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Sports cartoonists react to Bill Gallo’s passing (UPDATED)

With this morning’s sad news of Bill Gallo’s passing, I asked the few sports cartoonists still drawing for their reactions.

Bill Hinds, creator of Cleats and co-creator of Tank McNamara tells me that Bill was a legend.

Whenever I would talk to him I couldn’t help but start playing Six Degrees of Bill Gallo in my mind, imagining all, the sports greats he had shared conversations with over the years. Yet he never really acted like a legend. He was a warm and welcoming colleague. Bill and his beautiful wife Dolores have always been a treat to visit with on the NCS Rueben Weekends. I was proud to be a member with Bill in the select fraternity of Sports Cartoonists.

Drew Litton was the sports cartoonist for the Rocky Mountain News for 26 years and currently does cartoons for ESPN, KUSA 9News in Denver and the Chicago Tribune.

He writes in to say:

Bill Gallo owned New York. At least the heart of it. He was a legend in the once vibrant field of sports cartooning. He left his lasting mark on a sports hungry city in thousands of cartoons, done thousands of different ways about thousands of elite athletes, coaches, franchises and fans. To say he will be missed is an understatement. He closes a chapter in history. He was the last daily sports cartoonist publishing in an American newspaper. Yes, we still have Tank McNamara and In the Bleachers, (thankfully) but the era of the full-time staff sports cartoonist is over.

I had the pleasure of meeting Bill Gallo at a National Cartoonist Society convention in Toronto in the 90’s. I was up for the award for best sports cartoonist that year along with Gallo and Eddie Germano I think. I had, of course, a snowball’s chance in hell of actually winning the category because Gallo’s name had been permanently etched on the thing for like 20 years running. He told me I would win it. I looked at him as if he had lost his mind. He smiled and said kindly “just not this year.” He was right. Gallo took home the award again. The following year, Gallo’s prediction came true, and they found some way to etch a different name than Gallo on the award. The Put an L and an I over the G and the A, crossed the two L’s to make them into two T’s and added an N on the end. And I won my one and only award in the sports cartoon category, I’m convinced only because Gallo told them he had run out of wall space. The NCS killed the sports cartoon division award for the following year which I took as a sign that I had killed the entire genre of sports cartooning previously kept very much alive by the humble but happy and enormously talented Bill Gallo.

I will always consider meeting Bill Gallo one of the greatest highlights of my career and honors of my career. He was a genuine American hero, dining with Mantle and Maris and Namath and all of the sports icons of the day. And he stood tall is stature, above them all.

Steve Moore does the sports panel In the Bleachers. He tells me he met Bill at a NCS Reuben weekend.

It’s amazing that the guy worked into his 80s at a newspaper staff job the likes of which vanished long ago everywhere else. He held on to the very end. What a great career.

Community Comments

#1 Drew Litton
May/11/2011
@ 4:09 pm

OK. So they say the memory is the first to go. Eddie Germano won in 1992, the year I referred to in my blurb. I won in ’93 and they killed the thing afterwards. I never understood why Tank McNamara didn’t win. It was, and still is, the Doonesbury of the sports section.

That said, Bill Gallo is among the greatest generation in cartoon history. A gentlemen, enormously talented, humble, and I consider him and Willard Mullin, the greatest sports cartoonists of all-time.

#2 Jimmy Delach
May/11/2011
@ 10:34 pm

Drew,

You said earlier that you met Gallo in Toronto in the ’90s. According to this link, the only time the Reubens have been in Toronto was 1989 (close).

http://www.reuben.org/weekends.html

RIP Bill Gallo

#3 Drew Litton
May/12/2011
@ 12:23 am

Jimmy,

OK. Now that makes sense. I was nominated several times for the category. Toronto was the only NCS event I went to. My paper stopped picking up the tab after that. I wasn’t even in attendance the year I won (93) (which still pains me to this day).
So Gallo would have won it the year I was in Toronto. No wonder I didn’t remember Germano winning in 89. Though he was deserving. Bill Gallo was such a giant. He will be so missed. Did you grow up reading him, Jimmy? I f you did you are indeed a lucky guy.

#4 Drew Litton
May/12/2011
@ 12:33 am

Jimmy,
Looking at the winners list, I had no idea Arnold Roth spent part of his incredible career as a sports cartoonist. And I noticed that Bill Hinds won at least once. It should have been a lot more. And I always felt Steve Moore should have gotten one as well, though Steve’s work tends to be less newsy topical stuff.

Gallo won the award more than Willard Mullin including a lifetime achievement award I believe. I know he was very much a part of the NCS, and his career was longer than Mullin’s was. I really need to get his book.

I have a terrific history of sports cartoon article by Murray Olderman that he did for Hogan’s Alley posted on my blog (drewitton.com). It’s worth a read. It’s under the About in the menu at the top.

#5 Bill Hinds
May/12/2011
@ 11:43 am

When I won the award in ’86 it was for Tank, so Tank McNamara did win once. I was nominated several years later for Buzz Beamer. I also won a plaque for New Media (another discontinued award) with my Buzz animations, so I can say I jinxed two division awards.

The last long conversation I had with Bill Gallo was at the Hollywood Reuben Weekend. I was talking to him about an idea I had for a website for sports humor. He was very interested. He had a young-at-heart willingness to embrace new directions.

#6 Jerry Dowling
May/12/2011
@ 2:19 pm

As one of the few sports cartoonists still around, although my most recent paper cut me because of ‘budget’ problems, I had the honor of chatting with Bill at Cathy Guisewite’s picnic in Los Angeles a couple years ago. A super friendly guy. I was in total awe. Fortunately, we had our photo taken together so I have that to remember Bill by also.
Jerry Dowling

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