Mel Crawford died peacefully on Monday, February 23, at the age of 89. He passed away at Valerie Manor in Torrington, Connecticut, and had lived in nearby Washington, Connecticut. Crawford spent decades drawing the world’s most famous cartoon characters, but he didn’t do it at any animation studio. A painter and illustrator, he drew hundreds of comics and illustrated books (especially Little Golden Books) featuring characters like the Flintstones, Scrooge McDuck, Rocky & Bullwinkle, and Gerald McBoing Boing.
The Canadian artist was born on September 10, 1925 in Toronto, Canada, and spent his childhood in various provinces of Canada, including Alberta, as well as in Oklahoma. Mel began drawing professionally at the age of 16 when he illustrated the feature “The Three T’s” in Bell Features Publications’ Joke Comics. He served in the Royal Canadian Navy during World War II, and afterward attended Ontario College of Art. Following his schooling, he moved permanently to the United States.
In the late-1940s he began working regularly on licensed projects for animation studios through Western Publishing, and its subsidiaries like Whitman Publishing. A versatile artist who was equally comfortable working in both cartoonish and realistic styles, Mel drew and painted not only cartoon characters, but pop culture icons as diverse as Rootie Kazootie, Buck Rogers, Raggedy Ann & Andy, Roy Rogers, Howdy Doody, Rin Tin Tin, Smokey Bear, and Tarzan. A sampling of his work can be seen on the Golden Gems blog.
Crawford is survived by his wife, Virginia; three sons, Gregory of Gaysville, VT; Neil of Southfield, MA and Lindsey Crawford of Sheffield, MA; a daughter Anne Crawford of Litchfield, CT; stepson Trevor Reynolds of Farmington, CT; a stepdaughter Heather Feinsinger of Simsbury, CT, six grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.
A more comprehensive biography of his life can be found at Comic Book Daily.