Burne, baby, Burne!

I just noticed the label to the right that says “Burne Hogarth” and couldn’t remember what I’d written about him. It turns out that it was a listing of a review in my index of Comics Career Newsletter #1.

Well, I need to do another Burne Hogarth item just for good measure. Since I spent the past weekend playing chauffeur to convention guests, it’s a natural segue to my single Hogarth experience.
Burne Hogarth, for those of you unaware, was a legendary illustrator, teacher, and author who is best known for (1) a classic run on the Tarzan comic strip in the 30s and 40s, and (2) creating influential art instruction books including Dynamic Anatomy, Drawing the Human Head, and Dynamic Figure Drawing. 

He was a guest at Kansas City’s Mo-Kan Comics Convention circa 1990 – back in the days when Comics Career Newsletter was in full swing. At the time, Mr. Hogarth was about 80-years-old, hard-of-hearing, soft-spoken, but stern. I actually don’t recall interacting with him very much during the show, because I’d spent the full day Saturday selling CCN subscriptions, reviewing the portfolios of aspiring pros, and socializing with the usual gang.

One of the nice traditions of the Mo-Kan show was the Saturday evening banquet they threw for the guests, dealers, and selected special friends. I don’t remember the specifics of that year. I just remember that at some point the club members needed someone to help transport guests from one place to another. Somehow I was drafted to drive Burne Hogarth and Jon (Adventures of Superman) Bogdonave back to their hotel.

That’s fine. No problem.

Did I mention that Kelly, my wonderful wife, was also along? And old buddy Mark Runyan?

Oh, wait, did I mention that our car was a Dodge Omni? Remember the Dodge Omni? If you don’t, let me give you an idea of how tiny it was. A Dodge Omni is approximately the size of the little battery powered cars that 4-year-olds drive around the back yard.

We were at least respectful enough to let the 80-year-old legend ride in the front passenger seat instead of squeezing into a backseat not suitable for a single adult human with two other adult humans. That fate was reserved for Kelly, Mark, and the big time Superman artist.


The wrap up? Burne Hogarth was very kind and polite, was interested in Comics Career, and took a copy to his hotel room. On day two of the convention, he sought me out, assured me that he had read it carefully, and liked it very much.

Wow. I was pleased at the time, and I was largely unaware of how important Burne Hogarth was. Now I have Wikipedia, and I’m blown away to understand that:

“over the years, he was an instructor of drawing to a variety of students at a number of institutions and by 1944 Hogarth had in mind a school for returning World War II veterans. The Manhattan Academy of Newspaper Art was Hogarth’s first formal effort, and by 1947 he had transformed it into the Cartoonists and Illustrators School. This academy continued to grow, and in 1956 was again renamed, as the School of Visual Arts (SVA). It is now the world’s largest private institution of art. Hogarth designed the curriculum, served as an administrator, and taught a full schedule that included drawing, writing, and art history. It was in Hogarth’s classes that many of the Silver Age of comic books’ artists learned the advanced drawing techniques that formed a style still defining the superhero genre today.” 

And he was in my Dodge Omni…