(Above photo nicked from the Pimpf Forum. No credit given.)
One of the great things about working in the world of cartoonists is that, in general, everyone is the nicest person. I know colorists, comic book writers, gag writers, editors and many people in the world of cartoons. These are people who love cartoons.
So, last week, the Reader's Digest long-time cartoon editor, Norman Hotz, emailed me just the nicest remembrance of Mell Lazarus. With Norman's permission, here is his email in full:
Another Life Story to share. Guess I have been pretty lucky to have know so many of the greats.
In the early 1960’s I worked in the promotion art department of General Features Syndicate in NY. My job, besides designing promo pieces for syndicated strips also included pasting the preprinted copyright line on all the original artwork. They were pre-glued so in haste I would often lick them. I am pretty sure my DNA would show up on some of the largest collections of original comic strips from the era.
General Features Syndicated two single panel gag cartoons by Mell Lazarus, Wee Women and Li’l Ones. At some point Mell decided to give up the two of them and the syndicate looked for a replacement cartoonist.
Although I never met Mell, I did speak to him many times. I had wanted very much to take a stab at becoming the new person. I began writing and drawing as I had no proven record that I could produce the amount of material these little strips demanded. I shared some of my earliest doodles and gags with him, and he was very encouraging.
Unfortunately for me, but probably best for the rest of the world, the project was awarded to Jim Whiting, who was producing a single panel syndicated strip called AD LIBS. Jim purchased a number of my gag lines that were in my presentation and continued to do so for a while. The early encouragement from both Mell and Jim was enough to fill my cup.
Many years later, in the late 1990 Jim and I reunited and together produced a number of cartoon shows that were exhibited at his son’s winery on the Finger Lakes.