Musician, cartoonist and illustrator Gary Leib died on March 19 at the age of 65, confirmed his current label Northern Spy. As a musician, Leib was most recently a member of the ambient country group SUSS, whose last album Promise was released in December 2020. Leib is survived by his wife Judy and daughter Leila.
Leib was born in Chicago, attended the Rhode Island School of Design, and later moved to New York. In the 1980s he was a member of the country and new wave group Rubber Rodeo, which released two albums and received a Grammy nomination for their music video “Scenic Views”. Leib was also a celebrated caricaturist and illustrator, and his work has appeared frequently in the books The New Yorker, The New York Observer, Fantagraphics, and others. He founded the animation studio Twinkle and was an animator for feature films such as Happiness, American Splendor and American Ultra.
In 1993, Leib co-wrote the comic book Idiotland with Doug Allen. It ran for seven issues and received a Harvey Award for Best New Series in 1994. In 2008, he began a series for the New York Times website with short animations about the city set to jazz music. He has taught computer animation programs at the New York School of Visual Arts. From 2016 to 2017 he was an artist-in-residency at Fairmont State University.
“I’m mainly influenced by comics from the 50s to 80s (EC-Comics, MAD, Zap Comix, Raw),” Leib said in a 2015 interview with Cartoon Brew. “Trying to draw like these geniuses, inspires me every day. The best work from this period exceeded the expectations of a comic: Extreme violence, subversive humor and brutal horror were presented with beautiful, seductive works of art. “