Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Trio of RIP's

Art Linkletter: The long-acknowledged king of "genial audience-participation-show hosts." I came along a bit too late to catch his radio/TV act and know him best for his best-selling book, KIDS SAY THE DARNDEST THINGS (1957), a collection of anecdotes from his long-running show, Art Linkletter's House Party. The book was the national non-fiction best-seller for two years (!) and featured illustrations by Charles Schulz. I realize that PEANUTS was growing rapidly in popularity in the late 1950s, but there had to have been a fair number of folks whose first exposure to Schulz' work came here.

Martin Gardner: Gardner, who wrote the popular MATHEMATICAL GAMES column in SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN for 25 years, is my idea of a great mathematical role model, even though his mathematical training beyond high school was minimal. Gardner was the leading expositor of recreational mathematics in the U.S. for many years and also found time to write books of literary criticism on Lewis Carroll and G.K. Chesterton, guides to stage magic, debunkings of pseudoscientific claims of various sorts (think Penn and Teller without the F-bombs), and musings on religion and religious skepticism. Suffice it to say that he was a legendary figure in the mathematical community. We need all the well-rounded people we can get.

Howard Post: All the obituaries seem to mention his work on the syndicated comic strip THE DROPOUTS -- which I knew well from its run in THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER back in the 70s -- while relegating his extensive comic-book work to a secondary paragraph. This is too bad, as Post is arguably the funniest artist ever to draw for Harvey Comics. Not in the sense of his stuff looking strange, but in the sense of his stuff looking "ha-ha!". I never collected the comics in which his work most often appeared (HOT STUFF, SPOOKY, LITTLE AUDREY) and therefore did not really appreciate it until reading the HARVEY COMICS CLASSICS series from Dark Horse. Even his more "realistic" Harvey renderings were always slightly off the wall; take this opening splash panel of a 1969 story starring Sooper Hippie (really, would I make that up?) from Harvey's legendarily "yvoorg" (read it backwards) teen comic BUNNY:

Post also showed he could play it straight very effectively in the well-liked, though short-lived, ANTHRO title for DC Comics. All in all, a very distinguished career. Of the "core" Harvey Comics gang, only Sid Couchey, Ernie Colon, and seemingly indestructible editor Sid Jacobson now remain.

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