Saturday, September 12, 2009

Raeburn Van Buren (1891-1987)

Raeburn L. Van Buren was born in Pueblo, Colorado in 1891 and began his career as a sketch artist on the Kansas City Star.

“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.

*Bathless Groggins original courtesy Don Kurtz


  1. Hola, JOHN:
    ¡Qué linda historieta era ésta! En Argentina la leíamos en la revista "Pif Paf", con el nombre de "Crispín y Chispita", a Groggins lo llamaban Tegobín.
    Un saludo.

  2. Nice! I really enjoyed reading your post. Thanks for sharing and keep up the good work.

  3. "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 with an election to their Hall of Fame." posthumously?

  4. Hello, I am trying to somehow get the various permissions to use Mr. VanBuren's pictures in a video for a song I have written called "I Could Fall in Love with You". I have always loved his sketches and am friends with his granddaughter and her mother. As it seems practically impossible to locate and get permissions to use the pictures in the video, is it possible that i might show them anyway and put a disclaimer that i will remove any pictures that someone may not want me to use in the video? I want to do all the right thing but just don't know what to do in this case. Do you have any suggestions?

    1. Contact me, Stephen L. Harris. I'm Van's grand nephew and executor of his art work.

  5. I don't know what to advise you - I am sure someone probably owns the rights but just who that would be I can't say.