New Yorker cartoonist Al Ross celebrated his 100th birthday on October 19, 2011. I thought it would be fitting to honor him on this occasion by making him the latest "Case in Point" in this ongoing feature, in which I post some of the early work of famous cartoonists.
Much has been written about Al Ross, including stuff I've written about him in the past on this blog –here's just one link. So I'll just summarize by saying that Al Ross is probably the most famous of four celebrated cartooning brothers. Their last name was Roth, but only Al's brother Ben Roth cartooned under that name. The other three signed their cartoons either Al Ross, Irv Roir or Salo. Ben, Irv and Salo Roth are deceased, but each of them was very prolific and made his mark in the golden age of gag cartooning, when publications like The Saturday Evening Post, Collier's and Look dominated the market.
You can see many of Al Ross's New Yorker cartoons on The Cartoon Bank. Also, Michael Maslin, on his excellent Ink Spill Blog site, has a link to a film clip of Ross's 100th birthday party, which took place in The Bronx, NY.
The eight early Ross cartoons posted below are all from a sourcebook I've mentioned before, "The Good Humor Book", a hardcover compilation of cartoons and jokes published by Harvest House in 1944. As I said before, my instincts tell me that the publishers weren't offering much in the way of compensation for the cartoons. I feel that the cartoonists were glad to dump their old, unsellable rejections there, probably for pin money. So these cartoons date from the early 1940's or before — and you can see a remarkable difference in Ross's drawing style, as compared to the style which he developed in his later years.
The next three Ross cartoons posted below are from another hardcover anthology, "The American Cartoon Album", published in 1974 by Dodd, Mead and Company. The three cartoons are reprints from either Medical Economics, Saturday Review or Dugent Publishing Corp. (the anthology doesn't supply specific copyright attributions). These cartoons are very typical of Ross's later free-flowing style, which you can also see in many of his New Yorker cartoons.
Below the cartoons I have posted a photo of Al Ross from 1947. And below that, a photo of him at his 100th birthday party. Happy birthday, Al Ross! Al Ross, 1947 Al Ross, 2011