Episode 170: R.O. Blechman

31May

He won an Emmy for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animated Programming, was inducting to the Art Directors Hall of Fame, and has drawn multiple covers for the New Yorker, but his most lasting legacy may be the mid-60s advertisements he created for Alka-Seltzer and CBS — a fact that makes R. O. Blechman a quintessential 20th century artist. This year, the swiggly-lined artist released his second graphic novel more than 50 years after his first. Amadeo & Maladeo is a whimsical prince and pauper story, charting the life of two musically-inclined half-brothers separated by vastly different circumstances. Blechman is quick to admit that he sees the product as only half-finished, a sort of storyboard for the animated film in his mind. Fittingly, the artist presented a truly incomplete film during an appearance at the MoCCA Festival in New York, debuting his attempt at a feature length adaptation of Voltaire’s Candide for the first time in public. It’s both a testament to the artist’s vision and a bittersweet look at what might have been. It’s a theme that has followed Blechman through much of his career. A victim of circumstance and a failure to fully embrace trends, it easy to imagine the New York City cartoonist having become more of a household name, but with a robust resume dating back to 1953, the Blechman has left an impressive mark on the fields of animation, production and cartooning.

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