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 Lawrence Lariar  (1908 - 1981)

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Lived/Active: New York/California/Connecticut      Known for: Cartoon Drawing, novel writing

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Michael Stark is primarily known as Lawrence Lariar

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Lawrence Lariar (December 25, 1908 - October 12, 1981) was an American novelist, cartoonist and cartoon editor, notable for his Best Cartoons of the Year series of cartoon collections. He wrote crime novels, sometimes using the pseudonyms Michael Stark, Adam Knight and Marston la France.

Born in Brooklyn, Lariar studied illustration at the New York School of Fine and Applied Art but then switched to cartooning. After graduation, he teamed with two of his friends, and they started a cartoon agency, selling their own work under a dozen different pseudonyms.

In 1927, they moved the operation to Paris, selling to British magazines and Fleetway. Two years later, they were back in New York looking for work, as Lariar recalled, "To make a living, we did everything. We had a service for printers, drew cartoons for calendars, played messenger and did some of the first work for the slicks." They scored with a series of cartoon postcards which Boy Scouts could use to write home, selling over a million cards in a direct-mail campaign.

From 1930 to 1938, working in an office on 45th Street, Lariar did freelance gag cartoons, comic strips and spot drawings, including political cartoons for the New York Journal American and pages for some of the earliest comic books. In 1935, he married his agent, Susan Mayer, one of the first cartoon agents in the magazine gag panel field. They had two children.

In 1941, his Comicard Company in Roosevelt, New York, produced a set of postcards that soldiers could use to write home, similar to Dave Breger's line of Private Breger postcards also available during World War II. Beginning in 1942, Lariar was the cartoon editor of Liberty, where he started The Thropp Family, the first comic strip to run as a continuity in a national magazine. From 1943 to 1946, he was president of the American Society of Magazine Cartoonists. In 1953, he created Yankee Yiddish Cocktail Napkins, which featured cartoons illustrating puns on Yiddish words and expressions.

During the 1940s, Lariar began writing and published at least 16 books, including Careers in Cartooning (Dodd Mead). His Best Cartoons of the Year series ran from 1942 to 1971, featuring work by Stan Fine and other leading gag cartoonists. In 1961, Lariar interrupted the series to do The Best of Best Cartoons: 20th Anniversary Edition.

Lariar wrote at least nine mystery and crime novels, including four with his character Homer Bull. For Kill-Box (1946), he wrote as Michael Stark, his only novel under that name. Now mostly forgotten, this unusual novel, praised by John W. Campbell, had an Ace paperback edition in 1954 and was published in the UK as Run for Your Life!


These Notes from AskART represent the beginning of a possible future biography for this artist. Please click here if you wish to help in its development:
Born in Brooklyn, NY on Dec. 25, 1908. LaRiar studied at the New York School of Fine & Applied Arts and ASL. His cartoons appeared in many U.S. magazines. By the 1930s he had moved to Los Angeles and was working for the Disney Studios. He died in New Haven, CT in October 1981.
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
Who's Who in American Art 1936-70; Social Security Death Index (1940-2002).
Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.

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