Arnold Roth: Cartooning *Is* Fun!

« The kind of guy you’d love to have at your next cocktail party, he’s got a million hilarious anecdotes and he’s more than happy to tell them. »

In the early days of this blog, we talked about American cartoonist Arnold Roth (see « All cartoonists are geniuses, but Arnold Roth is especially so. »). But this was some 6 years ago, and back then I wasn’t too generous with images. Roth has now made it to the venerable age of 94, and hopefully with us for many years to come! Even without dipping into his contributions to Harvey Kurtzmans Humbug and (unfortunate name association aside) Trump magazines, there is plenty of material to showcase and giggle at.

Did you know Roth not only illustrated many jazz LP covers, but was also a sax man himself? Check out this awesome gallery of some of these covers on Drew Friedman‘s blog!

A collage of pages from 1970-1971 issues of National Lampoon published in Rick Meyerowitz‘s Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead (2010), a massive hardcover gathering highlights from The National Lampoon and interspersed with interviews and biographies of its stable of cartoonists and writers. The bottom right, from a series of cartoons titled ‘Nostalgia is Goodstalgia‘ from NL’s November 1970 issue, feels uncomfortably on the ball for the current political climate (ouch).

Here are a few pages from Arnold Roth’s Crazy Book of Science (1971), which offers a few suitably madcap pages:

Meteorologists have been the butt of jokes for at least over a hundred years (at least Jerome K. Jerome‘s Three Men in a Boat from 1889 pokes fun at them), but whether the recent weather forecasts have been worse than usual is up for debate.

Then there’s my beloved Comick Book Of Pets (1976) – ‘found, raised, washed, curried, combed, fed and cared for in every way‘.

Co-admin RG was swearing a bit while scanning this for me, so please make sure his sacrifice was not in vain by looking at the details.

Read his fascinating interview with Gary Groth here.

~ ds

3 thoughts on “Arnold Roth: Cartooning *Is* Fun!

  1. sbmumford May 26, 2023 / 08:16

    Remarkable talent and a real character – not surprising given his unique style.
    The interview by Groth is fascinating. Roth’s ingrained dislike of authority figures (ie, editors) prevented him from getting a coveted spot at the New Yorker (all he had to do was say, Yes, sir, I want to be a New Yorker cartoonist more than anything else!) yet he seems to have been the most optimistic of men.
    Amazing glimpse into a golden age of illustration.

    Roth also mentions Englishman Giles as an influence – have you guys ever done a feature on him?


    • gasp65 June 2, 2023 / 10:25

      While I was growing up, Giles collections were ubiquitous in used bookstores. I couldn’t always grasp the humour, but the drawings sure were gorgeous. We haven’t gotten around to featuring Mr. Giles, but he’s certainly a worthy subject. I’ll see what I can dig up — thanks for the lovely comment… and fine suggestion!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. sbmumford June 2, 2023 / 11:27

    My father in law was English, and there were always a bunch of Giles annuals floating around their house in Columbus.
    Giles’ quick and witty line and powerful use of tone were a big influence on my wife growing up – she became an artist – and I pored over his marvelous drawings every time we visited.
    You can still pick up the very first Giles Annual from 1945 for less than a couple hundred bucks on EBay!

    Liked by 2 people

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