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J B Handelsman (1922-2007)

John Bernard Handelsman (1922-2007)

J B Handelsman achieved great popularity on both sides of the Atlantic as a cartoonist for The New Yorker, Punch and Playboy. Though perhaps best known in the UK as the creator of the strip, ‘Freaky Fables’, which ran for 11 years in Punch, his meticulous line and particularly the sharp, dry wit of his captions stood him out as one of the finest and most memorable New Yorker cartoonists of the twentieth century.

J B Handelsman was born Bernard Handelsman in Manhattan, New York, on 5 February 1922. His father, Max Handelsman, was born in New York of Jewish Hungarian immigrants and taught English at the James Monroe High School in the Bronx. His mother, Dinah (née Birnbaum) was also a teacher. His sister, Edith, was eight years his senior and would become a journalist and writer working under the nom de plume Edith Anderson.

He began drawing cartoons as a young boy, and had decided upon a career as a comic strip artist by the age of ten.

As a child, Handelsman grew up in the Bronx and was educated in the Bronx public school system, before studying at the Art Students’ League from 1938 to 1942.

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