago: Mike Sekowsky. Ed Winiarski. Gary Keller was a production assistant and letterer. Ernest Hart and Kin Platt were writers, but they worked freelance; Hart also drew. George Klein, Syd Shores, Vince Alascia, Dave Gantz, and Chris Rule were there, too.
Amash: What else do you remember about the layout of the offices? [McGraw-Hill building]#20, January 2003
Gantz: We had a room with on e window. It was maybe 18’ by 10’. I was there with George Klein, Ed Winiarski, writer Jack Grogan, Mike Sekowsky, and Marcia Snyder. Gary Keller was a like traffic manager, and he was there, too. Stan Lee had his own office, but it was nothing elaborate.
Deschamps: Well, I started at Timely Comics as a messenger/office boy. Gary Keller lived on my block in Forest Hills and I showed him some of my work. He said there was an opening for an office boy at Timely Comics. I said I’d be interested in that, and that’s how I got started at Timely. … Eventually, I took some stuff to Stan Lee, who liked it and said, “Okay, Monday morning you start here as a staff inker.”…#32, May 2004
This was shortly after World War II, in 1945.…I learned to do thick and thin lines with a brush. People like Al Sulman and Gary Keller helped teach me….
Vassallo: Do you remember Gary Keller?#35, April 2004
Bellman: Yes. Gary was a manager of some sort. He had glasses and walked around. My goodness, I haven’t thought about him in 60 years! This really takes me way back. While I can’t really put a finger on exactly what Gary did I do recall that he was a very nice man.
Amash: Bob Deschamps told me that, too. He was there. So you remember Bob?#90, December 2009
Jaffe: Oh, sure. Bob started out as an office boy. In fact, when I got out of the service, my wife and I were waiting for our house to be completed. We needed a place to stay until we could get into the house, and Gary Keller, who was the head of the lettering department at Timely, offered to rent us a room in his house. Gary’s house happened to be next door to the Deschamps’ house.
Bob Deschamps’ father brought him over to meet me for advice on how to get into the cartooning business. And I couldn’t give him any advice, because I had just gotten out of the service and was out of touch with everyone. I said, “Gary Keller should bring him up to Timely Comics and see if he can get Bob any kind of job, so he can hand around and see what we do.” That’s how Bob got started. He was a gofer …
Amash: What else do you remember about him Gary Keller?
Jaffee: In addition to being head of the lettering department, I think he also had an assignment from management to keep an eye on us. There were a lot of eyes on us, though some of that may have been a product of our paranoid imaginations. When people like him came into the bullpen, we wondered what they were doing there. There was a feeling among us the Gary was reporting to the higher-ups as to who was goofing off or who was doing this or that. I don’t have any hard evidence that he was doing that; it was just the impression we had.
Gary was substantially older than most of us. He and his wife were really survivors of the Depression, and he was a talented guy. If anything, he should have been a mechanical engineer. I saw some of his mechanical engineering, and he was brilliant. But fate throws us into strange occupations during hard times. Gary told me that he had been a traveler. He’d go from town to town, go into a diner, and for a meal, he’d do their showcase lettering. he was an excellent showcase letterer, which was a specialty in those days, but probably unheard-of now with the advent of computers. So he’d get a free meal by doing this work. He rode the rails and came back and married a woman named Helen. Towards the end of the war, they bought a house, which he fixed up a great deal.
Amash: Who hired you to be a letterer?
Lazarus: Gary Keller. He was in charge of the production department; gray haired…he was an old guy….
Amash: There was another guy—I guess he worked in the production department. His name was Gary Keller.Some of Keller’s comics credits are at the Grand Comics Database and Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999. It’s not clear how long Keller worked at Timely.
Sulman: I didn’t [have much contact with him]. I think he was in charge of the letterers. He used to assign artwork to certain letterers to ink and letter. The artists would put in the lettering in pencil, of course, and the letterers would ink it over. And Gary sort of supervised that.
Decker—Nov. 27, 1962, Mrs. Fredericka M. Decker of Wittenberg; wife of Grant Decker; aunt of Mr. and Mrs. Gary Keller.Keller and his wife had moved to Wittenberg because of the Deckers, who were residents of Woodstock in the 1925 New York state census and 1930 and 1940 U.S. Federal Censuses. Grant Decker’s World War II draft card said he resided in Wittenberg.
Mrs. Helen Keller was honored with a surprise party on June 29 at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Ronald C. Latz Sr. of Bayard Street. Those attending were Mr. and Mrs. Edward Mains, Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Dauner and son Gene, Mrs. Genevive Tinnie, Mr. and Mrs. Ronald C. Latz Sr., William Bovee, Susan Latz, Rhonda Latz and Skip Latz, Mr. and Mrs. Gary Keller. Music was furnished by the Musical Wizards, Ronald Latz Sr., Gene Dauner and Gary Keller.The Kingston Daily Freeman, October 29, 1965, said
Mr. and Mrs. Gary Keller of Schryver Street, celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary on Oct. 26. A surprise party was given at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Campbell of Port Ewen. Many congratulatory messages and gifts were received from friends and relatives.According to the Connecticut Death Index Keller’s second wife, Helen, passed away on July 7, 1982 in Waterbury. The death certificate included Keller’s name and street address, 179 Schryver. Keller’s first wife, Lillian, passed away in September 1994.