Bruce Cochran – RIP The Daily Cartoonist

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Bruce Cochran – RIP

Cartoonist and humorist Bruce Cochran left us.

Edward Bruce Cochran
October 9, 1935 – August 22, 2022

From the obituary:

Bruce spent most of his distinguished 63-year career as a freelance professional cartoonist, illustrator, humorist and writer based in Kansas City, making his debut as a writer and illustrator for Hallmark Cards, Inc. in 1960.

He went on to become a pioneer of outdoor sports humor. With a fine appreciation of the absurd, his brilliantly funny cartoons reminded us all not to take life too seriously. His cartoons have been published in USA TODAY, Playboy, Field and flow, WIDFOWL Magazine, Outside of Wisconsin, and dozens of other publications. He was also an award-winning Life Member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. In 2017, he won the OWAA’s most prestigious award for excellence in craftsmanship. He is also the author of 15 books.

From Outdoor Writers Association of America (circa 2009):

Cochran has been drawing since he was a “tiny kid”. His mother and older sister were artists. His mother mainly painted landscapes and was good at both oil and watercolour. His sister, Adrienne, worked as an illustrator for the Daily Oklahoman in Oklahoma City.
“A lot of people ask me, ‘How did you get into the cartoon?’ I kind of have a standard answer for them, but it’s true,” Cochran said. “I always say, ‘Well, if you’re drawing all over your textbooks instead of reading them, by the time you get out of school, the only thing you’re qualified for is a draftsman.’ It’s true, actually. What else could I do? I never learned anything else.”

As a child, Cochran spent quite a bit of time outdoors as a scout, before joining the Exploring program as a teenager. “We used to go out and camp where we mostly took our guns and fishing rods and went to live off the land,” Cochran recalls. “I ate a robin once and a woodpecker and all sorts of weird stuff, whatever you could get.”

These days, Cochran hunts turkeys and deer on a few hundred acres of land he shares with four other people. “It’s nothing out of the ordinary,” Cochran said. “But we have a nice little house up there with five bedrooms and a few bathrooms.” Cochran is also an avid fly-fisherman.

Which explains Bruce’s fame as a sports designer.

Excerpt from Realtree “Friends, Family and the Outdoors” (2010):

Most celebrities and outdoor writers take their jobs seriously…

But not Cochran. He mocks, teases and makes fun of sports people on a daily basis. As a result, Cochran’s playful look at the world of hunting and fishing has entertained us for decades. Since the 1960s, his cartoons, stories and illustrations have graced the pages of many outdoor magazines and books.

Cochran got his start as an illustrator right out of college. “I went to work for Hallmark Cards in 1960, writing and illustrating contemporary cards,” he said. “From there, I got into comics for magazines and local ad agencies.”

Since then, Cochran’s work has appeared in Ducks Unlimited, Field & Stream, North American Hunter, Petersen’s Bowhunting, Pheasants Forever Journal and many more.

Among those many others are National Lampoon, The Realist, Playboy (and Fling and Gallery, etc.), Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and just about every fishing and hunting magazine you can think of.

For Cochran, it’s about writing jokes. “For me, cartooning is a form of writing,” he continued. “I’ve been thinking about jokes for over four decades and have developed a routine that works for me. First, I limit my thinking to a particular category – say deer hunting or trout fishing. Sometimes , it helps my brain to flip through hunting and fishing magazines and catalogs, or read outdoor websites.And, I usually carry a small notebook and a pen every time I go out on hunting or fishing trips, and when I read magazines and websites If something happens or I read something that brings up a memory of an experience that happened years ago, it It’s a good idea for a cartoon, I write it down. Then later, I try to exaggerate these situations. The joke is often the result of my brain telling me, “What if this had happened at the instead of that? Then I keep developing until I’m happy with the joke.

“I write cartoon ideas best in the morning, and even then I can only do it for about an hour. After that, I start to lose focus,” Cochran continued. jokingly, I sketch it roughly in pencil, and I mean roughly, like in stick figures. If I come up with 10 or 15 cartoon ideas, I consider that a productive morning. I will file these rough sketches for a few days, weeks or months. Later, I’ll go through my pile of sketches and select the best ideas, often refining the callouts and tweaking the designs. I will then do a final pencil drawing on tracing paper and send the drafts to the editors. If a publisher wants to buy the cartoon, I’ll finish it in ink, color it (if needed), scan it, and email it to my client.

“I was very lucky,” Cochran explained. “Looking back on my career (which I hope isn’t over yet) I can’t think of anything I would have done differently, but overall I think I would have been more enterprising. I probably should have looked for other ways to increase my income sooner. I tried a few comics, and for a while hoped to become an animal watercolor artist, and tried a few books that I couldn’t sell well, before finding success with Buck Fever. But, when you have house and car payments, and a wife and two kids to support, you’re just not too keen on taking risks. But in the beginning, I had some stability with my income with my Hallmark contract, and I sold a lot of cartoons for magazines and did as much publicity work as I wanted. And for nine years, I worked as a cartoonist for USA Today, so we got along.

The Fun ‘n’ Games with Cochran! panel appeared in USA Today from 1983 to 1991, Bruce cartoons began appearing in Playboy in 1960, and by the early 1970s he had a regular spot on National Lampoon’s Funny Pages with his School of Famous Comics Artists comic strip which, of course, frequently featured animals.

Bruce’s humor has extended beyond cartoons to writing books and articles.

More cartoons, illustrations and paintings by Bruce Cochran on his website.

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