Jim (left) and his brother Bob (right) with David Waisglass, creator of FARCUS. The brothers lived together in the Bahamas for many years writing gags, and later joined by long-time friend Waisglass.
Born in London, England, Jim Unger floated from job to job — including soldier, policeman, office clerk and repo man — before emigrating to Canada where he worked at a weekly newspaper in the Toronto suburb of Mississauga. As an amateur artist, Jim was asked to fill-in briefly for the editorial cartoonist at the paper, which earned him a few awards and recognition. Universal Press Syndicate quickly recognized his phenomenal comedic and drawing talent, and contracted Unger to produce a daily comic panel for subscribing newspapers.
Unger's groundbreaking humor and distinct illustrative style exploded onto the comic pages in 1974 to become a classic feature. He has been twice honored by the National Cartoonists Society as Best Syndicated Panel, and unquestionably inspired a generation of cartoonists that followed.
After 18 years and with more than 6,500 comics to his credit, legendary comic creator announced his “retirement” from the daily pressure of newspaper deadlines. But he never stopped writing gags up until his passing in 2012 — and HERMAN continues to appear daily in hundreds of newspapers worldwide.
Assisted by his close personal friend — syndicated cartoonist David Waisglass (creator of FARCUS) — the two comic creators established LaughingStock Licensing Inc. to restore, update, color, and digitally remaster the HERMAN archive.
"Jimmy was like a brother to me," says Waisglass who continues to keep HERMAN in the public eye and celebrate Unger's work. "He was not only a comedic genius but an incredible human being. We all miss him terribly, but his legacy remains."
Having tea with parents in Ottawa, Canada. "I think we were talking about my haircut," says Jimmy who was very close with siblings Debbie, Bobbie, Stephen, and Shirley. The entire family except Stephen emigrated from England.
Jim received thousands of letters from fans, including dozens of movie stars and celebrities. But the letter from Frank Sinatra was especially treasured and prominently framed in Jim's art studio.
Unger relocated to the Bahamas in 1982 to manage his life-long battle with depression and migraines. The media attributed his escape from Canada to high taxes resulting from his fame and fortune. But truthfully Jim never cared much for money. He was incredibly generous and gave away almost everything he had. Throughout his life, Jim only wanted to live a simple life and avoid stress. Life in Bahamas allowed him to do just that and he continued to produce 365 original daily comic gags per year.
CTV W5 goes to the home of Jim Unger in the Bahamas to meet the award-winning newspaper creator of HERMAN, who is joined by other Universal Syndicate creators Lynn Johnston (For Better Or For Worse) and Jim Davis (Garfield). View now.