Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Arnold Wagner

For several reasons, I'm sorry to follow my previous post with this one. I heard this morning that a good artist, cartoonist, historian and terrific friend of mine, Arnold Wagner, has entered hospice care after fighting cancer for a long time. His daughter Rachel posted the news at an Internet watering hole Arnold and I both frequent, and I've already replied privately to Arnold but wanted to say a bit about him here, too.

Arnold was one of the first professionals to read Mom's Cancer and encourage me strongly and frequently to pursue it, for which I was happy to mention him in my book's acknowledgements. He's an old-school cartoonist whose career goes back decades and who brought a lifetime of experience, authority, and real-world saavy to any discussion he entered. He co-authored The Complete Idiot's Guide to Cartooning, a how-to book I know he wasn't entirely happy with (lots of editorial interference, I gather) and which frankly isn't the best of its type but nevertheless captured some of his wisdom and wit.

His Amazon.com bio says this about him: "Arnold Wagner is a cartoonist, gag writer and cartoon scholar, whose work has been featured in many publications, including: IF Science Fiction, The Saturday Evening Post, Writer's Digest, Boys Life, Parade, Suburbia Today, The National Enquirer, Golf World, Broadway Laughs, and the New Yorker. In addition, a great deal of his work has appeared in the syndicated strip 'The Flintstones.' Arnold has always held an interest in historical, technical, and artistic subjects relating to cartooning, and has collected a great deal of material along those lines."

I got to know Arnold the same way I've gotten to know a lot of people in the past few years: online. Never met him in person. As I mentioned in my note to him this morning, I wish I'd had a chance to buy him lunch and run my fingers through his extensive collection of antique and exotic pen nibs. But I think you really can get to know a person well through writing--perhaps better than face to face--and I'm happy for the relationship we have and proud to have him as a friend.

Arnold is a great man and a great gentleman. We all face our ends someday and, if this is his, I hope it comes with all the ease, grace and love he deserves. My best to him, his wife Connie, and his family.

A card I drew for Arnold when he was in the hospital for
a short stay last year. I'm sure he's still giving 'em hell.

UPDATE: Arnold passed away the evening of August 31. I will miss him keenly for a long time.



ronnie said...

Very sorry to hear this, Brian. It was a very strange feeling to read the content of your post, feeling the sadness it evoked, and then find myself snorting out loud with laughter at the cartoon at the end - God, could I ever relate! And then I realized that is what life is, isn't it? Sorrow punctuated by sudden laughter, happiness punctuated by sudden hurt. That's life, and that is certainly serious illness. So it seemed all too appropriate.

I hope things go as easily as possible for Arnold. He and his family will be in my thoughts.

Rachel (Wagner) Clark said...

Thank you, Brian.

Kid Sis said...

Sorry Brian.

bint alshamsa said...

Wow! What a career Arnold had! Having his work featured in that many places shows how talented he was. One day we'll lick this cancer crap and the world won't have to lose people like Arnold to its devastation. Wherever he is, I hope he's free from pain.