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Kerry Waghorn


IN MEMORIUM

G. Stanleigh Arnold (1918 - 1997)

Stan Arnold, the legendary Sunday and Features Editor of The San Francisco Chronicle, likely mentored more outstanding artists, columnists and writers than anyone in the history of American journalism.

Upon his death, cross town rival, The San Francisco Examiner, described Arnold as "the gentle giant of newspapering."
His famous professional progeny include Garry Trudeau (Doonesbury), Gary Larson (The Far Side), Abigail Van Buren (Dear Abby), William Hamilton (of The New Yorker), Phil Frank (Fraley), Cathy Guisewaite (Cathy) and Kerry Waghorn (Faces in the News). He had also been instrumental in the early stages of Charles Schulz' march to immortality, as the Peanuts gang warmed their way into American culture.

"There is never a day in my life that I don't think of Stan," Kerry Waghorn remembers. "He was always immaculately attired, self-effacing, encouraging, witty and wise - the definition of a gentleman"

During Kerry's years at The Chronicle, he and Arnold became fast friends and fishing buddies. They also were part of an extraordinary car pool - for a considerable period - between downtown and the northern suburbs of Marin County. The Chronicle staffers would assemble after work at a bar across the street. Kerry and Stan Arnold shared the daily rides with Joe Rosenthal, the Pulitzer Prize winning photographer who captured what might be the most famous image in history, the American flag raising after the World War II conquest of Iwo Jima , and also frequently columnist Stan Delaplane (also a Pulitzer Prize winner) and artist William Gilkerson.

Sometimes, you just have to be lucky

His first meeting with Arnold in 1971 was an accident. Kerry had established himself with cartoons widely published in the underground press, including the Berkeley Barb, and also the mainstream Vancouver Sun. But freelance work producing posters for rock concerts had become an occasionally lucrative sideline. While visiting San Francisco with one of his associates from the rock music promotions, he decided to pop into The Chronicle unannounced, hoping to show his art portfolio to cartoonist Robert Graysmith, who later achieved fame as the author of the book and subsequent motion picture about the Zodiac murders. The receptionist advised that Mr. Graysmith was not in but, after Kerry explained who he was and what he did, she asked if he would like to meet the Features Editor? Somewhat overwhelmed by his good fortune, Kerry was escorted in to meet Stan Arnold.


Stan Arnold

Painting by William Gilkerson

Arnold was impressed. The Chronicle soon published some of his work but Kerry was shortly given an awesome challenge. Arnold offered the opportunity to become a fixture within Chronicle Features, a leader in world-wide syndication, but insisted that the relationship begin with a substantial body of work. He was sent packing back to Vancouver with an assignment: he was told to produce 100 publishable cartoons.

"I got home and I still had to make a living - so I had to do all of my usual work on top of this thrilling but terrifying opportunity," Kerry remembers. "Maybe the stress got to me, because I soon after came down with a very serious case of pneumonia." Eventually, he prevailed, and became one of Arnold's most prolific and successful contributors.

He would also soon learn that he was not the only one to be given such a nerve-wracking assignment. One day, while visiting Arnold's office, he was given a package of 30 drawings from another eager artist looking for work.  "Take these home with you and then tell me what you think," Arnold asked.

The artist was Gary Larson. "Of course, they were brilliant," Kerry remembers. "And I don't think Stan needed me to tell him so, but it certainly reinforced in my mind that I was playing in the major leagues."

The San Francisco Chronicle's tribute to G. Stanleigh Arnold after his death in 1997 had this most interesting passage:

A few years before he died, and long after he had retired from his post as the Chronicle's Sunday and features editor, Mr. Arnold sent his former Chronicle colleagues a convenient note that outlined his life so that obituary writers -- normally a harried lot -- would have the facts at hand when it came time to bury Stan Arnold on deadline.

"Having recently had intimations of mortality (what else could I have with the clear-cutting of my contemporaries going on all about me?),'' Mr. Arnold wrote, "I decided to put down on paper those things that an obit writer might wander through, picking out what he or she wants to and deep-sixing the rest. All this presupposes I'm worth an obit and that I die on a dull news day."

He included a list of "people who might be persuaded to say something nice about me if sufficiently urged."

It took no urging. Cartoonists, columnists and editors from around the country called in with reminiscences about Mr. Arnold going back more than 40 years.

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Caricatures by Kerry Waghorn
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