Wednesday, June 02, 2021
Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Sid Couchey
Sidney Hubert “Sid” Couchey was born on May 24, 1919, in Cleveland, Ohio, according to his World War II draft card. His parents were Lester Hubert Couchey and Elizabeth Lasher who married on September 1, 1909 in Broadalbin, New York, as recorded at the New York State, Marriage Index (Ancestry.com). By 1914 the Coucheys had moved from Pittsfield, Massachusetts to Cleveland, Ohio, as noted in the 1914 Pittsfield city directory.
The 1920 U.S. Federal Census recorded Couchey, his parents and two older brothers in Lakewood, a suburb of Cleveland, at 1556 Cohassett Avenue. Couchey’s father was an electrical engineer at a carbon company. The Press-Republican (Plattsburgh, New York), August 6, 1984, profiled Couchey and said
Couchey was born in Cleveland. As a child there, he dreamed of being a cartoonist. He would layout the Sunday funny papers on the floor and study them for hours.At some point the family moved.
“That’s how I first got interested in cartooning,” Couchey said.
The 1929 Saginaw, Michigan city directory listed Couchey’s father, a salesman, at 740 Hoyt Avenue. The same address was in the 1930 census. After 1932 the family moved again.
The North Countryman (Rouses Point, New York), February 23, 1978, profiled Couchey and said
… Sid was born in Cleveland, Ohio on May 24, 1920 [sic], the son of Lester Couchey and Elizabeth Lasher Couchey. His mother came from Broadalbin. She and her sister studied music at the New England Conservatory in Boston. Sid’s father’s family are North Country people; Lester was born on the Bert Walker farm in Whallonsburg. He was a salesman who had the entire country as his territory. As a boy, he had been a lab assistant to Charles Steinmetz, the electrical wizard of Schenectady. In his later years, Sid’s father, a trouble shooter for Union Carbide, and the family moved around a bit.The Press-Republican, December 12, 1987, said
Sid went to school in Ohio, Michigan, and Illinois, in his sophomore year, the family moved back here and he graduated from the Essex High School. He went to work for a short time in Schenectady before being inducted into the army, where he served for four years. …
… he graduated from Essex High School, one of a class of five. “I once mentioned to my wife, Ruth, that I had been valedictorian. She was impressed until we moved to Essex and she learned how small the class was,” he said.In the 1940 census Couchey and his parents were residents of Essex, New York, on their farm where Couchey worked.
On October 10, 1940, Couchey signed his World War II draft card. He was described as five feet nine inches, 150 pounds, with blue eyes and brown hair. Couchey enlisted in the Army on February 11, 1942 at Camp Upton Yaphank, New York.
The Essex County Republican (Keesville, New York), January 17, 1947, said “Sid Couchey, a student in the Art Career school in New York city, has had the honor of being made president of his class. He is also on the governing board of the Artisan’s club. This club is not only a social club but also has an extensive lecture program.”
The North Countryman said
… When he was discharged, he went to New York City to study art at the Art Career School in the old Flatiron Building, and to the School for Visual Arts. He had always wanted to be a cartoonist, and after three and a half years of study he found his first job, working for the well-known cartoonist, John Lehti, on the comic strips, “Tommy of the Big Top” and “Tales from the Great Book”. Lehti had had several young men working for him before this, none of whom stayed long, but Sid stayed for almost nine years. It was a successful partnership. Sid worked on other comics too: Flash Gordon, Lassie, and “Space Cadet.” …
… For awhile, Sid worked for Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster who invented and owned Superman. They were looking around for a cartoonist to help them. Shuster had started to go blind then. Sid applied and was chosen out of 125 applicants. … the trio experimented with other characters, none of whom reached success. They split up and Sid went free-lance.
Manhattan, New York City directories from 1953 to 1959, listed Couchey at 237 9th Avenue.
The Essex County Republican, September 11, 1959, reported “Miss Ruth Hornd [sic] of Long Island has been a guest of the Lester Couchey home. She is the fiancé of Sidney Couchey of New York. The wedding is planned for late fall.” Couchey married Ruth Horne on November 14, 1959 in Orangetown, New York, according to the New York state marriage index. The Press-Republican, September 18, 1991, described Couchey’s proposal, “It was during the first years with Harvey that Couchey met and married Ruth. ‘I proposed to her in one of the Little Lotta stories,’ he chuckled, pulling out the comic book from his collection to show the episode.”
Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999 said Couchey worked on Marvel Comics romance books during the 1950s. In the late 1950s, he drew for Harvey Comics.
The North Countryman said
… The firm of Harvey Comics owned the three characters with whom Sid became best-known: Richie Rich, Little Lotta and Little Dot. He invented the secondary characters for their stories and did the story line. At first he was under editorial supervision but the editors soon realized Sid could operate on his own. This was the release Sid was waiting for. He and his family “hotfooted it up here” in his words. They were able finally to live where they most wanted to, and Sid could do his work from a distance.According to the Press-Republican, Couchey moved to Essex in 1961.
The Press-Republican, March 13, 2012 said Couchey created a mascot for the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid. Other sources say Don Moss created the official mascot.
In the 1980s, Couchey contribute art to the nostalgia-themed magazine Good Old Days.
Couchey’s animation project was described in the Press-Republican, December 12, 1987.
For the past three years Couchey has been working on a cartoon character for Vermont’s Department of Human Services. “Rascal Raccoon” was chosen by school children from three characters that Couchey submitted. The story line involves the dangers of alcohol abuse, and the targeted audience is the early grades, kindergarten and up.Couchey passed away on March 11, 2012, in Inman, South Carolina, according to the Press-Republican, March 13, 2012. He was laid to rest at Saint Philip Neri Catholic Cemetery.
“I had never done animation before. It was a tremendous undertaking. For a spot 30 seconds in length, I had to make 400 drawings. But once I got the hang of it, it went well. You created the background, then draw the action on acetate overlays. I’d draw the outline on the top, and color it in on the other side.” However, it nearly drove Ruth crazy. “There were sheets of acetate hung out to dry all over the house,” Couchey remembered.
Rascal Raccoon was a howling success. The spots were aired on local television, posters hung in the schools, and the teachers had lesson plans. “It was a one-two-three punch,” Couchey said. A survey revealed that after the first two spots aired, 95 per cent of the students knew who Rascal was and remembered his message; and 65 per cent had discussed Rascal with their parents. …
Further Reading and Viewing
Comic Strip of the Day
Essex on Lake Champlain
Mike Lynch Cartoons
News and Views by Chris Barat
Labels: Ink-Slinger Profiles