Monday, February 25, 2013

Portrait of Charles Bukowski

 The Laureate of American lowlife                                                                  
Charles Bukowski was born in Germany in 1920, the only child of an American soldier and a German mother. At the age of three, he came with his family to the United States and grew up in Los Angeles. He attended Los Angeles City College from 1939 to 1941, then left school and moved to New York City to become a writer. His lack of publishing success at this time caused him to give up writing in 1946 and spurred a ten-year stint of heavy drinking. After he developed a bleeding ulcer, he decided to take up writing again. He worked a wide range of jobs to support his writing, including dishwasher, truck driver and loader, mail carrier, guard, gas station attendant, stock boy, warehouse worker, shipping clerk, post office clerk, parking lot attendant, Red Cross orderly, and elevator operator. He also worked in a dog biscuit factory, a slaughterhouse, a cake and cookie factory, and he hung posters in New York City subways.
Portrait of author Charles Bukowski, now available as a large (very) limited edition print, can be ordered here:
Bukowski published his first story when he was twenty-four and began writing poetry at the age of thirty-five. His first book of poetry was published in 1959; he went on to publish more than forty-five books of poetry and prose, including Pulp (Black Sparrow, 1994), Screams from the Balcony: Selected Letters 1960-1970 (1993), and The Last Night of the Earth Poems (1992). He died of leukemia in San Pedro in 1994.

 This is my newly completed portrait of Charles Bukowski, who I never met, although I illustrated a series of his short stories ("Notes of a Dirty Old Man") for High Times magazine in 1993 when he had (briefly) become a regular contributer. (Robert Crumb has also drawn Bukowski and his stories on numerous occasions) Bukowski was very pleased with my depictions of his sad characters and sent this letter to the editor, Larry "Ratso" Sloman:
This is the artwork for the story he's referring to, "There's No Business like Show Business",
from the April 1983 issue of High Times:

                                                                            Bukowski biography notes via Good Reads 


  1. Wow! Great blog to giving a history of that American lowlife.
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  2. March '83 story by Buk was "Home Run". Page posted above is from another issue - not sure which.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. You are correct, it was in the April '83 issue.