Extracurricular Activities: Gary Kopervas

By Tk Published on .

Gary Kopervas was named creative director last November at Winning Strategies, a Mt. Laurel, N.J., ad agency, after five years at The Sawtooth Group in nearby Woodbridge, but he's not your average local adman. He's a cartoonist with a King Features contract since '91 that puts his Gary Larson-like Out on a Limb in about 500 weekly papers. Better yet, his cartoon work has found its way into quite a number of his ads (seen here is a new ad for the New Jersey Aquarium featuring Kopervas' handiwork).

Kopervas, 38, was a business major and an art minor at Gettysburg College, where he did a comic panel in the school paper, but, oddly enough, he started his ad career at O&M/New York as a copywriter. "I gravitated toward the writing side when I found out that being an AD didn't mean drawing cartoons," he says. However, it did as of five years ago at Sawtooth with a Radisson Hotels campaign in USA Today. "It was around the time Dilbert became very hot, and Radisson wanted to go with a cartoon idea to push their Website," Kopervas recalls. "We got various illustrators to submit work and I did one with my own character in it, a goofy guy with glasses. Mine started out as just for position, but the client picked it, not knowing who it belonged to. So I said, `You want something like that?' and they said, "No, we want that.' When I told them I did it, they were OK with that. So I did the whole campaign." The Holy Grail of national TV work may be in short supply in Kopervas' ad world, "but for a cartoonist, this was a magic moment," he says. He's done work for about a dozen clients since then, including BellSouth and Coldwell Banker. "They all start as clients that I write for, but when they find out what I do they start to think about cartoon-based ideas," he explains. "I'm able to come up with the concept and execute it in my own style. It's pretty cool."

Kopervas is presently looking to sell a daily/Sunday strip to King, but even if he hits the comics bigtime, he insists he'll maintain his ad career. In Dilbert style, "A lot of the pure cartooning ideas I get come from the office," he says. "Idon't want to just hole up and make cartoons."

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