Sam Ansell – RIP

Gag cartoonist Sam Ansell has passed away.

Samuel Tarshis (Sam) Ansell
May 25, 1922 – August 1, 2021


From the obituary:

Cartoonist, ad man and business man Samuel Ansell, 99, of Waltham, died on August 1st, 2021. Sam Ansell’s career changed course many times but cartooning was always part of it.

His love of George Herriman’s Krazy Kat drew him to cartooning and his style and humor saw him published in numerous magazines of the 40s, such as “Colliers”, “Look”, and the “Harvard Lampoon”. Mr. Ansell attended Harvard as an undergrad in English Literature at a time when quotas for Jews made that a rare occurrence. His writing and cartooning made him a perfect candidate for the editorial board of the reinvigorated humor magazine “Harvard Lampoon”.

From a 2016 Brandeis University interview:

How did I get interested in cartooning? I suppose it was because when I was very little, my father would read me the funnies after I was tucked up in bed at night. My heroes were not sports figures or soldiers: they were Moon Mullins, Mutt and Jeff, and Ignatz Mouse. So I guess that’s when I started scribbling down little sketches.  At Harvard, I had a lot of cartoons and stories printed in the Harvard Lampoon, and later, when I got a Master’s Degree in Journalism at Columbia, I contributed cartoons and a cover to the Columbia Jester.

In New York, I worked for various advertising agencies as a copy writer, finding time to submit cartoons to national magazines.  I even placed a couple of drawings in Collier’s and Argosy;  alas, they both went out of business, killed by television.

Of course, every cartoonist’s dream is to place a drawing in The New Yorker, and though I sent in hundreds of “roughs,” none were ever accepted.  Frankly, I think the cartoons they do print just plain stink, but that may be sour grapes.

Back to the obituary:

After the war, he went on to receive an MA from Columbia University’s School of Journalism. It was while in college that his cartooning career blossomed. His cartoons and humor columns were regular features in the “Harvard Lampoon” and the “Columbia Jester”. Through syndication, other college humor magazines across the country picked up his cartoons as well. After Columbia, Mr. Ansell stayed in New York and turned his writing talents to public relations, landing a job as a PR man for the New York Metropolitan Opera, a stint that was cut short after the wife of the featured tenor insisted he be fired for neglecting to bring her the coffee she demanded. He then spent the remainder of the fifties and early sixties on Madison Ave as a copywriter and illustrator, continuing to employ his cartooning skills in many of the ads he created.

As TV ramped up, the downturn in print advertising forced his next career move, a return to the Boston area to lead the sales and marketing effort for the family business, S. H. Ansell & Son, a South Boston-based wholesale container company founded by his grandfather Solomon Ansell in 1888. Those driving in Boston in the 70’s and 80’s were likely to have seen bright yellow trucks with “Someone’s getting bottles Fast from Ansell” on the side. His cartooning skills again became a fixture in the marketing pieces he created.

After retiring, the Ansells moved to a small mountain town in Umbria, Italy where his interests in opera, wine, hiking, great food and medieval architecture were well indulged and rewarded. They returned to live in Waltham when travel became difficult. In his last decade, Mr. Ansell continued his lifetime of education by attending Brandeis’s adult learning center and contributing cartoons to the program’s publication the “Bolli Banner”.

The Bolli Banner’s Cartoons by Sam Ansell.

The family has set up a very nice timeline of Sam’s life.