Recently David Apatoff wrote about his fondness for artists who 'draw a crowd'.
"Most artists working under a deadline look for shortcuts. They do a good job, but they want to complete a picture as efficiently as possible and get paid," wrote David.
"But some artists just seem to love making marks on paper, and they regularly create unnecessarily grand challenges for themselves, like these ambitious crowd scenes."
Len Norris would, I think, qualify for that latter category.
According to Kathy Marotz, head of the Belzburg Library at Simon Fraser University, "Leonard Matheson Norris was born in London, England, in 1913 and immigrated to Port Arthur, Ontario with his family in 1926."
"He moved to Toronto during the Depression, studied for a year at the Ontario College of Art and then worked as an advertising artist 1938-40. Following army service in World War II, Norris became an art director for Maclean Hunter Ltd., before joining the staff of The Vancouver Sun in January 1950."
Norris is renowned for his four decades of service providing editorial cartoons to The Sun... "He received the Bruce Hutchison award for lifetime achievement in journalism, a national Newspaper Award for best cartoons in Canada, and was elected to the News Hall of Fame in 1978," writes Marotz.
Norris' continuing freelance work for Maclean's magazine during the 50's is only briefly touched upon -- and that's a shame -- because he invested an incredible amount of effort into these extra assignments, as seen in these detail croppings.
Marotz continues, "Norris considered himself a social commentator rather than a political cartoonist, saying: "I get at the events from the viewpoint of the readers themselves, looking at how the news affects them."
I would add that his keen sense of observation and ability to portray a broad range of interesting and amusing character types reinforces the idea of Norris as a social commentator.
Because Norris' people are fun to look at - full of personality. You can't help but contemplate their intentions and invent scenarios for them.
As with most other mid-century Canadian cartoonists, Len Norris was completely unknown to me. But in researching this post, I discovered the website at Simon Fraser University, where Norris donated 1,500 of his original drawings - editorial cartoons created for The Vancouver Sun between 1952 and 1985. At that site, you can see nearly two dozen examples of the artist's work from the various decades of his career. Well worth a look!
Norris' last editorial illustration appeared in The Sun on his retirement in 1988. He died in Langley, BC on August 12, 1997.