The Comics Journal released its obituary of Paul Coker, Jr. today.
Comics historian and Cartoon Art Museum curator Andrew Farago does a great job by Coker.
This has perhaps the best accounting of Paul’s early career at Hallmark Cards.
One of his first clients, the Kansas City-based Hallmark, hired him as a staff designer in 1955. Clever and innovative, always pushing the envelope, Coker soon established himself as one of Hallmark’s funniest, sharpest cartoonists, especially the work he produced with writer Phil Hahn. “People wanted to move away from the more traditional, syrupy cards, and his were very new and edgy,” says Sam Viviano.
Of course Paul’s career as MAD cartoonist and Rankin/Bass animator is covered.
It’s hard to overstate just how pervasive Coker’s artwork was in the early 1970s, when the Rankin/Bass animated specials reached a majority of children and families, his Hallmark cards were available in grocery stores, pharmacies, and flower shops coast to coast, and MAD was at its peak circulation, with each issue selling more than two million copies–and reaching millions more when those issues were passed around the home or schoolyard.