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Herman creator Jim Unger passes at age 75

Jim Unger's Herman

Jim Unger, creator of Herman has passed away yesterday at age 75 at his home in British Columbia. His strip Herman ran from 1974 through 1992 and served as an inspiration to Gary Larson’s The Far Side. He was twice the recipient of the National Cartoonists Society’s Best Syndicated Panel.

Dave Coverly, who has been doing his comic panel Speed Bump since 1994 says that Unger was an inspiration for him wanting to be a cartoonist.

“Well, I feel like an essential part of my childhood just left me. Jim was an idol of mine, and his Treasuries were one of the main reasons I decided to become a cartoonist – in fact, my sister and I still can, and do, quote many of the captions in those books (“Don’t play with grandpa’s greasy hair before dinner” springs to mind). And if you recall, his Treasuries also contained bits of writing. One chapter that sealed my desire to become a cartoonist described his working day: He soaked in a bathtub for hours, relaxing and thinking of ideas. What a life, I thought!

His ink lines were gorgeous, and his punchlines twisted; they combined to make panels of genius. After my own work became syndicated, I reached out to him, and he generously gave me a bit of mentoring and wise words of caution based on his own experiences. I’ve thought of those words often. Damn, he was one of the Good Ones.”

I found a tribute video on Youtube with a selection of his golf cartoons. In all, he had more than 20 comic collections in print.

My condolences go out to his family and friends.

Community Comments

#1 Sandy Debreuil
May/29/2012
@ 9:49 pm

I briefly met Jim Unger at a book signing when I was 10 or 12 years old. He was super friendly and very encouraging when I told him I wanted to be a cartoonist. He was the first ‘real’ cartoonist I ever met.
And, of course, incredibly talented…

#2 RYAN BROWN
May/29/2012
@ 11:49 pm

OH NO!!! The comic strip industry has just lost (another) true legend. Unger was without question one of the best of all time.

R.I.P.

#3 Andertoons
May/30/2012
@ 5:02 am

Jim was such a big influence on me growing up. I’m just so shocked and saddened.

#4 David Jones
May/30/2012
@ 8:20 am

Herman was one of the strips I read daily when i was younger, studying this trade. Jim was a HUGE influence on me and my comic strip. God Bless you Jim.

#5 Scott Metzger
May/30/2012
@ 8:36 am

Sad. Jim Unger was a great cartoonist. My parents were big fans and bought a couple Herman collections back in the late ’70s. It was the first single panel comic I read as a little kid.

There’s one gag he did that I still remember and cracks me up: Herman pouring a bunch of fish food into a fishbowl to the point that it’s overflowing. He’s saying, “‘Don’t overfeed the fish.’ Nag, nag, nag.”

#6 Donald Rex Jr
May/30/2012
@ 9:15 am

Unger is one of the greats, I’m sad to hear of his passing.

#7 Doug Robinson
May/30/2012
@ 1:15 pm

I was sad to hear of Jims passing,he had me laughing with each cartoon. I’m a family cartoonist ( not published) and it was Jim who made it happen for me as my grandchildren laugh at my cartoons. Jim…your the best!! R.I.P

#8 Darryl Heine
May/30/2012
@ 1:36 pm

R.I.P. Mr. Unger

#9 b.j. dewey
May/30/2012
@ 3:45 pm

Unger’s characters were simply some of the funniest ever drawn. I often laughed at the drawings before I even read the dialogue, which was every bit as good. And when I laughed, it was hard and long and there are few comics where I’ve done that. There just was no better example of the visual and verbal in perfect harmony. Thank you Jim Unger. You’ll be missed.

#10 Joe Engesser
May/30/2012
@ 4:33 pm

Never a weak gag…and the brush work phenomenal. The deadpan expression in response to the outlandish…simply masterful! Thanks for making the world a better place, Mr. Unger.

#11 Pat Sandy
May/30/2012
@ 4:39 pm

Unger was phenomenal – kind of the link between the Virgil Partch era and the Gary Larson era…

#12 Andrew Caddell
May/31/2012
@ 6:26 am

@B.J. Dewey: You said it all. :) Rest peacefully Jim.

#13 Leo G. Thomas
August/27/2012
@ 5:31 pm

I am a USAF veteran who loves comedy and who used to teach full-time. Whenever life got me down and I needed a guaranteed laugh out loud thing to do, I would just look at a Herman cartoon. I still do. Jim Unger was a genius. Heaven will never stop laughing. :)

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