NORRIS Leonard

NORRIS Leonard Matheson

“Norris was the first cartoonist in Canada to appropriate a distinctive regional culture as a vehicle to caricature and express underlying national attitudes toward current events. Often when he is apparently at his most parochial, he is  dealing with with old associations and new conflicts that are shared by all Canadians.                                                                                                                      The Hecklers, 121.

Leonard Matheson Norris was born 1 Dec 1913 in London, England. He immigrated with his parents to the Lakehead in Ontario when he was 12 and began his career by doing caricatures of prominent people around Prince Arthur and Fort William (now Thunder Bay), which a local merchant hung in his storefront window. After his father lost his job in a pulp mill in Port Arthur, during the depression, the family moved to Toronto, where young Norris worked as a stevedore loading coal at $12.50 per week.

About the same time he worked on the switch board of the Elias Rogers Coal Company, sketching in his spare time. Frank Dowsett from the company’s advertising department saw these sketches and commissioned Norris to do drawings for the company brochures. Dowsett also introduced Norris to members of the Toronto Star’s art department and they showed Norris how they designed advertising layouts, retouched photos and did other techniques. At night he studied at the Ontario College of Art.

In 1938 he got his first job as a graphic artist for a Toronto advertising agency. He worked there till he enlisted in the Army in 1940. He was posted to Ottawa where he edited and illustrated the Canadian Army Technical Magazine and for his services received an MBE in 1945.

After the war, he worked for Maclean Hunter as an art director for House and Gardens Magazine, while doing freelance work, but his life seemed to be all work. Pierre Berton who was then managing editor of Maclean’s had been a feature writer at the Vancouver Sun. He contacted publisher Don Cromie and suggested Norris was the cartoonist that Cromie was looking for. Norris moved to the West Coast in 1949, and Berton became an influential factor in yet another Canadian cartoonist’s career.

Norris attempted to create a comic strip for the newspaper called Filbert Phelps but failed. “I tried to draw cartoons the way everybody thought they should look – big labels and that sort of thing,” he said. “It was hard, and it didn’t work.” He found that he couldn’t draw effective caricatures of prominent politicians. From this limitation, he experimented in a new direction. He focused on “…relating the political events to ordinary people rather than doing the politician himself making the event.” (126). Norris developed a whole cast of characters including the resurrected juvenile delinquent Filbert Phelps.

For the next 38 years, until he retired, his illustrations featured his trademark characters: pompous members of the Victoria Conservative Club, politicians in swallow-tail coats and nasty, hydrant-shaped children commenting on national and international events. If his characters and settings seem to have an English feel, it is because of the influences of Giles and other English cartoonists.

He won a National Newspaper Award with his first submission in 1951. He never entered again, he said, because he didn’t like the idea of losing. In 1953, as a publicity stunt, Lloyds of London insured his drawing hand for $125,000. Walt Kelly, the creator of Pogo, described Norris as the best in the business, and Hugh Hefner asked him to contribute to Playboy. Norris declined.

Len illustrated writer Jack Richard’s story Johann’s Gift To Christmas published in 1972. It was later turned into a 23 minute clay animation/live action film (1991) of the same name, broadcast by C.B.C. The film was written by Paul Ledoux, and directed by René Bonnière. Illya Woloshyn provided the voice for the mouse Johann, John Neville provided a voice for Viktor the old disenchanted mouse. Heath Lamberts portrayed Father Mohr. Sarah Polley, Zacri Crane and other actors completed the cast. The production company was O’B&D Films Productions.

In 1973 when the University of Windsor awarded him an honorary degree, the President Dr. John F. Leddy described him “unhesitatingly, as the finest cartoonist not only in Canada but in North America.” (160). He was a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts and in 1979 was elected to the Canadian News Hall of Fame. In the same year, he semi-retired, reducing his cartoons to two a week.

He died 12 Aug 1997 in Langley, British Columbia.

WORK:

CARTOONIST:

BOOK GRAPHIC ANTHOLOGY:

Content:

Cartoon editorial:

The Art of Political Cartooning in Canada/1980. Ed., Steve Bradley. For., Robert LaPalme. Virgo Press, Oct. 1980: 39, 124, 197, 206, 208.

Best Canadian Political Cartoons, 1983. Ed., N.M. Stahl. For., David Rosen. McClelland & Stewart Ltd. Sept. 1983: 22, 36, 74, 94, 106, 109, 197.

Best Canadian Political Cartoons, 1984. Ed., N.M. Stahl. For.,Robert LaPalme. McClelland & Stewart Ltd. Sept. 1984; 24, 48, 104, 176, 193.

Caricature . Cartoons Canada. Ed., Terry Mosher. Linda Leith Publishing, 2012: 10.

Portfoolio, The Year 86 In Canadian Caricature. Ed., Guy Badeaux. Writ., Charles Gordon. Ludcom Inc. 1986.

Portfoolio, The Year 87 In Canadian Caricature. Ed., Guy Badeaux . Ludcom Inc. 1987.

1988 Portfoolio, The Year In Canadian Caricature. Ed., Guy Badeaux . Writ., Charles Gordon. Eden Press. 1988.

BOOK GRAPHIC COLLECTION:

Cover & Content:

Cartoon editorial:

Norris Cartoons In The Vancouver Sun. no publisher, probably 1952.

2nd Annual Book of Norris Cartoons From The Vancouver Sun. no publisher, prob. 1953.

3rd Annual Book of Norris Cartoons From The Vancouver Sun. no publisher, prob. 1954..

5th Annual Collection of Norris Cartoons From The Vancouver Sun. no publisher, prob. 1956.

7th Annual Collection of Norris- 101 Selected Cartoons From The Vancouver Sun. no pub. prob. 1958.

