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Guide to the Virgil Partch Cartoons and Artwork MS.M.002
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Processing History
  • Biography
  • Collection Scope and Content Summary
  • Collection Arrangement
  • Separation Note

  • Title: Virgil Partch cartoons and artwork
    Identifier/Call Number: MS.M.002
    Contributing Institution: Special Collections and Archives, University of California, Irvine Libraries
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 14.9 linear feet (21 boxes and 1 oversize folder)
    Date (inclusive): circa 1930s-1974
    Abstract: Virgil Partch, also known as Vip, was the creator of the popular syndicated cartoon Big George and also had a successful career as a freelance cartoonist and book illustrator in the United States from the 1950s to the 1980s. In addition to original Big George cartoons, this collection includes original artwork created by Partch for numerous magazines including Collier's, True, and the New Yorker. It also includes art work for two children's books, The Dog Who Snored Symphonies and The Christmas Cookie Sprinkle Snatcher.
    Creator: Vip, 1916-1984


    The collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Property rights reside with the University of California. Copyrights are retained by the creators of the records and their heirs. For permission to reproduce or to publish, please contact the Head of Special Collections and Archives.

    Preferred Citation

    Virgil Partch cartoons and artwork. MS-M002. Special Collections and Archives, The UC Irvine Libraries, Irvine, California. Date accessed.
    For the benefit of current and future researchers, please cite any additional information about sources consulted in this collection, including permanent URLs, item or folder descriptions, and box/folder locations.

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of Virgil Partch, 1974.

    Processing History

    Joanna Lamb, assisted by Anne Nguyen, 2010.


    Virgil Partch, also known as Vip, was the creator of the popular syndicated cartoons Big George and The Captains' Gig. He was a successful freelance cartoonist and book illustrator in the United States from the 1950s to the 1980s and was widely known for drawing outlandish characters with distorted anotomy. His cartoons were published in numerous magazines including Collier's, True, Playboy, and The New Yorker. He also published 19 books of cartoons and illustrated 12 others, including the two children's books ,The Dog Who Snored Symphonies and The Christmas Cookie Sprinkle Snatcher. Partch was killed in a car accident in 1984.
    Virgil Franklin Partch was born to U.S. Navy petty officer Paul Chester Partch and civilian Anna Pavaloff on October 17, 1916 on St. Paul Island, Alaska. Partch's father was stationed at naval radio stations in Alaska and the West Coast and the family moved often. In 1929 Paul Partch retired from the Navy and the family settled in Tucson, Arizona where Virgil Partch attended a local middle school. At Tuscon High School, Partch played football, baseball, and drew cartoons for the school newspaper. Even at this early stage of his career Partch had adopted the artists monogram Vip. The letter i in Vip was initially meant to represent the f of his middle name, but was so often mistaken for the letter i by Partch's classmates that Partch decided to adopt the letter i, creating the well-known moniker Vip.
    Partch attended the University of Arizona as a Fine Art major for one year before moving to Los Angeles, California to attend the Chouinard Arts School, a training ground for Disney animators. In 1937, after attending six months of classes at Chouinard, Partch took and failed the Disney Studio drawing test. Soon after he was hired as a messenger at Disney Studios and eventually progressed to the position of assistant animator. In 1938 Partch met and married Helen Marie Aldridge, an 18-year-old art student. The couple had three children together: Peter, Anna, and Nicholas.
    While employed at Disney, Partch was often reproached for his refusal to adhere to the guidelines for drawing Mickey Mouse. During the 1941 Disney strike Partch began drawing and submitting freelance cartoons to magazines, and he did not return to Disney following the end of the strike. The first magazine to purchase one of his cartoons was Collier's, a popular magazine published between 1888 and 1957. This purchase led to a long and thriving partnership between the artist and the magazine and represented the first success of Partch as a freelance cartoonist. He would eventually publish works in the New Yorker, the Saturday Evening Post, Liberty, This Week, True, and Playboy. In addition to working as a freelance cartoonist at this time, Partch accepted a position at the Walter Lantz Production Studios. Disagreements over the depiction of one of the studios main cartoon characters, Woody Woodpecker, led to Partch's resignation from the Studio and his determination to launch full-time freelance career. Partch's cartoons are easily recognized and frequently include characters with distorted anatomy. His human characters often include an excessive number of fingers, a trait Partch claimed was the direct result of his time drawing three-fingered characters at Disney. He was also widely known for cartoons that depict literal interpretations of common expressions and for his popular sex and alcohol related cartoons.
    On September 23, 1944 Partch joined the United States Army and was stationed at Fort Ord in Monterey Bay, California where he drew cartoons for the base newspaper the Panorama. During this period Partch continued to submit freelance work to magazines and illustrate advertisements, and he began to draw numerous cartoons depicting military life which were included in Collier's. In 1945, while still enrolled in the Army, Collier's published the first collection of Partch cartoons in book format, It's Hot in Here. Partch would go on to publish 19 books and illustrate 12 others.
    In the 1950s Partch moved to Balboa Island in Newport Beach, California with his family before building a home overlooking the ocean in nearby Corona Del Mar. During this time he began publishing numerous cartoons, calendars, and other materials with True Magazine and also served as the True Humor Editor for a brief time. In 1953 a VIP on Sex cartoon was included on the cover of the first edition of Playboy alongside actress Marilyn Monroe. Partch often met other well-know cartoonist at the Ivy House Restaurant in Laguna Beach to discuss their work over lunch. The group was known to sign autographs and give out sketches during their lunches.
    Partch created the syndicated feature Big George in the 1960s about a middle-aged family man. Big George was initially syndicated as a single frame cartoon and was later developed into a comic strip for Sunday distribution. The strip was published through the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. In addition to creating a second syndicated comic strip in 1977, The Captain's Gig, Partch was also a founding member of the Famous Artist School. In 1971 Partch's eyesight began to deteriorate and he was forced to use an engraver's magnifying tool to complete his cartoons. Partch and his wife were killed in an automobile accident north of Los Angeles, California on Interstate 5 on August 4, 1984.

