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John Lara dies at the age of 57

Cartoonist and illustrator John Lara has passed away at an early age of 57. His cartoons appeared in many Southern California papers and nationally.

Away from the drawing board, he served as master of ceremonies for the Brooks Street Surfing Classic and was a guest speaker for “Let’s Hook Up,” which referred to fishing in those days. Fishing was another of John’s preferred activities, and he taught fishing classes as a volunteer.

He was the leader of the famed “Walk-Around,” the bar-to-bar perambulation that celebrated the end of the tourist season in Laguna until it became too popular with out-of-towners and the tradition withered.

Community Comments

#1 KEITH POLETIEK
January/25/2012
@ 1:37 pm

John was my cartoon mentor in the early eighties. I know he had his flaws (don’t we all), but, he allowed me, a young high school graduate with a dream to be a cartoonist, to sit next to him and watch as he created his next Editorial Cartoon for the OC Register all while having me draw, create and work on my style as he critiqued. He motivated me to be a better cartoonist as well as establish my political views. He introduced me to the Interlandi brothers, Vip, Wright and all the Ivy House cartoon dwellers in Laguna Beach making me lay my work on the table only to be ripped apart by these cartoon veterans. “This is good for you!” he would whisper and then laugh. He made me want to be a cartoonist, he helped me land my first cartoon paying gig as Editorial Cartoonist for the Anaheim Bulletin in ’84, and he is a key reason why I still pursue cartooning today (www.GoComics.com/DudeDude). I remember traveling to Fountain Valley, CA with sketchbooks in hand to see Reagan speak live. We drew characters of him from the crowd as people watched in amazement as John captured a great likeness of Ron looking over at a brilliant character of Senator Hayakowa sleeping (for those who remember), and saying, “Wake up! It’s an election year!” I had stopped drawing to watch the master at work along with the crowd, and then watched as many in the crowd pleaded to have the cartoon. He ripped it from his pad and handed it to a high school kid and said, “Wake up, it’s an election year!” Always thinking, always creating, always laughing, always there for me. Gone way too soon! I’ll miss him greatly.

#2 Rich Diesslin
January/26/2012
@ 1:29 pm

Keith, sounds like he was an awesome mentor and person. Sorry for the loss and 57 seems very young (from where I sit right now)!

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