The Man Who Stole Immortality by Mel Crawford
'The Man Who Stole Immortality' (Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery #7, 1964).

Mel Crawford was a Canadian-American children's book illustrator and comic artist. He drew horror and fantasy comics for Western Publishing, but is best known for adapting various child-oriented media into beautiful children's books. Crawford was so good in adapting the graphic style of other artists that he became a much sought-after illustrator. He worked for various different film and TV companies and made books starring some of the most popular fictional characters of the 20th century, from Disney and Hanna-Barbera to Jim Henson Productions. 

The Golden MagazineRaggedy Ann

Early life and career
Mel Crawford was born in 1925 in Toronto, Canada, but spent his childhood in various other provinces of the country. In 1941 he illustrated 'The Three T's' by Frank Man Harris. This was a children's comic about the adventures of three Canadian boys. It was published in an issue of Joke Comics by Bell Features Publications. His drawing career was briefly interrupted by World War II as he had to serve in the Royal Canadian Navy. After being dismissed from service he studied art at the Royal Ontario College and moved permanently to the United States afterwards, settling in Connecticut.

Heidi by Mel Crawford
'Heidi' (Dell Junior Treasury #6, 1956).

Western Publishing comics
Between 1949 and 1967, he drew comic books for Western Publishing, illustrating stories with characters from different franchises, like UPA's 'Mr. Magoo' and 'Gerald McBoing-Boing', Jay Ward's 'Rocky and Bullwinkle', Johnny Gruelle's 'Raggedy Ann', L. Frank Baum's 'The Wizard of Oz', E. Roger Muir's 'Howdy Doody' and Marge Henderson's 'Little Lulu'. He also drew the back-up feature starring 'Professor Harbinger' for the 'Doctor Solar' comic book. His art appeared in such Dell/Western titles as Grimm's Ghost Stories, Doctor Solar, Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery and the Dell Junior Treasury. Crawford tried working as an animator at Disney in the 1950s, but felt that illustrating children's books and record covers suited him better. For Disney he published books which were adaptations of Disney feature films such as 'Alice in Wonderland' (1951) and 'Jungle Book' (1967). A versatile artist, he painted countless cartoon, comics, TV, film and other pop culture characters, from Disney's 'Uncle Scrooge', over Hanna-Barbera's 'Tom & Jerry', 'The Flintstones' and 'Magilla Gorilla', to Jim Henson's 'The Muppets'. He also designed many covers for The Golden Magazine, a magazine aimed at children.

'Rabbits Rafferty' (17 July 1980).

Rabbits Rafferty / McCall of the Wild
Crawford worked as an assistant on newspaper strips like 'Versus' by Jack Wohl (1969-1973) and 'Iffy' by Steven Amy (1971-1973), and did illustrations for First-Day Cachets in the 1970s and 1980s, illustrating (among others) children's books for 'Sesame Street'. He was the artist on newspaper features like 'Rabbits Rafferty' (King Features Syndicate, 1977-1981) and 'McCall of the Wild' (Creators Syndicate, 1988-1990), both written by Jerry Dumas. 'Rabbits Rafferty' (1968) was originally a children's novel by Dumas with illustrations by Wallace Tripp, but for the newspaper version Crawford was hired to do the job. 'McCall of the Wild' was similar to Dumas and Mort Walker's 'Sam's Strip' in the sense that the two protagonists, McCall the girl and her pet pig Piggins, interacted with characters from different comic series. Crawford has also made wildlife paintings for gallery exhibitions.

His art work received the Franklin Mint Gold Medal for watercolor as well as several Grumbacher Gold Medals.

He passed away in 2015, at the age of 89.

Legacy and influence
Crawford's charming and nostalgic drawing style has received praise from other artists, including John Kricfalusi.

Magilla Gorilla by Mel Crawford

Series and books by Mel Crawford you can order today:


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