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The Life and Times of Hal Robinson

The Master of the Line Drawing for Early Easyriders Magazine

By Ann Robinson Hal2 with illustrations by Hal Robinson
3/11/2023


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I am writing this because I want people to know about the things Harold (Hal) Robinson went through in his life; things that led up to his greatness as a Cartoonist of the late ‘60s, ‘70s and the ‘80s. Hal Robinson did not have an easy life.  However, he called his own shots and did things his way.

He needed this freedom to think and do the magnificent works he created. I loved my husband, Hal Robinson. I loved his drawings also, and I loved him because he was a great human being. He was born in 1928 and passed away in 1984. He was 54 years old when this happened as a result of a burst appendix and oat cell carcinoma of the lungs.


Hal never liked school and was never told he had any drawing talent. He would rather stay home and take a walk in the woods and observe things he found in nature.He liked reading Boys’ Life. He came from a family of 7 children and it wasn’t easy during his early years.He started working real young and helped out at a place for working girls as a teenager.They were just trying to survive like I was, he told me. He helped the ladies at the house and ran errands for them. What he got for this was a place to sleep and a roof over his head, meals, and chocolate sodas from the soda fountain across the street when he went there on  refreshment calls for the ladies. They thought he had cute freckles and liked him a lot. They treated him nice, he said. Later on in his teen years, Hal manned barges in the Bering Sea.



Hal married and had 4 children after serving in the Navy during the Korean War. His wife divorced him because he quit his job at the pulp mill where they lived in Oregon. He had worked there for a while, then had a very close call with a heavy log and decided to quit and left. Then he started doing what he was meant to do which was drawing. He was not supported in this by his family and had difficulty getting enough money to buy the tools he needed like pen, ink, and paper. He was offered a job with Buzza Cardoza Greeting Cards in California after winning a contest for creating new ideas and drawings for greeting cards. Up until then the words on greeting cards were always on the front of the card.

His family was not on board with his dream to  be a cartoonist. They wouldn’t come to California with him. He would not leave Oregon without his family. He was finally forced out when the sheriff in town kicked him out of the house without even his wallet. He was picked up for vagrancy because he had no identification.

A few years down the road Hal entered another drawing contest in the mail and won a foldable Schwinn bicycle. He never owned a Chopper or any other kind of motorcycle, but he studied the  bikes he drew and the black and white photos sent to him by Easyriders Magazine. He traced many of the bikes first from photos and took off from there.  



He put everything he had into his drawings. He wasn’t a biker but loved having fun with the biker life stye in his cartooning. He studied people by drawing them at get-togethers and parties. People loved to have illustrate their picture and have him sign it.

The things people sold at garage sales or threw out or saved in an abandoned barn in Washington State could have great things to draw and use in his cartoons. Examples would be: an old toy, a carving, old machine parts, ornate objects, old greeting cards, old photos, old family recipes, interesting old menus from a nice restaurant  with nice designs, invitations to parties, glass objects that might be turning blueish, an old cleverly designed lamp, paintings on velvet, interesting old beer cans and bottles, etc. He found it sad that items like these were left or forgotten; keepsakes of peoples’ lives.


Hal finally worked his way to California after staying with his sister in Bellingham, Washington. Bellingham is where he was born and grew up. He said that his divorce was heartbreaking but now he was free to do what he really wanted to do.  He said that his wife had really done him a favor by setting him free.
 
 

 
He did sign painting and banners. He painted items featured on grocery store windows, etc.  He worked for GTE in the ‘60s and ‘70s as an illustrator for the Yellow Pages.  

Hal was a freelance cartoonist for different publications including Easyriders (Paisano Publications). He joined them in 1971 starting with the first issue along with Bandit, who founded this web site. Hal was discovered by a man named Lou Kimzey. Lou admired Hal’s masterpiece caricature of Seal Beach.



Lou asked him to join Easyriders Magazine starting with the first issue. Hal worked from home in Long Beach where Bandit grew up, and then Seal Beach, California, and Bellingham, WA. He mailed his work to Easyriders Magazine and was always accepted without any changes and that was because his works went way beyond great. He was the Cartoon Editor for Easyriders. Then Hal had a severe automobile accident. He was in a coma for a while but finally came out of it. He lived with lots of headaches. Hal said the accident made his drawings even better and more interesting.

