Ink-Slinger Profiles: John Pierotti

John E. Pierotti was born in New York, New York, on July 26, 1911, according to Who Was Who in America with World Notables (1989). In the 1915 New York State Census, he was the oldest of two children born to Roger and Emily. His father was a fashion designer. The family lived in Brooklyn at 8768 20th Avenue.

The family of six (plus two daughters) remained in Brooklyn, at 145 Bay 35th Street, according to the 1920 census. Who Was Who said Pierotti’s newspaper career began in 1927 as a copy boy at the New York Telegram; he went on to become a cartoonist covering sports, news, portraits, etc.

The 1930 census recorded his family in the Brooklyn neighborhood at 57 Bay 31st Street. Pierotti’s father was an art director in magazine advertising; his mother had passed away earlier. He was a newspaper cartoonist. Having ended his grade school education, he attended the Mechanics Art Institute, New York, 1930; Cooper Union, 1931, and the Art Students League, New York, from 1932 to 1933, according to Who Was Who. The book also said he was a sports cartoonist for the Washington Post in 1933; he returned to New York and did animation for Popeye and Betty Boop cartoons in 1936. The New York Times, May 7, 1987, said he joined United Features Syndicate, in 1937, where he did “lettering and backgrounds for Ernie Bushmiller’s ‘Fritzi Ritz,’ which later became ‘Nancy.’ ” Who Was Who said he drew a cartoon for the Old Gold cigarette contest in 1937. (Life magazine, September 6, 1937, pictured two of the cartoonists, Martin Nadle and Jesse Jacobs.) King Features Syndicate published, somewhere in 1938, his strip Hippo and Hookie. He married Helen Mastrangelo, June 5, 1938. 

After his marriage he did not venture far from his Brooklyn neighborhood, residing at 8696 Bay 26th Street, according to the 1940 census. He drew a comic book story about Mundoo, a wolf-dog hybrid, which was published in Green Giant Comics #1, 1940. He had just two years of high school and was an artist in the publishing industry. In the early 1940s, the Times said he drew sports and political cartoons for the two New York newspapers, PM and The Star. After their demise in 1943, he was an editor and cartoonist at United Features Syndicate, where he produced the sports panel Pier-Oddities. Editor & Publisher, August 26, 1950, said he switched to the McClure Syndicate in 1949.

Next he self-syndicated the strip, Nutcracker U. E&P quoted him: “…Explaining that his feature has been out for a month, beating the gun on the present rush to collegiate humor, Mr. Pierotti confided to this department: ‘I did it all myself. I am syndicating it, too. That means footing all the bills, and when a cartoonist does that, he either is crazier than most cartoonists, or he believes implicitly in his product. The latter part of that sentence applies to me….’ ” It ended in October 1951. In Today’s Cartoon (1962) he said: “…I syndicated my own strip called ‘Nutcracker U’, until I ran out of money and nerve. Worked practically twenty-four hours a day for a year and a half.” The Times said “he was a charter member of the National Cartoonists Society and was its president for four years and secretary for nine years.” (Below, his NCS bio)

According to Who Was Who, he produced art for the NEA Syndicate, Sporting News (St. Louis), General Foods. He contributed cartoons to many magazines including the Saturday Evening Post, Colliers, Esquire, New Yorker, Saturday Review of Literature and others. Who Was Who said he was awarded the Society of the Silurians Award for best editorial cartoon in 1965, 1967, 1968, 1971 and 1972; and the Page One award for best sports cartoon in 1965, and best editorial cartoon in 1967, 1968, 1970 through 1973 and 1975. He won the NCS award as Best Editorial Cartoonist in 1975. His memberships included the Baseball Writers Association, Banshees Artists and Writers Association, Newspaper Reporters Association, New York, and the U.S. Harness Writers Association.

The entry in Who’s Who in Commercial Art and Photography (1960) listed his address as “100 Bay 26 Street, Brooklyn, N.Y.” At some point he moved to Brigantine, New Jersey. Pierotti passed away May 6, 1987. The Times published news of his death the following day and said he died at Delaware County Memorial Hospital in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania. He lived in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

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