British Cartoon Archive


Born in New York on 5 February 1922 and died in 2007. Bud Handelsman's paternal grandfather was a Hungarian Jewish emigrant to the United States, and his parents were both teachers. Handelsman started drawing cartoons as a child, and by the age of ten he wanted to be a comic-strip artist. As he recalled, "I became quite an expert at drawing Popeye": "When guests came my parents would say, 'Draw Popeye.' I'd draw him and the guests would say, 'That's Popeye, all right.'"

Handelsman was educated at Bronx public schools, and from 1938 to 1942 he attended the Art Students' League in New York. During the Second World War he had a brief military career in the US Army Air Corps, but it was cut short by asthma. In 1945 Handelsman enrolled at New York University to study electrical engineering, but on leaving in 1946 he decided to become a commercial artist. He worked for several years in advertising agencies as a commercial artist and typographic designer, producing what he called "mostly junk." Meanwhile he freelanced as a cartoonist, recalling later that "I did a lot of angry things, about the KKK and Civil Rights and neo-Nazis coming to power in Germany": "The first cartoon I sold to the New Yorker showed two NATO Germans at the Arc de Triomphe, and one of them's saying 'Memories, memories...'"

In 1960 Handelsman became a full-time freelance, living in New York and contributing to newspapers and magazines such as Esquire, Playboy, and the Saturday Evening Post. In 1963 he decided to sell up and move to the United Kingdom, settling in the commuter-belt at Leatherhead, south of London. He worked from home, and noted that "I'm the only man around here that doesn't put on a bowler hat and carry an umbrella every morning." He contributed pocket cartoons to the Evening Standard, and joke cartoons to the Observer, New Statesman, Punch (including covers and the popular "Freaky Fables" series), New Yorker (from 1967), Saturday Review, Saturday Evening Post, Look, Esquire and Playboy.

Handelsman has also written scripts and humorous articles, worked in graphic design, received Playboy's award for Best Black and White Cartoon - in 1978, and created a 10-minute animated film, In the Beginning, based on the Creation and broadcast on BBC TV on Christmas Eve 1992. He returned to the USA in 1981. He signs his work "JBH" and uses a Hunt 107 nib and indian ink and Dr Martin's watercolour on Bristol plate or watercolour paper.

  • Patrick Skene Catling "Punch Artists in Profile: Handelsman", Punch, 12 January 1966, p.51.
  • Mark Bryant Dictionary of Twentieth-Century British Cartoonists and Caricaturists (Ashgate, Aldershot, 2000), p.101.



175 uncatalogued originals [PU0391 - 0564]



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