British Cartoon Archive


Van Howell was born on 3 August 1948 at Southampton, Long Island, New York, the son of a stockbroker. As he recalled, "I got started drawing seriously at four or five when my mom discovered that if she kept me supplied with drawing materials during church services, I wouldn't go crawling off under the pews to look up ladies' dresses."

Van Howell studied drawing, painting and sculpture at Boston University School of Fine Art from 1966 to 1968, then at the Art Students League with Jacob Lawrence, and from 1969 to 1970 at the New York Studio school with Philip Guston and Mercedes Matter. In 1969 he began teaching, and in the following year set up his own studio. Van Howell's first published works were cartoons and an occasional column for the New York Rat Subterranean News in 1969-70, and he subsequently drew cartoons and illustrations for magazines such as AdWeek, Esquire, Ladies Home Journal, and Marvel comics, as well as working in book illustration, and advertising and corporate cartooning.

In 1980 Howell began working for Newsday, providing illustrations for the editorial and comment pages, the book reviews, and Newsday Sunday Magazine. In 1983 he also began contributing to the Wall Street Journal's arts and news pages, and in 1988 began working for the New York Times as well. He also provided book review illustrations for the New York Daily News. In all he produced over 700 editorial illustrations for The Wall Street Journal and New York Newsday.

In 2000 Howell ran, unsuccessfully, as as a Green Party candidate for the New York State Legislature. He stopped working for the Wall Street Journal and New York Times in the same year, and left Newsday in 2001. Howell then moved to London, where he taught creative writing at Barnet College from 2002 to 2010. In 2002 he began drawing political cartoons for The Guardian, working for the paper until 2003. He has also contributed cartoons to Opera Now magazine and Word magazine, and performed the role of life drawing class teacher for a Whiskas cat food commercial. 

Howell signs himself "VH" or "Howl".



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