264. Now Available: OF PIPES & MEN by Gosser & Irwin

It was close, but we met Larry’s 2nd debut deadline on Thursday, December 23rd. Of Pipes & Men was an idea for a book Larry had a little over a year ago, and as his work is found throughout The Peterson Pipe and is also found in The Pipes of Basil Rathbone’s Sherlock Holmes, I immediately agreed. How hard could it be? He was going to do all the heavy lifting—twenty-four illustrations of famous pipe smokers. He even volunteered to let me help with the list of whom to include. All I had to do was write some little biographical sketches. *Ahem.* I won’t tell you how long my part took.

Larry did this marvelous piece of Holmes for the title page of the Rathbone book

Larry quite reasonably thought we could have this book out last March, but by May (in his genial and generous fashion) he realized that it was just going be done whenever I could get my end of it written. I’d like to claim that the blog and other writing projects was taking all my time, but that isn’t quite the truth. What I thought would be long paragraphs turned into pipe-centric biographies and sometimes I’d find a book or documentary or article I wanted to read and find I’d missed another self-imposed deadline.  But the writing was good for me and somehow a number of famous Peterson smokers made it into the book (and the John Bull 999 even made it to the cover). I won’t mention how many Pete-smoking folks there are. Let’s just say it was a slightly disproportionate number.

The Thinking Man

When I finally, finally thought I was done, my long-time graphic designer and techie came on board—Mel-Bud—she quickly delivered the goods, but not before sending me back a few times for more editing. But she eventually brought the whole thing together with terrific panache, making sure the layout and design not only look great but the paper and binding complemented the whole project. Larry and I both owe her a huge debt of gratitude.

We’d also be very remiss if we didn’t thank our friends at Smokingpipes.com for picking up our book as an exclusive, with their customary enthusiasm and geniality. (One YouTuber delighted in the archival comic-book style sleeve SPC placed each book in.  Very cool.)

While he prefers remaining a bit of a mystery man, I’ve asked Larry if he might tell readers a bit about himself, his work and his long-standing interest in Peterson pipes. He agreed, although I warn you that you may never think about opening a can of spinach in the same way again!

 Larry Gosser with two of his pipe-smoking heroes: Holmes and Cagney

Larry: My first introduction to the pipe was smelling the aroma coming from my Dad’s pipe, which I remember liking.  But as a kid, more often than not I’d be laying in the floor in front of the TV enjoying another pipe puffer: Popeye. I used to whip out numerous drawings of Popeye. I’ll credit that odd-shaped ol’ sailor for getting me started on a drawing path that’s never ended. It didn’t bother me that the 1930s theatrical cartoons I was watching were in black and white, because our TV was in black and white! My window to the world was black and white, but I would still get creative with Popeye and Quick Draw McGraw, putting them in scenes I hadn’t seen.  I never realized growing up that my parents were the working poor. My Dad kept me supplied  in drawing paper so as far as I was concerned, everything was good.

Service memorabilia of C. A. Gosser, Larry’s Dad

That was the 50s . Growing up, I guess I wanted to be a comic book artist as my comics collection kept growing.  I never  strayed far from my favorite characters.  When I once drew a picture of Popeye peeing in a spinach can for a friend in school, I had no idea the door I had opened.  Other kids would come up to me in front of teacher and say, “Hey man, can you draw me a picture of Popeye peeing in a spinach can?” I remember thinking, “Is this what I’m known for now?”

As I got older I transitioned into the real world of work , marriage , kids and more work.  I did enjoy teaching a Sunday School class of middle school  kids for a number of years.  When I had settled into the job I thought I’d have for a while in the 1990s, I circled back to Popeye with an idea for an art print series, and “POPEYE’s Pool Hall” became a licensed product that led to three more in the series—this was great fun!

Along the way I got to use my talents and artwork for some more meaningful things. I developed a logo and did a lot of promotional related things for the Indianapolis COLTS and their partnership with Indiana Child Services for the Books For Youth Program for foster children.

Jeremy Brett smoking his Peterson 124 Churchwarden

There was always some freelance artwork going on in my life and in my free time began watching all the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes movies I could get from the library. At first it was the character I was I interested in: he just looked really cool with the pipe. When I did a couple of drawings of Holmes to sell I began to get a lot of positive reactions, so I delved into the character, read the stories, re-watched the movies and paid closer attention to the pipes, because I wanted to get the details right in my drawings.

This was my first original from Larry, which lit the flame for

Somewhere along the way I discovered Kapp & Peterson had a Sherlock Holmes series and my interest in pipes grew. While not a smoker myself,  I’m a big fan of the pipe shapes and the craftsmanship K&P put into these marvels. I often have a pipe as model in front of me when I do one of my renderings. Collectors began  grabbing up my drawings faster than I could produce them and eventually I began hearing from  authors who wanted to use some of my Sherlock drawings in their books, which was fantastic. On a whim I sent a SH Baskerville piece to Peterson. They wanted me to do the rest of the pipes for the Original series and I was all in. I guess this was Pipe heaven for me.

A great relationship came about when Mark bought a couple of my pieces online and reached out to me. He used quite a bit of my artwork in the Peterson book that he co-authored with Gary Malmberg. Later on, one thing led to another and when I had an idea for Of Pipes & Men he came on board wholeheartedly, and without our previous connection the book—it goes without saying—would never have happened.

A recent visit to the hospital for some routine tests took me back to my roots.  A friend I’ve known since grade school who works in Imaging saw me and asked, “Hey man, can you draw me a picture of Popeye peeing in a spinach can?” I said, “What are you, like eleven years old again?” He said, “So will you do it?”  I replied,  “Of course I’ll do it.” When I left the picture was hanging in their lab office. What an honor.  I guess I’ve come full circle.

Jorgen, didn’t you send me this screenshot when the book came out?

I have three Gosser Peterson originals framed and mounted
and I know he’s open to Pete-specific commissions (just ask Mike D).
You can contact Larry at ldgosser@comcast.net
or through Facebook at Drawing Room G.
He receives texts at 765 465 9241.


All illustrations Copyright 2022
by Larry Gosser



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