Monday, October 1, 2018

Comics: Abe Kanegson, Letterer

Abe Kanegson was born Abram Chininson on September 1 or 6, 1921, in Lubobin, Poland. Kanegson’s original family name was recorded on his mother’s Petition for Naturalization at The petition said Kanegson was born September sixth but the Social Security Death Index has September first. His mother was born Estera Zeigelbaum who married David Chininson in June 1912 at Lubobin, Poland. The petition named Kanegson’s older brother, Morris, and younger brother and sister, Louis and Rita, both New York natives. On June 25, 1922, Kanegson, his parents and brother arrived, aboard the steamship Finland, at the port of New York City. A passenger list said they had sailed from Antwerp, Belgium and were going to join the brother of Kanegson’s mother, Harry Zagelbaum [sic] at 132 Broome Street in Manhattan. The naturalization petition for Kanegson’s father was not found at this time.

In the 1925 New York state census, the enumerator spelled the Kanegson family name as Kalickson. The family resided at 115 Forsyth Street in Manhattan. Kanegson’s father was an ice dealer.

The 1930s

The spelling of the Kanegson family name was Kadigson in the 1930 U.S. Federal Census. Kanegson’s father operated a seltzer business from a wagon. The family of five was in the Bronx at 367 Powers Avenue. The newest member was one-year-old Beverly. 

Alter Ego #107, February 2012, published “The Mystery of the Missing Letterer!, Part 6” by Michael T. Gilbert who interviewed Kanegson’s wife, Elizabeth. She said her husband attended James Monroe High School in the Bronx.

In Alter Ego #105, October 2011, Gilbert interviewed Kanegson’s sister, Rita. Gilbert asked if Kanegson had any formal education? Rita answered, “I don’t think he did. I think he started City College, but I don’t think he even finished. He finished high school at 15 and a half or something. Then he started college, but I don’t think he finished. Gilbert asked about Kanegson’s art training. Rita said, “I have no idea if he had any art training, but he dabbled…He used oils and other things; I don’t know where he learned how to mix the oils.”

Part five appeared in Alter Ego #106, December 2011, and featured an interview with Kanegson’s brother, Lou. He mentioned what his parents did about Kanegson’s education.

…At a very early age, for some reason, they threw him out of high school. and they sent him to City College [of New York]. I think he was about fourteen. I don’t know what he was doing [at City College], but he did work on their college magazine, called Mercury. He did some cartoons for them...and that might be in their archives. That was a long time ago. But I think he was too young to go to college at fourteen. Whatever the reason was, he didn’t stay there very long. A year or two, something like that. He didn’t like it. Even there, he displayed some of his art. Rough, rough art talent, let’s put it that way...he was a kid.
In the late 1930s Kanegson may have had art instruction through the Works Progress Administration’s  Federal Art Project. The School of Industrial Art opened in Fall 1936. Adult classes were also offered at the school. The New York Sun, August 13, 1935, said
The first step in a projected program of offering free daytime instruction for adults as a part of its regular school service was taken by the Board of Education at its meeting yesterday when it approved plans for admitting adult students to the New York School of Fine and Industrial Arts at 257 West Fortieth street, beginning with the fall semester.

Instruction in graphic and plastic arts on a trade basis for adults and secondary pupils will be offered at the school, which was re-named the School of Industrial Arts, and classified as a vocational school.

Under the plans…this would be the first of a number of vocational schools now restricted to adolescents which would would be opened to adults….

…a proposal was made several months ago that the Board of Education take over the adult education program now being conducted by the WPA.
The 1940s

According to the 1940 census, Kanegson, his parents and siblings, Louis and Rita were Bronx residents at 1526 Boynton Avenue. Kanegson’s father was a beer truck driver. Kanegson was a student who had completed three years of college. Beverly was not included. I believe she passed away August 1931.

In Alter Ego #106, Lou said talked about his father’s work.

