dictionary defines the word “muse” as “the source of an artists
inspiration,” a definition which also describes cartoonist extraordinaire Ken
Muse. Through his television work, comic strips and art classes Ken has inspired
thousands of young cartoonists to pursue a career in commercial art.
Ken Muse was born in Detroit, Michigan on April 28, 1925. He first put pencil
to paper at the tender age of five. At the age of twelve he took a mail order
correspondence course through the Landon School of Cartooning and Illustrating.
While attending Northeastern High School Ken created comic strips for the school
newspaper. Upon graduation he enrolled in Detroit’s Meinzinger School of Art.
During World War II he trained as a pilot and a medic in the Army, treating
wounded soldiers on the battlefield. Ken served in France and fought in the
Battle of the Bulge.
After the war Ken returned to Detroit, where he found work as a technical
illustrator and cartoonist at the Jam Handy Organization, at the time one of the
largest producers of industrial films in the world.
In the early 1950s Ken’s cartooning skills were used in a handful of Detroit
TV programs. Tello-Test, a WJBK quiz show hosted by Joe
Ken drawing clues to a puzzle that home viewers were invited to solve for cash
prizes. On Sketches From Life
Ken created portraits of famous Detroiters. Ken was also artist-in-residence of
WXYZ’s Warren Michael Kelly Show, a morning talk show that also
featured future Wixie's Wonderland alumni Frank Nastasi and Diane Dale.
No stranger to Detroit TV kid’s shows, Ken was a frequent guest on Barnaby
Bear, Sagebrush Shorty, Bwana Don and Wixie’s Wonderland,
where he appeared daily as Gee Whiz, the fastest artist there is.
From 1960 to 1962 Ken was the assistant art director at WJBK-TV. From 1962 to
1964 he worked in the animation department at Group Productions, where he helped
to create the classic animated Roy O'Brien Ford commercial (Stay on the right
track, to 9 Mile and Mack). From 1964 to 1970 he drew Way Out, an aptly named
comic strip consisting of bizarre “way out” gags and situations. The popular
strip was seen in over a hundred newspapers, including The Detroit News.
An accomplished author, Ken has written five books on cartooning, photography
and videography for Prentice-Hall and Simon & Shuster. His books The
Secrets of Professional Cartooning and The Total Cartoonist are
considered textbooks for anyone interested in pursuing a career in cartooning.
Ken taught commercial art and photography at Macomb County Community College
from 1968 until his retirement in 1999. Ken’s television career came full
circle in 1988, when he received a Silver Circle award from the National Academy
of Television Arts and Sciences for his pioneering work in the television
Ken Muse passed away on June 19, 2010. In
his book The Total Cartoonist Ken wrote, “I don’t remember wanting to
be anything but a cartoonist. “I’m lucky. There seems to be few people who
know what they want, and never change their minds.”
Ken has remained true to his word. For
over fifty years he had been fortunate enough to work in his chosen field, as a
See Ken's Morgus strips.