Tony Bell

Tony Bell, born in 1950, was an artist, model builder, cartoonist, designer, sculptor, and creator of the iconic 1960s cartoon character, Wonder Wart-Hog.  As a student at the University of Texas, he and Gilbert Shelton worked together on the student humor magazine, the Texas Ranger, and shared editing duties from 1962 to 1963.  Tony was one of the first artists to fashion the armadillo as a Texas countercultural icon, in the pages of the Ranger.

Bell graduated with honors and joined the Peace Corps in 1964, but quit one year later after being stationed in Lagos, Nigeria. He moved to California in 1965, but soon returned to Austin to work on Wonder Wart-Hog cartoons with Shelton for Drag Cartoons. In 1967, two issues of Wonder Wart-Hog Quarterly were published, and the two designers used the money from the royalty sales to open Austin’s first head shop, Underground City Hall.

Bell designed and produced posters for various rock music events in Austin in the mid to late 1960s before moving back to California.  Bell returned to Austin in 1970 and married Claire Jordan. In 1981 Bell, Shelton, and Joe Brown completed a fifty-page Wonder Wart-Hog story, started 14 years earlier.

Tony Bell passed away in 1993, one month before Butch Hancock’s Lubbock or Leave It gallery held a retrospective art show of his serious works (oils, watercolors, and sculptures) as well as his cartoons, posters, models, and assorted oddities.

Carine Carmack