On History: Sparky Moore

By | Tuesday, August 08, 2017 Leave a Comment
My brother pinged this weekend asking about the pricing of a Sparky Moore page of original art. He'd apparently stumbled across one at a yard sale or something, and wanted to see if it was worth picking up. It occurred to me that I'd never really looked at a page of Moore's art for sale and didn't know any specific guidelines for pricing, but I was pretty sure the seller's $15 asking price was good deal, even though it was apparently his later work from the Winnie the Pooh comic strip, which ran from 1978-1988.

Even though Moore garnered a little attention last year when he passed away in September, I thought I'd run through a short biography since I think he's still relatively unknown.

Born in 1925, Richard Thomas Moore grew up in Philadelphia and served in the Navy during World War II earning the nickname Sparky as a radio operator. After the war, he married a friend's sister and enrolled at the University of New Mexico. They soon moved to California and he continued studying at Art Central in Los Angeles. It was this training that helped him land a job with Western Publishing in 1951. Although often uncredited, he did work on a number of popular characters like Rin Tin Tin, Tarzan, Robin Hood (Disney's version), Zorro, The Three Stooges, and Roy Rogers.

Much of his work from the mid-1960s through the early 1980s was specifically created for non-US markets, further keeping his name in relative obscurity here in the States. He did, however, work on the Scamp newspaper strip beginning in 1973 and worked on that until he was moved over to the aforementioned Pooh strip in 1978. (In both cases, the strips were generally credited to Walt Disney himself.)

Throughout the 1960s, Moore also did a fair amount of work in animation, mostly as a layout artist. He again worked on a wide variety of popular characters including Huck Finn (some sources mistakenly state Huckleberry Hound), Space Ghost, Johnny Quest, Captain America, Spider-Man, Clutch Cargo, and Skyhawks. His daughter says that he was also one of the courtroom sketch artists at the Charles Manson trial, although I can't find any of his work from that online.

He bought a ranch in Templeton, CA in the mid-1980s where he continued to herd cattle well into his retirement from art. His wife died in 2005, and he remained close to his five children and their children, who all lived within ten miles of the ranch. Moore passed away at his home in 2016 at the age of 91.
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