his own memory, in his own words, as told to his son:
or Artie Saaf did comic art from the early '40's to the early '80's, -during the
Golden thru the Bronze Age- working with all the greats (among others) such as
Nick Cardy, Will Eisner, Vince Colletta, Alex Toth, Frank Frazetta, and Dick
and Education, Pre-WWII
"Artie" Saaf was born on December 4, 1921 in a cold-water flat's "hall" room in Brooklyn,
New York City. The family home was located at 234 Reid Street in the Bedford-Stuyvesant district between Hancock and
Jefferson streets. His mother Anna was of Swedish ancestry and his father
Hermann was of German ancestry, and "Artie" had a brother and two sisters.
fondly remembers the location of the police and fire departments on Quincy Street, while not so fondly remembering being bedridden at 4
years old with rheumatic fever for almost half a year before partially
recovering. Artie's mother, in a separate statement, said his father "Hermann
was a bakery delivery carriage-driver for Manhattan Pie Company using a horse named
'Tony.' …. Arthur had a bike and it was stolen….It was made up from all picked
up parts into a great bike….Arthur picked up newspapers with a homemade wagon made from carriage parts. We got 5-10 cents a hundred pounds."
grade school at P.S. 26, his first introduction to art and drawing was in the
second grade, completing a class project of "Animals in the Field," and his
reading the comics of Roy Crane's "Captain Easy." He attended Alexander Hamilton High
graduating in the upper third of his class.
the 30's after finishing his public schooling, his first job was as a "Page"
(message boy) in Wall Street, and then at the Stock Exchange Desk where he
proofread bonds for the American Bank Note Company on Beaver Street. This was
during the Depression, yet the task was so important that he received, for that
time, the princely sum of $12.50 per week.
his youth, he developed his art skills on his own and started working in comics
in 1941. He built his own drawing table from instructions in a Mechanics'
Up to and including the beginning of the War, the comic industry was centered
totally in New York
City at the Comic
Studio, run by Jerry Eiger. There were no fully original stories being written
and comics were created primarily by re-doing the old and by using cutouts and
re-written copy. Now, the industry had a new market because the service members
needed entertainment that they could easily obtain and carry with them. The
industry created the "new comic book," with stories that had a beginning, middle,
and an end. Artie remembers the Orson Welles movie "Rosebud" as having a great
effect on Comics due to its composition and Roy Crane introducing four-color
attended the Pratt Institute from January 1941 to April 1942, his major being
Pictorial Illustration. He also attended the School
of Arts and Mechanics for 1 year and the Art Students League for
2 ½ years. The instructor he most remembers was Mr. Trafton at the School
of Arts and Mechanics, "and," he recalls, "a good one, I might
the War, he was working on stories such as "Kaanga"
and "Camilla," and working at
Wings Comics and McFadden Publishing. He also went to work at Fiction House at
8th and 34th streets in NYC owned by a Southern family from Atlanta, Georgia. The demand for good artists, thanks to the reception by
the troops, increased quickly. He freelanced at night "ghosting" (which is
doing the artwork of a strip that someone else got credit for) for characters
such as on a newspaper daily strip called HapHopper,
by the well-known Washington correspondent, Drew Pearson. Artie continually "walked"
the new studios, showing his samples and becoming increasingly known as an excellent
talent, doing "lettering" and "still and figure" work in most of the new
1940's thru 1960's
the war ended, there was a slowdown in the industry but Artie was able to
obtain work at such firms as "Timely Comics," "Dell Comics", and doing work on
the new "Archie" type comics and autobiographical comics such as The Clown of Baseball.
1954, Artie went to work for the Kudner Agency as Assistant TV Art director,
creating the "storyboards" for the commercials on "The Jackie Gleason Show." In
1956, he did work for the Dancer, Fitzgerald, and Sample Agency as a TV art
1958-59, Artie left the Agencies to work on his own as a freelancer, because he
said, "the pace was too fast, and I wanted time to think about what I was
doing." From 1959 through the late 60's he did his work for such agencies as
Donahue and Coe; D'Arcy; Benton and Bowles; McConnell-Eastman-Canada; Dancer
Fitzgerald and Sample; and Thompson-Koch.
TV visual and storyboard work were primarily ads and included: Post Cereals;
Crest; Zest; Liquid Prell; Personna; Parliament cigarettes; Yuban; Maxwell
House; Life Savers; Cue toothpaste; Texaco; Minute Rice(Canada);Royal Crown
Cola. Moreover, he was still doing his comic work!
he did comic work only intermittently up to the early 1990's's, Artie did other
work, such as illustrations for "Highlights for Children" magazine. He wrote
and illustrated columns for newspapers and magazines concerning the outdoors
and worked with the Audubon society and Game Commission in his state on
conservation-related topics. He did advisory work to High School Conferences on
careers for budding artists. He created artwork about local historic sites in
his neighborhood and continues to create
for his family and friends, while enjoying his garden and grandchildren.