Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

June 25, 2007

J.B. Handelsman, 1922-2007


The cartoonist John Bernard (Bud) Handelsman, a longtime contributor to The New Yorker, Punch and Playboy known for the intelligence of his writing and the range of his intellectual interests, died on June 20 after a brief period of struggle with advanced lung cancer. He passed away at his home in Southampton, New York.

Handelsman was born in New York City in 1922, studied at the Art Students League and New York University, and served the in the Army during World War II. He married in 1950.

Moving to Great Britain, Handelsman began his cartooning career in earnest with sales to Punch. He would write the "Freaky Fables" feature for the print humor institution for 11 years. While in Britain he began to develop American clients including The New Yorker, where he developed a reputation for having a gentle touch regarding political and cultural issues and for being one of the best writers the magazine ever employed as a cartoonist.

The New Yorker's own memorial piece in the latest "Talk of the Town" indicates that between 1961 and 2007 Handelsman drew around 950 cartoons for the magazine, in addition to five covers. A slideshow is available here. As a book illustrator, he is perhaps best known for his work on the John Cleese/Robyn Skynner books Families and How To Survive Them and Life and How to Survive It. He also illustrated a number of children's history books for Scholastic.

He and his wife returned to New York in the early 1980s after their children had grown. He apparently took part in the famous New Yorker cartoonists lunches.

J.B. Handelsman is survived by his wife, Gertrude, a daughter, two sons, and multiple grandchildren and great-grandchildren. A memorial service will be held this summer.
posted 3:18 am PST | Permalink

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