Last night I learned from my cousin Dolores Perri (From the Buzzarama) that my cousin Manny passed away. Manny was 73 years old and really never recovered from a terrible car accident he was in six or seven years ago out in Bell Harbor Queens.
Now my cousin Manny was an excellent artist and did most of the “Clifford the Red Dog” books for something like forty years. So chances are that when you were reading that book to your kid, my cousin Manny did the artwork for it. Yes, Manny was one of the few people around that actually made a living being an artist, yes that was his full time job, and he was very good at it.
And life is strange let me tell you, because if it wasn’t for my cousin Manny I may never have gotten into the art field at all. And it all boils down to a New Years Eve party at my grandparent’s apartment back in 1974. My cousin Manny dropped by and happened to mention to me that the guys he worked with needed help at their art studio in Manhattan. They were Peter and Nick LoBianco and their studio was on 51st street right off Second Avenue. So here I was this sixteen-year-old kid who only knew how to draw well and nothing else. But because I attended the high school of Art and Design some six blocks away they let me come in right after school to help out.
And they all went to the same high school years before me, so I guess they had a soft spot in their hearts for this sixteen-year-old kid with long brown hair and platform shoes back in 1975.
And the rest folks, well, the rest is just history.
But the bottom line is if it wasn’t for my cousin Manny I may have ended up driving the F-train, because I had my mind set on working for the MTA. I even had the book to study for when they gave the test. No, I wasn’t the best artist in school and I guess I questioned my skills and how I would make it in the real world.
But Manny, Peter and Nick pushed me and taught me well, and like I mentioned folks the rest is just history now and I have to thank my cousin Manny for it all.
Life is indeed strange isn’t it? Rest in Peace cousin Manny, and thank you for all you did.
Here is a link to some of the books Manny illustrated. http://www.jacketflap.com/persondetail.asp?person=100839