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December 11, 2009

Irving Tripp, 1921-2009


Irving Tripp, a longtime staff artist at Dell Publishing best known for finished art on years of John Stanley Little Lulu comic book stories, died on November 27 in Lakeland, Florida, surrounded by his family. He died of complications from cancer.

Tripp was born in Poughkeepsie, New York in 1921. He began work in comics in 1941 with Dell/Western on approximately a half-dozen issues of Four Color before entering the US Army, where he served in the Philippines. He picked up work again with the same company in 1946 and would stay there as a valued staff artist until the early 1980s.

imageTripp is best known in contemporary comics circle for his lovely work finishing John Stanley's art on various Little Lulu comics published between 1945 and the early 1960s. Tripp began to work with Stanley in 1949 when the success of the early Little Lulu comic books called for a more rigorous publishing schedule than Stanley was capable of meeting. Tripp's were the final artistic contributions in a successful run that lasted for years and placed the resulting work on various Best of Century lists, including this site's and The Comics Journal's.

"All those tidy Stanley spaces and perfect forms enacting his wondrous stories were given solidity and clarity by Tripp," critic Dan Nadel told CR. "I think much of Lulu's charm -- that snappy line and confident form -- can be traced to Tripp." Editor and occasional writer about comics Tom Devlin called Tripp "one of those classic cartoonists from the middle of the 20th century, largely anonymous and responsible for co-creating some of the greatest comic books of all time." He described the Stanley/Tripp team as one of the significant artistic pairings in comics history, on a level with Lee/Kirby in terms of final result, and his personal favorite.

Although his primary artistic legacy is Little Lulu, Tripp worked on a number of other properties during his four decades at Dell. He inked comic book version of two flagship animation properties Tom and Jerry (MGM) and Bugs Bunny (Warner Brothers), and illustrated a number of Disney adaptations, most memorably Dumbo. He provided much of the art work in the Clyde Crashcup #1 comic published by Dell.

Irving Tripp is survived by three sons, a daughter, four grandchildren and five great-granchildren. A service was held on Monday, November 30. Donations are being accepted at Church of Christ, 1232 Robinson Drive, Haines City, Florida, 33844.

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