My father was—in the old days they used to call it a seltzer man. He had a route and he would do home delivery of seltzer, soda, and beer….Some of my mother’s brothers came to this country; most of the family, unfortunately, stayed in Europe. But a number of relatives did come to the United States, so they were saved from the Holocaust. And most of them, about four or five people including my father, were in that business of home delivery, where he drove his truck. Rather than just selling seltzer—for which you had to go every day to a seltzer shop, because they refilled bottles and all that stuff….well, he had had seltzer, soda, beer, syrup. And he had a route—he delivered, that’s how he made his living. Long hours.
A World War II military record for Kanegson has not been found at Kanegson’s father signed his World War II draft card on April 25, 1942. The card had his home address as 1531 East 172 Street and business address as 1262 Westchester, both in the Bronx.

If Kanegson had commercial art training in the 1940s here are some possibilities.

The Commercial Illustration Studios School of Art, incorporated in 1933, was located at 175 Fifth Avenue atop the Flatiron Building. Later it was known as the Commercial Illustration School and then Art Career School. The course in advertising art probably included lettering. 

American Artist, 1941

American Art, October 1944

Cartooning was taught at the Grand Central School of Art.

American Artist, November 1942

Burne Hogarth’s Academy of Newspaper Art began in 1944. And there were correspondence schools. 

The New York Post, November 22, 1944, published Kanegson’s answer to the question in the column, “What do YOU think?”
QUESTION: What is your favorite painting?
PLACE: Metropolitan Museum of Art.
ANSWER: ABRAHAM KANEGSON, Artist, 1531 E. 172d St., The Bronx—It is impossible for me to pick out one that I enjoy more than any other as I enjoy many for different reasons. Bellini, Botticelli, Goya, Reubens, Rembrandt and many others have done many great paintings which I enjoy very very much.

Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999 said Kanegson worked at the Will Eisner studio from 1947 to 1950. Many of his credits on The Spirit are at the Grand Comics Database. How and why Kanegson entered the comics industry is not known.

In Backing Into Forward: A Memoir (2010), Jules Feiffer wrote 

Abe Kanegson, Eisner's lettering man, seated to my right, asked what was wrong. Abe was the left intellectual of the office, which also included Marilyn Mercer, Eisner’s business assistant and secretary, and Jerry Grandenetti, Eisner’s background man. I enjoyed an active and bantering relationship with my boss and and the others in the studio, but I was closest to Abe, with whom I had developed a big brother–kid brother relationship. Abe played utility infielder at the office: he lettered, he inked backgrounds, he finished inking Eisner’s half-finished figures. And he came from the Bronx, actually no more than four blocks away, on East 172nd Street, a block from James Monroe High School. He was five years older than I, big, burly, very hairy, a dark, wry, sardonic Russian Jew who lumbered as he walked. A strong presence but oddly, for all his impressiveness, without charisma. Maybe it was the stutter. Abe had a quick mind and wit and forceful opinions expressed in a rumbling, resonant baritone undermined by the worst stutter I had ever heard….

…I looked up to Abe. He was a Communist or fellow traveler (I never asked, he never told) to whom I awarded more credibility than to my sister Mimi because he didn’t beat up on me. Abe didn’t accuse me of being an “opportunist” or “indecisive,” nor was he trying to change me into the protege Red that was Mimi’s ambition for me. My sense was that Abe was more interested in prodding/goading mr into becoming a better and more serious cartoonist, the cartoonist that I liked to pretend I already was.
In Will Eisner: A Dreamer’s Life in Comics (2010), Kanegson’s lettering on The Spirit was praised by Eisner. 
Eisner maintained that of all the letterers* he employed over the years, Kanegson was one the few who understood the nuances of lettering and who treated lettering as more than a job. “Kanegson was brilliant,” Eisner said. “He added a dimension of quality that typesetting could never get. His lettering is clear and legible, and in addition it lends warmth to the visuals.”

