Comics and illustration historian and publisher Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr. has passed away.
“Jim was one of those rare figures in the history of comics, an amateur in the best and most noble sense of the word, a scholar with discriminating taste, a selfless researcher before the internet existed, an historian who helped create a foundation of knowledge upon which subsequent historians built. He was also a generous soul, generous in the professional sense of aiding others’ scholarly work, and generous as a friend.” – Gary Groth
Comics fandom was rocked over the weekend with news that JVJ had died.
Jim Vadeboncoeur Jr., a popular historian and passionate collector, passed away last Friday, July 7, from complications of liver cancer. Gone at 76, he leaves a legacy that helped shape comics research and fandom.
Vadeboncoeur dedicated his life and formidable curiosity to the preservation, documentation and promotion of comic art and American illustration history. Through his diligence, many overlooked artists and works found the spotlight, adding to our understanding and appreciation of the field.
Comics, illustrated magazines, novels, posters, artwork… he had it. Jim was a fan of all of them. Perhaps most important to comic readers out there, Jim was also a Collector! Jim was proud of the fact “I have never paid more than $40 for a comic book in my life.” He bought books in any condition. Over the decades (he was 73 years-old in 2020) he managed to amass a huge collection of material… you name it he had it. His comics numbered in the thousands and best of all – he believed they should be read and was willing to share them!
If you look at the credits pages of dozens of books written about comics in the last couple of decades you are likely to see Jim get a mention.
The years of collecting these items led him becoming an accomplished art spotter. One of the most respected such spotter ever! He would learn to spot artists and inkers and their subtle changes in style over their careers and the affects of different inkers on their work. He would work with other such art spotters like the late Hames Ware whom he exchanged comics and index cards trying to list the artists found inside the books in question. You can see many of his index cards at the end of books in the collection with (JVJ) in their name. Jim was also a co-editor of Jerry Bails’ Who’s Who of American Comic Books.
During Jim’s recent illness he lost control of his internet domain, but with the help of The Wayback Machine we still have access to his dozens of biographies from a wide range of illustrators.
while more on his recent troubles can be read at Jim’s Facebook page.
From Alex Grand:
Vadeboncoeur’s ceaseless efforts to shine a light on the illustrators and comics artists of an earlier era made an impact on the world of comics history that should not be forgotten.