Support Local Journalism. Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club.

Night Scrawler 

Though no longer Euclid's most wanted, The Masked Cartoonist still likes to "face" public property.

75524.0.jpeg
By the summer of 1976, Euclid cops were treating the Masked Cartoonist as some kind of urban legend. For more than two years, they tried unsuccessfully to nail the teen artist before he could uncap his markers and plaster fire hydrants, utility boxes, and sides of buildings with his rock-and-roll imagery.

Then Rick Ray's luck ran out. As he and a buddy were inking more drive-by drawings, they were busted. "The next thing I knew, the whole Euclid Police Department showed up, even the off-duty cops," recalls Ray. "And they argued over who got to bring me in.

"I told the police, Go ahead and arrest me. I'm making an eyesore look good and giving people something to see."

Because he was 17, Ray was tried by a Juvenile Court referee on a charge of defacing public property. "My response was, technically, I was facing public property -- putting faces on, not taking them off. And the only thing that'll wash that stuff off is gasoline. Do you want me walking around the city with a can of gas?'" Ray asked the ref. "She said, 'Forget it. Just don't do it again.'"

He didn't listen. For the next 20 years, Ray worked on his collection of sketches and published them in the 43-page Picturesque Views From the Mind of Rick Ray a.k.a. the Masked Cartoonist. Many of the 250 black-and-white etchings double as social commentaries on music, religion, and the government -- from a demonic take on a congregation listening to a preacher read a devil's-food-cake recipe to a Communist twist on a Beatles tribute band called Lenin and McCarthy.

This year, Ray issued a second volume, simply titled Book #2 From Rick Ray a.k.a. the Masked Cartoonist, in which he continues to mull over the world around him. "Every once in a while, I do the Masked Cartoonist thing, if I have a marker on me," he admits. "[It's] just something I can't quite shake."

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at news@clevescene.com.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club


Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.


Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.


Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Speaking of Highlights

More by Cris Glaser

Read the Digital Print Issue

October 20, 2021

View more issues

Most Popular

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Calendar

© 2021 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 505-8199
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.


Website powered by Foundation