Thursday, September 18, 2008

Nearly Anonymous: Robert Bugg

Several illustrators we've looked at in the past year or so began their careers as comic book artists: Ken Riley, William A. Smith, and Jack Hearne, to name a few. Add to that list one of my favourite cartoonist/illustrators, Robert Bugg. Here, thanks to TI list member Jim Vadeboncoeur, is an example of Bugg's comic book art from the early 1940's...

No doubt Robert Bugg aspired to work for 'the slicks' - the major magazines - as an illustrator, just as those other artists did. Just look at how his work matured in the ten years after he did that comic page. What a confident, expressive style... what a beautiful flourish he brings to his inked line!

In these terrific pieces from the September 1952 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine, I see some of the same Hank Ketcham-esque qualities several other people noticed in the work of Ressler from yesterday's post...

But also, Bugg's work reminds me a little of some of the great Albert Dorne's inked line cartoon style. Click on the Dorne image below and I think you'll see what I mean. I wouldn't be surprised if Robert Bugg was a fan of Al Dorne's work.

There are also some similarities to Jack Davis' work, though I think Bugg's work is 'cleaner'. But he was able to achieve that same wild caricatural quality of body language that Davis did so well. (Incidentally, I met Jack Davis at last years Reubens Awards in New Orleans and, not surprisingly, he spoke enthusiastically about his admiration for Albert Dorne's work).

Robert Bugg did quite a bit of work for Collier's magazine during the 50's. I'm impressed by the wide range of styles he was capable of - from his zany cartoon style above, to the 'reigned in' line art style shown below...

... to an even more realistic painting style exemplified in this full colour piece.

But by 1958 Collier's magazine was gone... and magazine assignments in general dried up just a few years later. So its not surprising to find Robert Bugg paperback covers like the two below, both from 1963. Like many other illustrators, Bugg may have been searching for new markets during those difficult times.

Here we see the artist going even more cartoony than ever before. How I wish I had more examples of his 1960's work.

The final bit of info we have on Robert Bugg is that in 1972 he ghosted the Dennis the Menace Sunday comic for Hank Ketcham. Having seen Bugg's baseball cartoons above, I'm positive he would have handled that assignment with ease.

Despite all this chronology we have about Bugg's career, I feel he still remains nearly anonymous. Here's hoping some day we'll learn about the man behind the artwork - a talented cartoonist/illustrator named Robert Bugg.

* Many thanks to Jim Vadeboncoeur for doing the research at that revealed Robert Bugg's career details - and for providing the scan at the top of this post.

* Thanks also to paperback cover art archivist, 5m@5hYdez , who's astounding collection on Flickr is without a doubt the most invaluable resource anywhere for artwork of this type.

* My Robert Bugg Flickr set.


  1. Wow, that is really beautiful linework, so lively!

  2. I was going to do something with Bugg as wel one of these days. I am still wonderring if he was the artist of the long running Explore Your Mind. Anyone know?

  3. That boxing image is superb.

  4. I'm sorry ger, I don't know about the Explore Your Mind series. At this point all the information I have on Robert Bugg is what you see here.

    Your own blog is wonderful, by the way - thanks for sharing your amazing collection :-)

  5. ummm... we should talk... Ive got a ton of Bob Buggs work from the sixties and seventies. He found a home for his work and a friend in my father at our small trade publication called Ski Area Management. In fact, I have just found several binders of his originals this past month. I look forward to continuing the conversation. Sincerely, Andrew H. Rowan

    1. HI,
      I just picked up 3 originals of Bob's original numbered sketches. One is Curious George and the man in the yellow hat. Another is Jackie Gleason on the links with Norton and the 3rd is of two women in mink coats..however, only one is a REAL mink and the kittens are all over her! These were sold to me (not directly) by his son. Any interest?? Let me know.

  6. He also illustrated the cookbook for the actress who played Granny on the Beverly Hillbillies. Granny's Hillbilly Cookbook I think it's called. I remember a beautiful image of a possum crawling out of a pot.

  7. Quentin Hardy9:23 PM

    I grew up around Mr. Bugg. He was one my dad's closest friends, and part of his weekly golfing foursome. I knew him for 36 years - very talented, very funny, but a somewhat fragile guy. The lore was that Andy Warhol, when he was a commercial artist in the 50s, wanted to team up with him. That wasn't something he could find in himself, but he did have a very strong aesthetic/art history sensibility, and at his drawing table was like another person, in terms of focus.