For more than 35 years, Bill Rechin worked on the nationally syndicated strip “Crock.” (Bill Rechin/King Features)

(Bill Rechin/King Features)

People may inherit artistic talent, but sometimes the greatest gift a parent can pass along is the room to let their children discover their own best abilities.

Bill Rechin, the nationally syndicated cartoonist who drew ”Crock” and ”Out of Bounds,” certainly gave his son Kevin the space to find his own way.

“As a kid, I was in awe of his ability,” says Kevin Rechin, an artist based in Falls Church, Va. ”It was magical to watch. So I strove to have that ability.

“As I grew up,” Rechin tells Comic Riffs, it was “a search to find my own voice. My dad told me that he never wanted to direct me too much when I was developing and learning just for that reason.

“He wanted my style and voice to evolve naturally.”

Having a father-son relationship as artists can be “complex,” says Kevin Rechin, but he emphasizes: “We both had mutual admiration for each other. ... I never wanted to feel we were competing.”

As Bill Rechin, Brant Parker and Don Wilder developed their “Beau Geste”-spoofing Foreign Legion strip “Crock” in the mid-’70s, Kevin as a boy got to admire his father’s talents — which he now especially appreciates with his own finely developed artistic eye.

“As a cartoonist, I think he was a master of expression and timing,” says Kevin, whose father won a National Cartoonists Society award for panel cartooning in the early ’90s, for “Out of Bounds.” “His characters were all an extension of his own personality.

“One thing I think that may get missed by the layman’s eye is that he was an amazing designer. He knew how to compose a frame.”

Kevin Rechin will now apply his own compositional gifts to “Crock.” He and brother-in-law Bob Morgan will continue the strip, which King Features says has about 200 newspaper clients.

Bill Rechin died of esophageal cancer Saturday at his Spotsylvania County home. He was 80.

A Mass of celebration is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. today at St. Matthew Catholic Church, followed by the burial. The online guest book is at Covenant Funeral Service.

Kevin Rechin says he will always recall his father’s gifts of artistic sleight-of-hand.

“I remember I did a paper for school on Abraham Lincoln when I was about 9,” Rechin says. “I asked him to help me with the cover. He began to draw. Eyes, nose and soon an amazing character of Lincoln emerged on the page. It was magical. ...

“He will always be my hero.”