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

« All cartoonists are geniuses, but Arnold Roth is especially so. »

The talented pen of Arnold Roth (born 1929, and still alive, hey!) has graced the pages of what will seem like a slightly exaggerated, but in no way exhaustive, list (but no, he’s indeed appeared in all of these): The New Yorker, Sports Illustrated, Esquire and Playboy; Harvey Kurtzman‘s publications Trump, Humbug and Help!; The National Lampoon and Punch (Roth lived in England for a while), and The Progressive.

The topic of Roth’s contributions to Kurtzman’s satirical publications will no doubt crop up at some later juncture, but in the meantime, let’s have a look at some of Roth’s solo lampoonery and comic-form persiflage (not to mention the beauty of his inking line and the dynamism of his compositions).

Roth created a Sunday strip called Poor Arnold’s Almanac for the New York Herald Tribune Syndicate, published from 1959 to 1961. In 1989, it was revived as a Sunday *and* a daily for Creators Syndicate, and lasted until 1990.  This strip is from April 24th, 1959.

Speaking of solo work, I also adore his Comick Books of Pets (published in October 1976).

« Found, Raised, Washed, Curried, Combed, Fed, and Cared for in Every Other Way. »

Roth’s art is also rather striking in black-and-white. To wit:

1978. Note the actual Vitruvian Man, L’Uomo Vitruviano, standing in line on the right.

Read this great interview with Roth in (surprise!) The Comics Journal, available online here:

“An Illustrated History of Sex,” Playboy, December 1973. Disturbing, isn’t it?

*Quoting John Updike.

~ ds