Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The art of Bruce Stark

An older Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis,
still vying for the mic

Bruce Stark's drawings and caricatures have been long-time favorites of mine ever since I first enjoyed them in the pages of the NY Daily News back in the late sixties. For 20 years, Stark was a staff cartoonist for the News, drawing sports and showbiz personalities. His 1973 Sunday pullout caricatures of the NY Mets & Yankees were particular favorites, and I collected and hung each one on my boyhood bedroom walls. Stark could adapt a similar style to Mad's Jack Davis and Mort Drucker, he'd even do a few assignments for MAD (and SICK), but I always thought he had his own particular innovative, fun, snazzy style, which differentiated his work from those two caricature legends. Like Davis, he was also a master of capturing "energy" in his art, perfect for sports illustrations, and like both Davis and Drucker, he was great caricaturist and was particularly adept at drawing groups of people and crowd scenes. And like Sandy Kossin, he had the deft ability to switch styles, from realistic to more cartoony, depending on the assignment.

Bruce Stark passed away on Dec 29th, 2012...

This is a link to purchase Bruce Stark art:

 Bruce Stark enjoyed his greatest popularity in the seventies & eighties, creating many colorful, funny, and energetic cover and interior images for TV Guide, as well as Time, Fortune, etc, as well as album covers and even a movie poster. Enjoy these  samples of some of some of his best work...

NY Daily News drawings: Celebrating Casey Stengel's 80th Birthday...

Mayor's Jimmy Walker and John Lindsey

Sonny Liston/Cassius Clay

a later Liston/Clay

50 years of boxing thrills
Joe Namath...
Willie Mays

In 1969, Stark illustrated this World Series champions Mets portfolio including these  portraits:

Gil Hodges

Nolan Ryan

Donn Clendenon

Ron Swoboda

and Tom Seaver

All the portraits...

some examples of Bruce Stark's early fifties "Girlie art"...

cover art by Stark

1962: Stark channeling Al Hirschfeld

All of Stark's  NY Sunday News celebrity pullout posters
 "Stark Impressions" from 1968:

and some larger samples...

Jack Benny

Ernest Borgnine

Buddy Hackett

A recent DVD using Stark's Hackett art

Fat Jack Leonard

Phil Silvers

Jonathan Winters

James Garner

Don Adams

Danny Thomas

Andy Griffith

some of his 1969 "Stark impressions"

Barbra Steisand

Johnny Carson

Ronald Reagan

Richard Nixon

Leonard Bernstein

Albert Shanker

Some of the 1973 Stark NY Daily News Mets & Yankee team Pullout Posters:
Willie Mays
Bud Harrelson...

Roy White...

Bobby Murcer...
Tom Seaver...
Thurman Munson & Jerry Grote...

Rusty Staub...

and several More...

In the late sixties, Stark did a couple of jobs for MAD magazine, including this wonderful Mort Drucker-esque movie star border art which MAD reused several times for this series by writer Harry Purvis.
This was the only movie parody Stark did for Mad, page one of "Throw Up", a parody of "Blow Up", and perhaps channeling Mort Drucker a bit too much.

Wonderful Tiny Tim cover art for the MAD imitation magazine SICK in 1968 (which probably helped to  forever end his association with MAD)

a 1969 Stark SICK cover

and another

Stark did the character design for this Rankin/Bass ABC animated special in 1970

TV Guide ad for the show

promo art of the Osmond brothers
Stark did these terrific caricatures of early seventies incarnations of Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis, still fighting for the mic, for the cover of this controversial biography by Arthur Marx, (son of Groucho), on the former comedy team.

Groucho, for the NY Sunday News

Bob Hope for TV Guide

for TV Guide

Original art...

ad for TV Guide

Liza Minelli

Rupert Murdoch

Joel Gray
Stark's first TV Guide cover, "Sanford and Son"

Archie Bunker
Cast of "The Bob Newhart show"

paperback cover

book cover from 1974

a 1975 album cover by Stark
1976 Time cover by Stark

1978 Movie poster  by Stark
Cast of "The Love Boat"

TV Guide ad/Dean Martin

Joey Adams book cover art by Stark

Steve Allen album cover art by Stark
Cast of "Hill St. Blues"
larger image

TV Guide interior art: Larry Hagman of Dallas

Linda Gray, Larry Hagman, for TV Guide

Joan Collins, TV Guide
interior art for TV Guide: Siskel & Ebert

larger view of the art
Cast of "Cheers"
larger image

The Today Show

cast of Newhart
"TV's Top Moneymakers"
larger image


TV Guide covers featuring Stark "spot" illustrations...

