When I heard Larry Wright had passed I was sadden by the news. It did however, take me back to the beginning of my career and the special place Larry has in my heart.

I first met Larry Wright 20 years ago on a hot sweltering June day while I was attending my first cartooning convention in Phoenix. I had just won a national award for best college editorial cartoonist that was given by the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists; Larry Wright was president of the organization that year.  The convention was held in Phoenix at a desert mountain golf resort with most of the nations best editorial cartoonists in attendance.

Larry was one of the first cartoonists I met that weekend.  He was kind and funny and gave me, “the new kid” great advice as we sat together at a small table off the main hotel lobby as he methodically flipped through my skimpy cartoon portfolio.  About half way through he stopped and pulled a cartoon from the middle of the batch while quipping “this one scares me.”

“What do you mean?” I said in a worried voice.

“It’s very good, and it scares me that I didn’t think to draw it first!” he said with a loud chuckle.

Larry was an extremely talented and prolific cartoonist who had a long and prominent career.  He spent a combined 45 years drawing editorial cartoons beginning at the Detroit Free Press and then later spending three decades at the Detroit News. He became a treasured institution in the Detroit area and throughout the State of Michigan.  In addition to editorial cartoons Larry created two successful comics strips “Wright Angles” and “Kit ‘N’ Carlyle,” which were both nationally syndicated.

In a bit of irony Larry and I would both end up joining a small syndicate upstart almost seventeen years ago called Cagle Cartoons.  I was just starting out but Larry brought name recognition and legitimacy to the new cartoon syndicate that has grown into one the largest of its kind operating today.  With out Larry, and a few others, who know if it would have succeeded?

I’ll always treasure the memories and great friendships that were cultivated at that first convention many summers ago and in particular the one with Larry Wright.  As I recall, Larry had few official duties as president of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. However, one such important duty was to sign the best college cartoonist award certificate.

So as luck would have it, I’ll be forever reminded of Larry every time I gaze upon the large gold award plaque that I was awarded that weekend as it proudly bears Larry’s trademark signature at the bottom. The award has even more meaning for me now.

You can view all of Larry Wright’s cartoons in his archive here.