Cartoonists You Should Know – Part 2

Last month, I started a mini series featuring a few cartoonists that I believe everyone should know. The realm of cartooning is so interesting not only because the artists themselves are often pushed out of the spotlight by their creations, but also because of the way that cartoons are used within society. Cartoons are often fun, and lighthearted (and used for youthful entertainment). But, that easy-going, fun vibe that people associate with cartoons can also be used as a cover to strong political criticisms and satirical views of society. Cartooning is complex and provocative, and the cartoonists listed below are a few more artists who deserve to be household names.

George Herriman


Famed for his newspaper comic strip Krazy Kat, George Herriman was one of those cartoonists that was revered within the art & intellectual community. Herriman is often praised not only for its “gorgeously scratchy line work”, but also for the writing and storylines that were poetic in nature.   colors and Krazy Kat was listed as one of the greatest comic strips of the 20th century by The Comics Journal, and other artists loved Herriman’s work for its subtle surrealism. Krazy Kat never reached high levels of popularity with general public, but all of Herriman’s catalogue continues to be acknowledged and praised by artists and cartoonists to this day.


Bianca Bagnarelli

Bagnarelli is definitely the most contemporary cartoonist on this list so far, and she has a cartooning style that I deeply admire. Located in Bologna, Italy, Bianca Bagnarelli founded the publishing imprint Debelie and was awarded a gold medal by the Society of Illustrators for her comic Fish (a beautiful story of grief). Bianca is famed for her impeccable understanding of color and her use of clean, vivid lines in her work.


Bernard “Hap” Kliban (B. Kliban)


Klinan’s claim(s) to fame were his cats. As Chris Madden said,

“I came across a book by B. Kliban: Cat Dreams. I’m not sure what they’re about. I’m not even sure if they’re funny (do cartoons actually have to be funny?) But they’re brilliant. Apparently he grew to detest drawing cats in the end, but they were what everybody wanted. Beware success.”

Bernard Kliban briefly studied at Pratt Institute before he dropped out to travel and paint in Europe. He started drawing cartoons for Playboy as a means of income to support his family. His style was very strange, and most of his work contained bizarre scenarios. But, his cat cartoons drew quite a following, and were/are featured on all sorts of novelty items.


Cartoonists You Should Know – Part 1

The interesting thing about cartooning is that the work often speaks for itself. The characters that a cartoonist creates become famous, those are the “faces” that are recognized that world renowned. If the cartoonist is lucky, they can ride their characters’ metaphorical coat-tails into recognizable fame. But, often times, the artists themselves rarely get the spotlight.

I wanted to dedicate a few posts to introducing you to some of the best cartoonists that have graced this earth; these are all artists that (in my opinion) you should know.


Robert Crumb


robert crumb

Photo via wikimedia commons

Robert Crumb is an artist in multiple senses of the word. He’s both a cartoonist and a musician, that was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was born into a family that moved a lot, so his best friend, and fellow creative was his brother Charles. They shared a love of comic books and co-created their own comics during their youth, and his passion for comics continued into his adult life.

Robert Crumb is most well known for his works Zap Comix and Weirdo, but has a long list of creations published under his name.  His work has been hailed as incredibly detailed, and socially aware, with a knack for incredibly well done satire. Crumb described his early drawing style as “typical”, but thanks LSD trip for opening his artistic eye, and bringing him the psychedelic, surreal style that he is known for.


Chuck Jones


Chuck Jones

photo by Alan Light

Chuck Jones is definitely one of the more well known cartoonists in the industry, and was part of what is deemed the “Golden Age of Animation”. Jones was one of the geniuses that helped to bring Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Porky Pig to life, and he was single-handedly responsible for the birth of fan favorites Wile E Coyote, Road Runner, Marvin Martian, & Pepe le Pew. In other words, he can truly be considered one of the forefathers of modern cartooning.

Before Chuck Jones made it big, he was drawing dollar pencil portraits on the streets. But, he eventually found his way to Warner Brothers studios where he worked until their doors closed. He then hopped from Disney to MGM, where he worked on Tom and Jerry cartoons. If you’ve seen the classics, you’ve probably seen some of Chuck Jones’s work.

Be sure to check back next month to see more cartoonists you should know!