Illustrator ‘Gus’, 95, honored at Connecticut Yankee Council camporee


If you look closely at the January 1970 issue of Boys’ lives (now Scout life) you will find something quite remarkable.

We’re not talking about the cover, although we have to admit that this one, about a California high school basketball team that won 57 games in a row, is quite a fascinating piece. (The streak would eventually reach 66 games, by the way.)

We’re also not talking about the story titled “89,000,000 Jobs – Which One Do You Want?” (Although it would certainly have been extremely useful for young readers – then and now.)

To look closer.

At the bottom of page 75 you will find the BL debut of “Gus”, the beloved cartoon dog illustrated by Orlando Busino.

The first cartoon “Gus”

Busino, already an accomplished artist at the time, still contributes to the cartoons of “Gus” Scout life nowadays. The artist turned 95 earlier this year and was recently honored for his 52 years of BSA contributions at a camporee sponsored by the Powahay and Scatacook Districts of the Connecticut Yankee Council.

In this January 1970 issue, you’ll find Gus at the bottom of a page full of advertisements. Right above the cartoon is an advertisement for a Crazy Ice Cube Bug: “You drop that in your friend’s drink, then watch him scream.” Looks like a bug drowned. … Result: a lot of fun.

You could say that Gus has come a long way since then.

Gus was born

The story of how Busino got the idea for Gus is pretty straightforward.

“I needed a character, and a dog is always a good one, and Gus is a good name,” Busino says.

For the first year or so, Gus appeared on different pages of the magazine, usually towards the end, often on the same page as the classifieds or other content. In February 1971, he found himself in the Think and Grin section (now known as Think & Grin, along with the ampersand), and that’s where Gus has lived to this day.

“I have always liked working for Boys’ lives, and now Scout life, “he says.” I try to make the best humor possible. I try to make sure that everyone enjoys what I do. I like to do it myself.

“Gus” is what Busino calls a cartoon gag, a type of comic that is usually a single image, with very short and simple text. There may be one or two lines of dialogue, and that’s it. The challenge is to tell the joke as concisely as possible in such a small space.

“It’s a sign,” Busino says. “So I want to make sure people have a good idea of ​​the characters. And the humor has to be appropriate for the magazine.

By December 1981, Gus had reached the top, so much so that he appeared on a Christmas-themed cover of Boys’ lives, and got its own feature inside, titled “Gus Is Loose!” And Busino himself was featured in the October 1984 issue of Scouting magazine in an article titled “Master of the Shaggy Dog”.

In 1981, a collection of Gus comics was published in a book titled Oh Gus!.

The December 1981 cover of Boys’ lives

The start of a wonderful friendship

One of Busino’s first fans was a young boy scout from Delaware named Bill Janocha, who would go on to earn the rank of Eagle (like his father before him) before becoming a professional artist himself. He even got a job with Mort Walker, the creator of Beetle Bailey.

Busino (left) and Janocha

In those early days, Janocha had the opportunity to meet a number of Connecticut designers. Among them was Busino, the man whose work he had grown up admiring. The two became friends and have remained close ever since. Busino even wrote the front of a book Janocha wrote about Walker, his former boss.

“It’s amazing when you grow up admiring someone’s work in your industry, and end up making friends with them,” Janocha says. “This part is a dream.”

Later, when Janocha’s son enrolled in Scouting, Janocha did what almost all Eagle Scout parents do: He became a volunteer, serving as a committee member, deputy scout leader and deputy district commissioner. . (Janocha’s son eventually earned the rank of Eagle as well.)

One of his jobs was to help organize the camporees in their district, and that’s when he got the idea to organize a special event to recognize Busino.

“I just like the guy,” Janocha said. “I feel like he deserved this recognition.”

A special day

At the camporee, held at Hoyt Scout Reservation in Redding, Connecticut (coincidentally, just a 10-minute drive from the house Busino lives in with his wife, Ann), a few hundred Scouts gathered for a weekend of ‘scout and fraternity activities. Among the attractions: the opportunity to meet the creator of Gus.

Janocha, along with John Hanks, vice president of the program for the Powahay district, and Mark Kraus, the Connecticut Yankee Council scout executive, presented Busino with a commemorative plaque and a Scout life cover produced by the magazine’s artistic department.

Busino with John Hanks

“They did a really good job,” Busino says.

The 95-year-old man and his wife visited the Boy Scouts and adults for several hours and even took the time to make custom designs.

“We had a great time with Orlando and Ann,” says Janocha. ” That was delicious.

“His mind and hand are as sharp as they were 50 years ago. If you compare his work today to that of the day, I can’t tell the difference. And I have a very critical eye.

We agree, Bill. Lucky for all of us, Busino says he’s not planning on quitting.

“I will continue,” he said, “until they say, ‘That’s enough.’ “

From left to right: Busino, Kraus and Janocha. Photo courtesy of Bob Brown.


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