“This is the kind of book I like”: Crockett Johnson, famous cartoonist & bookseller

Although I wouldn’t argue that once upon a time “illustrators were celebrities,” it’s definitely true that they were once more celebrated than they are now.  Predictably, one illustrator who comes to my mind is Crockett Johnson (my biography of Johnson and his wife Ruth Krauss will be published in the fall of 2012).  In 1947, Johnson’s

Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss Biography. Appendix D: End Your Silence

The final appendix omitted from my forthcoming biography of Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss (2012) also chronicles their early opposition to the war in Vietnam and – unusually – has Ruth’s name on it as well.  Why did she sign this one?  I think because she particularly abhorred violence.  One of her friends told me that even cartoon violence upset

Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss Biography. Appendix C: Assembly of Men and Women in the Arts Concerned with Vietnam

A month or so back, I posted the first and second omitted appendices from my forthcoming biography of Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss (2012).  At the risk of trying your patience, here is the third. Its importance is Johnson and Krauss’s early opposition to the war in Vietnam.  Krauss’s name is not on this petition, but

Preview: biography of Johnson and Krauss. First sentence & last sentence.

The manuscript is still going to be cut further, but – as it currently stands – here are the first and final sentences of the book. First sentence (from the Introduction): When a stranger knocked on Crockett Johnson’s front door one mild Friday in August 1950, he was not expecting was a visit from the

Invent Title for My Book, Win Signed Copy of the Book

The title is currently The Purple Crayon and a Hole to Dig: The Lives of Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss.  Today, my editor writes that he and his colleagues “find the main title problematic. It’s lengthy and isn’t evocative to anyone who isn’t already familiar with Johnson or Krauss, and so doesn’t draw the lay

Going Back to High School — 90 Years Back

What was high school like 90 years ago?  This Newtown High School Handbook provides some sense of what it was like in Newtown, Queens in 1921, when Crockett Johnson (a.k.a. David Leisk) was a student there.  No yearbooks from the Newtown class of 1924 (Johnson’s graduating class) survive, but plenty of things do: The Queens Public

Crockett Johnson and the Purple Crayon: A Life in Art

This piece appeared in Comic Art in 2004.  As the magazine is now (sadly) defunct, I’m posting the article here.  Until The Purple Crayon and a Hole to Dig: The Lives of Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss appears in 2012, this essay is the most thorough account of Johnson’s life available.  Enjoy! Philip Nel, “Crockett Johnson and