Skip Morrow first won international acclaim as a cartoonist with his best selling I HATE CATS BOOK series in 1980 that sold hundreds of thousands of copies worldwide. He has since published a over a dozen books, sold millions of greeting cards throughout North America and Australia, and has been commissioned by major corporations to apply his warped sense of humor to numerous advertising campaigns. He has lived in Wilmington, Vermont since 1974.
Rutgers University, B.A. Communications 1974
GREETING CARD DESIGNER
Contracted to Recycled Paper Greetings since 1984 to write and illustrate greeting cards Distributed throughout North America, Britain & Australia. Approximately 1500 designs published to date.
FREELANCE ILLUSTRATION CLIENTS
IBM, Coors, Contel, Nation's Business Magazine, Virgin Atlantic Airways, Modern Maturity Magazine, CBS, Hitachi, Frito-Lay, Duracell, Random House, Kurta Corporation, ROE Industries, Simon & Schuster, Saatchi & Saatchi, WVAY FM 100.7, Publicom, Korey Kay & Partners, Prentice-Hall, Video Review Magazine, Nordon Laboratories, NYNEX, Vermont Public Television (ETV), Meritor Credit Corporation, Prudential
PUBLISHED BOOKS & CALENDARS
The Joy of Smoking (The Ink Group) 2000, author / illustrator
The Joy of Smoking 2001 Calendar (The Ink Group) 2000, author / illustrator
I Still Hate Cats (The Ink Group) 2000, author / illustrator
I Still Hate Cats 2001 Calendar (The Ink Group) 2000, author / illustrator
Weird Facts to Blow Your Mind (Price Stern Slone) 1993, illustrator
Awesome Facts to Blow Your Mind (Price Stern Slone) 1993, illustrator
Gross Facts to Blow Your Mind (Price Stern Slone) 1993, illustrator
Scary Facts to Blow Your Mind (Price Stern Slone) 1993, illustrator
Conversations with Mr. Baby (Little Brown) 1992, illustrator
Your Basic Love Story (Holt, Rinehart & Winston) 1984, illustrator
Don't Laugh, You're Next (Holt, Rinehart & Winston) 1983, author / illustrator
The End (Holt, Rinehart & Winston) 1983, author / illustrator
Drawn Together (Crown) 1983, contributor & editor for National Cartoonists Guild
The 300 Pound Cat (Holt, Rinehart & Winston) 1983, author / illustrator
For the Birds (Seaver Books) 1982, author / illustrator
The Official I Hate Love Book (Holt, Rinehart & Winston) 1982. author / illustrator
The Official I Hate Cats Calendar 1982 (Holt, Rinehart & Winston) 1982. author / illustrator
The Second Official I Hate Cats Book (Holt, Rinehart & Winston) 1981. author/ illustrator
The Official I Hate Cats Calendar 1981 (Holt, Rinehart & Winston) 1981. author / illustrator
The Official I Hate Cats Book (Holt, Rinehart & Winston) 1980, author / illustrator
It was 1980 that Skip's cartoons first gained national acclaim. Prior to then, music was his full time profession. Skip has been performing professionally as a singer / guitarist / pianist since 1974. Professional bookings, which go as far back as l970, include New York City, the Caribbean, Bermuda, Boston, Cape Cod, Nantucket, the Berkshires, Florida and others. One of Skip's more notable individual showcases was a performance for the New England Emmy Awards at Boston's prestigious Wang Center. Despite the demands of his illustration career he has maintained a consistent professional schedule of performances, both solo and with his wife Laraine.
Burlington Free Press ARTS btv
Sunday, January 16, 2011
For three decades, Skip Morrow’s doodles have left everyone laughing (except the kitties)
Story by Susan Green
Images by Skip Morrow
A seventh grade New Jersey classmate regularly traded chocolate cupcakes for Skip Morrow’s doodles, which often depicted the kind of the battlefield scenarios boys that age tend to enjoy. This sweet business deal ended when the other kid tried to use his father’s college graduation ring as currency rather than the baked goods. Busted! But Morrow, now a 59-year old Wilmington cartoonist and professional musician, describes their adolescent commerce as “my first recognition that you could be paid for art.”
These days, he can look back on a career in the arts that continues to bring him fame and some degree of fortune. Since the 1980 debut of his “Official I Hate Cats Book,” a New York Times bestseller, Morrow has parlayed the same whimsical sensibility into a cottage industry of cartoon tomes, calendars, advertising gigs and greeting cards that poke fun at idiosyncrasies, whether animal or human. “Cartooning is about trying to distill complex emotions and thoughts down to simple terms,” Morrow explained. “It’s just a way to make sense of this crazy world.”
