Drawing on a sense of humor and a knack for cartooning

When Martin Filchock sold his first cartoon to Tidbits magazine for $5, he never thought he'd still be drawing cartoons 81 years later.

That first cartoon was published in 1925, when he was 13 years old. Mr. Filchock estimates he's produced some 50,000 comics since. His work has been featured in more than a hundred publications, including Reader's Digest, The Saturday Evening Post, and this newspaper.

Filchock is considered one of the oldest active freelance cartoonists in the United States.

He was born in Grindstone, Pa., in 1912. He quit school as a youth to work at various jobs: truck driver, fisherman, semipro baseball pitcher. But Filchock had a knack for drawing. So he drew in his spare time, selling cartoons to earn extra income.

By the mid-1930s, his cartoons were regularly featured in "The Funny Pages," a popular comic book. His material covered many genres – from humor to the superheroics of "Mighty Man" and "Fire-Man."

But Filchock is perhaps best known for his "Check ... and Double Check" puzzle in the children's magazine Highlights. It debuted in 1973, and he's been drawing it from his home in Tennessee ever since.

In the 1940s, the Monitor published what Filchock calls one of his most famous cartoons.

"It was an illustration of a young boy building a house for his dog," he says. "After that cartoon appeared ... it was reprinted all over the world."

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