Robert Grossman, cartoonist and graphic designer, deceased at 78 – Multiversity Comics
Robert Grossman in 1968
According to The New York Timesprolific illustrator and political cartoonist Robert Grossman has died at the age of 78. Over a long 50-year career, Grossman has contributed to the covers and illustrations of countless magazines, including The New York Times, Rolling stone, Time, Mother Jones, Squire, The nation, the New York Observer and many others.
Grossman was inspired to pursue comics and the art of caricature after discovering Crazy magazine in the 1950s. In an interview with Tennessee, Grossman admitted that the humorous magazine EC Comics had appeared to him “like an almost divine revelation. Grossman would later befriend magazine creator and editor Harvey Kurtzman, and use the techniques he learned from Kurtzman to help create his own unique style of caricature art.
In a first attempt to CrazyIn a parody style, Grossman created a comic book starring the African-American superhero Captain Melanin (a character who would predate “the first black superhero” Black Panther, by about five years). But Grossman’s rise to national notoriety would later come with his iconic illustrations of celebrities like Jerry Garcia, Crosby Stills and Nash and Bob Dylan (all three for Rolling stone) and his scathing political cartoons of everyone from Richard Nixon to Donald Trump.
It was the presidency that occupied most of Grossman’s time, especially the new York magazine strip “Zoonooz”, which featured characters like Richard M. Nightcrawler, Gerald Duck and a Mickey Mouse movie star called Ronald Rodent. The tape ended when Rupert Murdoch took over the magazine, but Grossman eventually resumed his work on the Oval Office in The nation with Cap’n Bushya, a squirrel hero based on George Herbert Walker Bush, and with the arrival of the Clintons, came “The Klintstones”. Grossman also regularly parodied Obama with O-Man, who he admitted has come full circle in his career with Captain Melanin. Atlantic presented 0-Man in 2012, as part of a retrospective on his presidential satire.
In 2005, Grossman sparked controversy with his portrayal of “Babe Lincoln,” a caricature of Abraham Lincoln wearing female lingerie. Based on a book that claimed President Lincoln was secretly gay (CA Tripp’s The intimate world of Abraham Lincoln), the cartoon drew criticism and accusations of homophobia from the gay community. Grossman responded to the controversy in a quintessentially sardonic manner, noting that “in the impoverished mental landscape of a designer, this is what passes for a real inspiration. “
Grossman is perhaps best known for his cartoonish airbrushing art, which he would use frequently in magazine art as well as movie posters (most notably in the iconic Zucker Brothers comedy picture from 1980 Airplane!) Old Times art director Steven Heller praised Grossman’s use of airbrushing and other fine art techniques in a comedic setting. According to Heller, Grossman “kind of redefined the caricature genre by introducing the airbrush as a tool. He gave it a sort of sculptural form, but at the same time comical. He gave it nuances and gradients that others didn’t. And at the same time, he also captured resemblances with brilliant precision and great wit. “
Robert Grossman died on March 15 (apparently from congenital heart disease). He is survived by his sons Alex and Michael Grossman Rimbaud; his daughters Leila Suzanna Grossman and Anna Jane Grossman Pedicone; five grandchildren, his two brothers, James and David, and his partner of almost 25 years, Elaine Louie.