'Uproar in the Opera' (Abbott and Costello Comics #7, May 1949), artwork by Eric Peters and Lily Renée.

Erich Gold - better known as Goltz - was an early to mid-20th century Austrian cartoonist, noted for his caricatures of actors and politicians in the Austrian and German press. In 1938, he fled from Austria to the United States, where he assumed the name Eric Peters and worked both for the press and the comic book industry. Together with his wife Lily Renée, he, for instance, drew 'Abbott and Costello' celebrity comic stories for St. John Publishing in the late 1940s.


Cartoon by Erich Gold, under the pseudonym Goltz. 

Theatre cartoons
Erich Gold was born in 1899 in Vienna, capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Spending his early career in both Vienna and Berlin, he became well-known for his drawings of 1920s/1930s theatre life in these cities, which appeared in several daily newspapers. Using the pen name "Goltz", he depicted hundreds of scenes from theatre plays and made striking portraits of the legendary artists and actors of the day, including Max Reinhardt, Erwin Piscator and Bertolt Brecht. In addition, he created advertising drawings for film studios.

Besides cultural cartoons, Erich Gold was also noted for his political caricatures. A socialist and Jew, he particularly aimed at ridiculing the prominent members of the Nazi party, especially his caricatures of Joseph Goebbels and Adolf Hitler were considered hilarious. By the time the Nazis came to power in Germany, Goltz had to flee from Berlin back to Vienna, where he continued his artistic work. Between 1933 and 1938, he remained a prominent contributor to the Viennese press. In his cartoon column for the Neues Wiener Tagblatt, 'Der bissige Bleistift' ("The Biting Pencil"), he continued to comment on the spreading Nazi terror. His last drawing in the Viennese press appeared on 10 March 1938, three days before the "Anschluss" annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany. Again, Gold had to flee to avoid persecution by the Gestapo. In a 2009 interview with Alter Ego magazine, his first wife Lily Renée said Gold "borrowed a pair of skis and skied over the Alps into Switzerland, leaving everything he owned behind him." During World War II, almost his entire family fell victim to the Holocaust.


Cartoon by Erich Gold, mocking Hitler's policies regarding uniforms. 

New York period
On 14 October 1939, Gold arrived in New York City, where he changed his name to Eric Peters. He picked up his cartooning work again, portraying Broadway stars like Lillian Hellman and working for the renowned Theatre Guild. His drawings appeared in magazines like The American Mercury, Esquire, Collin's, The Saturday Evening Post, True and Look. He also continued to make anti-Nazi cartoons, which appeared for instance in the newsletter of veteran organization The American Legion.

Between 1947 and 1949, he was married to comic book artist and fellow Austrian refugee Lily Renée Willheim and together they worked on stories for 'Abbott and Costello Comics', a celebrity comic book by St. John Publishing starring the Hollywood comedy duo. Working together on most of the early issues (1948-1950), Peters drew the two comedians, while Lily Renée tackled the girl characters and did the inking. After their divorce, Peters worked on 'Abbott and Costello' on his own for a while. For D.S. Publishing, Peters and Renée also drew funny animal comic books with 'Elsie the Cow' (1949-1950), the mascot of the Borden dairy company, originally designed by Vic Herman. In 1950, Eric Peters also drew covers and stories for D.S. Publishing's fairy tale comic book 'Let's Pretend'.


"Quick freeze, wasn’t it?", cartoon for the Saturday Evening Post (16 December 1944).

Final years and death
Eric Peters eventually married another Viennese woman, and returned to Vienna with her in 1965. In 1974, he sold hundreds of his original drawings to the Austrian National Library. He passed away in 1979, at age 80.

Rediscovery
In 1999, humorous cartoons from Gold's estate were sold at a Viennese auction house. Since he had changed his name from Gold to Peters - an attempt to cover up his Jewish ancestry - the life and work of this classic cartoonist weren't rediscovered until 2017, when Goltz' drawings from the estate of the recently deceased historian Brigitte Hamann were exhibited. In 2020, German cultural journalist and theatre critic Hans Haider compiled a collection of Erich Gold's caricatures from his Berlin, Vienna and New York periods, under the title 'Der Bissige Bleistift' (Bachmann Verlag, 2020).


Cover drawing for Let's Pretend #2.

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