September 6th, 1917, saw the birth of Frank Modell. September 6th, 2015, saw him celebrate his 98th birthday. Born in Philadelphia, a twenty-something Modell would head to nearby Atlantic City where he would work as a beach artist. Around the same time, he would also attend Philadelphia Museum School of Art, studying illustration.
Straight after graduating Modell was drafted and stationed in Great Britain, France, Belgium, Luxemburg, and Germany. All the while he was sending cartoon ideas to The New Yorker magazine. After the war, he was accepted in the ranks of The New Yorker staff. His illustrations would appear in the magazine from 1945 to 1995. During that time he produced six covers and more than one thousand cartoons. Modell also wrote and illustrated several children’s books including Seen Any Cats? (1981), Goodbye Old Year, Hello New Year (1984) and One Zillion Valentines (1987). One Zillion Valentines would be later adapted for a short animation in 1998.
As well as all of the above, Frank Modell produced animated storyboards for the children’s TV show Sesame Street and shared his acting chops on Broadway and even had a bit role in the Woody Allen film, Stardust Memories (1980).
A few years ago James Stevenson, a good friend of his, took it upon himself to create an illustrated biography of Frank Modell. It is called The Life, Loves and Laughs of Frank Modell It contains drawings which originally appeared The New Yorker magazine, as well as some new illustrations created for specifically for the book. Definitely one to check out. For now, I think I will leave you with a lovely quote from the man himself:
I paint and make sketches everywhere I go. Drawing funny pictures for a living is as good as it gets and I’m grateful.