Bill Woodman, seen drawing in his Portland home in 2016. Credit: Courtesy of Mike Lynch

William “Bill” Woodman, a Bangor native and an acclaimed cartoonist for The New Yorker, Playboy and other national publications, died Feb. 12 at age 85 at his home in Portland, according to an obituary published recently in the Bangor Daily News.

Between 1975 and 2003, 145 of Woodman’s cartoons appeared in The New Yorker. Hundreds more of his cartoons appeared in the pages of Playboy, National Lampoon, The New York Times, Esquire, Gourmet, Barrons, American Bystander, Audubon, Down East and others. His cartoons have been featured in several of The New Yorker’s cartoon collections, and in 1980 he published his own collection, “Fish and Moose News.”

Woodman was born in 1936 in Bangor, where he fell in love with art, both drawing and painting, according to an interview with fellow cartoonist Michael Maslin. He particularly loved the comic strips printed in the Bangor Daily News, and the paintings by illustrator Frederick Remington that hung at the Bangor Public Library.  

When Woodman was 18, he joined the Navy, serving on the USS Timmerman and in Germany. After his discharge in 1957, he bought a bus ticket to New York City, where he lived for the next 43 years, according to a biography from the Gallery at Somes Sound in Somesville.

Though it took a few years for his career to warm up, by the mid-1970s, he was an in-demand cartoonist, known for his breezy, off-the-cuff style, with a casual look that belied a great deal of skill and practice, according to fellow cartoonist Mike Lynch. His sense of humor was shaped by both his childhood in Maine, and his decades in New York City, according to his obituary.

Woodman also illustrated two children’s books, and created short animations for television shows, including for the PBS series “The Electric Company.”

Woodman retired from daily cartooning in 2000 and moved to Portland, where he spent the rest of his life, publishing cartoons occasionally but mostly focusing on plein air, or outdoor, painting, with his work exhibited in galleries up and down the East Coast.

Woodman is survived by his children, Jowill and Anne, a granddaughter, and many friends and colleagues, according to his obituary. A selection of his cartoons, paintings and portraits can be viewed on his website, billwoodmanart.com.

Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.