Smith Robert Gray (Graysmith)

San Francisco, United States


Cartoonist, writer

Born on September 17, 1942 in Pensacola (Florida). Since his father served in the Air Force, as a child, Robert Graysmith (as he signed his works) lived in the same place for no more than two years; he spent most of his youth in the east of the country (USA). In the period 1960-1965, Graysmith studied at the California College of Applied Arts, and spent the next year working as a messenger at the Oakland Tribune, became a cartoonist and for three years drew cartoons for editorial articles in the Stockton Record, and in September 1968 moved to the San Francisco Chronicle. In the mid-1970s. Graysmith collaborated with the magazine “Crazy Magazine” published by Marvel Comics from 1973 to 1983.

Graysmith’s works are made in a strictly modern style, but are marked by a pronounced individuality. He is one of the most unusual modern political cartoonists, his concepts are very convincing. It is often reprinted, no doubt due to, and equally due to, the popularity of cartoons, and the advertising efforts of the astute Stanley Arnold, who publishes it in the Chronicle Features. The cartoonist officially changed his name to “Robert Graysmith”. This is partly a reference to the pseudonym “Herblock” of another cartoonist, Herb Block, and partly a confirmation that the signature “cartoonist Bob Smith” is devoid of originality. Nevertheless, his special, unusual style of political cartoons in itself could eliminate any problems of recognition of the author.

Graysmith was working as a political cartoonist for the San Francisco Chronicle in 1969 when the Zodiac Killer case came to light. He tried to decipher the letters written by the killer and became obsessed with the case for the next 13 years. Graysmith has written two books about the case; his 1986 book Zodiac was the basis for the 2007 film of the same name. In the end, he gave up his career as a cartoonist to write five more books about high-profile crimes, one of which formed the basis of the film Autofocus (2002).


  • Zodiac. New York: St. Martin’s Press. 1986.
  • The Sleeping Lady: the trailside murders above the Golden Gate. New York: Onyx. 1990.
  • The Murder of Bob Crane: who killed the star of Hogan’s Heroes?. New York: Crown Publishers. 1993. Unabomber: a desire to kill. Washington, D.C.: Regnery. 1997.
  • The Bell Tower: the case of Jack the Ripper finally solved. Washington, D.C.: Regnery. 1999.
  • Ghostfleet. Washington, D.C.: Regnery. 1999.
  • Zodiac Unmasked: the identity of America’s most elusive serial killer revealed. New York: Berkley Books. 2002.
  • Amerithrax: the hunt for the anthrax killer. New York: Berkley Books. 2003.
  • The Laughing Gorilla: a true story of police corruption and murder. New York: Berkley Books. 2009.
  • The Girl in Alfred Hitchcock’s Shower. New York: Berkley Books. 2010.
  • Black Fire: the true story of the original Tom Sawyer. New York: Crown Publishers. 2012
  • Shooting Zodiac. Los Angeles: Monkey’s Paw Publisher, Inc. 2021.

Reference: BEC (the Big Encyclopedia of Caricature), 2010


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