Friday, January 30, 2015

Joseph Farris 1924 - 2015

Veteran New Yorker cartoonist Joseph Farris has died. He was 90 years old.

His death was announced by his daughter on his Facebook page.

A World War II veteran, Joe began cartooning under the tutelige of the New Yorker's Richard Taylor. Taylor, like him, lived in Connecticut. Farris' cartoons appeared everywhere, with his first cartoon appearing in the New Yorker in 1957. He would go on to sell the magazine nearly 300 cartoons, and draw a couple of covers as well.  He had a couple of collections of his work (UFO - HO HO in 1968 and JUST A COG IN THW WHEEL in 1989), as well as a nonfiction hardcover A SOLDIER'S STORY(2011) featuring his illustrated letters home from the war front.

(Above: Farris' first New Yorker cartoon from 1957. Hat tipi to Michael Maslin's Ink Spill blog for this.)

I knew Joe through attending the "look day" at the New Yorker for years. He was a very kind, quiet fellow who was generous with a big smile. It was only after meeting him that I began to notice that, like the good, hard working golden age gag cartoonist that he was, the man had a cartoon in every market that I saw: Reader's Digest, Harvard Business Review, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Funny Times, and so many more. Not just that, I would buy second-hand cartoon books like BEST CARTOONS OF THE YEAR and there he was, all the time.

Out of the blue, four years ago, he mailed me a copy of his nonfiction book A SOLDIER'S SCRAPBOOK. So very kind of him.

According to their cartoon editor, The Wall Street Journal published his "last okay" this week. Here's the drawing which appeared January 29, 2015:

My friend writer/editor and comics scholar Rick Marschall wrote the below on Facebook. I was given permission to share Rick's story and this drawing that Joe Farris drew of Mr. Marschall here:

 Rick Marschall:

"I stipulate that this is not a great likeness or up to Joe Farris's usual standard -- he later said so -- but this WAS drawn at a Christmas party, far into the night. For decades it has been a tradition for cartoonists in the Bethel/Ridgefield area of Connecticut to meet (at least) weekly for lunch. For a while it was the Opera restaurant on the towns' border. I lived in Bethel, then Westport, then Weston, for years, and would spend one afternoon a week so engaged with Ron Goulart, Jerry Marcus, Orlando Busino, Bob Weber, Gill Fox, Jack Berrill, others. Sometimes we would run into Bob Kraus or William Steig. Happy days. One year Joe offered to host an evening convocation of the "roundtable" at his house, with spouses invited and Christmas as the excuse. He managed to draw this caricature of me, as I say, well into the evening's festivities. I miss those days; I miss Joe."


Michael Maslin's Ink Spill
Bethel New Times: "Famed Bethel cartoonist remembered as 'selfless person'"


RandyGlasbergen said...

Joseph Farris cartoons were everywhere in the 1970s when I first got involved with magazine cartooning. His drawings were more artful than the average magazine cartoon and kind of intimidating to look at. He didn't give the illusion of great art with a lot of cross hatching or shading -- he used three times more ink than anyone else and every line mattered. I hope he enjoyed creating them as much as we enjoyed reading them.

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

I have many different collections with Joe's work in it. His work will leave a hole in cartoondom,