A belated Happy Birthday to cartoonist Sidney Harris who turned 90 years old last Monday. Having been born on May 8, 1933 Sidney is now entitled to be part of The Daily Cartoonist’s Senior Strippers society.
Magazine cartoonist Sidney Harris has had his cartoons appear in Playboy, The New Yorker, The Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy, Punch, Harvard Business Review, Saturday Review, The Wall Street Journal and others.
The S. Harris art style is as distinctive as the S. Harris signature.
As famous as he his for his contributions to general interest magazines, he has garnered praise for his cartoons on a wide range of science topics. Natural History, American Scientist, JohnHopkins Magazine, Clinical Chemistry News, The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Environment, U.S. Medicine, and Science are just some of the special interest magazine where S. Harris has drawn acclaim.
In 1955 he began his career as a science cartoonist and since then has drawn literally thousands of cartoons. Since 1970, American Scientist has published more than 600 of his cartoons. In addition to the Society’s magazine, Sidney’s cartoons have appeared in numerous other publications including Science, Discover, Physics Today…
Over the years, Sidney Harris has been praised by such luminaries as Linus Pauling and Isaac Asimov, as well as countless scientists throughout the world, for his ability to find humor in science and technology. For his services to science, Mr. Harris was elected by the Board of Directors as the nineteenth Honorary Member of Sigma Xi.
Right off the bat, Sidney Harris makes it clear that he’s not a scientist. He’s a cartoonist who grew up in Brooklyn and drew for Playboy but somehow he still knows about neutrinos and the beginning of the universe.
“I get the gist of it,” says Harris. “Neutrinos come from outer space. They go through everything, there’s a billion of them going through my hand right now… maybe?” He laughs, “I don’t know.”
The drawing depicting the universe before the Big Bang (right) has been one of my most widely reprinted, and often misprinted, cartoons. Not surprisingly, the drawing took the least time to create. After all, how long does it take to make a dot, even a large dot? But more than once it was published with the caption intact, and the dot missing. The first instance appeared on the last page of my 1989 book Einstein Simplified (which is still in print). The dot was not there, since the printer evidently thought it was an imperfection. The publisher had to recall several thousand books, and the dot was added, one by one, by way of a rubber stamp made for the occasion.
Any of Sid Harris’s two dozen book collections are well worth seeking out.
Original art and prints of many cartoons are offered at Science Cartoons Plus.