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He’s A Man For All Seasons
Carvel a psychic, artist, civic leader
By Jaque Kampschroer. Publication unknown, likely Simi Enterprise or UCLA Bruin (circa 1979)

Lee Carvel might be called a man for all seasons. At age 40, he is a mixture of community awareness and good old American enterprise. In the 23 years he's been on his own, Carvel has been strictly a freelancer – whether it be as a magician, newspaper publisher, Psychic or cartoonist. He began drawing at an early age, creating his own comics. In high school he did numerous sports illustrations and editorial cartoons for his local newspaper. But he abandoned his early comic interests to make commercial signs. Billboards became his specialty and he would paint large panels that duplicated photographic scenes – a technique that is almost a lost art in billboard making now, he says. From billboards he turned to magic, touring 43 states with his levitation powers and illusions. "I did the two-hour midnight spook shows in movie theaters that came on after a double feature monster flick:,” said about his early career, he later became a charter member of the Magic Castle in Hollywood. Through magic, he learned about parapsychology. "I've performed a number of professional readings noting that he was also present when an exorcism was performed in Pacoima, California in 1969. "A son and a mother lived in this house in Pacoima. The son murdered his wife and then committed suicide. The house was later rented out several times, but none of the tenants could live there more than a week." So Carvel and about 20 other persons interested in mentalism went to the house late at night. The group lit some candles, and shortly thereafter, one of the skeptics present became possessed and was thrown into the wall. "She began speaking Spanish" a language she didn't know, she spit at the crucifix, and her legs levitated up," he added. All during this time sounds of moaning and crying could also be heard. Healing is another area Carvel has delved into. Although his experience in healing surprised himself, he once laid his hands upon the head of a man who had a protruding tumor, causing it to shrink within five minutes. "I have no explanation for this." Recalling past lives is another area in which Carvel is familiar, noting he can call on many past lives of his own. "I think 90% of the regression actually tells what a person would like to be," he said. Carvel eventually left the psychic life and the signboard busi­ness to return fulltime to his cartooning. But he still hasn't totally abandoned his interest in magic or in what he calls the "greater than life." Many of his cartoon stories deal with monsters. "It's the same old 'good triumphs over evil'. The good guy always wins," he said. Carvel puts himself in a hypnotic trance to get his creative juices working when it comes time for him to complete a new cartoon series. "It's like getting into the art. It came from my magic. 'Every performer stands in the wings, relaxes to get into the role. I also try to get into the character of my monsters," he said:’

Realism in Fantasy and Cartoons
By Dennis Anderson. Simi Valley Enterprise Newspaper (circa 1981)

Lee Carvel as a professional magician toured the countryside billed as "The Great Carvel". He hypnotized and levitated his stage subjects before the days he set brush to poster board. "I got tired of show business. I did midnight spook shows with enough equipment to fill two truckloads. I just got tired of living out of a trunk. Drawing always came easy to me," he said. Drawing came so easy to the psychic and mentalist that he has supported himself with his art for 25 years. Carvel is one of a small group of commercial artists who popularized "barbarian art" on pocketbook and comic cover. Carvel's style of heavily muscled swordsmen and fetching magical maidens are portrayed on everything from Christmas calendars to customized vans. "People like the barbarian art because it portrays a macho power thing. People turn to fantasy because barbarians and cowboys in their imagination give them a sense of power." "Our lives are so controlled by bureaucratic institutions on power trips that we turn to fantasy; for release," Carvel said. Lee Carvel has never handled swords or six guns to battle bureaucracy. He has always used his paintbrush or pen to barb the "establishment." "The highlight of my life was when my 'Lee Carvel' made Nixon's enemy list because of all the Nixon cartoons I was drawing for underground comics during the sixties.' "Since Watergate, there's been apathy," he said. Carvel has been largely apathetic toward politics himself lately. During the '60s he worked on the campaign staffs of John F. and Bobby Kennedy and worked for Cesar Chavez. But after Bobby Kennedy was shot, he became disillusioned with politics. Still, he has used his brush to paint political protest. As a psychic, Carvel believes he can anticipate trends to pursue with his artwork that will be commercially successful. He said he anticipated the popularity of barbarian art. Then he correctly sensed that science fiction art would become hugely successful shortly before "Star Wars" was released. “The next successful trend will be Western art." So he is following his instincts and producing stagecoach and cowboy art. So the man who made a living on fantasy is moving toward realism in his art. His imagination has carried him to far planets and alien scapes peopled by warlocks and vampires. Now it is taking him to the red rock hills of the old West. . "My astral travels have taken me to many of the places I've painted. Maybe I'm going to the old West in my imagination," he said: His wife, Lee, has been a support to him because he says she, being a music teacher, is also a creative person. Sometimes' she thinks he works too much, though. "I work on my art seven days a week: sometimes 14 hours each day. The only thing I take time out for is to watch the football games. Then I'm glued to the set."

