RIP: Jim Ivey

I got the call last night.  It wasn’t unexpected. Jim had been ill for quite some time and the night before had been admitted to the hospital.  Jim Ivey passed away last night.  He was 97 years old.

Jim was born James (but preferred the much less formal, Jim) Burnett Ivey on April 15, 1925 in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Jim attended the University of Louisville, George Washington University, the National Art School in D.C. and also took correspondence courses through the Landon School of Illustration and Cartooning.  Jim served as a US Navy submariner from 1943 to 1946.

After the war, Jim was a Reid Fellowship recipient to study political cartooning in Europe.  Jim worked in the editorial art department for the Washington Star and the St. Petersburg Times before accepting an editorial cartoonist position at the San Francisco Examiner where he remained from 1959 – 1966.  Jim then worked as a freelance artist until 1970 when he accepted a cartoonist position with the Orlando Sentinel (where he stayed until 1977).

In 1967, Jim opened The Cartoon Museum using items from his own collection.  The Cartoon Museum sold all forms of original art including political cartoons, comic book art, newspaper strips, and more.  In addition, The Cartoon Museum branched out to include collectibles of all types.  Jim also began publishing a quarterly titled cARToon.  In addition Jim continued to work as a freelance artist and artist on the syndicated Thoughts of Man comic panel!

In 1974, Jim along with Charlie Roberts, Richard Kravitz, Rob Word, and Neil Austin started the annual OrlandoCon convention which celebrated comic books and comic art.  Jim was joined by Bill Black and Mike Kott to keep OrlandoCon going as an annual event through 1996, Each year the OrlandoCon guest of honor received a gold brick called the Ignatz Award named in honor of George Herriman’s Krazy Kat. (The brick was a sign of affection!)  Each year there was also a charity auction to benefit the Milt Gross Fund of the National Cartoonists Society (Jim Ivey was a member and regional Chairman).

 In 1977, Jim went back to freelance work.  From 1978 to 1983 Jim was an adjunct professor at the University of Central Florida where he taught a course on the Art of Cartooning.

Jim was also an author.  His books include U.S. History in Cartoons The Civil War through WW II, Roy Crane’s Wash Tubbs, the First Adventure Comic Strip (co-authored with Gordon Campbell) and Cartoons I Liked.  Jim’s essays could often be found in Hogan’s Alley, the Comics Journal, World of Comic Art and other sources.  Jim was an a member of the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists and the National Cartoonists Society.  He was the National Cartoonists Society T-Square award recipient in 1979.

I met Jim in 1977.  My buddy, John Beatty and I began driving from Daytona to Jim’s Cartoon Museum each week to pick up new comics and hang out with Jim.  Before long our visits began to include marathon poker games.  Jim loved to play cards (or gamble on most anything).  Oh, the times we had.  When I moved to Orlando in 1980 to attend the University of Central Florida, my trips to The Cartoon Museum changed from weekly to almost daily visits.  Hanging out with Jim in the Cartoon Museum was a magical time.  You never knew who or what might come though the door.  I meet so many wonderful people (collectors, artists, writers and more) because of Jim.

Jim closed The Cartoon Museum in 1981.  A year or so later he opened again in a new location.  In the 1990s when  Jim was ready to semi-retire he opened a used book store.  Jim finally did retire around 20 or so years ago.  I’m proud to say that we continued to stay in touch (Jim didn’t use a computer, so it was phone or snail mail).  Twice a year, I would organize a get-together with Jim’s Cartoon Museum and OrlandoCon friends who could attend.  We’d celebrate Jim’s birthday and Christmas for Jim at a local breakfast spot.  The get-togethers would turn into three hour marathons of laughter and fond memories.  Jim enjoyed these times as much as those of us who could attend.

I’ve been in contact with the regular group to let them know of Jim’s passing.  We’re planning a celebration of Jim’s life get-together.  It will probably be  one day during the last weekend of September (that weekend was the traditional date of OrlandoCon).  If you’re interested in attending or want more details as we work things out, e-mail me.

Jim was my oldest friend.  I treasure the hours we spent hanging out together.  He was an original and will be missed but never forgotten.  My thoughts and prayers go out to Jim’s family and friends.