Eisner used lettering to set tone or establish mood, and Kanegson’s range allowed him to use types of lettering not often seen in comics, like blackletter, to great effect. “To me, lettering contributes as much in the storytelling as the art itself,” he explained. “To my mind there is no real border between lettering and the artwork.”
Cat Yronwode interviewed Eisner in The Comics Journal, numbers 46 (May 1979) and 47 (July 1979). The interviews were reprinted in Will Eisner: Conversations
Yronwode: Another person whose name is mentioned in the fake advertisement in the ‘Lurid Love’ story is Abe Kanegson. He was your letterer, right?

Eisner: He was the best letterer I ever had. He worked with me from 1947 to about 1950. I don’t know what happened to him after that but I miss him sorely. He brought far more to The Spirit than many of the background people ever did—he was very responsive to ideas and he added a creative dimension to comics, which I always thought was very important. He’s the only one who ever really understood. I had other letterers before he came in, but he helped me reach out. Sure, I had certain standards I wanted him to follow—for instance, I did Old English before he came in, but he would take that Old English and really do it—his skill was enormous—but, even more, he understood the function and rule of lettering in comics. He regarded it as something important. Everybody before him regarded it as a chore.

The 1950s

I believe Kanegson left comics in 1950.

The folk dance publication, Northern Junket (volume two, number two), published a report on the 1950 Maine Folk Dance Camp. Kanegson was mentioned on pages eight and nine. 
Three nights and two days. What a shame we couldn’t stay longer! To take care of the many disappointed folks who were late with their registrations, Jane held this “first” third session.
The loaders said we were the “singin’est” camp they’d ever seen. True we sang at the slightest provocation—or without any—and it was all due to our choir leader, Abe Kanegson. His inspired leadership urged us to unexpected high levels. We’ll never forget the last night’s sing. Seemed as though we just could’t stop….

…Saturday night’s party was a knockout. It seems there was a bit of confusion. The Sons and Daughters of the Midnight Sun and the Irish-American Marching and Chowder Society had both rented the “Grange Hall” for that night. During supper hour both leaders invited us to join in festivities at “their” party. At first, some of the newcomers thought that Esther Sumpter “Swenson” and Ralph Page “Shanahan” were serious in their off the cuff and entirely extemporaneous remarks. And Abe Kanegson “Swenson” added much to the hilarious scene. It got us into the proper mood for the march en masse to the hall. The stage lost three talented performers in overlooking them. Sometime during the party the poster of the Sons and Daughters of the Midnight Sun was stolen from the wall. Before the hubbub subsided, or rather while accusations, were flying thick and fast, the Marching and Chowder Club’s poater [sic] was taken down. Even when Mrs Heim presented a license for the dance in the name of the Sons and Daughters etc. and signed by the notary “Honest John’, it soothed only the feelings of the “Swenson” clan. It all proved to be a build up for the “Oxdansen”,done by Abe Kanegson “Swenson” and Dick Castner “Swenson-Shanahan”. A more comical “Oxdansen” may have been done sometime but we doubt it. We sure had fun.
Kanegson transcribed a folk song which appeared in Northern Junket, Volume 2, Number 4, 1950.

The Chicago and North Western Railroad Employment Records, 1935–1970, at, recorded the hiring of Kanegson on January 23, 1951 in Chicago. The transcribed document included his birth information and parents’ names. Kanegson’s occupation was trucker. The length of his employment is unknown.

Kanegson’s next callings were folk singer and square dance caller. He was a bit like Woody Guthrie who was a traveling, guitar-playing singer and artist. During his journeys across the country, Guthrie sometimes painted signs. Perhaps Kanegson drew inspiration from Guthrie when he performed at New York City in the 1940s.

The Lewiston Evening Journal (Maine), July 27, 1951, announced the upcoming folk dance camps at Kezar Lake. In addition to dance there were arts and crafts instruction and Kanegson’s singing sessions.

The New York Times, December 16, 1951, reported the opening of the full-time folk dance center, Folk Dance House, at 108 West 16th Street. The daily program schedule said “…Thursday will see the second session devoted to square and contra dances with Dick Kaster and Abe Kanegson’s callers…”

I believe the March 1952 issue of American Squares published this item, “Mansfield had its Johnny Appleseed Folk Festival on Feb. 6 and 7 under the direction of Abe Kanegson of New York.”

