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The Gallery Artist Hy Eisman Shows Popeye Sunday Pages Original Art

For the month of March, The Gallery at The Glen Rock Public Library welcomes the art of Glen Rock resident and accomplished cartoonist Hy Eisman. 

His show will focus on his original artwork for King Features popular comic strip Popeye Eisman wrote and drew Popeye for 28 years, stepping away from the weekly deadlines in 2022. Hy Eisman has been a professional cartoonist for over 70 years at 96 years old. Still fulfilling his lifelong dream, he continues to work from his home studio in Glen Rock, where he has lived for 63 years. 

Eisman joined the National Cartoonists Society (NCS) in 1957, when he was creating a weekly newspaper panel, It Happened in New Jersey, a local version of Ripley's Believe It or Not. He won the NCS awards for best Humor Comic Book Cartoonist in 1975 for Nancy and best Comic Book Cartoonist in 1984 for Little Lulu. He also served on the Board of the NCS under five different presidents. In 2019, Hy received the Society's Milt Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award for his long and successful career.

Hy Eisman decided to be a cartoonist when he was five years old, when he first saw comics in the newspaper.  Seeing the Sunday newspaper comics during the difficult Depression years offered inspiration.  His career began when he created a comic strip for his high school newspaper. He also drew a strip for the Camp Pickett News when he was in the Army.

Over the decades, as a freelance cartoonist, he drew many different comic book characters, such as Archie, Blondie, Nancy, Little Lulu, The Munsters, Tom and Jerry, Snuffy Smith, Katy Keene, and Smokey Stover. He created the comic book Bunny for Harvey Comics.

Eisman was a ghost artist for many strips, that is, he drew strips or comic books that were originated by others, without his own byline. These include Kerry Drake, Mutt and Jeff, and Bringing Up Father. He had an uncanny ability to draw many different characters in many varied styles. Eisman got his own byline when he began collaborating with writer Bob Dunn in 1967. For the next 17 years they brought the tales of the bratty, pony-tailed Little Iodine to life in that King Features syndicated strip. In 1986, he started drawing and writing the adventures of two other famous brats, The Katzenjammer Kids. Eisman added another comic legend to his repertoire in 1994 when he took over creating the Sunday Popeyestrips, which brought him international recognition. He traveled to Italy in 2002 as the guest of honor at Cartoomics, an annual comics festival in Milan.

When the Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art was founded in 1976, Eisman was invited to join the faculty. Many future cartoonists were inspired by his classes in lettering, humorous drawing, and how to create comic book pages and Sunday newspaper pages. His sense of humor enlivened his memorable lectures and demonstrations for 40 years.

The pop artist Roy Lichtenstein even lifted one of the panels Eisman drew for a comic book called Private Secretary, using the image for a huge painting that was shown at the 1964 New York World's Fair. Lichtenstein copied a number of images created by comic book artists. Eisman is a featured cartoonist in the documentary, Whaam! Blam! Roy Lichtenstein and the Art of Appropriation.

Eisman’s creations are in public and private collections. He had a solo show of his Popeye panels in 2015 at the Van Der Plas Gallery in New York City. He also appears at his drawing board in the German film Katzenjammer Kauderwelsch, about the originators of the Katzenjammer Kids.