James Frederick Unger
James Frederick Unger, cartoonist (born London, Eng 21 Jan 1937; died at Saanich BC 26 May 2012). Creator of the off-beat comic character "Herman," Jim Unger dropped out of grammar school in England when he was 16 years old and sold insurance policies before serving for two years in the British Army. He was a police officer, driving instructor, repo-man and an advertising layout artist before he emigrated to Toronto in 1968.
Jim Unger was the art director and cartoonist for The Mississauga Times when he came up with the idea for a cheerful oaf, a sort of bumbling blue-collar Everyman which he initially called "Attila The Bum." When Unger tried to syndicate his cartoon character through The Toronto Star, it was rejected. In 1974 the Universal Press Syndicate in Kansas City, Missouri, picked it up and changed its name to "Herman." Its success was overwhelming. "Herman" has an estimated 40 million readers in 25 countries, and a collection of 4000 cartoons is available on CD-ROM. "Herman" was the first cartoon syndicated in a Communist country in 1990 when it was sold to a newspaper in East Germany.
Jim Unger retired from cartooning in 1992. "For some reason I get more fan mail than ever," he said after his retirement. In his latter years, he occasionally updated old cartoons and drew occasionally, but only when he felt like it. "I doubt I will ever work as a cartoonist full-time again." he said in 1998. Herman returned to syndication five years later, however, and Unger resumed releasing a mix of classic and new material. Shortly after, he returned to Canada, settling in Saanich to be near family.
Jim Unger teamed up with six other syndicated cartoonists, including Farcus creator David Waisglass, and Universal Press Syndicate to create INTRACA in 2001. INTRACA is an intranet feature that uses humorous cartoons and motivational quotes to inform and boost employee morale with positive daily messages. Admired by his peers, Unger received the National Cartoonists Society's Newspaper Panel Cartoon Award twice (1982, 1987).