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 George Maurice Lichty  (1905 - 1983)

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About: George Maurice Lichty


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Lived/Active: New York/Illinois      Known for: Comic illustration-cartoon

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BIOGRAPHY for George Lichty
1905 (Chicago, Illinois)

New York/Illinois

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Comic illustration-cartoon

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Cartoonist George Lichty was born George Maurice Lichtenstein, and spent his childhood in Chicago, Illinois. His talent for drawing was evident at an early age, and he sold his first cartoon at the age of sixteen to the magazine, Judge.

He studied at the Chicago Art Institute, but it is said he was dismissed in 1924 for drawing mustaches on portraits exhibited in the Institutes gallery. Lichty entered the University of Michigan, where he became editor of the Michigan Gargoyle. In the late 1920s and early '30s, the newspaper was published nine times a year on slick magazine stock with four-color covers and 54-page issues. George (Maurice Lichtenstein) refined his cartooning talents while drawing for the newspaper, as did Jerry Ellison and others. By the mid-1930s The Gargoyle was selected as America's Outstanding College Comic Magazine.

Lichty graduated from Michigan in 1929, and took a job at the Chicago Times newspaper drawing sports cartoons. He also created a comic strip named Sammy Squirt, which was about a soda jerk. In 1932, he began drawing his famous Grin and Bear It series, which was received with great acclaim and became nationally syndicated. He continued drawing this panel for almost half a century, until 1974. Grin and Bear It satirized American mores and foibles as well as establishment targets such as the military, big business, and politics, often pointing out the absurdities of everyday life. A fellow cartoonist is said to recall reading one of Lichtys Grin and Bear It cartoons which showed a robber holding up bank, with a gun in hand and nylon stocking pulled over his face. The teller was saying, "Excuse me, do you know you have a run in your stocking?" The admirer of Lichty said he had a 'Eureka'! moment, and thought to himself, "Now I know what Lichty did! He took an everyday line, such as You've got a run in your stocking and put it in a different/unusual setting, a cartoon technique known as the cliche line technique.

George Lichty contributed countless cartoons to literally every magazine in the country. During the 1950s and 1960s, he also drew a satirical anti-Soviet series called Is Party Line, Comrade, that was selected for republication in the Conservative Book Club's Omnibus. One panel cartoon created in the 50s and satirizing Soviet music, shows a sign on an office door saying Commisar of Music Culture. The caption of the cartoon reads: "Is symphony I am composing from glorious sounds of Soviet industry, comrade commisar... the din of hammers, the clash of machinery, the roar of furnaces, the groans of the populace...".

Lichty drew rapidly and with exceptional skill and humor. He lived in Marin County, California, and for many years created his work in the newsroom of the San Francisco Chronicle. From 1957 on, he was an active member of the Bohemian Club of San Francisco. Lichty received countless honors for his work, including the National Cartoonists Societys Newspaper Panel Award. His work has been exhibited in numerous venues, including the Tate Gallery of London. The book Gargoyle Laughs at the 20th Century, edited by John Dobbertin, is a collection of cartoons from Gargoyle, the University of Michigan humor magazine now celebrating its 90th anniversary, and is one of many sources of information about George Lichtys art.

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