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May 24, 2010


Howard Post, 1926-2010

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The writer and comics historian Mark Evanier is reporting that the comics artist and animator Howard Post passed away last week from complications due to Alzheimer's. He was 83 years old.

Post was born in 1926 in a neighborhood near Coney Island in Manhattan. He spent the bulk of his childhood in the Bronx, which in an interview with Jon Cooke in 1999 he recalled as a still highly undeveloped area with plenty of park areas and even a zoo to capture a young man's interest. He drew as a child, and later enrolled himself in New York's Hastings School in order to learn animation. His father's illness sent him scrambling for paying work: first at Famous Studios as an in-between artist and then at the various comics packagers located around mid-town Manhattan. He eventually settled in at Bernard Baily's studio, receiving $15 a page.

imageThe remainder of the 1940s and into the 1950s saw Post settle into a pattern of multiple publishers and multiple assignments. He worked with Paramount on their efforts supporting war intelligence. He then received work from DC, almost moved to Dell (replacing Walt Kelly; the money didn't work), Timely/Marvel, Prize and Pioneer. The common thread was that he worked on non-superhero material, mostly humor interspersed with some straight-up adventure material. Although I can't find an exact date, most historians seem to agree that the 1950s is when Post began work for Harvey Comics, working on a variety of their features and given co-creator credit on some of the better known members of the various Harvey comics cast. He is sometimes given that credit for Hot Stuff because of his work on the early comics (lifelong Post friend Warren Kremer did the posters), although Alfred Harvey received official credit. His work on that character's stories is considered by many fans his best.

imageThe 1960s were stuffed with important comics assignments for Post. In addition to the ongoing Harvey gig, Post spent some time at Paramount as the head of their Cartoon Studios (1964-1965), worked briefly as an independent film producers, created the oddball Anthro comic for a DC in the throes of a post-Marvel identity crisis (it lasted six issues, the last with Wally Wood inking Post), and launched the comic strip Dropouts with United Feature Syndicate. The Dropouts ran from 1968 until 1981. With its archetypal cast, minimalist surroundings, dependency on verbal humor, Post's surprisingly facile magazine-illustration style line, and the general sarcasm on display, it was one of the emblematic strips of the post-1950s, pre-1980s newspaper strip "sarcasm" era: a strip that could be reduced to a tiny size on the shrinking comics page, and that could be remembered for one or two lines of a verbal jab.

"The writing was difficult but drawing funny stuff was the boon of the whole thing, because I had done them by rote for so long," he told Cooke. "After the first couple of months, you could draw it in your sleep. Writing the gags was tough and, if you're a harsh judge of your material, it was tougher. And I was a harsh judge."

Like many of the Harvey artists of the 1950s and 1960s, Post briefly caught on with Marvel's 1980s kids effort Star Comics. He also began to teach at the School of Visual Arts, a position he held for several years.

Howard Post was preceded in death by twenty years of a wife of some approximately 20 years. He is likely survived by two daughters.

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