Town Crier artist and co-founder takes a humorous look at 88 years of life
Since 1942, San Francisco Chronicle readers have looked to "Little Man" icon that accompanies the Datebook section reviews to help them decide which movies, theater, TV shows and recordings are worth their time. However, it's possible that only a few veteran Los Altos Town Crier readers are aware that the "Little Man" and the "Town Crier" icons were the creation of one artist, Warren Goodrich. Goodrich and David MacKenzie co-founded the Town Crier in 1947. The two shared ownership for the next five years until Goodrich sold his share back to MacKenzie and moved to New York City.
Goodrich, now 88 and living in another small town, Wellsboro, Pa., has written "An Artist's Life: You Never Know What You'll Be Remembered For," a short, very informal biography, filled with humor and pen-and-ink drawings that recall his long and varied life.
Reading "An Artist's Life" is like hearing a parent or grandparent tell familiar, often recounted stories of life and family with the humor and irony that come from the perspective of having lived for a while.
Goodrich traces his grandparents' immigration from Europe to the Midwest and his parents' and grandmother's move to Northern California. He writes briefly about his childhood, college days, three marriages, fatherhood, and various experiences in the Bay Area, New York City and small-town Pennsylvania.
Of particular interest to local readers is a vacation spent in Carmel, including time spent with a group that included John Steinbeck and his friend, Ed Ricketts, immortalized in "Cannery Row." "Of that entire group, John was the sanest of the lot ... not that the others were crazy, just different," Goodrich said.
He also recalls his life as an artist, which began as a preschooler copying hieroglyphs from an encyclopedia. In addition to his creation of the "Little Man," Goodrich also drew "Animal Crackers" for the Chronicle's feature page. The cartoon, which used animals to depict human foibles, was syndicated to 100 papers for 20 years. Goodrich was also a production illustrator at a Sunnyvale iron works factory during World War II, sold cartoons to major magazines, ran an art production business for ad agencies and oversaw publishing activities for the Girl Scouts of America. He has sold his jewelry pieces to Cartier and still does painting and silk screens.
Of his time at the Town Crier, he wrote, "My friend, David MacKenzie and I decided to start a new publication ... a tabloid shopper. In it, we made fun of almost everyone, including the merchants, who were allowed little to say about their ads or anything else. It caught on from the beginning and grew into a valuable property. After I sold my interest to Dave, he continued to develop it into a much sought-after publication. Meredith Publishing bought it and finally sold it to the Chicago Tribune. It is now back in the hands of a local man (Paul Nyberg) and is doing very well."