About Jim Unger
Born January 21, 1937, Jim grew up in a working class neighborhood in London, England. As a boy, Jimmy made everyone laugh with his imaginative wit. He was extraordinarily brilliant — excelling at school, chess, and any task given to him. But there were few opportunities for a poor Londoner. After compulsory British military service, he sampled various jobs including a stint as London Bobby and insurance clerk but eventually moved to Canada with his parents and siblings Bob, Shirley, Debbie Parker and her husband Danny.
Jim and his family were very close. They lived within a stones-throw from one another and maintained daily contact. Even at the height of Jim’s wealth and popularity, his parents or brother lived in an attached unit. Siblings, nieces, nephews and grandchildren were best friends — sharing meals, outings, and a good laugh.
Jim was working at the Mississauga Times as a layout artist when asked to fill-in for the editorial cartoonist. This brief foray into political cartooning won two awards and was soon offered a 20-year contract by Universal Press Syndicate. Jim’s marriage abruptly ended at this time and with tears dripping down on the page, Jim managed to create some of his most brilliant comic work.
Jim was dumb-struck by all the adulation, fan mail, wealth and rock-star media attention. But it didn’t change him. When asked to attend a book signing in Chicago, Jim arrived just before the store opened to find a line up outside that extended around the block. He waited in line before realizing the line up was for him.
He was exceptionally generous with his time and money— even with strangers. Jim didn’t care about money, and it flew out of his hands. For Jim, connecting with people was what life was all about.
He was a beacon; many souls were drawn to him. When in his presence, he would focus on whom he was speaking with as if nothing else mattered. And he was always engaging, intelligent, witty and hilariously funny on just about any subject. But most of all, people felt his love and understanding.
It was sadly ironic that this great funny man suffered through most of his life with painful bouts of depression and paralyzing cluster migraines. The challenge of meeting daily comic deadlines was particularly grueling. Jim managed this by striving to keep his life simple. He avoided stress and conflict of any kind, and chose to reside in tranquil seaside environments such as in the Bahamas and later in Victoria, British Columbia.
Jim briefly retired in 1992 but returned to the comic pages in 1997 with a mix of classic and new material. Assisted by his brother, Bob, and later by his close friend David Waisglass, creator of the comic feature FARCUS®, Jim never stopped writing new comic gags.
When he died of heart failure in May 29, 2012, at the age of 75, Jim left behind a few last sketched-out gags on his bedside table.
Jim Unger was a genius — a thinker, innovator, and comedic force with a profound understanding of the human condition. He shared a laugh with the world in a collection of work that will never be forgotten.
HERMAN® by Jim Unger continues to be featured in hundreds of newspapers worldwide.