Tuesday, May 08, 2018

From the Dick Buchanan Files: Syd Hoff 1936 - 1958

Syd Hoff is one cartoonist who may always be in print thanks to his late-in-life transformation from magazine cartoonist to children's book author. I like his people. He drew them the same in magazines, like The New Yorker, as well as in his children's book illustrations: stout and doughy, with walrus mustaches for the men -- and everyone occasionally had prominent eyelashes.

Here is a marvelous retrospective of nearly 20 years of Syd Hoff's gag cartoon output, from 1936 to 1958 (the year he wrote Danny and the Dinosaur, his best-selling kids' book). Thanks to Dick Buchanan for curating this online gallery of Mr. Hoff's work. Thanks and take it away, Dick



1936 – 1958

    Syd Hoff was one of the New Yorker’s premiere cartoonists. He was also gifted writer and that rare cartoonist who was recognized as a humorist.

    Hoff made his first sale to the New Yorker in 1931, a spot drawing that was quickly followed the first of many gag cartoons.  Editor Harold Ross instantly loved Hoff’s humorous depictions of the every day lives of the Jewish immigrants who populated the tenements of the Bronx. His style, simple shapes and wonderful bold brush strokes, made Hoff’s cartoons a fixture in The New Yorker for 4 ½ decades. 571 of his cartoons appeared in the New Yorker and countless more appeared in Esquire, Collier’s, The Saturday Evening Post, Look and other leading magazines.

    Like other leading New Yorker cartoonists of his era, Hoff was in demand by Madison Avenue. Over the years he illustrated advertisements for numerous products from Jell-O to Jeeps. His cartoons sold Eveready batteries, Ralston cereals, S.O.S. cleansing pads and many other products.

    Today Syd Hoff is best known as the author and illustrator of many books for children. He was one of the first New Yorker cartoonists to venture into children’s literature field. His first book, Danny and the Dinosaur, was published in 1958.  Enormously popular, it has been published in a dozen different languages and has sold well over 10 million copies.

    Danny and the Dinosaur was followed by many memorable books--Julius, Sammy the Seal, Baseball Mouse and The Horse in Harry’s Room among others. His wonderful books comprise a lasting contribution to the field of children’s literature.

    A curious note: Although Collier’s credited his work correctly as Sydney Hoff in the 1930’s, in the 1940’s and beyond they persisted in crediting his drawings to Sidney Hoff. Presumably, there was no confusion in the bookkeeping department.
The Cartoon Clip is happy to share a few of Syd Hoff’s great gag cartoons.

1.  Collier’s November 11, 1936.

2.  Collier’s January 8, 1938.
3.  Collier’s   January 7, 1939.

4.  The Saturday Evening Post   June 2, 1945.

5.  Collier’s   February 16, 1946.

6.  Collier’s   November 29, 1947.

7.  American Legion Magazine   August 1947.

8.  True Magazine  July 1947.

9.  Collier’s July 17, 1948.

10.  Collier’s   September 18, 1948.

11.  True Magazine   July 1949.

12.  Collier’s   October 21, 1950.

13. Collier’s October 13, 1951.

14.  Collier’s   April 26, 1952.  

15.  Ballyhoo   Fall, 1953.

"It looks so simple when you see it on TV."

16.  Look Magazine February 18, 1958.   

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