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Hal Camp (American, 1912-2014)

Comic Book Art

Hamlet Gasparo “Camp” Campagna (November 4, 1912 - August 13, 2014) was an American illustrator and cartoonist who is best known for taking over the classic comic strip, Bringing Up Father from 1965 - 1980. His work is best known for his distinct and classic three and four-paneled joke style that was popular in the 1940s. His working-class view of high society has aged extremely well and shows a man whose unassuming personality hid a complex and ambiguous view of the nature of work and life. 

Little is known about the early years of the man who signed his name Hal Camp. Campagna was born in Watertown, Massachusetts at the turn of the century. He grew idolizing the fantastical images of Winsor Mckay, the iconic artist behind the Little Nemo comics. Camp bounced around different jobs (including working at the Boston American Newspaper) throughout the late 1920s and 1930s, developing a style that owed a large debt to the Art Nouveau and Art Deco designs of the time.

Campagna got his big break artistically in the 1940s when he got a job as an artist on the King Features Syndicate. King Features was a titan at the time, producing such notables as Blondie, Hagar the Horrible, and - most notably - Bringing up Father. It would be this title that propelled Camp into the big time, but not until after Campagna would be swept up into World War II. Campagna served in the coast artillery and would come back with little fanfare to write again for King Features.

The jewel of King Features empire, Bringing Up Father, was in turmoil by the 1950s. Originally written and drawn by George McManus, the series faltered following McManus’s death in 1954. King Features eventually filled the McManus shoes with Vernon Greene, the famed illustrator and comic artist of the 1940s, but after Greene’s death in 1965 they were in need of yet another replacement. Initially pursuing Hy Eisman, who was a good friend of Vernon Greene, King Features realized that they would have to tap one of their inhouse artists for the work -- which required a deft artistic hand as well as a comedic punch. Hal Campagna was the man for the job.

Campagna took over the art for Bringing up Father in 1965, pairing with famed screenwriter Bill Kavanagh to create a number of now-iconic strips. Campagna and Kavanagh left their mark on Bringing up Father, creating working-class heroes that often skewered their upper-crust counterparts. It was this work that would get Campagna entrance into the National Cartoonist Society. His run on Bringing up Father ended in 1980, but he continued to get work working for Western Publishing and Dell where he designed a number of different comics. 

In his later years, Campagna was on the faculty of the Joe Kubert School for Cartoon and Graphic Art where he taught comic strip design. He passed away on August 13, 2014, at the age of 101 in River Edge, New Jersey where he’d lived the last 65 years of his life. 

Hal Camp Frequently Asked Questions:

How much are Hal Camp Comic Strips worth?

An original Hal Camp Bringing Up Father comic strip will typically be valued in the hundreds of dollars. Heritage Auctions has sold nearly 100 Hal Camp original comics at auction with a price range from $20 to over $200.

What are the most famous strips by Hal Camp?

Without a doubt, Camp’s most famous strips are from the Bringing up Father strip (1965 - 1980) 

What is the value of Hal Camp’s comic strips? 

A mint condition Camp strip from the sixties is fairly valuable and stable in the vintage comic market. 


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