Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Cartoonist Al Ross R.I.P.

Al Ross, whose cartoons appeared in The New Yorker for decades, passed on 22 March 2012 at the age of 100.

Al Ross was born Abraham Roth 19 October 1911. While most sources state that he was born in Vienna, according to his son David, he was actually born in Romania but grew up in Vienna. After World War I the family migrated to the United States, settling in New York City. Both he and his brothers started drawing early   (who would also become noted cartoonists) . During the Depression, when Mr. Ross was in eighth grade, he dropped out of school to work as a messenger. He and his three brothers studied at the Art Students League.

It was during the Thirties that Al Ross first began to sell his cartoons. Initially his work appeared in Colliers, The Saturday Evening Post, and Esquire. It was in 1937 that his work first appeared in the venue in which he would become best known, The New Yorker. He would continue to be published in The New Yorker for literally decades. His last cartoon to be published in the magazine was in 2002, 65 years after his first.

Even while his cartoons continued to appear in The New Yorker, Mr. Ross also published cartoons elsewhere. His cartoons appeared in Cosmopolitan, Maclean's, and such humour magazines as Snappy. He would publish two collections of his cartoons, The Love Life Of The Modern Homo Sapiens, published in 1953 and Bums Vs. Billionaires published in 1972. He illustrated the book Bedside Humour by Howard Stackman (published in 1953) and the book What Every Supervisor Should Know by Lester Bittel in 1959. His work also appeared in numerous anthologies of the cartoons published in The New Yorker and other anthologies.

Al Ross's cartoons were known for their droll sense of humour, not to mention their often intellectual and sometimes whimsical content.  Mythological figures, anthropomorphic animals, snatches from famous paintings, historical figures, and ordinary people all appeared in his cartoons at one time or another. Mr. Ross's style also emphasised the actions of the figures in his cartoons, right down to their facial expressions. An excellent artist, his talent becomes all the more amazing when one realises he almost never worked from preliminary sketches. More often than not he would just sit down and draw a cartoon. He was one of the best cartoonists to ever draw for The New Yorker, a magazine known for some of the greatest cartoonists of all time.

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