Cartoonist is retiring after nearly 30 years of laughs
The Cambrian’s readers are losing their weekly dose of lightly barbed whimsy.
Art Van Rhyn is retiring as the weekly newspaper’s cartoonist after nearly 30 years.
Van Rhyn figures that, since 1991, he’s created more than 1,560 cartoons for the newspaper, plus extras for special events and his always eagerlyanticipated annual Christmas card gifts.
Many of Van Rhyn’s cartoons produced laughs, while some triggered controversy and most were prime material for coffee-klatch discussions. All those reactions tickled the artist and kept him at the drawing board week after week, year after year, he said.
Susan Mcdonald, Cambria’s 2019 Citizen of the Year, was Van Rhyn’s editor at The Cambrian for a year or so in the mid-1990s.
When she learned of the cartoonist’s looming retirement, Mcdonald said she felt very sad and slightly bereft about the loss of Van Rhyn’s artistic views of the area and its quirky people.
Van Rhyn’s cartoons “have been such a local, really local treasure for so long, and it’s too bad to lose that. It’s sad, a real loss for Cambrians not to have his humor to enjoy,” Mcdonald said.
To get that now, she added, “they’ll just have to run into him at a coffee shop in town.”
Through the years, Van Rhyn also handed his creations to editors John Read, who hired the Cambria resident for the weekly freelance gig, as well as Bill Morem, Jay Thompson, Bert Etling, Steve Provost, Dan Itel and, most recently, Joe Tarica and Sarah Linn at The Tribune.
Asked why he decided to end the cartoon, Van Rhyn said, “I think it’s just time to hang it up.”
“I guess I’ve flattened out — I don’t seem to be feeling as funny,” he said.
“Is it the world, the country or the way they’re screwing us around? I don’t know. I guess our hearts just don’t feel light anymore.”
Other things have changed, too, Van Rhyn said, discussing trends and shifting deadlines in the newspaper business with a slightly mournful air.
“I used to love it. I’d wake up Monday morning, and something would come to me” for the cartoon,” he said. “Monday was my deadline day, and I enjoyed that, doing the cartoon, taking it down to the office and talking to the editor and the reporters. I miss that.”
Mcdonald said she “always looked forward to Art coming in. He’d sit down, and we’d chat about life and everything else for a while. He’s just a ray of sunshine. He’s unique.”
Among Van Rhyn’s favorite cartoons and memories, he said, were those that featured the crusty Mrs. Fosdick, who got herself — and occasionally the artist — into all kinds of trouble.
“Mrs. Fosdick was a fierce little old lady,” he said. “She knew how to kick ass.”
Van Rhyn said the character reminded him in later years of his wife, Patricia Van Rhyn. She died in 2009, and with her death, so did some of Mrs. Fosdick’s feistiness.
Art Van Rhyn, who turns 91 in April, said recent changes to his freelancer contract with The Cambrian also played a role in his decision to end the cartoon. Those changes were tied to a new state labor law that affects independent contractors and gig workers.
Van Rhyn’s final cartoon will appear in the Feb. 6 edition of The Cambrian.
Editor’s note: Cambrian columnist Kathe Tanner will write about Art Van Rhyn in her column, Slice of Life, on Feb. 13.
Cartoonist Art Van Rhyn, who is retiring from his nearly three decades of cartooning for The Cambrian, also creates paintings and other fine art.
The humor and characters of cartoonist Art Van Rhyn have kept readers laughing, talking and thinking about the issues.
Mrs. Fosdick has been a favorite character for Art Van Rhyn during his nearly 30 years of producing cartoons.