Born and raised in Simcoe, Ontario, Canada, he was fascinated by comic books and showed an early aptitude for drawing fantastical flying machines, blimps, bulbous-nosed muscle cars and futuristic dioramas.
In his memoir, Thin Ice (1997), McCall admitted that he was never good at physical activity as a boy, but could count on his mother to encourage his creativity. Bruce's father T.C. was imperious and unemotional, and left his alcoholic wife Peg without the attention she needed. Peg and the children tried to establish an attachment to him, but his stormy moods frequently pushed them aside.
Without any serious technical training, McCall began his illustration career drawing cars for Ford Motor Company in Toronto in the 1950s. After several decades in advertising, he sought opportunities elsewhere in the publishing industry.
He went to New York City, and was hired by National Lampoon and made a name for himself as an artist with intelligent and whimsical humor. McCall also spent a brief period writing sketches for Saturday Night Live. A large proportion of McCall's work has a retrofuturistic theme.
McCall has illustrated magazine covers, regularly appearing in The New Yorker and other magazines. He has been a contributor to the magazine since 1979.
McCall is also a humourist, and has written essays on some of the social ironies of modern life. He writes frequently for the "Shouts & Murmurs" section of The New Yorker.
McCall lives on the Upper West Side of New York near Central Park.
- (1982) Zany Afternoons ISBN 0-394-42683-5
- (1993) Sit!: The Dog Portraits of Thierry Poncelet, text by Bruce McCall ISBN 1-56305-380-2
- (1997) Thin Ice (memoir) ISBN 0-679-76959-5
- (1998) Viagra Nation: The Definitive Guide to Life in the New Sexual Utopia ISBN 0-06-019311-5
- (2001) Sit!: Ancestral Dog Portraits ISBN 0-7611-2544-2
- (2001) The Last Dream-o-Rama ISBN 0-609-60801-0
- (2003) All Meat Looks Like South America ISBN 0-609-60802-9
- (2008) Marveltown ISBN 0-374-39925-5
- (2009) 50 Things to Do with a Book ISBN 0-06-170366-4
- (2013) This Land Was Made for You and Me (But Mostly Me): Billionaires in the Wild ISBN 0-399-16368-9
- McCall, Bruce (12 January 2009). "Shouts & Murmurs: Looking Forward to Your Check". The New Yorker. 84 (44): 29. Retrieved 27 March 2009.
- McCall, Bruce. "Transcript of "What is retro-futurism?"". Retrieved 2017-01-24.
- Farrar, Straus and Giroux
- The New Yorker Q&A
- Bruce McCall in The Nation
- New York Times profile
- Cover at National Lampoon
- Robert Fulford on Bruce McCall
- Humor article by McCall titled Getting Started
- Art Directors Club biography, portrait and images of work
- TED Talks: Bruce McCall's faux nostalgia at TED in 2008