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Bunny Hoest ’53: Making Us Laugh for Over 40 Years

Alumni, Arts and Media


 

Published:

April 4, 2012
Tagged: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of English, Garden City
 

Bunny Hoest ’53: Making Us Laugh for Over 40 Years

Alumni, Arts and Media


 

Member of Adelphi University’s Profiles in Success program.

Cartoonist, Co-creator of “The Lockhorns”

Why did you choose Adelphi? “My mother, Ruth Scheff, attended Adelphi in Brooklyn in the 1920s. She went to school with Ruth Harley, who went on to become dean at Adelphi’s present location in Garden City.”

Adelphi memories: “I have fond memories of the beautiful operas put on by Adelphi’s music department; they were very successful. I was in the productions Abductions from the Seraglio, La Traviata, and Il Trovatore. The students were so talented and had such gorgeous voices. I was surrounded by sensational talent.

“Advice for Adelphi students: “Go out into the world and see what’s available, what direction to take, and what lies ahead of you.”

Making Us Laugh for Over 40 Years

Although Bunny Hoest used cartoons as a device to teach irony, satire, and hyperbole to her high school students learning English as a second language, her career in cartoons really hit its stride when she became co-creator of The Lockhorns, the award-winning comic read by millions of fans each day.

It was while she was teaching that she met Bill Hoest, creator of The Lockhorns of Levittown. He was searching for someone qualified to put together a book of his cartoons for publication, and she felt confident that she was the person for the job. After working closely together to compile and publish his work, they fell in love and were married a year later. While her husband continued to do the drawings, she wrote snappy captions to accompany the art. “We could be more prolific this way,” says Ms. Hoest, who found writing to be fun and easy.

The Lockhorns comic, co-created by Bunny Hoest ’53The cartoon, created by her husband in 1968, began as The Lockhorns of Levittown until Ms. Hoest offered a wise proposition. Recognizing the potential for the cartoon to be syndicated worldwide, she suggested dropping the local reference to Levittown. Her inkling was right; the cartoon, owned by King Features, took off. “The Lockhorns is universal,” she explains. “The situations are timeless.”

“Leroy and Loretta, the stars of The Lockhorns, are negative role models. They put each other down, they are sarcastic; they do everything wrong. Humor comes out of conflict!” she says. “But they will always be together; the reader sees them bond together and really love each other when someone from the outside attacks.”

Unlike the habitual discord between Leroy and Loretta, the Hoests themselves were in perfect harmony. By the late 1970s, Ms. Hoest and her husband had six features running. “We had a lot of other ideas that didn’t fall into The Lockhorns,” says Ms. Hoest. Together she and her husband developed Bumper Snickers for the National Enquirer; Laugh Parade, featuring Howard Huge, for Parade magazine; Agatha Crumm and What a Guy!

Unfortunately, in the midst of their professional success, personal tragedy struck; Ms. Hoest’s husband was diagnosed with cancer. “When Bill got cancer, he began working like crazy,” she recalls. After hand-picking artist John Reiner to be his apprentice, “Bill trained him in the black and white, snappy, hard-edged, eye-popping style that is the hallmark of The Lockhorns,” she says.

When her beloved husband passed away in 1988, the thought of moving forward without him seemed impossible. With her typical determination, however, Ms. Hoest’s outlook soon changed. “What do I have to lose?” she recalls thinking to herself. “My kids always say that’s my mantra: give it a shot.”

As she moved forward, Ms. Hoest had Mr. Reiner take over all the drawing. “Readers couldn’t even notice the difference,” she says regarding the artistic transition. Ms. Hoest’s responsibilities also grew. Besides writing the captions, coming up with the ideas, and doing the layout for each cartoon, she ran the entire business. Good fortune once again carried over to her personal life when she met and then married Dr. Walter Carpenter in 1996.

When she turned 70, Ms. Hoest signed a five-year contract to continue The Lockhorns. Five years later, it was renewed again. “I’m going to be working until I’m 80!” she laughs. “I’m really glad I’m doing it. I couldn’t possibly have planned this. I’m amazed at my life; it just evolved, it just happened.”

Today The Lockhorns can be found in 500 papers all over the world, in 27 different languages. There are 25 books of collections published as well.

During her undergraduate studies at Adelphi, it was her love for reading that led Ms. Hoest to declare English as her major. She fondly remembers the University’s English faculty, particularly Professors Murray and Curry. “They were spectacular,” she recalls. Not only did an English major enable her to continue her passion for literature, it helped her to hone her writing skills as well. “I feel that writing is a gift which should be perfected,” she says. “English is a beautiful language. Why muck it up?”

When Bunny is not busy working away in her studio in Lloyd Neck, Long Island, she enjoys getting together with her fellow cartoonists on the last Thursday of each month as a member of the Berndt Toast Gang (the Long Island chapter of the National Cartoonist Society). She also sings in the Huntington Choral Society, enjoys playing tennis and visiting with her children. She has three children, six grandchildren, and many wonderful step-children and step-grandchildren.

 
Tagged: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of English, Garden City
 
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