I’ve known Marty ever since I started cartooning. I was in some of Sam Gross’s books and Sam emailed me asking if I knew Marty and Fred Lucky, two great cartoonists out here. At that time, I knew NO other cartoonists, anywhere! Alone, all alone, in a wide wide sea. (There was a cartoon group, that had meetings, CAPS, but I didn’t find them for years because they didn’t advertise or have notices anywhere. They FINALLY have a website, nicely done, but no info about what happens at the meetings, to insure that they don’t get any new members, or any ex-members (like me) interested in coming back.)
Anyway, I had lunch with Marty and Fred, who were best buddies, and that was the beginning! Of course, they were very sweet and appreciative of my work – very kind of them!- but I was a little intimidated. They used to get together with all the successful guys, like Sergio Aragones, and with the animation guys, (animation was still going well then), etc? at extremely expensive meals that I couldn’t afford. There was always a handful of wannabes at these gatherings, and afterwards Marty and Fred would happily flame them and warn me that these were the guys who followed cartoonists, wanted to be them, and yet…never were. I never saw Marty be rude to anyone, but he always avoided sitting next to them!
Marty was the best mentor anyone could ask for, and he taught me more about cartoons than anyone or any book. Sure, he was grumpy a lot – especially after Fred Lucky passed away a couple years after I met him. I think he never quite got over that. But he was very positive about a lot of things I tried: greeting cards, syndication, my books, and even my political cartoons, which very sadly, he never saw, since they are mostly online. He was curious and supersmart, and we talked for hours about art and even more, what was going on in the rest of our lives. I would like to say he was like a second father to me, but my own father might be hurt. In any case, he was like an older brother, giving me advice about my car, editors, how to go into the outside world (we were both loners!), parties, his Chicago background, just about anything. It brings tears to my eyes to remember all that we shared.??
I rarely saw him. He liked his gatherings, but hated one on one. He was very private, and somewhat embarrassed about his great old rambling messy house in Hancock Park, surrounded by apartment buildings on each side.? The last time I saw him in person was written up by another very talented and successful cartoonist who was there, Roy Delgado, when we all got together with Bob Weber for a great meal and conversation. But we talked several times a month, and I considered him one of my best friends. I was so proud when he came to one of my book signings, white flowing mane and all!
I don’t know how or when he passed away. I just found out an hour ago from a post Nelson Dewey made on Facebook. Nelson’s own site here.? He attaches some of Marty’s cartoons in the CAR-toon magazine, which I am borrowing for this. (I think I only have one of Marty’s books, and it’s not handy to get a scan. Of course, Marty is most famous for his Playboy cartoons, but excuse me for not subscribing to that. I don’t think they’re sexist in concept, but when they don’t use cartoons by any women?? Fail. Marty said they did? keep demanding color cartoons from the old-timers like him, however, just to stash, not to print, so they have TONS of back cartoons from the older cartoonists. Playboy is a death dealer.)
One of the things we truly shared was a love of animals, often more than people. I can never forgive the hateful neighbor – not sure who, but if I ever find out, will publicize her or his name – who reported his dogs barking when he was in the hospital a couple of years ago. The handy dandy animal services, run by the bad Ed Bok, took his 3 dogs, that he had cared for and had for YEARS,? WHILE he was in the hospital, and I guess destroyed them or offered them for adoption. Which means 7 more days to live, right? So he came back from the hospital, his first big illness, weak, to find his dogs gone forever. HATE. Last year he found one little girl dog that he thought was adorable – I could hear her annoying barking every time we talked – so I hope someone is taking care of her.
One thing that I feel bad about is that I could never get him into a computer. He had a slow antiquated one, 7 years old, that another loser neighbor talked him into buying, that I think he used 2 or 3 times.? Obviously, a lot of my cartoon news – and even social things – was from online. He understood some of what I was talking about, but mostly from watching TV a lot. I even did research for him this spring, to find a cheap yet fast computer to get him into the whole world that he was missing, but he got cranky and snapped at me. I truly believe he would still be here if he had more ties to the present – and the future – that are here for everyone on the internet.
Sad, sad news. Marty, I love you.