In a dozen publications produced over a 30-year period, his work ranges from acerbic to darkly satirical. “The Joy of Smoking,” for example, mocks tobacco addiction. “The official I Hate Love Book” is an antidote for syrupy romance. In “The End,” mushroom-shaped clouds represent the black comedy of doom. “I Still Hate Cats” in 2000 was another amusing assault on felines--a species Morrow actually tolerates. Two such furry creatures share the three-story, post-and-beam hillside home he and wife, Laraine, built two decades ago at 30 Not-A Road. Yes, that’s the actual address.
For Morrow, the family pets serve as amusement rather than muses. Asked their names, he quipped “Research and Development. Just kidding. Milo and Chance.” The cats are permitted to wander into his studio, located above the garage. Luckily, they have no ability to comprehend the many images there that convey nine lives in imminent peril.
Morrow apparently chose an orange tabby as his primary cartoon foil. The poor beast is about to become the puck at a hockey game. Or jump through a hoop held over a steep cliff. Or, while begging on a kitchen table, be hit with a spoonful of food that an owner prepares to fling onto his whiskered face. Or worse. Way, way worse.
Many of these cartoons are on display in the Art of Humor Gallery, a 3,000- square foot building on Morrow’s 15-acre property. It’s where he showcases and sells his creative endeavors.
Beyond those childhood doodles-for-cupcakes, music was Skip Morrow’s first foray into the cultural landscape. During his teen years in Bound Brook, not far from New Brunswick in the Garden State, he learned to play electric guitar and joined a local group: Mother’s Little Helpers, inspired by a Rolling Stones tune with that title. We were a garage band,” Morrow said. “Back then, if you knew three chords, you could wow your friends.”
He wowed his instructor one day in a figure-drawing class, where a hefty nude was posing rather than the standard svelte model. “I was terrible at realism, so I did a caricature. I liked making people laugh. That probably was my epiphany for cartoons.” Nonetheless, as a student at Rutgers University, he majored in communications and hoped to break into the field of photojournalism after graduation in 1974. Instead, Morrow led a peripatetic existence. He was a solo acoustic act, entertaining on Cape Cod each summer and in Wilmington every winter. The visual medium tugged at him. “I always kept a sketch pad that I’d pass through the audience to see what they liked,” he said.
“Once, while visiting someone here, I witnessed someone disciplining his cat.” The next morning, Morrow drew a picture with the kitty’s eyes bugging out at the loud reprimand. “When people saw it, they told me: ‘I’ve always wanted to do that to a cat.’ I thought that I might be onto something, so I drew a series of cats being compromised,” he noted.
No snow at Mount Snow in early 1980 changed everything for Morrow. After more than a year of living in Bermuda as a musician, he had returned to Vermont and was supposed to sing at the ski area for the winter. But when frozen precipitation failed to fall from the sky that season, he was laid off. During a brief trip to New York City, Morrow had an appointment to show his cartoons to a publicist at Holt, Rinehart & Winston, a major Manhattan publishing house. “She just chastised me for being naive,” he recalled. “When a guy walked by and asked what was going on, she said: ‘Oh, this kid came down from Vermont with a pile of cartoons.’ The guy told me, ‘Don’t go. Can I borrow these for a few minutes?’” Before long, Morrow was summoned to the top floor editorial office. That man was standing with his back to him and looking at the cartoons. ”He said, ‘You’re incorrigible. This is despicable.’ Then, he turned around and added, ‘I love it!’”
The next day Morrow signed a contract and was given a $5,000 advance in return for a promise to deliver about 50 more cat cartoons within the next six weeks. “The book came out in October 1980, and it just went viral,” he suggested. “I was on TV and interviewed by People magazine. I was only 29. Everyone made a big fuss.” Why? “I think most of the cat stuff by artists in those days was cute, like Garfield. I guess I was the first one (not to do that). I figured somebody other than me must be tired of cats doing cute things.” Indeed. The book sold 800,000 copies.
Despite Morrow’s success with aesthetic fantasies about humiliating or even maiming cats, such behavior may be less than wishful thinking. “I must admit that I do prefer dogs, but I love my wife, and my wife loves cats,” he acknowledged. “Also, dogs don’t eat mice.” Yet, even while Milo and Chance take care of the rodent population, Morrow can’t resist an opportunity to demean them in print. In this high-tech era, however, his process has gone from old-fashioned ink and paper to a digitizing tablet. That means he wields an electronic pen and the results that appear on the 30-by-40-inch monitor of his Mac computer can be transmitted in an instant, without the help of FedEx.
Luddites might be happy to know that his modern cyber-cartooning continues to rely on basics. “Everything still starts with a sketchbook,” Morrow pointed out. “When home, I’m up in my studio doodling.”