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Death claims cartoonist Bill Rechin
Appreciation: "Crock" cartoonist Bill Rechin created "this whole little world" that delighted a legion of followers

 Cartoonist Bill Rechin began drawing 'Crock' in 1975. He moved to Spotsylvania County in 1989.
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Date published: 5/22/2011

By MICHAEL ZITZ

Bill Rechin had to draw. He was born to do it. That, and to make people laugh.

Luckily for readers of his syndicated comic strips "Crock," "Out of Bounds" and "Pluribus," he never tuned out the little voice in his head.

In the 1940s, when Rechin was attending St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute, a Catholic school in his native Buffalo, N.Y., some of the drawings he did in class were confiscated.

"Put some clothes on those people and you'll become famous," he was told.

He did.

Rechin died at his Spotsylvania County home yesterday of complications of esophageal cancer, surrounded by his children. He was 80.

"He was a cartoonist's cartoonist," said Mel Lazarus, creator of "Momma" and "Miss Peach."

Rechin's signature is the giant nose. His unmistakable characters usually have sloping shoulders and drooping bellies.

There is Vermin P. Crock, the vile, heartless commanding officer. And Jules Schmeese, who is forever facing a firing squad but never shot. And Capt. Preppie, who keeps a lock of his own hair and who, when lost in the desert, cries "Deodorant!" instead of "Water!" And the bootlicking, cowardly Capt. Poulet. And Maggot, the unhygienic legionnaire perpetually digging holes in the sand. And Grout the dog, who likes beer, is always getting kicked out of bars and is the only one who gets the best of Crock. And, of course, the Lost Patrol, wandering aimlessly for all eternity.

"I have fun with what I do," Rechin said in 1990 of what he called "the serious business of the funny pages."

He and his wife, Pat, had just moved to Spotsylvania County, lured there by their son-in-law, Aaron Slater of Slater Homes, who built their dream home in Bloomsbury, a secluded, heavily wooded subdivision. Fellow cartoonists including "Peanuts'" Charles Schulz attended parties there.


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