Tuesday, June 04, 2024

From the Dick Buchanan Files: Bob Barnes 1913 - 1970

You can't control when you are born, and what the world you grow up in is like. Coming of age during a worldwide depression was not what anyone would want. Fortunately, Bob Barnes kept pressing on. But his professional cartooning career really didn't start to take off until he was well into his thirties. Dick Buchanan does a deep dive into Bob Barnes' life and career. 

Thanks and take it away, Dick!


(1913 – 1970)


Bob Barnes Self Portrait. Best Cartoons of The Year 1947. Crown Publishers, New York, New York 1947.

Robert L. “Bob” Barnes was born in Portland, Oregon in 1913. He was an illustrator and cartoonist whose drawings appeared many magazines and newspapers in the mid-20th century. Barnes attended a commercial art school in the 1930s. The Great Depression was underway so Barnes made a living by tackling a variety of jobs; he was a sign painter, a letterer and contributed advertising art to The Oregon Journal and Portland Telegraph. He also was a reporter and sold sewing machines. During WWII he worked at the California Shipbuilding Corp., doing public relations work and editing their weekly and monthly in-house publications.

After WWII Barnes’ gag cartooning career took off. His first major sale was to Collier’s. He was a regular contributor to Laff-A-Day, the daily panel syndicated by King Features and edited by fellow cartoonist Bob Schroeter. Although he sold but one cartoon to The New Yorker, he drew hundreds of them for the nation’s other leading magazines—Collier’s, The Saturday Evening Post, Look, True Magazine, This Week, Better Homes & Gardens, and 1000 Jokes Magazine. From 1953 to 1960, Bob Barnes was among the among the top ten sellers in magazine sales.

In 1956 Barnes created the syndicated panel, The Better Half, featuring the bickering, wisecracking married couple, Stanley and Harriet Parker. The Better Half debuted June 25, 1956, syndicated by the Register & Tribune Syndicate, appearing in over 200 newspapers. In 1958 he was awarded the Best Cartoon Panel from the National Cartoonists Society

The Better Half ran until Barnes’ death in 1971. His wife, Ruth Barnes and illustrator Dick Rogers continued the strip until September 30, 1979. Subsequently, the panel was illustrated by Vinnie Vinson (October 1, 1979 to October 3, 1982) and Randy Glasbergen (October 10, 1982 to November 30, 2014)
Here, neatly clipped from the pages of the great magazines of the 20th century, are some Bob Barnes magazine gag cartoons . . .

Judge July, 1946.

American Magazine July 1946.


Collier’s November 2, 1946.


American Legion Magazine March, 1948.


The Saturday Evening Post June 12, 1949.


American Magazine May, 1951.


Gags October, 1951.


Here! December, 1951.


Collier’s January 26. 1952.


American Magazine March, 1953.


The Saturday Evening Post October 17, 1953.


Collier’s April 18, 1953.


The Saturday Evening Post October 23, 1954.


American Magazine June, 1955.


American Magazine August. 1955.


1000 Jokes Magazine March-May, 1956.


The Saturday Evening Post April 27, 1957.


The Saturday Evening Post March 9, 1957.


1000 Jokes Magazine June-August, 1958,


The Saturday Evening Post April 18, 1959.


American Legion Magazine July, 1959.


American Legion Magazine March, 1960.


For Laughing Out Life October-December, 1961.


Look Magazine April 25, 1961.


The Saturday Evening Post February 25, 1961.

No comments: