Cartoonist and comics historian Bob Harvey has passed away.
Last week Dad fell and broke 6 ribs. We did not know at the time how serious this would become. After he fell, he stood up, continued walking with us to a favorite restaurant. He joked with the waitress, drank his favorite martini (bombay gin, very cold) and told a couple stories. His last few days were in the hospital with his family as his body struggled with complications from the fall. We were with him for his last breath.
Born in Fargo, North Dakota, Bob moved to Denver–and later Edgewater–Colorado in his early boyhood, right around the time he discovered “scrawling’ pictures” (his phrase). He would copy popular comics at the encouragement of his father, beginning his education in what would ultimately be his life’s passion. This fixation with comics infiltrated every single phase of his life. He was the school cartoonist in high school (Edgewater High School, class of ‘55)), the campus cartoonist in college (University of Colorado, class of ‘59), freelance gag cartoonist in New York city and All-Navy Cartoonist at sea on the USS Saratoga.
Harv regularly attended, and reported on, the NCS and AAEC conventions.
For 4-5 years in the late 1970s, he freelanced magazine cartoons in his spare time, specializing in girlie cartoons for men’s magazines.
Harv’s first foray into expository text was with a column in the fondly recalled Menomonee Falls Gazette (a weekly newspaper of comic strips) in the fall of 1973. A couple years later, he launched his Comicopia column in No.130 of the Rocket’s Blast – ComiCollector, which, by then, had been taken over by James Van Hise from Gordon Love, the founder. For RB-CC, he created a mock comicbook superhero, Zero Hero.
In March 1980, Harvey abandoned early columns and started writing for The Comics Journal, with a new effort, The Reticulated Rainbow, starting in No. 54 and continuing regularly under various titles for an insufferably long time. By the time he was in his eighties, Harv’d become, probably, the Journal contributor with the greatest longevity.
Bob also was a longtime contributor to Jud Hurd’s Cartoonist PROfiles magazine, The Thompson’s Comics Buyer’s Guide, Hogan’s Alley, and Nemo, the Classic Comics Library, among others. He also contributed to the early version of the scholarly comics publication Inks. The R.C. Harvey archives for The Comics Journal can be accessed here, and his recent Humor Times columns are here.
Back to People Pill:
The 1990s saw publication of Fantagraphics Books’ Cartoons of the Roaring Twenties, collected and edited by Harvey. Harvey was also a contributor to Oxford University Press’ American National Biography. In 1994, Harvey’s The Art of the Funnies was published by the University Press of Mississippi with The Art of the Comic Book following in 1996. He served as an associate editor for the journal Inks: Cartoon and Comic Art Studies, taking responsibility for submissions related to the comic strip. In 1998, Harvey was guest curator for the Children of the Yellow Kid exhibition, for which he also provided the catalogue.
Harvey has written or collected and edited thirteen books on comics and cartooning, including his Milton Caniff: Conversations (2002) from the University Press of Mississippi, followed by a full biography of Caniff, Meanwhile… A Biography of Milton Caniff, Creator of Terry and the Pirates and Steve Canyon (2007) published by Fantagraphics. His most recent book is Insider Histories of Cartooning: Rediscovering Forgotten Famous Comics and Their Creators (2014) from UPM. A complete list of his books appears at his website.
Harv’s magnum opus was that Milton Caniff biography Meanwhile… Fans of Bob’s, of which I count myself, often joked that not even Bob read every word of that 1,000 page tome.
Bob was not even close to being retired. Along with his regular columns he has two books scheduled to be released this Fall. He annotated the current Fantagraphics Complete Pogo series giving context to references in Walt Kelly’s comic strip, Volume Eight will arrive with R.C.’s contribution. He has also wrote and assembled The Art and History of Popeye due later this year.
Bob was a well-respected comics historian, chronicler of current comics (comic strips, comic books, editorial cartooning, and magazine cartooning), and human being. The Daily Cartoonist was honored on the rare occasions he would mention this site in his monthly Rants & Raves.
Those Rants & Raves news updates and reviews are available at his RCHarvey.com site, where his Harvey’s Hindsights looked at the history of comics. Bob celebrated his country’s freedom in July by providing free access to the 23 years of his knowledge and opinion available there.
This year is no exception.
Bob will be sorely missed by his many friends and fans.
At age 85 he was still taken too soon.
WE’RE ALL BROTHERS, AND WE’RE ONLY PASSIN’ THROUGH
Sometimes happy, sometimes blue,
But I’m so glad I ran into you—
Tell the people that you saw me, passin’ through
“… I knew I didn’t love drawing that much. I like drawing. But I love writing. In a lot of ways, writing is every bit as difficult as drawing. But I don’t begrudge the time it takes. I welcome it. I often search out spare hours to do it. I like drawing cartoons and love writing. I love writing about cartoons and cartoonists more than anything else.”
A Celebration of Life service will be held on August 20th, 2:00 pm, at the Brighton United Methodist Church at 625 S 8th Ave. in Brighton, Colorado. Donations can be made to the National Parks Conservation Association as tribute.
edited to correct birth date edited to include obituary