Category: big george

The Newark Advocate, Ohio, March 24, 1962

The Newark Advocate, Ohio, March 24, 1962

Big George! by Virgil Partch, The Newark Advocate, Ohio,…

Big George! by Virgil Partch, The Newark Advocate, Ohio, December 1, 1961

Big George! by Virgil Partch, The Newark Advocate, Ohio, October…

Big George! by Virgil Partch, The Newark Advocate, Ohio, October 26, 1960

Big George! by Virgil Partch, The Newark Advocate, Ohio, July…

Big George! by Virgil Partch, The Newark Advocate, Ohio, July 17, 1962

Big George! by Virgil Partch, The Newark Advocate, Ohio,…

Big George! by Virgil Partch, The Newark Advocate, Ohio, December 27, 1960

Could you tell me more about this “Big George” comic?

I’ll do my best!

Virgil Partch was born in 1916 in Alaska, where he lived until his family moved to Tuscon, Arizona in the 30s. In the 1910s Virgil’s mother had been a strong campaigner for suffrage and women’s rights in Pheonix, Arizona and Albuquerque, New Mexico. He went to University of Arizona and then to Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles. Partch signed his comics VIP, although his middle initial was F, because in middle school his F’s looked like I’s.

It was while in university that he met his future wife Helen, who was studying sculpture. Some of Helen’s friends knew Virgil and told her he was a funny guy. They met at a roller skating rink, where he asked her to skate with him and two months later they married. Eventually the couple had two sons and a daughter.

While studying at Chouinard he got a job at Disney which lasted for four and a half years before he was fired, possibly for participating in the animators strike of 1941 (although Partch himself said it was “Because I wasn’t doing anything. I wasn’t, except putting too big noses on little rabbits and things.”).

After that he worked for

Walter Lantz Productions animating Woody the Woodpecker cartoons and began freelancing. He sold his art to magazines like Playboy and True, and also had a few comics published in The New Yorker (although he was more of a gag writer than a cartoonist for them, apparently they didn’t like his art style – they thought his use of teeth and nostrils was gross) before getting picked up as a regular contributor to Collier’s and picked up a few jobs drawing comics to be used in advertisements for companies like Wheaties. Collier’s eventually began publishing his work in book collections – something that he continued to do until 1975 – he had about 13 collections, as well as a bar-tending book and a book of illustrated recipes and party-giving advice, under his belt when he died. During WWII, he enlisted and also drew for army newspapers. His drawings were also published in Cosmopolitan, Better Homes and Gardens and The Saturday Evening Post.

In the late 50s it was suggested to him by Hank Ketcham (creator of Dennis the Menace, who had also worked for Disney and was a close friend of Partch) that he try his hand at a newspaper comic strip, so Partch created Big George!, which ran from 1960 until at least his death in 1984 (though the San Bernardino Sun wrote in his obituary that since he’d been such a prolific worker there were probably two years worth of comics still to come) and at one point was syndicated in about 300 papers. 

Taking inspiration from life, George’s wife, like Virgil’s, was named Helen. George and Helen had a son and a dog, Axel. The comic didn’t have a story line, it was pretty much just George and his foibles.

Usually the comic was one panel, but by 1962 he also drew a larger Sunday strip. In what he said was an attempt to make up for all the three finger-one thumb hands he drew for Disney, many of his comics showed people with six or more fingers. The stuff Partch drew for Big George! was much tamer than the things he drew for Playboy and True.

Virgil, 67, and Helen, 64, died in a car accident on Interstate 5 in 1984, when they hit the back of a truck towing a trailer, Virgil going through the windshield. Earlier that year, In January, he had retired due to cataracts. 

Big George! by Virgil Partch, The Newark Advocate, Ohio,…

Big George! by Virgil Partch, The Newark Advocate, Ohio, September 16, 1961

Big George! by Virgil Partch, The Newark Advocate, Ohio, April…

Big George! by Virgil Partch, The Newark Advocate, Ohio, April 18, 1961

Big George! by Virgil Partch, The Newark Advocate, Ohio, June 5,…

Big George! by Virgil Partch, The Newark Advocate, Ohio, June 5, 1962

Big George! by Virgil Partch, The Newark Advocate, Ohio,…

Big George! by Virgil Partch, The Newark Advocate, Ohio, November 7, 1961