Tributes to Maurice Sendak: Visual Artists Respond

Fitting that the passing of an artist should inspire so much art. Here are a few tributes to Maurice Sendak that I’ve enjoyed. (I’ve assembled links to prose tributes at the bottom of my reminiscence of Maurice; The Comics Journal has its own page of mostly prose tributes, too.)

Pat Bagley

Pat Bagley, tribute to Maurice Sendak

This is easily my favorite, and the one that I think Sendak himself would most have enjoyed. Pat Bagley dos a great job in representing Sendak’s un-sentimental approach to death. Sendak often spoke of his own mortality, and accepted the inevitable with a dark sense of humor.

Hanna Freiderichs (a.k.a. AgarthanGuide)

Avengers on Parade (RIP Maurice Sendak) by AgarthanGuide
Under her Deviant Art pseudonym ArgathanGuide, Hanna Friederichs has created Avengers in a Sendakian parade.  You can find it on her Deviant Art page and Tumblr.  The image calls to mind Sendak’s many parades – in Ruth Krauss’s A Hole Is to Dig (1952), and his own Where the Wild Things Are (1963). The above image derives from a less well-known source: his 1961 mural for Larry and Nina Chertoff that now resides in the Rosenbach Museum.

Maurice Sendak, Chertoff Mural (1961)
The photo of Sendak’s mural, above, comes from The History Blog‘s great story about it, which I recommend.

Update, 13 May, 9:30 am: Thanks to Roger Sutton’s post, added Hanna Friederichs’ full name.

Harry Bliss

Harry Bliss, Sendak

Harry Bliss‘s graveside portrait of Babar, Madeline, Curious George, and the Man with the Yellow Hat evokes how everyone in the children’s literature community has felt – artists, scholars, writers, librarians, teachers, editors, agents, all of us. Losing Maurice Sendak has felt like a death in the family. As Kenneth Kidd put it, “Could be the select company I keep, but my Facebook newsfeed is a virtual wake.”

Debbie Milbrath

Deb Milbrath, RIP Mr. Sendak

Most artists invoke Where the Wild Things Are (presumably because it’s Sendak’s most recognizable work), but Debbie Milbrath references a more thematically appropriate work: Outside Over There (1981), in which Sendak filters the kidnapping (and accidental murder of) the Lindbergh baby through Mozart’s Magic Flute, and ends up with a work that offers glimmers of hope through its darkness.

Andy Marlette

Andy Marlette, Where the Wild Things Are

Andy Marlette imagines wild things paying tribute to Maurice Sendak. There were many such cartoons – I’ve only included a few here.

Jeff Koterba

Jeff Koterba color cartoon for 5/9/2012 "Sendak"

Jeff Koterba makes Sendak into Max, apt since – as Sendak has admitted – Max is a version of Maurice himself. I suspect Sendak intended an allusion to Wilhelm Busch’s Max und Moritz (1865).

Nate Beeler

Nate Beeler, [RIP Maurice Sendak]

Nate Beeler imagines roaring terrible roars and gnashing terrible teeth – a first response to Maurice Sendak’s passing. The first stage of grief.

Bob Englehart

Bob Englehart, [Max and wild thing]

In Bob Englehart‘s image, a wild thing comforts Max.

Sarah McIntyre

Sarah McIntyre, [Max and wild thing]

I like that Sarah McIntyre has drawn the wild thing seeking comfort from Max. The kid is handling it better than the monstrous, giant, wild thing. Sendak always said that children understood much more than adults give them credit for.

Chris Eliopoulos

Chris Eliopoulos, [Max alone]

Understated, lovely. The creator of Misery Loves Sherman, Chris Eliopoulos has many different websites to visit.

Mark Streeter

Mark Streeter, And the Wild Things Cried

Mark Streeter‘s comic says what Chris Eliopoulos’s implies – but Eliopoulos assumes a knowing reader, and Streeter does not. Strange though it may seem to those of us in children’s literature, there are people who do not know Maurice Sendak’s work.

Stuart Carlson

Stuart Carlson, RIP

Stuart Carlson‘s tribute seems an apt one to end on. First, mourn. Next, hang your teddy bear, threaten the dog, shout at your mother, and board a boat (… to where the wild things are).

More on Sendak from Nine Kinds of Pie (this blog):


  1. Reply

    Thanks so much for this wonderful post Professor Nel! A tribute to a true master artist and storyteller.

  2. Diane Von Heyneman


    These were very fitting beautiful tributes by thse wrists. I enjoyed and appreciated them all, but Bliss’ piece actually brought on that weepy feeling. Very touching.

  3. Christopher


    my favorite childhood story teller. he isn’t dead. just no longer physical

  4. Maureen O'Hara


    Thanks for sharing each very special tribute. We will miss Maurice so much.

  5. Dave Sawchuk


    Great collection. I love Bagley’s amusing “You gonna eat that?” take – a sadistic follow-up frame would have the wild thing eating… “and it was still warm”. Seriously I treasure all of these touching tributes – lots of great memories in these drawings. Rest in peace Mr Sendak, and let the wild rumpus continue!

  6. libraryann


    Lovely to come back and look at these again on the 5th anniversary. Thank you

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