Randy Glasbergen, Creator of The Better Half

7 September 2001

   The name Randy Glasbergen could be one of the definitions in the dictionary for "entrepreneurial spirit." He is a prolific cartoonist and illustrator with years of professional creations to his credit.

    Glasbergen's popular panel, The Better Half, appears in syndication through King Features. As a freelance artist, he has sold over 25,000 cartoons and humourous illustrations to dozens of magazines, computer firms, pharmaceuticals, dog food companies, greeting card companies and much more.

    Glasbergen's work with the greeting card industry also includes humourous writing for companies such as Oatmeal Studios, Gibson Greetings and Hallmark. He has several books on the market that display his talents - a hilarious cartoon book about teens, another with a jab at family life, and technology fun. His list continues with cartooning instruction books and a children's book that he illustrated. Glasbergen's efforts can also be found on numerous websites, calendars, t-shirts, mousepads, and in surprising places like dog fashions.
Whew! That's some list of work, and he's not finished yet.

    Randy Glasbergen was born in Sherburne, NY on February 20, 1957. He grew up as one of those kids that drew all the time. The young artist's first cartoon sale earned him five dollars from a national magazine in 1972. He was the ripe old age of fifteen. He created and sold cartoons throughout high school to such magazines as "Better Homes and Gardens", "Boys Life", "New Woman" and "The Saturday Review".

    Being a determined young man, Randy wrote to his favourite cartoonists asking for advice. He received replies from many artists and responses even from the most famous: Charles Schulz, Russell Myers, Bob Weber, Bil Keane and more. He found his "daily trips to the post office were as exciting as Christmas morning."*

    One piece of advice that has stuck with him was sent by Johnny Hart, creator of "B.C." and "Wizard of Id". Hart's reply to Randy's letter held two words: Think Funny. Glasbergen took the advice seriously. He trained himself to examine the mundane, everyday world and find humour everywhere he looks. He now considers "Think Funny" a business skill and an important part of his work in both cartooning and writing.

    Glasbergen completed one year of journalism studies, then left school to forge ahead on his freelance career. His cartoons are unique and original, with a style that can be immediately spotted as "a Glasbergen." The pen lines are smooth and bold. The backgrounds (and foregrounds) are clear and uncluttered, with just enough detail to let the reader know where the characters are situated.

    The "actors" in the panels have huge eyes and expressive mouths. They are mostly seen on the profile view. Randy has mastered the one-line gag so that it appears deceptively easy. He uses different methods to complete his cartoons, both traditional and modern. Some work is done with felt-tip markers, others are completed on the computer.

    Two of Randy's books, Getting Started Drawing and Selling Cartoons and How to be a Successful Cartoonist, are packed with good information. The books complement each other with the range of knowledge from the how-to of drawing cartoons to handling the details and business of freelancing and syndication. Glasbergen includes suggestions and short profiles of other successful cartoonists, along with his own in-depth advice.

    While Glasbergen's work encompasses almost every topic, his focus is on several distinct areas. The Better Half depicts the lives of Harriet and Stanley Parker. The couple survives the aggravations and joys of marriage with comedy and charm, and giving readers something that we can all identify with. It has been successfully in syndication since 1982.

    Office humour is a large portion of Glasbergen's work. His insights on computer incongruities hit a chord with workers everywhere. His use of puns and skill in animating objects coaxes the reader to laugh out loud. Randy's cartoon, Gigglebyte, provides a chuckle to computer users as a regular weekly feature in "Access Internet Magazine".

    Medical cartoons jiggle the reader's funny bone through Glasbergen's professional cartoon service. He pokes fun at diet, pregnancy, smoking, fitness, visits to the doctor's office, and hospital humour. For example, in one of his panels, a patient is speaking to is doctor: "Gravity has lowered my chest, my stomach and my butt - why hasn't it lowered my cholesterol?"

    Randy Glasbergen is a member of the National Cartoonists Society. He lives in upstate New York with his wife and four children, in an old three-storey Victorian house that was a boarding house in its previous life. He creates his magic in his studio on the third floor. Look for his creations almost everywhere!

*Getting Started Drawing and Selling Cartoons, Randy Glasbergen, North Light Books, 1993. Page 74.

How to be a Successful Cartoonist, Randy Glasbergen, North Light Books, 1996.
Today's Cartoons: http://www.glasbergen.com
© Susanna McLeod 2001
(Originally published in The Cartoonists on suite101.com.)