A remembrance of Ed Koren from NCS Gold Key recipient, Mort Gerberg:
Ed Koren and I began at the same time -over sixty (60!) years ago- together trying to break into the crazy career of cartooning, sharing O.K.s and nays, professional and personal.
There were many other new cartoonists around, but Ed was unique: not only because of his incomparable, squiggly pen lines but because of his special humanity, which he infused in all aspects of his life, especially in his work, leading him to become one of the greatest cartoonists known.
In 2007, I edited a cartoon collection entitled “Last Laughs;” 25 cartoonists joined me in creating cartoons about aging and the Great Beyond and responding to my questions which invited clever replies.
Ed, though, sent a photo of himself as a uniformed firefighter for his Vermont town, standing in front of a burning building. His answer to “What is the accomplishment of which you’re most
proud?” was, “A life’s worth of kids, family, friends, a satisfying body of work; and a sense of having been of service in many different ways…particularly (as a member of the fire service) helping mitigate the chance disasters in my small community.”
Answering the question asking for his words of wisdom, he wrote, “Whatever one is doing, be a world-class noticer.”
For his response to, “Imagine a scene from your funeral, and draw it,” he sketched one of his familiar hairy creatures, smiling gently, standing in a bottle of ink and raising a glass of
champagne, out of which bubble the words, “Au Revoir.”
And as a more recent personal example of a characteristic Korenism, I remember Ed wrote to me the day after we had a long phone shmooze about life and my 90th birthday card, which he’d
drawn for me, offering emotional support for my stressful move to Colorado, and hoping he could come down to New York City to “lend whatever hand you may require there.”
Ed’s special humanity is the quality in his cartoons which, fortunately for the world, will forever make us smile; even when they poke us, they gently remind us to be mindful of others, and the world. As it’s said, may his work, and our memories of Ed, continue to be alive and a blessing to us.
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