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Appreciation: "Crock" cartoonist Bill Rechin created "this whole little world" that delighted a legion of followers
Cartoonist Bill Rechin began drawing 'Crock' in 1975. He moved to Spotsylvania County in 1989.
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In 1975, "The Wizard of Id" creator Brant Parker introduced Rechin to Don Wilder, who had been writing "Crock," a parody of the French Foreign Legion film "Beau Geste," and working with Parker. Parker wanted to devote more time to "The Wizard of Id," and Rechin and Wilder hit it off immediately.
Rechin said he took to Wilder right away "because of the different twist on the way he thinks." When they met, he asked Wilder if there was anything special he wanted to do in life. "Before I die, I'd like to go into a crowded fire hall and yell 'Movie!'" Wilder replied dryly.
Rechin studied advertising design at the Albright School of Art in Buffalo and worked for an engraver before being drafted during the Korean War. In 1952, shortly after induction, he married Patricia Teller, a fellow art school graduate. He was stationed at Fort Belvoir and drew cartoons used in Army training.
His time at Fort Belvoir was an inspiration for "Crock." He said he learned much about "flies, digging foxholes, marching and drilling" that he later put to use in the strip. There he met artist and writer Shel Silverstein, who influenced him.
After being discharged, he made his home in Springfield.
Wilder, who grew up in Knoxville, also spent some time in the Army as an infantry lieutenant. He later spent 17 years with the CIA as a "media specialist."
He said that he drew on his CIA experience for the strip "because it was a humorous organization."
After being discharged, Rechin made his home in Springfield and worked for 20 years as an artist doing projects for NASA and the Department of Defense.
He created the "Johnny Horizon" campaign for the Interior Department, working with Burl Ives.
In 1970 he syndicated his first comic strip, "Pluribus."
Five years later, Parker introduced Rechin to Wilder.
In 1983 the National Cartoonist Society nominated "Crock" as America's best humor strip, along with "Doonesbury" and "Garfield." "Garfield" won. When Rechin got home from the awards banquet, he found a Garfield doll hanging in effigy in front of his house. A note read: "Dear Dad--We hung this little sucker nine times."