Artist immortalizes horror hostess Elvira
By Mike Farkash. Simi Valley Enterprise Newspaper, Friday, April 22, 1983

Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, hostess of KHJ-TV's "Movie Macabre," will soon grace an entirely new medium - the world of poster art. Leo Quintanar of Simi Valley, known professionally as Lee Carvel, has rendered Elvira's midnight charms into the dimensions of an art deco poster. Quintanar, an artist, a psychic and former magician, seems a natural to be the one to interpret the spooky and sexy character of Elvira, who is played by actress Cassandra Peterson. At age 46, Quintanar has been sketching for more than four decades. He drew comics at the kitchen table when he was 3 or 4. Today, paintings and posters provide his main source of income. He has turned a room in his Simi Valley home into a poster workshop, and arranges for the mass production of his work. Quintanar hopes to release the posters in the next few weeks, to market them in a limited edition at major galleries and department stores. The artist also hopes to turn the image of Elvira into collectors' plates. Negotiations began in May of last year for the rights to the poster, and contracts were signed in December. Peterson posed for photos during her taping sessions, and she's seen the posters. "She loves them," reported Quintanar. Quintanar said that Peterson's fame, as Elvira, was really beginning to take off. "By the end of the year, she may be syndicated on 280 stations," he said. Peterson, who has played in TV shows including "Fantasy Island" and in feature films including "Sting II," posed in four photo sessions for Quintanar. A couple of months later, working from the photos, the artist had produced a number of sketches and finally, the paintings. Quintanar has merged art and business science, painting the posters and planning to market them as well. Duane Lehman, another Simi Valley resident who has done color separations of photographs for The Enterprise, did the color work for Quintanar's posters. The two have been collaborating on various projects. Quintanar is an old hand at the art of posters and cartoon creation. He has two artistic character predilections, one at each end of the scale: pretty girls and monsters. He's drawn pinups and erotica for years, as well as interpretations of his favorite monsters the Phantom of the Opera, Bela Lugosi’s Dracula, Frankenstein's monster and other denizens of the dark.

Dozens of characters from popular culture, the political sphere and sports fields flow from the pen and paint brush of the artist. Quintanar claims the Elvira poster is art suitable for framing. And while the poster is on its way onto the walls of homes of spooky horror movie hostess fans, Peterson is continuing to speed through the whole gamut of licensing and pop culture tie- ins. Peterson, according to her manager, Mark Pierson, will be the hostess on an album featuring original recordings of "Monster Mash" and other Halloween hits. An introduction and a "post-mortem" on each song will be provided. A second album will present original, campy, humorous, sexy material, with Peterson again playing Elvira. That second album will be produced by Todd Rundgren, of Utopia fame. Elvira also will be syndicated beginning this month, with 20 to 30 markets anticipated over the next several months, according to Pierson. Besides her weekly commitment of one show for KHJ, this means another 26 movies to hostess nationally. Peterson, born in Manhattan, Kansas, has been in feature films including "Sting II," and "Jekyll and Hyde- Together Again," and she will be appearing in the new Burt Reynolds film, "Stoker Ace," a movie in the "Smokey and the Bandit" vein. According to Pierson, Reynolds saw Peterson on Johnny Carson's show and arranged for her to be in his next film. In "Stoker Ace," Peterson apparently plays a race car groupie who attempts to pick up Jim Nabors. She does wear an Elvira-style wig to cover her red hair, however. Peterson also played roles in "Happy Days," "Fantasy Island," "House Calls" and others. She began her role as Elvira about a year-and-a-half ago [circa 1981]. Peterson has been a performer and entertainer since age 17 in Las Vegas; she was with an Italian rock 'n' roll group for a year and later did a comedy, singing and dancing nightclub act called “Mama's Boys," which toured all over the U.S. "We're looking to expand the character," Pierson said. Eventually we'll have a comic book, an Elvira video game, and T-shirts. We're making up an official Elvira costume and make-up kit for next Halloween." Pierson also noted that Peterson would be staging a show next year, with comedy, dancing and music -- as Elvira. Both of her albums will be released in September. Rundgren's group, Utopia, will be doing some of the background music for her original album. Quintanar has captured some of the most well-known faces in the world, researching his subject to make the paintings more meaningful. He aims for what he calls "super-realism," making his subjects larger than life. "My competition is the lens," he said. "I hate hearing people say, 'that looks like a photo.” But the artist admitted that this was, in a way, a compliment. "Da Vinci said the greatest accolades should go to the artist that makes a two-dimensional object look three-dimensional." There's not a great market for one of Quintanar's favorite artistic passions - the nude - in this country, but there is in Europe. "The European market loves art nudes - I'm doing six plates for them," Quintanar said. My favorite subject is girls. I don't see anything obscene in a beautiful woman. In Europe, they treat the woman as the greatest art form." His hope is to be able to do a monthly pin-up page for a major magazine, much as artist Alberto Vargas did for Playboy Magazine. Quintanar has also turned out figures from the other side of the coin, catering to the fascination monsters hold for people. Quintanar has drawn a good number of creatures and science fiction characters. "We're all fascinated by monsters - there are monsters in our ‘Id’ -- it's a struggle. An artist, to me, is really living out a dream state. He chooses to share that dream."


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