I have been very remiss in not writing a remembrance of terrific humorous illustrator Bruce Stark, who passed away on Dec. 29th of emphysema at age 79. Bruce was one of those artists whose talent was even greater than the work the public typically saw, great as that was, would have indicated.
I always admired his work, both the caricatures and the fantastic action and sports work he did. His art appeared frequently in TV Guide, Time, Fortune and Forbes magazines, as well as being a regular with the New York Daily News for 22 years (1960-1982). He also appeared in several issues of MAD in the late 60′s and early 70′s. Bruce won several divisional awards from the National Cartoonists Society (Best Special Feature Cartoonist and Best Sports Cartoonist, both now discontinued categories). His acrylic painted style always amazed me . . . it had a loose and almost haphazard quality to it but never looked sloppy or careless.
I got a chance to meet Bruce at one of the International Society of Caricaturist Artists‘ annual conventions in the early 2000′s—can’t remember the exact year. He was actually just attending as a guest, not a speaker, but he donated some original artwork for the fundraising auction. I managed to purchase the piece above (don’t miss embiggening that one, I uploaded a large scan so you can see the details), and another one that was also on hand. The one above was from a TV feature:
He was a very humble and sincere guy, and a real pleasure to talk to. He had basically given up caricature and humorous work, as was doing these incredible realistic paintings of old-time baseball players and other athletes. He had some postcards or some other types of examples of the work with him, and they were really amazing. As terrific as his humorous work was, that was just playtime for Bruce compared to these pieces. His son Ron continues this tradition of incredible realistic sports paintings.
The departure of Bruce Stark’s talent from this life leaves the world a poorer place, but he left us a wonderful legacy to enjoy. You can see some of his original art here, all of the humorous variety. Here is a link to a fantastic post about Bruce, complete with a ton of examples of this work, by the equally great humorous illustrator Drew Friedman.