Friday, October 21, 2011

Larry’s Cartoon Vault: Virgil 'Vip' Partch

Earlier this week was the birthday of the great cartoonist Virgil Franklin Partch otherwise known as Vip.
Hanging Way Over (1955)

Virgil Partch was born October 17, 1916 in Saint Paul Island Alaska.
He began working professionally as an animator for Disney Studios in the late 1930’s.

Indications are that he was a casualty of the fallout from the Disney strike that created such a schism at Disney Studios in the early ‘40’s.
 Afterwards, Virgil started freelancing as 'Vip' to the major magazines of the time—primarily Collier’s Weekly and True.

While it wasn’t unusual for comic strip cartoonists of the day to acquire a considerable amount of notoriety usually associated to their easily identifiable strip characters (Charles Schulz and Peanuts or Al Capp ‘s Lil’ Abner ) freelance magazine cartoonists remained virtually unknown. People have always clipped cartoons from magazines and placed them on the office bulletin board or the kitchen refrigerator without concerning themselves with the creators identity.
Vip was one of the very few exceptions. 
With his first cartoons appearing in Collier’s he became a national celebrity. In 1944 Time magazine described his work as “ferocious slapstick”. He appeared on TV with Groucho Marx and made appearances on The Steve Allen Show and Art’s House  Party .
 Here’s a sampling from the Cartoon Vault of some of Vip’s early cartoon collections:

It's Hot in Here (1944)
Here We Go Again (1951)

Bottle Fatigue (1950)

Featuring drinking; Always a favorite Vip topic.

And multiple printings of Man and Beast  (1953)

My first encounter with Vip occurred as a kid when I stumbled upon the paperback copy of  Crazy Cartoons at my Aunt’s house.

Crazy Cartoons (1959)

I flipped for Vip (Ultimately my aunt had to give me the book ).

It’s hard to explain the effect those cartoons had on me at the time.

Vip had a rare quality I had not seen as a kid in the homogenized daily comic strips and other comic art of the time.

Here’s a sketch Vip did for me in 1978:

Many may remember Vip for his syndicated work on the panel Big George.
It was never his best work. His zaniness seemed confined by the standard wholesome ‘family humor’ format.

 Vip lived the last years of his life  in Laguna Beach and hung out (often partying at the Ivy House) with a group of fellow cartoonists including his life long friend Dick Shaw, the Interlandi Brothers, John Dempsey, Dick Oldden and many others.


Vip and his wife died in an auto accident on August 10, 1984.
One of the great ones.

1 comment:

  1. One of his other shticks was Volkswagens--he did at least two collections of VW cartoons that were sold/distributed by VW dealers, including the "Jokeswagen Book". (Among the ones I remember: Motorcycle cop glaring at VW driver in convertible pulled over on shoulder of road, driver expressing with obvious delight: "REALLY?? THAT fast?!?" . . . . Couple afloat in Beetle on lake with other romantic couples in rowboats in background, rowing paddles out window, and guy says to woman "Well, if you're getting damp, close the wind wing!"

    When my sister and I read the news pf Partch's passing, we had to crack, "Was he driving a VW Bug?"

    As I recall, the press obituary said that he had left enough advance work in his studio and with the syndicate to fulfill obligations and publishing for over two years. This is decidedly different from the stereotype of most cartoonists inking the proofs while the wife drove him to the office or post office, an ink bottle in one hand and the steering wheel in the other.....