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The Seattle Sketcher

An illustrated journal of life in the Puget Sound region by Times artist Gabriel Campanario.

July 1, 2011 at 7:38 PM

The man beneath the fin

Sketched June 28, 11:46 a.m.
It’s all in a day’s work for Seattle’s newest superhero.
OrcaMan stands tall on a West Seattle dock, ready to jump on his Jet Ski to chase ferries, wave at the passengers and scoop up litter polluting our beautiful bay. “OrcaMan! OrcaMan!” shout some kayakers who spot him and his trademark fin.
In the real world, the man behind the whale is Howard Garton, a 50-year-old Magnolia resident who works as a brick mason building chimneys and turrets that adorn million-dollar homes. The Jet Ski enthusiast gets in the water every other day by 7 a.m. and goes full bore around Puget Sound for a couple of hours. He came up with OrcaMan five years ago because “we need someone to energize Seattle.”
Garton is so engrossed in his character that he’s working on a comic book about it. His Vietnamese potbellied pig, Lady Bonita, who was napping in Garton’s truck when I met him this week, even appears in the story as OrcaMan’s sidekick, OrcaPorca. In the book, though, he rides an electric Jet Ski.
OrcaMan stands as a reminder to get out and enjoy this beautiful region, says Garton. “We can go skiing, water skiing, canoeing, mountain climbing … we are so fortunate here.”
Web extra!
You don’t get to sketch a superhero every day. Here are more drawings:
OrcaMan on his way to chase the Bainbridge ferry. “That’s the one I attack the most,” he said.
“For some reason I don’t get tired,” said Garton. “Life is too short not to be really fun.”
Garton showed me samples from his comic book while OrcaPorca napped in his truck, the same one he uses for his business as a brick mason. In the comic book story, OrcaMan travels the oceans tracking environmental damage. A big challenge comes his way when his arch-enemy, Corodius Krunchenviener, a.k.a. Drab Meister, kidnaps the inventor of the W.O.R.M., a Weather Optimizing Redistribution Machine that can control climate changes. Garton said he’s been working with a Capitol Hill artist on the comic book for about 15 months. There are thousands of fans waiting for it to be published, he said.
Garton’s OrcaMan gear sits on the back of his truck next to his masonry tools and buckets full of bricks. He said he modeled his fin with foam he purchased at Friendly Foam Shop in Capitol Hill.
Can you spot OrcaMan?
Send me your photos or sketches and I’ll share them back via Twitter or Facebook. Happy Fourth of July weekend!
More information about OrcaMan at

Comments | More in Portraits | Topics: Elliott Bay


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