Monday, October 26, 2020

Comics: Bob Leatherbarrow, Artist, Letterer, Art Director and Photographer

Robert Anthony “Bob” Leatherhbarrow was born on November 23, 1916, in New Bedford, Massachusetts, according to his World War II draft card.

The 1917 New Bedford and Fairhaven city directory said Leatherbarrow’s father, Robert, was a weaver who resided at 392 Bowditch.

The Leatherbarrow family’s address in the 1920 U.S. Federal Census was 4125 Acushnet Avenue in New Bedford. Leatherbarrow was the youngest of four siblings. Their parents were English emigrants; the father arrived in 1910, and mother, Mary, in 1907.

The 1923 New Bedford and Fairhaven city directory listed the Leatherbarrow address as Crescent near Acushnet Avenue.

In 1925 Leatherbarrow’s mother passed away in New Bedford according to the Massachusetts death index at

Leatherbarrow, his father and three siblings lived in New Bedford at 272 Nash Road as recorded in the 1930 census. Presumably Leatherbarrow attended the public schools. Information about his art training has not been found. The family address was the same in the 1940 census.

On May 18, 1942 Leatherbarrow married Mary Jane Abbott in Fairhaven.

Leatherbarrow signed his World War II draft card on October 16, 1940. At the time his address was 272 Nash Road. The address changed to 78 Lafayette Street on June 26, 1944, as written on the draft card. His description was five feet ten inches, 135 pounds with gray eyes and blind hair. It’s not known if he served during the war.

Leatherbarrow and his wife were listed in the 1947 and 1949 Fairhaven city directories at 51 Walnut Street.

Leatherbarrow’s father passed away March 18, 1950.

At some point Leatherbarrow moved to Connecticut.

A profile of Ray Burns, at Lambiek Comiclopedia, said

… he was hired by Alex Raymond to do the lettering of the new daily detective strip 'Rip Kirby' for King Features Syndicate. He was quickly also tasked to do some additional background art. Burns worked with Raymond until Raymond's death in 1956 with the exception of a seventeen month interlude in 1950–1951. During this period he was called back to the Navy to fight in the Korean War, while Bob Leatherbarrow took his place in Raymond's studio.
Raymond gave a Rip Kirby strip, dated August 10, 1950, to Leatherbarrow.

The Boston Globe, January 12, 1951, reported an exhibition of ship paintings and mentioned Leatherbarrow was a resident of Fairhaven.

According to the 1952 Wilton, Connecticut directory, Leatherbarrow resided on Farrier’s Lane and worked as a commercial artist in Stamford.

The next available directory, dated 1957, said he was a layout man in New York City and resided on Danbury Road.

Wilton directories from 1958 to 1961 listed Leatherbarrow’s address as Farrier’s Lane. He was an art director in New York City.

The 1963 directory listing had his address as 47 Freshwater Lane and occupation as art production in New York City.

The 1971 and 1976 Norwalk, Connecticut, directories said Leatherbarrow was a photographer at Dauntless Publications in New York City. He lived at 11 Bedford Avenue North.

Leatherbarrow passed away on July 27, 1978, in New York City. A death notice appeared in The New York Times, July 29, 1978.

Leatherbarrow—Robert A., died July 27th in New York City after a short illness. Services will be private. In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to the Childrens Aid Society, 105 E. 22 St, New York, N.Y.

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(Next post on Monday: Stone Cut Lettering Inscription at Harvard University)

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