Car­toon­ist is re­tir­ing af­ter nearly 30 years of laughs

The Tribune (SLO) - - Local - BY KATHE TAN­NER Kathe Tan­ner: 805-781-7904, @Cam­bri­are­porter

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.

Cour­tesy photo from An­drea Wogs­land, Greens­pace

Car­toon­ist Art Van Rhyn, who is re­tir­ing from his nearly three decades of car­toon­ing for The Cam­brian, also cre­ates paint­ings and other fine art.

KATHE TAN­NER

The hu­mor and char­ac­ters of car­toon­ist Art Van Rhyn have kept read­ers laugh­ing, talk­ing and think­ing about the is­sues.

KATHE TAN­NER

Mrs. Fos­dick has been a fa­vorite char­ac­ter for Art Van Rhyn dur­ing his nearly 30 years of pro­duc­ing car­toons.

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