Motor Illustrator: Art Cumings
February 1957 cover. On a snowy day, a woman in the warm interior of a two-toned hardtop fumbles through her purse for change while the waiting, shivering gas station attendant, who has just pumped less than a gallon of gas, crosses his arms and glowers.
Arthur Edward Cumings (June 9, 1922 — August 28, 2012) was born and raised in Barre, Vermont. His Canadian-born father, a stone cutter, died when Art was only 7, leaving Art as the only male in the household. There were two older sisters, and his mother found what jobs she could, managing a steam laundry, a cleaning service, etc. In his teen years, Art worked part-time as a stone cutter but managed to complete high school. Thereafter, he worked for a time as a draftsman, engaged in some way in car manufacturing.
He also completed a year of college before enlisting as an Army private in April 1943. During the War, he served in the Far East and drew cartoons about his service. Some of those would later appear in the book, I'll Never Forget: The Forgotten Theater of World War II. China,Burma,India. When he left the military he studied art at Pratt Institute, where he met his wife-to-be Alda. The couple would go on to have three sons.
In 1952, with Alexander Blafer, he co-authored the book, Cartooning. It was also in the fifties that he illustrated for Sunday Pictorial Review, Lifetime Living, and MoToR. His cartoons appeared in Collier's and Saturday Evening Post, as well. From 1976 to 1977, in association with comedian Henny Youngman, he illustrated a daily, two-panel cartoon, "Henny". Best known as a children's book illustrator and adult market cartoonist, he was a longtime member of the Long Island Chapter of the National Cartoonists Society, the Berndt Toast Gang.
His book illustrations included a Dr. Seuss book Please Try to Remember the First of Octember!; Ohm on the Range; Charlie's Pet; A Good Fish Dinner; There's a Monster Eating My House; The Cat's Pajamas; Magic Growing Powder; Septimus Bean and His Amazing Machine; One-Minute Bedtime Stories; Percy the Parrot Yelled Quiet!; Unlucky Day at Camp; How-Ja-Do; Astronuts; Percy the Pirate Passes the Puck; and Mountains. He also illustrated a tape cassette program for reading, titled Words in Action. Those illustrations for children's literature were sweet and wholesome.
For Penthouse and Omni, he drew a popular series of full-page cartoons, "Balloonheads" which used simple balloon images to convey both political and sexual meaning. A second series of cartoons was titled, "The Artist", and relied more on verbal set-ups than graphics.
Cumings's work was included in the 2006 gallery show of cartoon art, "This Inking Life", as well as "Cartoon Limbo" shows of 2007 and 2011, exhibiting cartoons that had been rejected by various publications.
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