Word broke last week of the untimely passing of Robert C. Harvey. Bob was a prolific cartoon historian and critic who understood cartoonists because he had worked as one early in his career — drawing gag cartoons for girly magazines — before turning his passion and knowledge of the industry into a 40+ career as a columnist for numerous publications including The Comics Journal and the AAEC Notebook. Bob had been planning to attend Comic-Con later this month for the debut of a documentary on comics art inspired by one of his books when he died due to complications from a fall.
Harvey, who went alternately by Bob or R.C., was a perennial presence at NCS and AAEC conventions, and served on the AAEC Board of Directors as its Secretary-Treasurer for a number of years. He was also one of two unofficial historians for the Association, with a deep institutional knowledge of the group.
As news spread, cartoonists posted their condolences and memories online. “Bob was a great guy and full of enthusiasm and knowledge and words in general,” wrote cartoonist and fellow historian Cullum Rogers.
“I’ll miss Bob. He was indefatigable in his enthusiasm for life,” added Ted Rall.
Paul Fell posted, “Bob was one of a kind. A great cartoonist and a really good writer. I always enjoyed reading his Rants And Raves online column. He was a real scholar of the cartooning profession and a wealth of information and historic facts.”
“I always looked forward to catching up with him there or at AAEC or Reubens conventions,” said Amy Lago of Counterpoint Syndication. “He was a gentleman and a scholar and a friend, who happened to lose his pajama pants to overzealous maid service at his hotel back at that 1997 fest. RIP Bob. You will be sorely missed, though I am betting you are missing your pants no more.”
“Good times,” wrote friend Elena Steier. “Bob was smart, witty and later in life, very hard of hearing, which added to his charm, in my humble opinion. The world of cartooning has sadly lost a foremost proponent of the art.”
“Every thing said on this thread is true,” noted Carl Nelson. “Kind, humble as well as insightful and critical observer of graphic cartooning arts as well as human nature… he was a great ambassador of the field we love, epitomizing the best character traits of many cartoonists. He gave freely of his time and his enthusiasm for life and cartooning.”
Many noted Bob’s generosity. “RC was always wonderful to young cartoonists, and his work was marvelous,” said Dork Tower cartoonist John Kovalic.
Filmmaker Tom Tanquary wrote on Facebook: “About 12 years ago I read this book by RC Harvey about the history of comics. I thought this was the movie I wanted to make. So I set about doing just that. I cold called RC at the beginning of the project and something just clicked. It was like we had known each other for decades. He became one of my best friends. He showed me the power and the art of cartooning. Showed me it was so much more than just a drawing. He had a profound effect on my life, both personal and professional. I’m a better person for knowing him. Rest in peace my dear friend. You left your mark.”
The documentary they were working on, “Hand Drawn Life,” makes its debut at Comic-Con on July 21.
UPDATE: RC Harvey’s obituary is now up. A Celebration of Life service will be held on August 20th in Brighton, Colorado.
Bob Harvey was a pure joy and a dry wit with endless enthusiasm for cartooning, who was writing right up until the end — just a couple of weeks ago he submitted a review of a new book on political cartoonist Homer Davenport to this site, which we’ll post shortly. Our deepest condolences to his family and many friends. — JP Trostle