The other side
Merry-Go-Round (1961)

So many people tend to “typecast” cartoonists into that category alone and never consider that they may just have other aspects of their work as well.

Since 1959 William Van Horn has done art that is only for himself, not related to commercial art in any way. These works include paintings, drawings and prints. Bill has never attempted to exhibit any of this, or sell it. In fact, only three people have ever seen any of this work (the family aside, of course). But it has always been as important to him as his commercial work.

Snail On Pedestal (2003)

This is what Van Horn calls “jumping the fence.”

On one side of the fence is the professional commercial art world, where there are parameters, specific needs, people to please and so on.

On the other side of the fence is the vast wonderland where anything goes – where Bill doesn’t have to please anyone but himself.

This has always been very private. But now, with our fansite displaying so much of what Bill has done commercially, he would really like people to see “the other side of the fence,” so to speak.

Adrift (2006)

Van Horn carefully chose 182 pieces out of a little over 800 possibilities. You may notice a large gap in the 1980s and 1990s. In these years he was so busy with comic books and children’s books that doing any art work in his spare time was pretty much out of the question. In 2000, however, he began to reduce his Disney comics output, so that he can regularly take a break for painting now.

It is not easy to classify William Van Horn’s private artwork stylistically. There are some ventures into expressionism, surrealism and other lines of style, but essentially Bill is not much interested in such technicalities. He thinks of his work as “mindscape.” His compositions are often deceptively simple, but they are transformed to a different level by an unexpected shift of perspective or a skilfully applied spot of color.

Maybe this will be known as the specific “Van Horn touch” in art books of the future. In any case, Bill might have had the same success as a professional painter as he has as a comic artist now.

 
Illustrations William Van Horn.
Picture frame designed by Joe Cilinceon. Used with kind permission from Nightingail.
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