    Collection Scope and Content Summary

    This collection comprises approximately 3,700 comics, cartoons, illustrations, and other original drawings and artwork created by cartoonist Virgil Partch, also known as Vip. The majority of the collection consists of original cartoons and comic strips of Partch's syndicated feature Big George, which appeared in over 300 newspapers throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Samples of freelance cartoons that were published in Collier's, Liberty, Look, True, and the New Yorker are included along with original calendar illustrations produced and sold for True magazine. Partch illustrated several books and this collection includes the galleys and original illustrations from two children's books, The Dog who Snored Symphonies and The Christmas Cookie Sprinkle Snatcher as well as the cover art for Partch's first published book It's Hot in Here. Additionally this collection includes early abstract artwork from the 1940s and 1950s.

    Collection Arrangement

    This collection is arranged in four series:
    • Series 1. Big George cartoons and comic strips, 1961-1974 and undated, 10 linear feet
    • Series 2. Children's Book illustrations, circa 1969-1971, 0.8 linear feet
    • Series 3. Freelance cartoons, 1944-1974 and undated, 2 linear feet
    • Series 4. Original art, 1930s-1962 and undated, 2.1 linear feet

    Separation Note

    The following books were removed from this collection and cataloged separately in Special Collections and Archives:
    • Armed Farces
    • The Art of Being A Successful Student
    • Bar Guide
    • Big George
    • Cartoon 62
    • Cartoon 64
    • Cartoons Out of My Own Head
    • Crazy Cartoons
    • The Dead Game Sportsmen
    • Funny Cartoons
    • Hanging Way Over
    • Here We Go Again
    • It's Hot In Here
    • Le Monde Etrange de Virgil Partch
    • Man the Beast
    • Man the Beast and the Wild, Wild Women
    • New Faces on the Barroom Floor
    • Nowhere Near Everest: An Ascent to the Height of the Ridiculous!
    • Où Va-T-il Les Cherchers?
    • Sport am Morgen

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Caricatures and cartoons -- California -- 20th century
    Cartooning -- California -- 20th century
    Cartoonists -- California -- 20th century -- Archives
    Cartoonists -- California -- Orange County
    Cartoons (humorous images)
    Children's literature -- 20th century
    Comic strips