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Heads Up: “VIP: The Mad World of Virgil Partch”

Coming in mid to late 2013 from Fantagraphics:


Here’s the publisher’s description of the book:

Only a few months after the devastating attack on Pearl Harbor and the same year that Albert Camus offered the world his bleak vision of man’s existence by introducing his philosophical dictum of The Absurd, Virgil Partch burst onto the scene with his own twist on the phrase. Partch was a cartoonist who offered comic counterpoint to the grim headlines and a unique perspective on human nature in the pages of the nation’s most popular magazines.

Known to millions by his jazzy signature, VIP, this comic genius ushered in a new era of the gag cartoon — zany, sometimes surreal, always hilarious — that inspired a generation of fellow cartoonists starting in the 1940s and ’50s. His madcap style of humor was reflected in the cutting-edge comedic sensibilities of Burns & Allen, Jack Benny, Ernie Kovacs, Bob & Ray, Stan Freberg, and Jean Shepherd, and would position Partch as one of the most prolific “gag-men” of his day. VIP contributed to an astonishing array of magazines, wrote gags for other cartoonists, illustrated books, album covers, and advertisements, and adorned merchandise including, appropriately, cocktail glasses.

VIP: The Mad World of Virgil Partch [hardcover, 240 pages] is the first time Partch’s life and career has been treated in full, collecting amazing artwork from the entire range of his inspired career — reprinted from original art, primary-source publications, and collectors’ and family archives — and featuring his own writings. VIP’s place in the world of cartooning and humor can finally be fully appreciated in this beautiful coffee-table volume.

It’s easy to find work by Virgil Partch on the web; he seems to be every nerd and geek’s favourite gag cartoonist (along with Gahan Wilson). But to save you a few clicks — especially those of you who have been living under a rock and have never seen Partch’s work before — I’ve decided to scan and post the cover and the first six pages from the 1955 collection, Funny Cartoons by VIP (Greenwich, Conn.: Fawcett,1955); you’ll find the JPEGs below, along with a shockingly conventional colour gag cartoon by Partch that was published in 1967:


Ah, who am I kidding? Now that I’ve whet your appetite, you’re definitely going to want to search Google images for more Partch gold.

Here’s a link to get you started.