Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Virgil Partch (1916-1984)

Virgil Partch (VIP) was born in Alaska on October 17 1916. The 1946 Current Biography Yearbook described Partch as “since 1942 the creator of a form of “maniacal humor.”” In 1942 he sold his first cartoon, to the venerable Collier’s, followed by contributions to The New Yorker, Look, and Saturday Evening Post. In the sixties Partch was the top “sick” comic on True, the Man’s Magazine, which often had little VIP illustrated extras like calendars, and detachable books on mixing drinks. (True published a similar “Bar Guide” in paperback). I was too young (at eleven or twelve) for martinis but had a substantial collection of True, the Man’s Magazine, and the work of Virgil Partch, who I considered some sort of genius of the pen.

Partch was all over True Magazine, in the letters column headers, gag cartoons, giveaways and advertisements. It was the age of sick comics like Mort Sahl and Lenny Bruce, and the black humor of authors like Bruce Jay Freidman, who was an editor on sex and sadism magazines like Men, Male, and Man’s World. In 1960 VIP syndicated a gorgeous Sunday page called Big George which I believe was also printed as a single-panel. Virgil Partch perished in an automobile accident, along with his wife, on August 12 1984.

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