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Ron Cobb – RIP

Designer and editorial cartoonist Ron Cobb has passed away.

Ronald Ray (Ron) Cobb
September 21, 1937 – September 21, 2020

 

From the Hollywood Reporter:

Cobb died Monday — his birthday — of Lewy body dementia in Sydney, his wife of 48 years, Robin Love, reported.

Cobb brought to life several cantina creatures for Star Wars (1977) and came up with weaponry and sets for Conan the Barbarian (1982), the exterior and interior of the Nostromo ship in Alien (1978) and the earth colony complex in Aliens (1986) and the DeLorean time machine in Back to the Future (1985).

His prolific design work also included the breathing tanks and helmets in The Abyss (1989), the Omega Sector logo and the H bombs in True Lies (1990)the interior of the Mothership and the stranded tanker in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and the vehicles of The Last Starfighter (1984).

Closer to the interests of this site The Reporter continues:

Cobb began his career at Disney at age 17 as an “inbetweener” animator on Sleeping Beauty (1959).

He became a celebrated editorial cartoonist for underground newspapers after submitting cartoons to the Los Angeles Free Press, which in the 1960s was operating out of the basement of the Fifth Estate coffee house on the Sunset Strip.

His counterculture work was syndicated in more than 80 newspapers across America, Europe, Asia and Australia.

Opening this page above is perhaps Ron’s most famous cartoon for The Free Press.
Below is a creation of his recognized around the world.

Steven Heller said Ron

… was the Vietnam War and civil rights-era’s Herblock (the editorial cartoonist for the Washington Post who courageously attacked McCarthyism and the Cold War). Herblock made the H-Bomb a specter of horror through depictions of a sneering, menacing bomb with a five-o’clock shadow. Likewise, Cobb underscored America’s growing environmental crisis through a repertory of dazed lost souls, like the one holding the plug of a broken portable television, aimlessly looking for an electrical outlet against the backdrop of total environmental annihilation.

From 1965 to 1976 Ron contributed “editorial” cartoons to The L. A. Free Press (the first one seen above) and to underground newspapers of the time. By the time he stopped he was getting upset that he no longer had the edge (at the same time “undergrounds” were becoming “alternatives”):

Toward the end of the sixties and well into the seventies I began to detect a flagging of cartoon ideas, along with a more alarming evaporation of originality. In the rush to meet my weekly deadlines I began to catch myself subtly using the same, thinly disguised visual paradoxes from earlier panels, to comment on something entirely different. Also, more political caricatures began to appear confirming my worry that I was exchanging illumination for finger pointing.

A growing interest in film-making made the decision to forego cartooning final.

But that decade of cartooning was a high point for the undergrounds. Ron seemed more aware and worldly than the majority of comix artists. And while I can’t argue with Heller’s comparison to Herblock, I always thought he was the step-child of Paul Conrad – stark and in your face.

The Silber Galerie has an appreciation of Cobb’s art.

From the beginning, his drawings show an incredible amount of detail...

Detailed draughtsmanship was also used to represent positive ideas...

Preparatory, labour-intensive draughtsmanship was followed up with some equally detailed pen work...

Another trademark is a thick black line around individual items in the cartoons

Cobb seemed to enjoy playing with perspective...

 

Ron Cobb’s website has hundreds of his cartoons, as well as samples of his art and designs.

 

Community Comments

#1 Jules Faber
September/21/2020
@ 8:44 pm

I had the great pleasure of knowing him. What a formidable talent and what a wonderful bloke.
Vale Ron.

#2 Trevor Hull
October/4/2020
@ 8:55 pm

I have just read the news and am deeply saddened. I was given a copy of “The Cobb Book” in the mid 70’s, while living in a VERY conservative outback area.

The book for me was like moral support to be different and it has stayed with me through the years.

Ron you never achieved the accolades that were so rightfully yours.

My heartfelt condolences to your wife.

Trevor

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