Friday, February 3, 2012


(Click to enlarge: the scans are all hi-rez)

Here's the most complete bio I could find on my hero Henry Syverson, from a cartoon book compiled in the late 1950's: "WHAT'S SO FUNNY ABOUT THAT?":

HENRY SYVERSON: "For thirty years I have pursued my favorite hobby -- at Walt Disney's Studios, then as a soldier-cartoonist, and today, with my wife and two children contributing much inspiration, as a free-lance cartoonist. But perhaps to consider cartooning a hobby is deceiving. My son once asked me, 'Daddy, are you unemployed?'"
(Mrs. Syverson reports that after her husband wrote this capsule biography of himself, he was unstrung for days. He has seldom been known to speak, and draws only cartoons without captions. He lives quietly--even soundlessly in Pine Bush, N.Y., with his wife, son and daughter.)

It's short on words, but then so was his work.

 Aside from the signature "Little Men" ("& Women") in his "marginal" SATURDAY EVENING POST work, he also did a great many standard gag panels for magazines of the 1940's thru the 1970's. Most of them make use of pure pantomime instead of captions, and some of the ones featuring multi-panel drawings are the best of these...

"MAY I CUT IN?" (8 panels)

 But then again, he was no slouch at the single panel gag either:

(single panel)
(single panel)

Another (shorter) multi panel:

"Leaving the Nest" (4 panels)

This last is one of my all time favorites:
(Dated, but funny and brilliantly done. There were no multiple births in my family, but I had lots of siblings and the man and woman here might as well be my Mom & Dad in spirit. And graphically, it's about as perfect as it could be.)

His humor is as warm and gentle as his photo appears (above). I hope in person that was the case. These kind of gags were very mainstream and some stuff from the era seems somewhat hackneyed by today's standards, but I never feel that way about Syverson's work. It seems authentic and genuine, something that is hard to come by in any vein of humor. And of course, I can't help but be amazed at his mastery of the craft. Hat's off to Henry, once again.