B. Kliban; His Cats Adorned Shirts, Posters

From Associated Press

Bernard (Hap) Kliban, a cartoonist whose quirky depictions of chubby cats adorned T-shirts and were featured in books, has died here at 55.

Kliban, whose home was in Corte Madera north of the city, died Sunday at UC San Francisco Medical Center, according to the San Francisco coroner's office.

Cause of death was not immediately known, but the artist had undergone heart surgery July 31 at the hospital.

Kliban's cat-design T-shirts included several best sellers, such as one with a caption reading, "Sex, Mice and Rock And Roll."

Many of his cats pursued human activities. They worked at the office, skied and spent summers at the beach.

A popular poster featuring a Kliban cat read, "Cat: one hell of a nice animal, frequently mistaken for a meat loaf."

Books with his cartoons include "Cat," "Tiny Footprints" and "Playboy's Kliban."

Kliban once said that if cartoonists ruled the world, "there would be weird cartoon sculptures 500 feet high and free rubber chickens, regardless of a person's religious beliefs."

The cartoonist avoided personal publicity as his fame grew and even stopped giving out his first name, admitting to just the initial, "B."

Kliban told a reporter he was born in Connecticut on New Year's Day, which resulted in his nickname, and that he came to California in 1959.

In his pre-cat days, he said he drew pictures for ads and corporate logos, and also for the annual reports for Kaiser Aluminum.

"I was a beatnik," he said in an interview. "I wore a black turtleneck and black pants and hung around dark coffeehouses drinking poisonous coffee."

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