Mr. Natural’s Birth Father
Am I right in assuming that most of you have never heard of the Swiss illustrator Albert Hurter (1883–1942)? I didn’t know anything about him until Mirko Ilic gave me a 1948 book entitled He Drew As He Pleased: A Sketchbook By Albert Hurter (Simon & Schuster). In 2012, J.J. Sedelmaier, cartoon/animation scholar extraordinaire, published this post, illustrated by some of the same pages as below, in addition to the cover, introductory essay and more.
I admit I was late to the party on this one, but happy to have finally arrived. This book is a revelation, for Hurter, who worked at the Walt Disney studio, was the man behind the gestures, the inspiration behind the characters and, in hindsight, the godfather of some underground comics artists, including R. Crumb (see the Mr. Natural character below).
Hurter was referred to as “anti-social and withdrawn” but, oh, how he could draw! So fluid, expressive and hilarious. Sedelmaier notes that his backstage function at the Disney Studio “was to create drawings that would inspire the artists, animators and story people.” Hurter created characters for some of the most famous Disney films, including Peter Pan and Lady and the Tramp—and he also had a hand in Snow White and developed the Seven Dwarfs. His pencil work is remarkably imaginative and skillfully drawn, suggesting a combination of the surreal satirists Albert Robida, Heinrich Kley, Alfred Kubin and Boris Artzybasheff, with light and dark sides all his own. This book of “700 sketches,” which was published posthumously, still has the power to inspire. Take a look …
About Steven Heller Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.View all posts by Steven Heller →