8th Annual Collection of Norris 101 Selected Cartoons From The Vancouver Sun. n.pub., prob. 1959.

9th Annual Norris Cartoon Collection From The Vancouver Sun. n.p.: no publisher, prob. 1960.

10th Anniversary Collection of Norris Cartoons From The Vancouver Sun. n.p.: n.pub., prob. 1961.

11th Annual Collection of Norris 101 Selected Cartoons From The Vancouver Sun. no pub. prob. 1962.

12th Annual Collection of Norris 101 Selected Cartoons From The Vancouver Sun. n.pub., prob. 1963

13th Annual Collection of Norris 101 Cartoons From The Vancouver Sun. no publisher, prob. 1964.

14th Annual Collection of Norris 101 Cartoons From The Vancouver Sun. no pub., prob. 1965.

15th Annual Collection Norris 101 Cartoons From The Vancouver Sun. n.p.: no pub., prob. 1966.

16th Annual Collection Norris 101 Cartoons From The Vancouver Sun. n.p.: no pub., prob. 1967.

17th Annual Collection Norris 101 Cartoons From The Vancouver Sun. n.p.: no pub., prob. 1968.

18th Annual Collection Norris 101 Cartoons From The Vancouver Sun. no pub., prob. 1969.

19th Annual Collection Norris 101 Cartoons From The Vancouver Sun. no pub., prob. 1970..

20th Annual Collection Norris 101 Cartoons From The Vancouver Sun. no pub., prob. 1971.

21th Annual Collection Norris 101 Cartoons From The Vancouver Sun. no pub., prob. 1972..

22th Annual Collection Norris 101 Cartoons From The Vancouver Sun. no pub., prob. 1973.

23th Annual Collection Norris 101 Cartoons From The Vancouver Sun no pub., prob. 1974..

24th Annual Collection Norris 101 Cartoons From The Vancouver Sun. no pub., prob. 1975.

Norris 25th Anniversary Collection 101 Cartoons From The Vancouver Sun. no pub., prob. 1976.

Norris 26th Annual Collection 101 Cartoons From The Vancouver Sun. no pub., prob. 1977.

27th Annual Collection Norris 101 Cartoons From The Vancouver Sun. no pub., prob. 1978.

The Best of Norris As Selected By Himself. McClelland & Stewart Ltd., 1955.

The Best Of Norris. McClelland & Stewart Ltd., 1984.

PERIODICAL TEXT:

Content:

Folio sketch:

“Len Norris’ B.C. Sketch Book.” Maclean’s, 18 May 1958: 18-21.

ILLUSTRATOR:

BOOK TEXT:

Cover:

Book Front:

Johann’s Gift to Christmas. J.J. Douglas Ltd., 1972.

Content:

Story text:

Johann’s Gift to Christmas. Writ., Jack Richards. J.J. Douglas Ltd., 1972.

PERIODICAL TEXT:

Content:

Folio sketch:

“Len Norris’ B.C. Sketch Book.” Maclean’s, 18 May 1958: 18-21.

SOURCE:

Book text:

The Hecklers. Writ. & Ed.., Peter Desbarates & Terry Mosher. McClelland & Stewart Ltd.,1979: 116, 119-130, 246.

Web:

The Canadian Encyclopedia, Writ., Alan Hustak.Web.

GALLERY:

C:\Users\Robert\Documents\CARTOONING ILLUSTRATION ANIMATION\IMAGE BY CARTOONIST\N\NORRIS LEN, The Best of Norris, fc.jpgA cavalcade of Len Norris Characters, Best of Norris, Front cover.

C:\Users\Robert\Documents\CARTOONING ILLUSTRATION ANIMATION\IMAGE BY CARTOONIST\N\NORRIS LEN, The Best of Norris, bc..jpgA cavalcade of Norris Characters continued, The Best of Norris, Back cover

C:\Users\Robert\Documents\CARTOONING ILLUSTRATION ANIMATION\IMAGE BY CARTOONIST\N\NORRIS LEN, Norris, Cartoons in the Vancouver Sun, 16 Nov 1951.jpgVancouver Sun, 16 Nov. 1951.

C:\Users\Robert\Documents\CARTOONING ILLUSTRATION ANIMATION\IMAGE BY CARTOONIST\N\NORRIS LEN, Vancouver Sun, 19 July 1963 .jpgVancouver Sun, 19 July 1963

C:\Users\Robert\Documents\CARTOONING ILLUSTRATION ANIMATION\IMAGE BY CARTOONIST\N\NORRIS LEN, Vancouver Sun, 28 May 1964.jpgVancouver Sun, 28 May 1964

C:\Users\Robert\Documents\CARTOONING ILLUSTRATION ANIMATION\IMAGE BY CARTOONIST\N\NORRIS LEN, Vancouver Sun, 9 Aug 1977.jpgVancouver Sun, 9 Aug. 1977.

C:\Users\Robert\Documents\CARTOONING ILLUSTRATION ANIMATION\IMAGE BY CARTOONIST\N\NORRIS LEN, Vancouver Sun 18 Oct 1977.jpgVancouver Sun, 18 Oct. 1977.

C:\Users\Robert\Documents\CARTOONING ILLUSTRATION ANIMATION\IMAGE BY CARTOONIST\N\NORRIS LEN, Vancouver Sun, 14 Dec 1977.jpgVancouver Sun 14 Dec. 1977.

C:\Users\Robert\Documents\CARTOONING ILLUSTRATION ANIMATION\IMAGE BY CARTOONIST\N\NORRIS LEN, Vancouver Sun, 28 Apr 1978.jpgVancouver Sun, 28 Apr. 1978.