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Family Hires Professional Cartoonist To Document Stories

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Some people write journals or blogs, but one Utah family has found a unique way to document their family history — by hiring a professional storyteller.

Go digging through old pictures, and the memories come flowing back. But set it in colored ink, and those stories come alive in a new way.

Kathy Holt-Given and brothers Norm and Al Hess are seeing their childhood in a whole new way.

Norm and Al Hess with sister Kathy Holt-Given. (KSL-TV)

“(Norm) wanted to go out and get the milk,” Holt-Given said, recalling one memory. “Well, he dropped his towel and I shut the door … And left him on the porch for a while.”

“One of my early traumatic memories,” Norm Hess said with a laugh.

It’s all happening through Val Chadwick Bagley, an old acquaintance of Holt-Given.

Bagley, who now lives in Star Valley, Wyoming, takes the memories from the pictures Holt-Given sends, and packs a whole story into a single comic.

“And the ones that are brilliant, I loved doing those,” he said. “They were … It was like I was part of the story somehow.”

So far, Bagley’s done 60 of them for the Hess family.

Utahns may recognize Bagley’s work. Aside from books like this, he’s done comics for “The New Era” and “Friend” magazines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

By reimagining those stories here, these siblings now have a new way to share their younger years with each of their grandchildren.

An old photo of the Hess family. (Hess family)

“The pictures bring back a flood of memories, and you remember situations that were long forgotten, and it’s been a touching experience,” Hess said.

The three of them are getting a book made, just for their own families to enjoy. But in a big way, the book will be for them, too.

“It’s been a lot of fun. it’s been great,” Al Hess said.

Each sibling has ordered a copy of the book. (KSL-TV)

“This keeps it alive,” Holt-Given added.

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