Jim Unger, creator of 'Herman' comic strip, dead at 75
Jim Unger, the cartoonist behind Herman, is seen in this undated image taken from video.
Published Wednesday, May 30, 2012 9:47PM EDT
Jim Unger, the trailblazing creator of the comic strip "Herman," has died.
The 75-year-old Canadian cartoonist passed away in his sleep on Tuesday at his home in Saanich, B.C.
Unger had been feeling unwell for some time, according to friend and fellow cartoonist, Adrian Raeside.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, Raeside paid tribute to Unger and his enduring work.
"Although we no longer have Jim Unger with us, we are lucky to have his body of work that spans decades, his cartoons still as fresh and as funny as they were the day he drew them," Raeside said.
Unger's iconic status as a 20th century cartoonist was also acknowledged by friend and "Farcus" cartoon creator David Waisglass.
"We not only lost a comic genius, we lost a fine human being," Waisglass said on Tuesday.
According to Waisglass, Unger's single-panel comic brought something offbeat and new to mainstream newspapers.
"Nobody had done that before," he said.
Born in London, England in 1937, Unger immigrated to Canada in 1968, and subsequently launched his artistic career at the Mississauga Times in Mississauga, Ont.
"Herman" became a syndicated cartoon in 1974 and eventually appeared in newspapers around the world. That success helped Unger win the National Cartoonist Society's award for best syndicated panel on two occasions.
Fans were captivated by Unger's quirky drawing talents and his ability to capture the downtrodden everyman in the characters portrayed in "Herman."
From bad cooking to life in prison, Unger contemplated life and all its ups and downs in this wry comic strip.
His commentary about life was beautifully illustrated in this plucky exchange between a married couple in one of his entries.
Wife: "What would you rate me as? A 10? 9? 8? 7? 6? 5? 4, 3? (pause) Not 2!"
Husband: "Keep going."
Unger retired to the Bahamas in 1992, but five years later "Herman" was re-syndicated. At that time, Unger began releasing a mix of classic and new material for the cartoon strip.
Unger moved to Saanich a decade ago and lived with his brother, Robert, in a home close to their sister Deborah. His brother died in 2003, leaving Unger to face the years ahead with one less friend and confidante.
Unger is survived by sisters Deborah in Saanich and Shirley in Ontario, as well as brother Steve in the United Kingdom.
But the trailblazer's wry, offbeat humour lives on, according to Raeside.
"If, like me, you're feeling down about Jim Unger's passing, go pick up a Herman book," said Raeside.
"I guarantee you'll start giggling at the first cartoon. I think that's how Jim would want to be remembered."