Virgil Partch  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Virgil Franklin Partch (October 17, 1916 - August 10, 1984) was one of the most prominent and prolific American magazine gag cartoonists of the 1940s and 1950s. His unusual style, surreal humor and familiar abbreviated signature (VIP) made his cartoons distinctive and eye-catching.

Partch's cartoons expressed a dry, sardonic wit, and his characters were instantly recognizable by their lipless mouths, large triangular noses, thin ankles and thin wrists, and sometimes well-combed bangs. He was a gagwriter for The New Yorker magazine, but his own cartoons were rarely published there because, according to VIP biographer Bhob Stewart, "New Yorker editor Harold Ross couldn't stomach VIP's drawing style."

Sailing into syndication

Later in his career Partch drew the successful syndicated comic strip Big George, created the lesser-known but somewhat edgier strip titled The Captain's Gig (about a motley bunch of mariners and castaways) and illustrated several children's books.

From 1956, Partch lived in a house on the cliffs above Corona del Mar in Newport Beach. He often joined the cartoonists who regularly met at midday in the bar at the White House restaurant on the Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna Beach: Phil and Frank Interlandi, Ed Nofziger, John Dempsey, Don Tobin, Roger Armstrong, Dick Shaw and Dick Oldden. The gathering began after Phil Interlandi moved to Laguna Beach in 1952. "That was the first bar I walked into in Laguna," Interlandi explained in 1982, "and it became a habit."

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