Beehive Books is kickstarting a super-deluxe book of the work of Herbert Crowley, who was kind of an early 20th Century Jim Woodring.
The cartoonist, painter, illustrator, and sculptor Herbert Crowley was an innovator at the dawn of comics, and a defining figure of the early 20th century New York City avant garde art scene.
He exhibited his work in dozens of venues, including the legendary Armory Show of 1913 alongside Picasso and van Gogh, and in a joint exhibition with Léon Bakst in 1914. He received countless glowing reviews, describing him as a visionary voice exploring a brand new form of art. His cartoons were featured in the now-storied New York Herald Sunday comics section, printed on the reverse side of of Winsor McCay’s masterpiece LITTLE NEMO IN SLUMBERLAND.
A 1915 article in The Bookman called Crowley an artist whose “star is very decidedly in the ascendant. New York City at large discovered Herbert Crowley only a few months ago; but, once having been discovered, he is not the sort of person easily to be forgotten.”
But then… he was.
In 1917, he disappeared from the New York City scene, and never showed his artwork again.
In Art Out of Time, Dan Nadel’s 2006 collection of comics by unknown cartoonists, several of Crowley’s strips are reproduced as examples of vital early newspaper cartooning that had been unjustly and completely forgotten. In a short piece at the end of the anthology, Nadel describes Crowley as representing the “single largest information gap in this book,” – a book about unremembered artists – and writes that that aside from the existence of these comic strips, “nothing else is known about Crowley or his work.”