Wednesday, July 01, 2015

A LEONARD STARR MEMORIAL GALLERY

Here's a high rez gallery of drawings by the late great Leonard Starr.   Sparkling draftsmanship, witty dialogue and plots by a master storyteller. No eulogy or speech could be a better tribute. 



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P.S.-- If you'd like a glimpse into the glittering world of successful cartoonists in the 1960s, a close friend of Leonard's Tom Sawyer, has posted on youtube his home movies of a party that Leonard gave for fellow cartoonists in December 1965: 

 LEONARD STARR - PARTY - Dec. 11, 1965 8 mm. footage of a party given by Leonard & Betty Starr at their Central Park West apartment. The guests include many celebrated artists, writers & other personalities (w/spouses) of that era, including Mell Lazarus, Bill & Gloria Overgard. Alfred Andriola, Otto Soglow, Warren & Nadine King, Holly & Tom Sawyer, Jerry Robinson, Len Steckler, Howard Post, Frank Bolle, Irwin Hasen, John Prentice, Tex Blaisdell, Bobbie Shaw, Don Philips. Frank & Barbara Jacobs, Lee Falk, & others. (to request a set of head-shots identifying most of the attendees, email from the Contact page at www.thomasbsawyer.com.

17 comments:

Jordan Faris said...

Thank you David. This is a beautiful paean to an unforgettable master.
In the midst of the loss, this is a huge comfort.

Tom said...

David

Wonderful remembrance and great images. I never knew his work until I read your blog. Did he ever give you any drawing tips or did he discuss his training? Or did he learn on the job?

DamianJ said...

David,

Beautiful work. Do you know the size of the original panels ? ( the height is sufficient, it seems consistent from the formatting ). I always find it frustrating not being able to appreciate the deftness ( or otherwise) of art ( particularly comic art ) when I have no idea of the size of the original. Thanks.

etc, etc said...

I hadn't noticed how vividly and elegantly he conveyed the textures of fabrics. Not to be disparaging of comic artists, but I'm not a comics guy and I would not have the expectation that a comic artist, especially one working in black and white, would or even could do that. It's incredible; no discernible weakness in his skills.

David Apatoff said...

Jordan Faris-- Nobody can speak for Starr better than Starr himself. Famed comic writer Archie Goodwin told the story of how Starr once looked for a ghost writer for the strip so that Starr could devote more time to the art. Goodwin tried writing some scripts, but said he could not write as well as Starr, so Starr always ended up rewriting (and improving) everything. Goodwin said that there wasn't much point in trying to write something for Starr. The purpose of this gallery of pictures is that, like Goodwin, I just wanted to get out of the way and let Starr be Starr.

Tom-- Starr spent a little time at Pratt, but mostly he learned on the job. He began drawing comic books at age 16. After he got his syndicated strip, he felt his formal art education was sadly lacking so he took some advanced classes with the well known art teacher, Frank Riley.

etc, etc-- One of the reasons I am a comics guy is that comics were very different when I was a boy. These kinds of beautifully crafted strips became obsolete. There is nothing like them now in the newspaper strips.

etc, etc said...

One of the reasons I am a comics guy is that comics were very different when I was a boy. These kinds of beautifully crafted strips became obsolete. There is nothing like them now in the newspaper strips.

It seemed to be a time of sophistication, style, and elegance. I don't think anything like them could be in the newspaper strips now. Mary Perkins the tattooed, body pierced, LGBT, feminazi trying to make it in the entertainment industry? No thank you. It seems to me that Starr and his illustrator contempories benefited greatly by establishing their roots in a pre-counter culture zeitgeist that understood an aesthetic canon was nothing to be lightly tossed aside by serious artists.

David C. said...

Thanks for posting these, David - beautiful work.

Tom said...

David

When he was 16, what year was it? Was he in New York? At that age it adds up to a lot of experience.

David Apatoff said...

etc, etc-- I understand why some audiences felt that the idealized style of the "pre-counter culture zeitgeist" was a lie, and that these impossibly beautiful and heroic men and women were not relevant to daily reality. I understand why the ethos shifted to a more rigorous self-scrutiny as styles changed. What I don't understand is the retreat all the way to the kind of dour, cringing, weepy reality of Chester Brown and Chris Ware. Their land without vertebrae seems as much of an exaggeration in one direction as the idealized style is an exaggeration in the other.

David C.-- Many thanks, I'm glad you like them.

Tom-- Yes, 1942 in New York. I think he got a lot of experience in drawing and in other things.

etc, etc said...

I understand why some audiences felt that the idealized style of the "pre-counter culture zeitgeist" was a lie

It was a far more dignified and noble lie than any of the ones they're peddling these days.

chris bennett said...

And it should never be forgotten that art, being built of fictions, is a lie, but not essentially. And for this reason I believe it should be the whitest lie we can make it.

Starr's art was like that, as was Frank Hampson's and Jim Holdaway's. This has nothing to do with their light subject matter. Ernest Shepard's drawings for The Wind in the Willows involve a subject that could not depict a world more distant from real life, yet the whimsicality is all the more powerful for being grounded in truth. Starr's beautiful people play out our everyday concerns as inked gods on the cloud-clean paper.

I think the distancing achieved by this is what is important, not the way distancing is achieved. Remove that reflective distance and you essentially bring about the death of art. Art is a meditation on, an expression of, and therefore a reflection on the experience of life.

etc, etc said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

David - contact me Charles
Publisher@classiccomicspress.com

Anonymous said...

i think it takes a try at drawing them yourself to fully understand just how good these drawings are. thanks for this david i filled up 2 pages of my sketchbook with leonard starr hands. bliss indeed

Richard said...

Most young men haven't got much in the way of vertebrae today, the change in comics is simply following the trajectory of the audience.

Richard said...

http://thefederalist.com/2014/08/12/masculinity-is-about-dominance-and-thats-a-good-thing/#disqus_thread

TSP's . said...

Off topic

But you really should look at the illustrators of Simplicissimus Magazine. Thomas Heine and Eduard Thony are amazing.