The Crystal Lake Lodge advertisements, in May, June and July 1952 issues of the New York Post, said Kanegson was the folk and square dance instructor.

June 15, 1952

Activities of Youth Hostel Week, in New York City from May 4 to 11, were reported in American Bicyclist and Motorcyclist, June 1952. At the Alley Pond Park in Queens, bicyclists “and hikers joined in a community folk-sing led by Frank Harris, Executive Director of the Metropolitan New York Council, American Youth Hostels, Inc., and Abe Kanegson, one of the Council’s trip leaders.”

The Aberdeen Daily News (South Dakota), January 7, 1953, said Kanegson and others were scheduled to teach folk dancing at a box social in February.

Friends Intelligencer, March 28, 1953, said Kangeson would participate in a benefit. 

On Saturday, April 11, at 8:30 p.m., the Parent-Teacher Council of Media Friends School, Pa., will hold a square dance for the benefit of the school kitchen. Mrs. Herman Staples, Wallingford, Pa., is general chairman.

Abe Kanegson, a professional caller from New York City, will be present. The tickets at $1.00 per person may be obtained by contacting any member of the committee. Refreshments will be sold. The dance will be held in the Media Armory, State Street.
Dora T. Smith, Publicity Chairman
For two weeks Bridgeton, Maine would be the square, contra and folk dance capital of the United States according to the Lewiston Evening Journal, July 25, 1953. Regarding Kanegson, the Journal said “…Abe Kanegson of New York City, was there as supervisor of party planning. It so happens that Abe is an accomplished guitarist, an artist, a capable caller and a general top-notcher at planning parties guaranteed to give everyone a good time. His own knowledge of folk dances is extensive and his repertoire of folk songs is virtually endless.”

The Canton Repository (Ohio), January 24, 1954, announced that Kanegson was scheduled to call the Canton Country Dance Council square dance. Three days, the Repository said “Due to illness, Abe Kanegson of New York City, who was to have been at the YMCA Thursday night to call for a dance sponsored by Canton County Dance Council has canceled his engagement. A telegram was received at the association Tuesday night.”

Kanegson and his mother were participants in the Holiday Folk Dance Camp according to The New England Caller, February 1954, page fifteen. 

For a group of some 65 enthusiastic dancers, the celebration of Christmas in dance, song, and friendly good fellowship was extended through the week after Christmas at New England’s first winter folk dance camp. This was held at the North Swanzey Community House, two miles south of Keene, N.H. It was directed by Ralph Page, who taught square and contra classes and encouraged other callers to try their hand in daily contra workshops. Ted Sannella taught the folk dance classes while Abe Kanegson led the nightly folk sings and had charge of the decorating committees for the meals and parties….Wednesday’ night’s party theme was the British Isles, while on New Year’s Eve we drove to near-by Dublin for a French-Canadian dance. Abe’s squares that night included some weird-sounding calls….Saturday’s Scandinavian evening started with a smorgasbord, continued with Scandinavian and American dances, and ended with another of Abe’s lauletaans (Finnish for “Let’s sing”)…..Abe Kanegson’s mother, trying our square dances for the first time, contributed her bit by teaching a group the Russian sher (a square dance) as she had danced it in the Ukraine in her youth….
Kanegson’s appearance at Pillsbury was mentioned in the School Bulletin, February 10, 1954, “The Folk Dance Leaders Group will sponsor the appearance of Abe Kanegson, who will call and instruct at a square and contra dance on Friday, February 12, 8 p.m., at the Pillsbury Settlement House, 320 16th Ave. S. Tickets, $1.50 per couple, are available at the Pillsbury Settlement House.”

The Brooklyn Eagle (New York), March 1, 1954, said Kanegson would perform with pianist Minna Nathanson.

The New England Caller mentioned Kanegson in the following issues.

