William Steig

New Yorker illustrator, children's books

William Steig, New Yorker mag illustrator and author of children’s books including “Shrek!,” which was adapted into the acclaimed DreamWorks film, died Friday Oct. 3 of natural causes at his Boston home. He was 95.

His 1990 book about a green monster became the hit film “Shrek” that in 2002 won the first Oscar for best animated feature.

New York native began drawing cartoons for his high school newspaper and attended the National Academy of Design. In the ’30s he became fascinated with Freud and psychoanalysis; his 1942 book “The Lonely Ones” was hailed for its symbolic drawings of human neuroses.

He sold his first cartoon to New Yorker editor Harold Ross in 1930 and was hired as a staff cartoonist. Over the next seven decades, he produced more than 1,600 drawings and 117 covers for the magazine.

Steig began writing children’s books when he was 60, eventually creating more than 30 of them. His third, “Sylvester and the Magic Pebble,” received the Caldecott Medal in 1970. Other notable ones include “Roland, the Minstrel Pig,” “Amos and Boris,” “The Amazing Bone” and “Caleb and Kate.”

His cartoon style evolved from the straightforward worldly children he called “Small Fry” in the 1930s to the expressionist drawings of his later years that illuminated a word or phrase.

Married four times, he is survived by wife Jeanne, two daughters and a son.

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