Kenny Rogers & Stevie Wonder

Cybil Shephard for TV Guide
Cover art for "The Best of TV Guide Crossovers"
another cover for "The Best of TV Guide Crossovers"
Frank Sinatra, singer/golfer

thanks to Mark Chiarello,  Zach Trenholm, John Wendler, Jim Engel, and Gene Williams for first
suggesting a Bruce Stark tribute.


  1. Fantastic! Bruce made an appearance to our convention in Orlando a few years ago and has donated originals for our auction. It is always wonderful when such awesome artists support ISCA this way! Thanks for posting Drew!

  2. Thanks for hipping me to Bruce Stark! I think I overlooked his work because of its similarity to Jack Davis, especially on his TV Guide pieces. I may have been unconsciously crediting Davis for Stark's cover art!

  3. Man...You REALLY took me BACK with this one!! THANKS!! I remember collecting ALL those NY Mets pullouts! But wow...The stuff here I Don't remember! Look at the stippling on that Nameth illustration! I didn't know Stark did that! He was a Bad cat! Is he still around today? I need to google him!

  4. Jeez, I still have my Mets/Yanks caricatures from '73, (the year the Oakland A's broke my 12-year-old heart in the World Series.) The Sunday comics section was not only worth reading then, it occasionally came with a cool cartoon centerfold! The newsprint began to yellow after 3 decades, and I recently transferred them to archival binders, where they'll be safe. I remember carefully cutting out the brilliant "Stark Impressions" caricatures he did for the Sunday Magazine. I wish I still had those. It's criminal that there aren't any coffee table art books available on Stark - or Karl Hubenthal or Willard Mullin, for that matter. Or a few deserving others I could name: Sam Berman, Sokol, Cabral, Kremos, Divito, Harry Rountree, Lawson Wood, TS Sullivant... Thanks for honoring one of my all-time heroes.

  5. Mike, check out my Sam Berman blog tribute.

  6. I too grew up loving Stark's work. One day I was working a trade show here in Orlando and a man sits down to be drawn. He tells me his friend does this too... something we've heard a million times. Then he tells me his name is Bruce Stark. What!?! Turned out he retired to Lakeland, FL, about and hour away from Orlando. After a couple calls I get to meet the man, go to his house and upstairs he turned a bedroom into his studio. Drawers and drawers of the original art for TV Guide and Time covers. I was in heaven. He gave me one of his pieces and I bought another. I got him to come to the caricature convention which was being held that year in Orlando. Of course he as a big hit, and many other artists knew of his work. What a thrill! I remember how much younger than his age he looked and he was very active playing softball constantly. I am really surprised to hear of his passing.

  7. Thank you so much for sharing and celebrating Bruce Stark's amazing work. His incredible talent. humor,and artistry continues to be a inspiration to me to this day. I was sad to hear of his passing but viewing your post made him come alve to me again.


  8. Amazing...Stark was one of my idols...among others like Drucker and that style. Funny, I spoke to Mr Davis years ago and asked him if he and Stark and Drucker had the same schooling...he replied no not at all. I thought because the style was so close. I loved his work so much. I am very sad to hear of his passing as well. I am also sorry I missed his appearance in Orlando.

  9. Drew,
    Thanks for this fine, in-depth tribute. Illustration House will be doing a show of Stark's work this summer (2014). I'll keep you informed of the details!

    Roger Reed

  10. Interesting to see Stark aping Bill Ward.

  11. Wow! To see those Mets/Yankees Daily News pullouts again brings back memories. I also had every one of them on my wall as a kid.

    1. There's also 8 more unpublished 69 Mets sketches I'm trying to hunt down!


  12. note from Russel Harvey:

    I just came across your Blog tribute to Bruce Stark. He was, indeed, a top caricaturist. I got to know him through my visits to the Daily News, to see Bill Gallo and Bill Kresse in the late 1970's through mid-1980's. They had a sizable art department, also including Frank Evers (editorial cartoons) Jerry Schlamp (spot illustrations) and Joe Papin (mostly doing courtroom sketches). Sam Norkin was always fgreelance and worked on a handshake for decades. Some of those guys took big payouts in the company's shakeup, early '80's. Bill Kresse said he doubled his Daily News salary with freelance work, which the News let him do from his office, as long as he did the work the paper assigned him first and on time. Stark disliked being called a cartoonist He preferred to be known as an illustrator. By the time I knew him, he was a fanatical Born Again Christian, and signed his name with an oversized t, like a cross: "Stark."