Harry Bliss to talk about life as a cartoonist

Are you one of those people who buys The New Yorker Magazine just to flip to those witty cartoons? Us too.
But recently all it takes is a trip to the Henry Sheldon Museum in Middlebury to see work by The New Yorker cover and cartoon artist Harry Bliss. His books and paintings are on display along with 19 other Vermont artists in the current exhibit Draw Me a Story — Tell Me a Tale (closing Oct. 15).
Bliss will give a special presentation at the museum on Monday, Sept. 18, 6:45 p.m., humorously detailing “his growing up in a family of artists in the pervasive dysfunction of the suburban 1970s and his subsequent path from nearly incarcerated realist painter to drawing cartoons and covers for The New Yorker Magazine.” The evening begins with a brief introduction to the Sheldon’s exhibit followed by the talk. Admission: $5 general public, museum members are free.
An accomplished artist, who graduated from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia and received a Master’s Degree from Syracuse University, Bliss brings his creative skills to his children’s books and cartoons. His books are inspired by his family dogs, his trips to museums and his maudlin, yet endearing, sense of humor.
On view in the exhibit is an ink and watercolor rending from “A Very Brave Witch” (2006) telling the story of a young, green-faced witch at Halloween who befriends a human in witch attire during her “trick or treat” rounds. Together they visit a haunted house filled with an assortment of costumed characters and presidential masks.
A second ink and watercolor painting “The Steps of the Metropolitan Museum” from “Grandma in Blue with Red Hat” (2015) relates how a young boy after visiting the Metropolitan Museum, begins painting and successfully mounts an exhibit honoring his grandmother because “grandma is beautiful, grandma is different, grandma is funny, grandma tells me stories, grandma is from far away, grandma makes me feel good.”
Also a prolific cartoonist, his work has appeared in the New York Times and Vermont’s Seven Days. Bliss is best known for his book of cartoons “Death by Laughter” (2008). In the book’s introduction by Christopher Guest, Bliss cartoons are described as “laugh-out loud funny, dark, surreal, and socially stinging.  His characters are dogs, accountants, doctors and Death. All inhabit a world that is familiar but slightly-off.”
Bliss, who resides in the Burlington area, will trace his artistic lineage and growth as a “slightly-off” cartoonist during his presentation on the 18th. As James Sturm, of the Center for Cartoon Studies remarked “If his cartoon collection [Death by Laughter] doesn’t make you laugh out loud, then you are probably already dead.”
For more information, call the museum at (802) 388-2117 or visit HenrySheldonMuseum.org.
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