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Louis Trakis – RIP

Sculptor and comic book cartoonist Louis Trakis has passed away.


Louis James (Lou) Trakis
June 22, 1927 – July 7, 2021

Sculptor, professor, printmaker, cartoonist who sought through art to “center the self via creation.” Taught at Manhattanville College, The New School, and in Greece. Designed iconic Marino’s Italian Ice and House of Weenies logos. “Joie de vivre!”

  

From The East Hampton Star obituary:

Louis J. Trakis, a prolific sculptor, cartoonist, and teacher whose work reflected deep philosophical commitments to nature, died at home in Southampton on July 7. Also a resident of Brooklyn, he was 94.

Attracted to sculpture by way of its physicality, Mr. Trakis was often influenced by ancient Greek art. “He especially enjoyed the challenge of creating forms from different raw materials, always finding ways to incorporate his three tenets of sculpting (construction, modeling, and carving) into his work,” the family said. “His passion for transforming materials reflected his feeling that art is a constant project of ‘man looking at nature, disentangling it, and setting it free by making it a personal statement.’ “

His early works were made of welded and hammered copper and brass. He eventually shifted to cast bronze, creating a series of abstract and figural sculptures. A later series, of which he was most proud, used interlocking aluminum sheets as the framework for black marble and cement terrazzo.

Lou’s death is noted here because of his early career. More from East Hampton Star:

He grew up in Canarsie and in Forest Hills, graduating in 1944 from Music and Art High School in Manhattan.

He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Cooper Union, and later studied at Columbia University, the Art Students League, and the Polytechneion in Athens.

It was during his high school and Cooper Union years that Lou gave cartooning a try, though he didn’t go all in for the comic arts. The Grand Comics Database and Jerry Bail’s Who’s Who show a sparse bibliography for Trakis during the years 1942 – 1948.

Above is his “Conny, the Convict” page from Crime Does Not Pay #32 (1944);
below is the first page of Lil’ Sigmund from Katzenjammer Kids #20 (1952), a late effort.

Lou Trakis himself replied to that Li’l Sigmund post in 2008:

I am Lou Trakis, I’m a professor emeritus at Manhatanville College, Purchase, NY… and have had an extensive career in the fine arts and teaching. I’m known now for my sculpture, and I’ve continued to draw cartoons mostly just for fun (about the foibles of my friends on this mortal coil of ours).

Louis Trakis is mentioned in Wikipedia’s Jack Katz entry where it gives the impression Lou worked for King Features Syndicate (that Katzenjammer Kids/Li’l Sigmund comic book was “A King Feature.”

From 1946 to 1951, [Jack] worked as an art assistant on various King Features Syndicate comic strips. Katz worked on Thimble Theatre as an assistant artist, working with Bela Zaboly and Louis Trakis.

Though in 1946, at age 18, he did get his name on a King Features panel.

In 2003 Greek News ran a profile:

“After I won the third-prize Wanamaker Award for drawing, my second-grade teacher told my father, who had built up a successful retail clothing business, that he should let me develop as an artist,” Trakis said.

When he went to junior high school, such was his talent that he was able to attend a special school for art study every Friday. But the privilege was combined with challenge as the young man had to walk a couple of miles to get there.

Trakis met with artistic success throughout his youth, leading to a coveted four-year scholarship for art study at Cooper Union, followed by two years (the 2nd being a renewal based on excellence in the first) of study in Rome and Milan through a Fulbright grant.

Like too many, he was a Senior Stripper we discovered too late.

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