“For the next three and a half years I did an average of 20 drawings a week for the Star, ranging from sports and political cartoons to pictures of fires, accidents, murders, and court-room trials, for the princely stipend of $15 a week.”
He came to New York in 1913, encouraged by a cartoon sale to Life magazine, and shared an apartment with actor William Powell, artist Thomas Hart Benton and caricaturist Ralph Barton, all from Missouri. Van Buren contributed over 700 illustrations to Life, Colliers, Redbook and The Saturday Evening Post.
Abbie an’ Slats was created in 1937, and Bathless Groggins, the unwashed old man of the seacoast town of Crabtree Corners, eventually took over as star of the Sunday strip. Van Buren was 46 years old when he took on the job. Abbie an’ Slats was carried by nearly 400 newspapers until its demise on 30 Jan 1971. In 1958 the artist was named “Cartoonist of the Year” by the Quaker City Lodge of the B’nai B’rith in ceremonies at Philadelphia Pa. Previous winners were Al Capp, Milton Caniff, and George Wunder.
Abbie an’ Slats began 12 July 1937, the brainchild of Al Capp. One of Capp’s obituarists called him the “grey eminence” behind the strip, which sounds a bit sinister. Capp wrote the strip until 1945 and turned the scripts over to his brother Elliot Caplin. The trio of the Capp's and Van Buren were a match made in heaven. The scripts were brilliant, funny and adventurous, and Van Buren was one of the best, and sexiest, illustrators of the comics.
Raeburn L. Van Buren died at the age of 96, following a fall at his home, on Dec 29 1987. He was posthumously honored by the National Cartoonist Society in 1979 (corrected -- 1979 should read 1989) with an election to their Hall of Fame.