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 Bill Hoest  (1926 - 1988)

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Lived/Active: New York/New Jersey      Known for: cartoonist-comic strip

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Ad Code: 4
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
The Lockhorns (a pair)
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
William Hoest was a prolific and consistently witty cartoonist for nearly four decades, and is especially known for his panel, The Lockhorns. He produced six successful panel and strip features simultaneously at the end of his productive career.

Hoest was born in Newark, New Jersey and grew up in Montclair. His interest in cartooning began at the age of three when his mother kept him quiet with drawing materials. For two years, while in the Navy during World War II, he drew posters for the USO. He later studied commercial art at Cooper Union in New York City and worked for Norcross Greeting Cards. By 1951, he felt secure enough to free-lance by designing humorous cards for most of the major companies. The format of his cards an attention getting "set-up" on the front and a punch line inside provided a natural transition to gag cartoons and comic strips.

During the 1950s, he sold widely to such magazines as The Saturday Evening Post, Colliers, and The Ladies Home Journal. He also sold a strip, My Son John, to the Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate. It did not do well and folded after a couple of years.

Hoest created the Lockhorns, a daily panel, on September 9, 1968. The bickering husband and wife theme was so popular that a Sunday version followed on April 9, 1972 for King features Syndicate. In the strip, Leroy and Loretta Lockhorn trade jibes he about her cooking and looks, and she about his drinking and roving eye. It appears in over 500 papers, eight languages (including Chinese), and in 23 countries.

Bumper Snickers, a panel series about cars, published by the National Inquirer, followed in 1974. The daily and Sunday strip, Agatha Crumm, began with King on October 24th and 30th, 1977. Agatha Crumm, a feisty old lady who commands a corporate empire, is distributed to about 150 papers. Laugh Parade, a weekly trio of gag cartoons, became a regular feature with Parade Magazine in 1980, and was joined the following year by Howard Huge, a panel about an enormous, lovable St. Bernard.

In 1987, the indefatigable Hoest created the daily and Sunday strip, What a Guy! , for King Features. Guy, its hero, is a youthful yuppie who echoes the success-oriented adult world. (He used to get Cs in arithmetic, he admits to a classmate, until he realized that arithmetic could be applied to money!). In its first year, What a Guy! sold to 125 papers. Hoest regularly produced up to 12 panel cartoons a day, along with six roughs for Bumper Snickers and one or two complete strips.

Working in a clean, balanced, graphic style, Hoest differentiated his figures for his various markets. "The big nose and foreshortened body of The Lockhorns," he pointed out, "are different from all my other cartoons in Playboy and The Ladies Home Journal."

Hoest published 25 collections of cartoons during his lifetime, and left more than two years of work ready for publication at his death. His three King comic features and the Parade cartoons are being continued by his assistant, John Reiner, under the creative supervision of his widow, Bunny. Bunny and Bill ran Hoest Enterprises for 15 years.

Despite his busy schedule, Hoest was known for the generosity with which he devoted his time to helping aspiring young cartoonists. In 1987, he was elected president of the National Cartoonists Society, which had given him its award for Best Syndicated Panel (The Lockhorns) in 1975 and 1980, and Best Magazine Gag Cartoons in 1977.

(Information on the biography above is based on writings from the book, "The Encyclopedia of American Comics," edited by Ron Goulart.)

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