Timmy by Howard Sparber

Howard Sparber was an American cartoonist and comic strip artist. His early cartoons appeared in major newspapers and magazines, while his later work was made in commission of corporations and governmental institutes. He was also the creator of syndicated cartoons and comic strips like 'Timmy' (1947-1959), 'Crax and Jax' (1949-1959), 'The Byrd House' (1960-1961) and 'Trix of the Trade' (1965-1967). Several of his features were created in cooperation with his wife Jean Weinstein Sparber.


Cartoon for Liberty magazine (8 June 1946)

Sparber was born in 1921 in Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York City, and got his education at Brooklyn College and at the Cooper Union school of art in Lower Manhattan. He served in the US Army Air Corps during World War II, and published his first cartoons in the military magazine Yank. He was then on the staff of the liberal New York daily PM, and contributed panel gags and cartoons to magazines like Collier's, Sep, Look, Liberty, This Week and Pic, while also doing illustrations assigments for books and pamphlets. His best-known character is the kid 'Timmy', who starred in lighthearted cartoon panels and comic strips alongside his parents and brother Hanky. 'Timmy' first appeared in single panel cartoons in Collier's magazine in 1947. The early cartoons were written by Raymond Abrashkin.


Cartoon series by Sparber and Abrashkin about a kid's birthday party, published in the Los Angeles Times on 29 June 1947

By 8 December 1947 the feature was picked up by the Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate, after which it appeared on a daily base in newspapers. A Sunday color feature was added on 31 October 1948, which came with the companion strips 'Hanky's Dream World' (1948-1949, starring Timmy's kid brother) and 'Crax and Jax' (1949-1959, starring two puppet show characters). The daily panel became a comic strip in early 1949, but changed back to a panel in 1954. 'Timmy' was in syndication until 1959. The character also inspired four eponymous comic books in Dell's Four Color Comics series between August 1956 and August 1959. The books featured short stories which were not created by Sparber, however, but by Dell/Western staffers instead.

Crax and Jax by Howard Sparber
Tom et Fido (French-Canadian edition of Crax and Jax)

Sparber then created 'The Byrd House', a comic strip about a group of zoo animals, which was distributed through the New York Herald-Tribune Syndicate between 23 May 1960 and 4 March 1961. It was replaced by David Gantz's 'Dudley D.'. In the 1960-1962 period Sparber also assisted Crockett Johnson on the kid comic 'Barnaby'. Howard and Jean Sparber additionally created 'Trix of the Trade', a series of household hints in cartoon form. The panel was distributed by the Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate between 6 September 1965 until 1967.

The Byrd House by Howard Sparber

Howard Sparber eventually focused on a career in graphic design and creating "concept cartoons", message-related imagery for institutional and corporate clients. The artist tackled sensitive subjects like domestic violence, domestic violence, and the changing culture and practices of the corporate world in (in his own words) non-confrontational cartoons. Several of his cartoons dealt with the contradiction of the US ideals of democracy and its practices of racial and religious discrimination. One of his notable projects was a calendar about sexual harassment in commission of the New Jersey State Department of Education Vocational Opportunity for Women Division in 1993. A poster by Sparber about the same subject was featured in the Warner Bros thriller movie 'Disclosure' (1994), starring Michael Douglas.

Howard Sparber was also active as a watercolor painter and sculptor. On 25 February 2018, he passed away in his hometown Morristown, New Jersey, where he had lived since the 1950s.

Howard Sparber
Howard Sparber in the Chicago Tribune of 18 November 1951

Series and books by Howard Sparber in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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