Cartoonists Visit Vicksburg on USO Tour

USS VICKSBURG, At Sea  -- Guided-missile cruiser USS Vicksburg (CG 69) hosted a group of nationally-renowned cartoonists during a USO-sponsored visit to the cruiser, Aug. 30.

The cartoonists included Jeff Keane, creator and illustrator of The Family Circus; Rick Kirkman, creator and illustrator of Baby Blues; Dave Coverly, creator and illustrator of Speed Bump; and, Sam Viviano, art director for MAD Magazine.

The visit marked the second USO-sponsored tour to come to Vicksburg and included several hours where the visiting artists were able to interact with Sailors and even create personal drawings of their characters as well as caricatures of some of the servicemembers.

"It was really cool that they came aboard," said Operations Specialist Seaman Jose E. Rosas. "I was very excited to meet all of them, Mr. Viviano in particular. As an artist myself, I really respect what these artists do, and I hope one day I can make a living on my art as well."

The cartoonists set up shop on the Vicksburg's mess decks and drew for Sailors until their departure.

"I got a personalized drawing from Rick Kirkman," said Sonar Technician (Surface) 2nd Class (SW) Eric C. Askea."I've always been a fan of, 'Baby Blues.' I hope we can have more events like this. I had a great time."

The USO provides this type of entertainment throughout the fleet and they attempt to find entertainers that appeal to a large group of servicemembers.

"We keep current on the demographic," said Jeremy Wilcox, a USO entertainment tour provider who accompanied the visiting artists. "Cartoonists are unique and popular and people want to meet the people behind the legendary comics. There is a lot of interaction (with Sailors) on this particular tour. In this case, you get quality over quantity."

The Vicksburg crew experienced the quality of the artists' work first hand and the artists themselves enjoyed meeting crew members from all walks of life.

"The best thing was meeting all the Sailors," said Jeff Keane, creator and illustrator of The Family Circus. "I like coming to ships because I feel less rushed (than on a base) and I really get the time to know the [crew]."

Vicksburg is on her final deployment and is currently operating in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations, theater security cooperation efforts and support missions as a part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

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