Monday, February 19, 2024

Cartoons from "The Popular Book of Cartoons" (1946) Part 3: Lawrence Lariar

This is a series of looks at some postwar gag cartoonists from The Popular Book of Cartoons.


Links to previous parts:

Part one.

Part two.

Today, we're looking at Lawrence Lariar (1908 - 1981) who worked in gag cartoons, comic books, writing mystery novels as well as a well known comics editor for two major national magazines, as well as the long-running annual series of books, The Best Cartoons of the Year. His affair with the mother of cartoonist Bill Griffith (Zippy the Pinhead) was the subject of a graphic memoir by Girffith in 2015.


From the New York Times, October 15, 1981:

"Lawrence Lariar, a cartoonist, editor and author of mystery novels, died Monday in Waterbury, Conn.

"He was 72 years old and lived in Southbury, Conn.

"For more than 20 years Mr. Lariar was cartoon editor of Parade magazine and before that he held a similar post at Liberty magazine. He edited a number of anthologies, including the annual Best Cartoons of the Year since 1942. He wrote mysteries under the pseudonyms of Adam Knight and Michael Lawrence.

"He is survived by his wife, Susan; a daughter, Linda Webb, and a son, Stephen P. Lariar, both of Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y."



Lambiek adds:

"Lawrence Lariar was an American cartoonist, writer and editor. He was a cartoonist for Collier's, making mystery stories in which cartoons and illustrations appeared as clues. In the 1930s he drew the comic strip 'Barry O'Neill', also published in early National/DC titles. In the 1940s and 1950s he scripted syndicated features like 'Ben Friday' (later 'Bantam Prince', with John Spranger) and 'The Thropp Family' (with Lou Fine and Don Komarisow). He created 'Inspector Keene' for Young American Magazine.

"Lariar wrote mystery novels under the names Michael Lawrence, Adam Knight and Michael Stark. For more than 20 years he was cartoon editor of Parade magazine. He has also worked for Liberty magazine, and edited anthologies like 'Best Cartoon of the Year' since 1942.

"His instruction manual, 'Cartooning For Everybody' (Crown Publishing, 1941), has been praised by cartoonist Don Orehek. 


I believe the Don Orehek quote is because that's what Don told me when he passed along Lariar's Cartooning for Everybody. I mentioned this in my August 22, 2011 blog entry about the book.

As Bill Griffith described him in The New Yorker:

"He was a gag cartoonist, primarily, but he dabbled in almost every field of comics, from the nineteen-twenties to the nineteen-sixties."

Lawrence Lariar's affair with Bill Griffith's mother was the subject of Griffith's Eisner Award winning nonfiction graphic novel Invisible Ink: My Mother’s Love Affair with a Famous Cartoonist (2015). The New Yorker interviewed him in its October 16, 2015 issue:


"To act as a detective to try to find the man that your mother is sleeping with—that sounds like the plot of a piece of pulp fiction. What gave you the inspiration for this?

"Well, the book was inspired by a visit I made to my uncle, who is the only family member of that generation still alive. He’s ninety-one years old, and he lives in Winston Salem, North Carolina, and on a visit to him three years ago or so, the subject of my mother’s possible affairs came up. My mother had several affairs, and my aunt asked me if I knew if my mother had an affair with my next-door neighbor, growing up in Levittown, and I said no, I think that was probably too dangerous. But then, of course, there was Lariar, and they asked me who that was—they had no idea. When I thought about it later that night, it just kept spinning around in my head; I started Googling Lariar. I hadn’t really given him any thought since my mother actually first confessed the affair to me very briefly, in 1972, after my father’s death (which did not prompt me to ask any questions about it whatsoever, much to my regret now). But, anyway, here I am, three years ago: I’m Googling Lariar, and hundreds of images come up. The guy was an incredibly prolific cartoonist and, within an hour or so of that, I realized I had a graphic novel. I had a graphic memoir in my head—something I’d been waiting to happen for twenty or thirty years. I always thought, Someday I’ll do a graphic novel; what will it be? And here it was. It was handed to me."



Here's an excerpt from Invisible Ink: My Mother’s Love Affair with a Famous Cartoonist:



Lawrence Lariar's cartoons from The Popular Book of Cartoons (1946), published and copyright 1946 by Popular Library, Inc. Some of these cartoons date back to 1935 and originally appeared in College Humor magazine.

A few more Lariar links:

"Yankee Yiddish" Cocktail Napkin Cartoons by Lawrence Lariar

Marriage Cartoons from YOU'VE GOT ME -- AND HOW! Edited by Lawrence Lariar Part One


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