August 1954, page 5: Around Boston

…The last weekend in June saw over a hundred people dancing and singing their merry way through the Twelfth Annual Weekend of the Country Dance Society, Boston Center, at Pinewoods Camp, Plymouth, Mass. The outstanding staff and the friendly, congenial crowd made this one of the best of the always enjoyable weekends at this lovely spot….while Abe Kanegson (N.Y.) led the very relaxing morning and late evening folk sings….
September 1954, page 29: Calling All Callers
Instigated by the Old Colony Callers and Teachers Assn., a committee has been formed by representatives being sent from each of the callers associations in New England, and the Albany District, to formulate plans for a New England Square and Folk Dance Callers, Teachers, Leaders Conference. After three meetings over a period of five months held in Quincy, Worcester and Leominster, respectfully, the following announcements are being made.

…The dates are Sept. 8–12, with Ralph teaching squares and contras, and Mary Ann and Michael Herman the folk dances. Esther Thompson of Calif. will lead folk singing Wed. and Thurs. nights, Abe Kanegson on the weekend….
October 1954, page 11: Oglebay Folk Dance Camp
A few of us from the Boston area were fortunate this year to be able to attend the Folk Dance Camp at Oglebay Park, Wheeling, Va., from Aug. 23 to 40. This camp, started some years agony Jane Farrell and currently directed by Mary Ann Busch, has served as the inspiration and model for many other folk dance camps which are now held in various parts of the country. This year’s staff included Jane Farrell, teaching play party games and folk dances; Abe Kanegson, square and folk dances….
December 1954, page 32: Central Mass. Notes.
Harry & Jane Becker of “Contra Corners” in Paxton ran another of their fine Junket parties. The cellar was pretty well filled with seven sets of dancers. Callers present were Abe Kanegson of N.Y.C….
Kanegson was mentioned on the fifth page of Bow & Swing, November 1954. 
New Hampshire Folk Dance Camp
Although New Hampshire is a long way from Florida, many Florida dancers might be interested in an account of a “Folk” Camp, which is quite different from any form of Square Dance Institute, in flavor and in activities.

It was my good fortune to be asked to serve on the Staff at Camp Merriewoode this year….and a fine staff of Instructors. There were…Abe Kanegson (N.Y.C.)…

…The after-the-dance snack parties were where the fellowship of the group really came out, due to the wonderful atmosphere of the fine people there, the warm cheery fireplace, the candlelight, and the singing of Abe Kanegson and the group. These nights will live long in the memories of all present.
The Arrowhead Lodge advertisement, in the Brooklyn Eagle, December 5, 1954, said Kanegson was the program director.

Arrowhead Lodge also advertised in the New York Post, February 15, 1955.

Below is the text of an advertisement published on page 15 of The Country Dancer, Spring 1955. 
Pinewoods Camps – County Dance Society – Boston Center Camp, Long Pond Buzzards Bay, Mass. Last weekend in June. Director: Louise Chapin with Bob Hinder, Abe Kanegson and other expert Teachers and Callers. Flyer from the Society’s office at 14 Asburton Place, Boston, Mass.
The upcoming eleventh annual New England Folk Festival, at Tufts College, was reported in the Boston Traveler (Massachusetts), March 30, 1955. The newspaper said “A highlight will be audience participation in folk singing led by Dick Best of Wayland and Abe Kanegson of New York City.”

An Arrowhead Lodge advertisement mentioning Kanegson appeared in the New York Post, May 3, 1955.

The Country Dancer, Summer 1955, printed this item on page 29, “Folk Dance Camp, Peterboro, N.H. August 15 to 27. Ralph Page, Michael and Mary Ann Herman, Don Armstrong, Abe Kanegson. Write Ralph Page or the Hermans.”

The Autumn 1955 issue of The Country Dancer had a listing for Christmas dance vacations on the back cover. 

Keen, N.H.
Third Year End Camp, directed by Ralph Page, assisted by Paul and Gretel Dunsing and Abe Kanegson. For details wrote to Mrs. Ada Page, 182 Pearl Street, Keene, N.H. Dates are December 29 to January 2.
January 1956 saw the opening of the Village Square Dance School whose director was Kanegson. Advertisements appeared in the Village Voice.

