Monday, January 25, 2010

Been thinking about political cartoonist David Levine who died last month at 83.

I think as a tortoise I am always intrigued by stories about hares. The Artist Magazine interviewed him not long before he died, and he explained about his early interest in cartooning. Years ago the Disney Studios held a contest, asking applicants to send their renditions of Goofy. He sketched something and sent it off. A representative from the company contacted him, telling him that they were impressed with his work, and saying they'd like to invite him to come out and see them. "I can't," he told them. "Why not?" he was asked. "Because I'm 9 years old."

Levine began taking classes at Pratt Institute and the Brooklyn Museum while he was still a high school student. Later, he joined the staff at the New York Review of Books in 1963. His tenure there lasted until 2007 when macular degeneration made it difficult for him to do fine line work with pen. He continued working in pencil after leaving the review.

You can't think of him without recalling his depiction of LBJ opening his shirt to reveal his Vietnam-shaped scar, above. Novelists may be adept at revealing character over the course of a few hundred pages, but to reveal the failures and limitations of his subjects while still conveying some sympathy for the individual (at times) - and all in black and white - that's genius, don't you think?

One more thing - apparently he enjoyed playing tennis. When someone compared him to Daumier he had a ready riposte: "Did he have a backhand?"

1 comment:

  1. I love that story where he has to tell Disney he is only 9!