Harold Roberto “Hal” Coffman was born in Los Angeles, California on January 3, 1883, according to his World War I draft card and passenger lists at Ancestry.com. He has not been found in the 1900 U.S. Federal Census. The Associated Press obituary was published in the Dallas Morning News (Texas) on September 1, 1958 and said:
…his first cartooning job was with the San Francisco Post in 1898. He was 15, and drew for $3 a week.
He also worked on the Los Angeles Herald and Los Angeles Times while still in his teens.
In 1906, he went to the Philadelphia Inquirer. He first gained fame when the San Francisco earthquake and fire struck [April 18]. Coffman drew sketches for the Inquirer from memory of downtown San Francisco buildings. He filled in details of the ruin from the wire reports.
Before coming to the Star-Telegram, he was on the staff of Hearst’s New York Journal & American for 27 years.
While working temporarily at the Chicago Examiner, he caught the fancy of the late famed columnist, Arthur Brisbane, and Coffman became cartoonist for the full page Brisbane editorials that were featured in all Hearst Sunday papers.
Brisbane became editor of the Examiner in 1918 then in the 1920s moved to New York.
The 1920 census recorded Coffman in Brooklyn, New York at 1722 Caton Avenue. His occupation was newspaper cartoonist. Ten years later, he remained in Brooklyn but at 60 Clarkson Avenue, and continued as a newspaper cartoonist. His daughter’s occupation was recorded as artist.
In the late 30s he moved to Fort Worth, Texas and continued cartooning. The 1940 census recorded him, a newspaper cartoonist, in Fort Worth at 611 West Fourth. According to the census, he was a Brooklyn resident in 1935. The Dallas Morning News said, “For 16 years, Coffman’s cartoons were almost daily editorial page fare in the Star-Telegram. Failing health forced him to semi-retirement in 1955. His cartoons in the Star-Telegram have appeared only occasionally since then.”
He received a Freedoms Foundation award for his cartoon, “They Had Trouble, Too; Were Unafraid,” according to the Corpus Christi Times (Texas), February 22, 1955. Coffman passed away on August 31, 1958, in Fort Worth, as reported by the Dallas Morning News. He was survived by his wife, daughter and granddaughter.