Jack Bender – RIP

Cartoonist Jack Bender has passed away.

John Henry (Jack) Bender

March 28, 1931 – January 5, 2023

Jack’s career as a cartoonist began in high school when he began contributing sports cartoons to The Waterloo (Iowa) Courier. He continued that, and added sports reporting, through his college years.

From the obituary:

After a long life filled with creativity, artist John Henry “Jack” Bender died in Tulsa on 5 January 2022 at the age of 91 from complications of dementia.

… Bender worked as art director at the Commerce Publishing Company from 1953 to 1954 and again from 1956 until 1958. He was an editor and cartoonist for the Florissant Reporter (Missouri) from 1958 until 1961. Bender returned to Waterloo, Iowa and became the editorial cartoonist, staff writer and associate editor at the Waterloo Courier in 1962 where he stayed until retiring in 1984.

Continuing from the obit:

Throughout Jack’s career he was well known for his sports cartoons (the first of which was published when he was 15) and portraits of college athletes from around the state and beyond. He wrote and illustrated sports books and from the mid 1970s until the early 1990s he contributed cartoons to University of Iowa Athletics, Baseball Digest, Baseball Weekly, Hockey Digest and Football News.

In 1984, Bender relocated to Tulsa, Oklahoma, and taught art for a time at Platt College, serving as Director of the Production Art department. While there, he launched career number three when he moved into the world of comic strips by assisting Don Martin with the strip “Nutheads” from 1989 until 1992. In 1991, Jack fulfilled his lifetime dream of doing a comic strip on his own, when he began assisting Dave Graue with the drawing of caveman strip “Alley Oop.” By the end of the year, he became the strip’s full-time artist, making him only the third artist to sign that classic strip.

Jack (and Carole) retired from Alley Oop and cartooning in 2018.

Above: from December 30, 1991 Jack’s first signed daily Alley Oop.

Below: from September 1, 2018 Jack’s last signed daily Alley Oop.

Excerpt from Jack’s entry at Prabook:

Art director, assistant editor Commerce Public Company, St. Louis, 1953-1954, 56-58. Editor Florissant Reporter, 1958-1961. Editorial cartoonist Waterloo Courier, 1962-1984, associate editor, 1975-1983.

Art. director, editor Alpha VII Corporation, Tulsa, 1984-1987. Head department production art Platt College, 1987-1992. Cartoonist Don Martin Studio, Miami, Florida, 1989-1992.

Artist Alley Oop comic strip United Feature Syndicate, New York City, 1991—2011, Universal Uclick Syndicates, Kansas City, since 2011. Sports cartoonist Basketball Weekly, Baseball Digest Magazine, University Iowa, others.

January 16 add: Family and Friends remember Jack for The Waterloo Courier.

6 thoughts on “Jack Bender – RIP

  1. I wonder if the current Alley Oop artist team of Jonathan Lemon and J. Sayers will pay tribute to Mr. Bender.

  2. Jack and Carole were frequent Guests and Supporters of the OAF Con in Oklahoma and were always delightful, friendly, engaging and warm. As a youthful protege of the legendary J. N. “Ding” Darling, Jack was rooted in traditional pen and ink cartooning, but as an older gentleman quickly adapted to computer artistry when that technology was developed. He and Carole were very proud of their Oop years always did fine if sadly underappreciated job of carrying on the tradition of Hamlin and Graue. I’m very proud to have been able to know him.

  3. I worked with Jack for the 12 years I was the front-page editor of the Waterloo (IA) Courier from 1972 to 1984. I called on him countless times to illustrate stories I was handling. He was the consummate artist. RIP, old friend.
    Dr. Marshel Rossow, Mankato, Minn.

  4. I worked at the Waterloo Courier with Jack for 18 years. In the composing room, I assembled the contents of the TV Guide insert which Jack had gathered in editorial. I had the pleasure of working directly with him for many years. I have a family portrait that Jack drew of my wife and son and myself many years ago.
    Artist, cartoonist and a gentleman.
    RIP my friend.

    Charles Onken

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