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Biographies of the Stars

Burne Hogarth

Burne Hogarth was born December 25, 1911 in Chicago, Ill. He learned to draw at the Chicago Art Institute, where he began his studies at age 12. While still a teenager he studied art & anthropology at Crane College and he continued his schooling at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts where he was exposed to the Renaissance and he was taken by Michelangelo's art.

In 1926 at the age of fifteen he was an assistant cartoonist at Associated editors Syndicate and the following year he was doing his own strip, "Famous Churches of the World", and some sports panels. Three years later he was doing a strip called "Ivy Hemmanhaw", his own creation for the Bonnet Brown Syndicate, but the strip did not catch on was soon forgotten. this was followed by "Strange Accidents" and "Odd Occupations", two more short lived cartoons.

In the interim, Hogarth had moved to New York City, and soon after was called upon by artist Lyman Young (Brother of Chic Young, creator of "Blondie") to assist him with "Tim Tylers Luck" as his previous assistant, Alex Raymond was about to leave and start his own strips (which were Flash Gordon, Jungle Jim and Secret Agent X-9). But Hogarth had to move to Connecticut to work for young and he did not remain there for long.

After returning to New York, he was asked to do a strip for the McNaught Syndicate in 1935 called "Pieces of Eight", written by noted pirate author Charles Driscoll. Neither was this strip a success though and Hogarth languished for a short period before a stroke of luck befell him.

Hal Foster, the acclaimed artist of the Tarzan Sunday page who had been illustrating the strip almost since it's inception (see bio on Foster) was leaving the strip to pursue the dream of his own strip, free of the restrictions of the Tarzan character. Thus, as Foster was going over to King Features to do Prince Valiant, United Features needed a cartoonist to take over Tarzan, and this is where Hogarth just happened to be at the syndicate and was asked if he would like to try out for the job along with the other artists who were trying to get the enormously popular strip.

Hogarth had been a fan of Foster's art and his sample page bore a strong resemblance. The syndicate was impressed, and Hogarth got the job. The sample page itself was published as Hogarth's first Sunday page on May 9, 1937. This made him the only cartoonist to follow both Raymond and Foster, arguably the two greatest adventure cartoonist-illustrators, on strip assignments.

An interesting note: Foster's first Prince Valiant page came out on February 13 and his last Tarzan came out on May 2. Well, some papers carried both strips, overlapping Foster's work for twelve weeks.

Unfortunately from the beginning, Hogarth's attempts to give the strip his own character were resisted by the syndicate editors, who didn't want to fool with a successful formula. One of these restrictions was that Hogarth had to maintain a Foster-ish style, so it wasn't until Hogarth was able to exhibit his ability to maintain Tarzan's popularity that he was allowed to develop his own look to the tarzan strip, which began to occur in late 1938.

Hogarth was no less the craftsman that Foster was. Where Foster was an illustrator in every sense of the word, Hogarth was a master of figurative illustration. His interest in Michelangelo's anatomical drawings and sculpture became very evident in his Sunday page illustrations and he became another of the very popular cartoonists of the forties.

But in 1945, in a dispute of Hogarth's inability to get greater pay and creator rights, and his angst at not receiving royalties for Tarzan pages being published overseas, Hogarth left Tarzan and the following year he created a popular cult Sunday page strip called Drago.

Drago was a Cisco Kid-like vigilante in Argentina and ran into late 1947 before folding into obscurity even though it was a visually attractive strip.

So it was that in 1947, United Features, who was not particularly happy about the art that Reuben Morreira was doing under the name "Rubimor" was able to lure Hogarth back to doing Tarzan. But Hogarth had made it contractual that he would be able to write his own stories for the strip, pursue his own artistic look and receive greater compensation for his work.

But 1947 was a busy year for him. He created Miracle Jones, a short lived humor strip featuring a bespectacled day dreamer which only lasted a few short months and he also founded the School of Visual Arts with artist Silas Rhodes.

During this period of freedom, Tarzan took on a whole new look, with art designed around the dynamic figure drawing of Hogarth's Michelangelo influenced bodies, but much more exaggerated than the master's paintings. Where Michelangelo had a more natural look to his bodies, Hogarth had a more romantic styling, creating illustrations that had a "posed" quality to them.

His art on Tarzan peaked in 1949 and 1950 with many great and classic pages drawn in this period. He left the strip in 1950, once again in dispute over foreign royalties, and from then on, focused mainly on education and teaching at the school he founded in 1947.

During the fifties and the sixties he also wrote and illustrated several art textbooks on anatomical illustration. Dynamic Anatomy and Drawing the Human Head are just two of these titles. He also did a short film on drawing the human head in the seventies.

Another development of the sixties was the creation and consolidation of a massive comic art movement culminating in collectors and art theologians worldwide to reappraise and evaluate the "cartoonists" resulting in a number of major exhibitions of comic art, some of which hailed Hogarth as the greatest cartoonist-illustrator of the strips, showcasing his art prominently at the front of some exhibitions, most notably the "Bande Dessinee et Figuration" in Paris at the Louvre in 1967, as well as Belgium, Germany, Italy, Austria and South America.

His popularity in this period became so great that in 1972, he had two books published on Tarzan. "Tarzan of the Apes" and "Jungle Tales of Tarzan" were lavishly illustrated volumes with huge full page drawings by Hogarth at his best.

Hogarth made several appearances at comic book and ERB related conventions through the years and was a fan favorite, revered for his work in the field.

In recent years he had decided to auction some of his originals through the auction houses in New York and his Tarzan pages have sold for as much as eleven thousand dollars for nice examples from the 1949-1950.

Recently he was attending the Angouleme Exhibition in France, a large comic art convention. After he left the show he returned to his hotel in Paris where he collapsed. He was rushed to the hospital, but it was too late. Burne Hogarth, an internationally recognized artist of the comic strip had passed from our world to the next on January 28, 1996.

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