Three deaths

Sometimes the good die old.

In yesterday’s New York Times, obituaries for three admirable people who died recently in their 90s: the graphic artist Ronald Searle; Gordon Hirabayashi, fierce opponent of the American internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II; and Robert L. Carter, a leader in the legal attack on racial segregation in the U.S..

From Steven Heller’s obit for Searle:

Ronald Searle, Slyly Caustic Cartoonist, Dies at 91:

Ronald Searle, the British cartoonist and caricaturist whose outlandishly witty illustrations for books, magazine covers, newspaper editorial pages and advertisements helped define postwar graphic humor, died on Friday in Draguignan, in southeastern France, where he lived.

… Lampooning the foibles of the English class system as well as clerics, politicians and even other artists, Mr. Searle was often described as a latter-day version of the 18th-century British graphic satirist William Hogarth. His cartoons combined an ear for linguistic nuance with a caustic pen and brush. With just a few well-placed lines, he pierced the facades of his targets without resorting to ridicule or rancor.

… his signature method, a curious mix of minimalist detailing and rococo flourishes using a vibrant watercolor palette, exuded a modern air — sometimes realistic, other times abstract, occasionally phantasmagoric — more reminiscent of the German expressionist George Grosz than Hogarth and his other British antecedents.

… In 1948, Mr. Searle began writing and illustrating parodies about the impish, misbehaving students at a fictional English girls’ school called St. Trinian’s … This led to a series of popular books, starting in 1948 with “Hurrah for St. Trinian’s.”

… Despite his skeptical, satirical bent, Mr. Searle had a soft spot for animals, especially cats. The subjects of his books “Searle’s Cats” (1967) and “More Cats” (1975), hyperactive and dour, were among his favorite creations. He was also fascinated by snails, and found a way to link them with terror, intrigue and even sex in his 1969 book “Hello — Where Did All the People Go?”

Some papers led with the St. Trinian’s connection, though the Telegraph described him straightforwardly as “Britain’s greatest graphic artist”.

It’s hard to pick from his enormous output, but here are two: his cover art for the 1981  Too Many Songs by Tom Lehrer: With not enough drawings by Ronald Searle, and an ominous cat:

Next, Gordon Hirabayashi. From Richard Golstein’s obit for him

Gordon Hirabayashi, World War II Internment Opponent, Dies at 93

Gordon Hirabayashi, who was imprisoned for defying the federal government’s internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II but was vindicated four decades later when his conviction was overturned, died on Monday in Edmonton, Alberta.

… “I want vindication not only for myself,” Mr. Hirabayashi told The New York Times in 1985 as he was fighting to have his conviction vacated. “I also want the cloud removed from over the heads of 120,000 others. My citizenship didn’t protect me one bit. Our Constitution was reduced to a scrap of paper.”

In the 1940s, he lost two challengenes — to curfew and to internment — in the U.S. Supreme Court, judgements that were overturned in 1987.

Finally, Robert L. Carter. From Roy Reed’s obit for him:

Robert L. Carter, an Architect of School Desegregation, Dies at 94

Robert L. Carter, a former federal judge in New York who, as a lawyer, was a leading strategist and a persuasive voice in the legal assault on racial segregation in 20th-century America, died on Tuesday morning in Manhattan.

In particular, he played a significant role in Brown v. Board of Education.

5 Responses to “Three deaths”

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