A snapshot profile of Kanegson appeared in the January 25 Voice.

The announcement of Kanegson’s upcoming visit was published in the Daily Tar Heel (Chapel Hill, North Carolina), February 26, 1956. 
Abe Kanegson, folk singer from New York City, will present a program of folk music here today. The program will be made up of European, American, Israeli, Yiddish and American folk music. It will be given at 8 p.m. in Graham Memorial. Kanegson has been the folk-song specialist at folk dance camps in Maine, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, West Virginia and South Dakota. He directed the first Johnny Appleseed folk festival in Mansfield, Ohio. His folk music has been featured at festivals in Portland, Fitchburg and Miami. His songs are heard over radio station WNYC in New York City. In traveling all over the United States and performing at folk festivals, he says, he has picked up many songs and added them to his repertoire. Kanegson’s program will be co-sponsored by Graham Memorial and the Hillel Purim Festival. The Purim Festival commemorates the deliverance of the Jews from the machinations of Hainan. It is actually of Babylonian or Persian origin.
Two days later the Daily Tar Heel wrote what happened. 
Kanegson Led Listeners To Foreign Lands
Sunday night saw Graham Memorial Main Lounge filled to a capacity crowd. The event was the Purim Festival, jointly sponsored by GM the Hillel Purim, Festival. The attraction was folk singer Abe Kanegson of New York, who sang a varied selection of folk songs from all over the world, with the emphasis on Yiddish and American folk songs. Kanegson, who was head of (See Kanegson, page 4.) 
Kanegson— (Continued from Page 1

the first Johnny Appleseed folk festival in Mansfield, Ohio, has also been the folk-song specialist at folk dance camps throughout New England and in Wisconsin, West Virginia, South Dakota and Miami, Fla.


Kanegson gave an informal touch to his repertoire of nearly 30 songs and ballads. This effect was heightened by his quiet, soft manner. Throughout the program, he managed to achieve a touch of humor which was well received by the large audience, who participated in several songs. He started his program with a song of love in Hebrew. A very beautiful and haunting song, it was well appreciated by the audience. The next song, which he described as “a song for penny-less travelers,” was an old United States song, “The Big Rock Candy Mountain.” Kanegson continued in much the same manner, singing similar songs from throughout the world. Among his songs were some from the United States, Mexico, South Africa, France, Canada and England as well as Yiddish and Israeli songs. He ended his program with the lively old folk song about a fox who went out on a chilly night and got himself a goose. After this spirited rendition, Kanegson held an informal meeting in one corner of the lounge, leading a group of interested people in more songs.

The upcoming folk dance convention in Florida was reported in Bow and Swing, March 1956, and said, “Everyone who was at Miami last year will want to hear Abe Kanegson again. He is the guy with the guitar, the songs, and the smooth calling style that stopped the show.” 
Bow and Swing, March 1956, highlighted Kanegson’s scheduled appearance at the Florida convention, “Everyone who was at Miami last year will want to hear Abe Kanegson again. He is the guy with the guitar, the songs, and the smooth calling style that stopped the show.”

Page fifteen of The Country Dancer, Spring 1956, carried this advertisement. 
New Hampshire Folk Dance Camp (Camp Merriewoode, 25 miles north of Keene, N.H.) September 5–10. Abe Kanegson, Ralph Page, Don Armstrong, Jeannie Carmichael and other experts. Details from Ada Page, Registrar, 182 Pearl St., Keene, N.H.
Kanegson’s Village Square Dance School was mentioned in American Squares, April 1956.

An advertisement published in The New England Caller, January 1957.

Kanegson’s folk dancing class was part of the Princeton Adult School as advertised in Town Topics, January 6–12, 1957.

Advertisement in The New England Caller, March 1957.

Advertisement in The New England Caller, April 1957.

Advertisement in American Squares, May 1957.

Advertisement in The New England Caller, May 1957.

Advertisement in The New England Caller, July 1957.

Advertisements in The New England Caller, August 1957.

