From Bruce Canwell's biography of the artist in Scorchy Smith and the Art of Noel Sickles:
Sickles's art reflects the exacting touch of a master craftsman coupled to a streak of inquisitive, restless genius.
That genius drove him to constantly gather knowledge and seek outlets for what he learned. It kept him endlessly experimenting, testing the boundaries in order to push through them.
Though not every experiment was successful, many were, and those successes allowed Noel to discover and explore exciting new creative directions.
The dedication to his craft kept him bound to a standard of excellence, driving him to tear up nearly-completed work and begin afresh, unmindful of the fact those castoffs represented a level of skill many of his peers were unable to match on their best days -- if it was not Right, it needed to be abandoned and replaced by something that was Right.
In his Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame tribute to Sickles, Harry Devlin wrote, "Noel had no hobbies - there was no golf or tennis. He had two loves - Louise and his work. He worked constantly, researching and ever improving that miraculous ability to draw."
Although decades have passed since Noel Sickles added the final piece to his oeuvre, the passing of years has not blunted the vibrant appeal of that work. The range of material bearing his signature is savored by a steady flow of devotees in America and throughout Europe. It is periodically showcased to allow a larger audience to discover it anew: the faithful share their treasures, knowing the sharing will cause their ranks to be replenished.
The love of his family - the admiration of his peers - the respect of his acquaintances - the lasting depth and breadth and power of his life's work. By any yardstick applied, one conclusion is inescapable: against standards so high few could aspire to them and fewer still could attain them, Noel Sickles measured up. As an artist. As a man.
* My thanks to Charlie Allen, Brian Postman and Tom Watson for providing scans for today's post.
* My thanks as well to Dean Mullaney for granting me permission to excerpt passages from Scorchy Smith and the Art of Noel Sickles. The book is available from Amazon and all bookstores, comics shops, and online retailers. If your local bookstore doesn't have it in stock, they can order it for you: ISBN 978-1-60010-206-6. The text excerpted is © 2008 Bruce Canwell.
* My Noel Sickles Flickr set.