Remembering Essex Cartoonist, Sid Couchey

Rosslyn Boathouse, by Essex artist and cartoonist, Sid Couchey.
Rosslyn Boathouse, by Essex artist and cartoonist, Sid Couchey.

On a gray November afternoon back in 2010, Ruth and Sid Couchey rang my doorbell to present this playful rendering of Rosslyn’s boathouse. We sat in the living room and talked and laughed until the dreary afternoon yielded to technicolor levity.

Sid Couchey’s Legacy of Laughter

With a perennial twinkle in his eye and a clever image or anecdote at the ready, Couchey’s presence was perennially and enthusiastically welcome in Essex.

For all who had the good fortune of knowing long time Essex resident Sid Couchey, his sense of humor and generosity of spirit rivaled his fame as the illustrator behind Harvey Comics characters Richie Rich, Little Lotta and Little Dot.

“He was always willing to pull your leg,” said Bruce Klink of Willsboro. (Press-Republican)

With a perennial twinkle in his eye and a clever image or anecdote at the ready, Couchey’s presence was perennially and enthusiastically welcome in Essex. Though he passed away on Sunday, March 11, 2012 his legacy will endure in our small town on Lake Champlain where he chose to spend most of his adult life.

One of the North Country’s most influential and beloved artists passed away last month. Sid Couchey was a cartoonist and illustrator who… drew for decades for Harvey Comics, helping to bring life to iconic characters like Richie Rich and… “Champy,” the friendly sea monster that supposedly haunts Lake Champlain. (NCPR News)

Sid Couchey presents painting of Rosslyn boathouse on November 20, 2010.
Sid Couchey’s painting of Rosslyn boathouse.

Sid Couchey’s Essex Legacy

Champy, the Lake Champlain monster, is one of many details of his own personal life that Couchey wove into his comics. Images of the Essex ferry are also common, and in 1959 or 1960 he even proposed to Ruth in a Little Lotta comic! Once his days with Harvey Comics came to an end, he “enjoyed a long second career as a local and regional cartoonist” chronicling the lighthearted sides of life in Essex and the Adirondacks.

Many of the brochures, pamphlets and books about Essex and the Champlain Valley that I have collected since purchasing Rosslyn are illustrated by him. It would seem that we’re overdue in anointing Sid Couchey the Cartoonist Laureate of Essex. Perhaps a proposal to the Essex Town Board? Certainly accolades are well warranted.

The man’s imagination and creativity tended to inspire others, to open their own doors of fancy wide. That, combined with his sheer goodness, his kind heart and generous nature, was a powerful potion. (Press-Republican)

He was always looking to get as much fun out of everything that he could.

My bride and I were deeply honored to receive Sid Couchey’s painting of Rosslyn’s boathouse, but a year and a half later another pleasure is added. I can’t help but wondering about the red-suited fellow gesticulating at the end of the pier.

Couchey was known to insert himself in his cartoons and artwork, and it seems plausible that the man may indeed be the cartoonist, having a chat with Champy. Or sharing a joke? Or is my suspicion born of Couchey’s opening pitch at the Montreal Expos – Cleveland Indians game on June 21, 2002?

Although Sid was king when it came to surprising folks, [Calvin] Castine got the better of him one time — arranging for him to toss out the first pitch at a Montreal Expos game when Cleveland was in town… That first pitch became a production, as Sid cleaned his cleats, checked the catcher’s signs with binoculars… “He spent three or four minutes at it,” Castine laughed at the memory. “He was always looking to get as much fun out of everything that he could.” (Press-Republican)

Sid Couchey’s appetite for fun, laughter and goodness will endure in Essex and beyond. And no doubt among Lake Champlain’s watery inhabitants as well once Champy shares the joke he’s just been told…

About virtualDavis

A writer, storyteller and unabashed flâneur, George Davis (aka virtualDavis or G.G. Davis, Jr.) is the author of Rosslyn Redux: Reawakening a home, a dream and ourselves, a transmedia chronicle about rehabilitating an historic property in the Adirondacks with his bride. He blogs about storytelling, poetry, doodling, marginalia, flânerie, publishing, and other creativity-inspired esoterica at virtualDavis.com; posts sometimes exhilarating, often unnerving, occasionally euphoric, and always pollyanna "midlife mashups" at 40x41.com; chronicles his sailing adventures (and misadventures) at Sailing Errant; and delves into matters of parenting, babylandia, and childfreedom at Why No Kids? George formerly taught and coached at Santa Fe Preparatory School and The American School of Paris, and he co-founded and launched Maison Margaux: "Paris à la parisienne" in Faubourg Saint-Germain. He currently owns and operates Adobe Oasis in Santa Fe, New Mexico with his bride. George meanders on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, YouTube and Flickr.
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10 Responses to Remembering Essex Cartoonist, Sid Couchey

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  3. Josh Clement says:

    Hey George, this is a great tribute to the fascinating and legendary Sid Couchey. I enjoyed reading it. After seeing a piece Mountain Lake PBS did on him a few years back I wished I’d had a chance to shoot the breeze with him. A very cool cat indeed! Cheers!

    • virtualDavis says:

      Josh, thanks for your complement and for sharing this wonderful video clip from Mountain Lake PBS. It’s wonderful. Easy to miss his easy manner and friendly disposition when watching him draw and hearing his stories. Thanks!

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