The New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, at, said Kanegson and Elizabeth Celbman obtained their license in 1958 at the Manhattan bureau.

Kanegson’s scheduled participation, in August, at the annual Israel Night was reported in the Putnam Country Courier (Carmel, New York), July 31, 1958.

Abe Kanegson, renowned folk balladier and caller, will be the featured star. A most enjoyable evening is in store for everyone. The donation is S1.50, coffee included. The proceeds of this evening will be given to the Child Rescue fund of Pioneer women.
Mr. Kanegson will entertain with a variety of songs from many lands and will call for both square and folk dancing.
The Springfield Union (Massachusetts), July 23, 1959, said Kanegson would teach in Lenox, “Abe Kanegson, former director of the Village Square Dance School in Greenwich Village, New York City, will be appearing at Festival House, Lenox, every Saturday and Sunday night at 10:30 to teach folk dancing and sing songs of many lands. Kanegson, who sings in a half dozen languages, had made numerous appearances on radio and TV.”

Arrowhead Lodge advertisements, in the August 1959 issues of the New York Post, included Kanegson.

August 27, 1959

The 1960s

Alter Ego #102, June 2011, published Kanegson’s hand-written letter, dated August 10, 1964, with the address, Box 241, Mountaindale, New York. In Alter Ego #115, March 2015, Gilbert said he received a letter from Kanegson’s niece, Ruth Kanegson Levine, who wrote that her grandparents had a bungalow in Mountaindale.

Kanegson’s mother passed away March 30, 1965 according to the New York, New York, Death Index at The Florida Death Index said Kanegson’s father’s passing was September 20, 1978.

Kanegson passed away in May 1965. The New York, New York, Death Index, at, recorded the death of “Abrah Kanegson” on May 20, 1965 in Brooklyn.

In 1969 Homesteadfast Productions (Waldoboro, Maine) released a record album in remembrance of Abe Kanegson. The liner notes said, in part,

Abe Kanegson was born in Eastern Europe of Russian—Jewish parents and immigrated with them to America as a small child in the early 20’s. He grew up in the Lower East Side of Manhattan and in the Bronx during the midst of the depression. He held many jobs during his life—on farms and in factories, for trucking firms and design studios; he was even a cartoonist for a time. At other times, he had no job at all; so he studied music and painting, he wrote and roamed the countryside. Gradually he developed a career as a folksinger, folk-dance camp teacher, and square dance caller. He always returned, eventually, to New York City. He died there of leukemia in 1965, leaving a wife, two sons, and countless friends scattered all over the nation….

Further Reading
#101, May 2011, The Mystery of the Missing Letterer! (2-page preview)
#102, June 2011, The Mystery of the Missing Letterer!, Part 2 (2-page preview)
#103, July 2011, The Mystery of the Missing Letterer!, Part 3 (2-page preview)
#105, October 2011, The Mystery of the Missing Letterer!, Part 4 (2-page preview)
#106, December 2011, The Mystery of the Missing Letterer!, Part 5 (2-page preview)
#107, February 2012, The Mystery of the Missing Letterer!, Part 6 (2-page preview)
#115, March 2015, Comic Crypt Updates!: Abe Kanegson (1-page preview)
More Heroes of the Comics: Portraits of the Legends of Comic Books
The Secret Files of Dr. Drew

* Will Eisner Studio Letterers
The Spirit was published from June 2, 1940 to October 5, 1952.
Will Eisner, 1940–1942
Martin DeMuth, December 1942–1944
Sam Rosen, c1946
Abe Kanegson, 1947–1950
Wally Wood, 1948–1949
Ben Oda, 1948–1951
Sam Schwartz, 1945?
Zoltan Szenics

Related Posts

(Next post on Monday: 1929 Tyee Yearbook)


  1. What a dude. Thank you for showing us this fascinating man.

  2. The record album was based mainly on tapes recorded by my father,who also was a square dance caller acquainted with Ralph Page among other things...I was too young to remember Abe Kanegson but my father recalled his talents as singer and caller with admiration.

  3. Thanks for the information, Louis.