I met my husband Harold, or Hal Robinson, for the first time through his far out cartooning in a publication named Trash. It was on a magazine stand in Long Beach in the ‘70s.



I couldn’t believe what I saw!!! His drawings certainly stood out from all the others displayed on the newsstand. They certainly had a definite edge! The panel jokes were hilarious as were the far-out illustrations; but the thing that stood out the most to me was his superlative drawing skills. There were so many flourishes, details, wonderful cross hatching, stippling, finely drawn lines, swirls and turns, hidden pictures that blended so you didn’t always see them the first time, surprises galore. I have been looking at his work for a long  time and  just found a bird in the cheek of  the Hal’s Hog drawing which is posted on Instagram and Facebook.

halrobinsondesigns.com  and www.bikernet.com.


I met Harold in person a few years later through a good friend who knew him.  Harold knew his worth as a cartoonist and laughed when he told me that he was blackballed by the Cartoonist's League of America and considered it quite an accomplishment.  He too was an Outlaw Cartoonist of his own making with his cutting edge drawings. 

Hal was asked to teach Cartooning and Characterization at Cal State Long Beach during the ‘70s through their Free University. They ran out of money for this art effort but Hal was proud to be asked. He loved the thought of being a teacher to others who were interested in his cartooning (plenty were and still are). He was an intriguing person and knew and believed that he had to produce.




Publish or perish was his mantra. 

Now you know some more things about my husband, Hal Robinson, and some of the events that shaped him into becoming the very unique and exceptional Cartoon Artist he was. People in general loved Hal’s sensitivity, and of course his sense of humor.

Hal created a lot of great works for people to really enjoy, and they have brought much laughter into peoples’ lives. Characters such as Red Rider and Little Beaver, Miraculous Mutha, panel jokes and illustrations depicting the old school biker lifestyle, plus thousands of handmade drawings of customized Harley Choppers, which were shared with bike builders all over the world.



Masterpieces of a towns or cities (originated by Robinson): Seal Beach and Avalon.  When I first met Hal, he told me that he was going to live forever! I truly did believe he would live forever and that was 44 years ago! He certainly did know what he was talking about because what he said is happening. He knew the future of his work and he knew his worth. He wanted his work to live on and it is.

It’s everywhere and will continue to spread because his works are what people love all over the world. I was a starry eyed admirer of Hal and his talent back in the ‘70s and still am. He was my man and my husband. He called me his California Fox. I loved him then and I love him now even though he passed away in “’84.” I won’t let go and can’t let go of his memory. How can I do that when his works are everywhere? It just keeps getting better and better with time!!!  
 
Get a famous Hal sticker with each order.
Get a famous Hal sticker with each order.


 

--Ann Robinson
(Hal Robinson Archives)

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Reader Comments


I met Hal back in'66, used to stay at his place when I would go to Long Beach. Have many great memories of times we spent together. He was the greatest cartoonist back in the day. His stuff is still amazing. R.I.P my friend...Nose

Dorion Ozykowski ( Nose)
Rainy River, ON, Canada
Wednesday, April 10, 2024
Editor Response No one drew a line like Hal.
--Bandit
My most favorite cookbook & I still use it:
Cookin'
Carvin'
& Scarfin'.
by Hal Robinson.
The BBQ sauce recipe I still use...& all Hals cartoons & recipes ..Love them all!!!
I enjoyed Ann's article on HL..That was great to read about him...


Teresa Costa-Comerfird
WEST HURLEY, NY
Saturday, November 11, 2023
Editor Response Terrific. You made her day.
--Bandit
Always love reading peoples comments. Thanks Bandit, for putting them up along with the Hal's story and bringing it out some more. Makes me happy for sure!

Ann Baysinger Robinson
Long Beach, CA
Wednesday, June 28, 2023
Editor Response You deserve them...
--Bandit
Ann , Appreciate the insight on Hal and his and yours life.. Thank you for taking the time to put these words on paper, Hal was a master of cartooning and I put him on top of the list and so would many others. I could'nt wait for the newest Easyriders to come out back in the day to see what Hal would lay down with his pen and paper. It was always outrageous, cool, mind twisting and was done flawlessly.

Thank you again Ann for your story and thanks Bandit for your bikernet. Have a great day..

Michael Barnes
Big Sandy, TX
Monday, June 5, 2023
Editor Response You made Ann's day.
--Bandit
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