Tuesday, March 24, 2015

RIP Jim Berry

Jim (James O.) Berry, creator of the long-running panel cartoon "Berry's World," died last Friday at age 83.

Berry received the National Cartoonists Society's Divisional Award (Silver Reuben) for Best Newspaper Panel in 1965, 1966 and 1972, and was a president of the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists in 1981-82. In a career that stretched from the Kennedy administration to that of the Second Bush, his work appeared in about 1,000 newspapers.

"Berry's World" had a gentle humor that didn't spark angry letters to the editor. Berry didn't draw cartoons calling the Vietnam War a clusterfuck, Nixon a crook, Carter an incompetent, etc. His single panel (and Sunday strip) generally portrayed one everyday person speaking to another about something topical. Even if the people in the cartoons were celebrities or well-known politicians, these cartoons were usually set in the moments outside the public eye where they were just as regular folk as the rest of us. The 1974 example above left shows recently married globe-hopping Secretary of State Henry Kissinger being chided, somewhat, by his new bride, for being away from home so often.

About the closest Berry came to a barbed comment were cartoons such as this 1979 cartoon (at right) suggesting that Carter's Chief of Staff Hamilton Jordan might be starting to behave like Nixon's Chief of Staff, H. R. Haldeman. (There was some other cartoon that apparently ticked off Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard; I don't know the details of that story, however.)

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I should mention that another past president of the AAEC also passed away last week. But when I lived in Delaware, I was too young to read Jack Jurden's cartoons in the News Journal, and his work didn't appear in any of the newspapers where I grew up in Wisconsin, so he wasn't an influence on my formative years in the way that the omnipresent Jim Berry was.

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