Guide to the Virgil Partch Cartoons and Artwork MS.M.002

Finding aid prepared by Joanna Lamb; edited by Sara Seltzer
Special Collections and Archives, University of California, Irvine Libraries
The UCI Libraries
P.O. Box 19557
University of California, Irvine
Irvine, California, 92623-9557
© 2013

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


Big George cartoons and comic strips Series 1. 1961-1974 and undated

Series Scope and Content Summary

Big George was a syndicated cartoon and comic strip created by Virgil Partch in 1960 that was published through the 1980s. The syndicated feature began as single panel cartoon, but comic strips were soon added for Sunday distribution. The cartoon follows the antics of a middle-aged man, his family, and pets. Partch's outlandish comic style and common addition of extra fingers were toned down for the syndicate. This series includes original black and white and color cartoon and comic strip drawings, over-sized cartoons created for the Steve Allen Show, and a small number of printed proofs from the syndicate.

Series Arrangement

This series is arranged alphabetically by topic.
Box 20, Folder 4

Cartoon displays for the Steve Allen Show 1964 January




Chronological files

Box 1, Folder 1-14

1964-1968 and undated

Box 2, Folder 1-20


Box 3, Folder 1-17



Subject files

Arrangement Note

The arrangement preserves the intellectual order imposed by the creator.
Box 4, Folder 1

Armed forces 1965-1968

Box 4, Folder 2-3

Baseball 1963-1969 and undated

Box 4, Folder 4-11

Business, male friend 1963-1969 and undated

Box 4, Folder 12-14, Box 5, Folder 1-2

Cat, dog 1962-1973 and undated

Box 5, Folder 3

Christmas, New Year's 1964-1969

Box 5, Folder 4

Desert 1968

Box 5, Folder 5-13

Family, home, wife, husband 1963-1969 and undated

Box 6, Folder 1

Fishing 1964

Box 6, Folder 2

Football 1964-1969

Box 6, Folder 3-4

Golf 1963-1969 and undated

Box 6, Folder 5

Income tax 1964-1969

Box 6, Folder 6-7

Kids 1964-1969 and undated

Box 6, Folder 8

Mondays 1968-1969

Box 6, Folder 9

Poker & checkers 1963-1968

Box 6, Folder 10

Police and driving 1963-1968 and undated

Box 6, Folder 11-13

Pools, beach, sports, hunting undated

Box 6, Folder 14

Television 1963-1969

Box 6, Folder 15-17

Yardwork, fix-it, hobbies, picnic, barbeque undated

Box 6, Folder 18

Proofs undated


Sunday comic strips

Box 20, Folder 5-6

Color copies 1966-1967


There is one color copy that does not have a corresponding black and white counterpart.
Box 7, Folder 1-5


Box 8, Folder 1-4


Box 9, Folder 1-6


Box 10, Folder 1-7


Box 11, Folder 1-3


Box 12, Folder 1-4


Box 13, Folder 1-4


Box 13, Folder 1-4, Box 14, Folder 1-2


Box 14, Folder 3



Children's book illustrations Series 2. circa 1969-1971

Series Scope and Content Summary

Virgil Partch published nineteen books and illustrated twelve others including children's books. This series includes original illustrations and galley proofs from two children's books, The Christmas Cookie Sprinkle Snatcher and Ludwig: The Dog that Snored Symphonies.

Series Arrangement

This series is arranged alphabetically by book title.

The Christmas Cookie Sprinkle Snatcher

Box 15, Folder 1

Galley proof 1969 April 30

Box 15, Folder 2-3

Black and white illustrations circa 1968-1969

Box 15, Folder 4

Color illustrations circa 1968-1969


Ludwig: The Dog That Snored Symphonies

Box 15, Folder 5

Original drawings circa 1970


Freelance cartoons Series 3. 1944-1974

Series Scope and Content Summary

Virgil Partch was a successful freelance cartoonist and his cartoons were featured repeatedly in many magazines. This series includes original cartoon drawings that were published in numerous magazine and newspapers. Also included are oversize materials and calendar artwork created for Collier's and True magazines, the two publications that most often features Partch's work.

Series Arrangement

This series is arranged by publication when known and also by subject or form.


Box 16, Folder 1-8

Dated files 1944-1960 and undated


Subject files

Arrangement Note

The arrangement preserves the intellectual order imposed by the creator.
Box 16, Folder 9-10

Color football 1948

Box 17, Folder 1-3

Military 1952-1956

Box 19, Folder 7

Oversized cartoons undated

Box 17, Folder 4

Framed magazine originals 1962 and undated

Physical Description

These materials were identified as framed cartoons and include attached backings. At least one image is from Collier's. The other publishers were not identified.
Box 17, Folder 5-6

King Features Syndicate 1944-1951 and undated

Box 17, Folder 7-9

Liberty and others circa 1940s and undated

Box 17, Folder 10-11

Look 1954-1963

Physical Description: Color finishes.
Box 18, Folder 1

Los Angeles Times undated

Box 18, Folder 3

New Yorker 1967 and 1974



Box 19, Folder 5

Artwork for magazine cover 1958

Box 18, Folder 4-6

Black and white originals undated

Box 19, Folder 1

Calendars 1959

Box 19, Folder 2-3

Color originals undated


Subject files

Arrangement Note

The arrangement preserves the intellectual order imposed by the creator.
Box 18, Folder 7

Dog features undated

Box 18, Folder 8

Drinking and hunting features undated

Box 18, Folder 2

Unknown publications undated


Original art Series 4. 1930s-1962 and undated

Series Scope and Content Summary

This series consists of original artwork and drawings. The early drawings and early painting are not cartoon related and depict abstract representations of the human form. This series also includes three oversize paintings that may have been created as cover art for Partch's books and several playful poster sized pencil drawings, including two works depicting Virgil Partch and his wife on the trapeze. The poster Mano a Mano appears to have been created by Bill MacIntyre and given to Partch as a gift.

Series Arrangement

This series is arranged alphabetically.
Box 19, Folder 8

Early drawings circa 1930s

Box 20, Folder 2-3

Early paintings 1943 and 1953

Box 19, Folder 9

Funny Stuff Down Here undated

Box 20, Folder 1

It's Hot In Here cover art circa 1942

Folder XOS 1

Let's Go painting 1962

Physical Description: Signed "Vipper".
Box 18, Folder 9

Old PM cartoons undated


Poster drawings

Box 21

The Flying Partches (to Anderson) undated

Physical Description: Pencil sketch, grey and red. 18"x62"
Box 21

The Flying Partches undated

Physical Description: Black and rust paint and pastel. 18"x62"
Box 21

For A Limited Engagement undated

Box 21

Mano a Mano by Bill MacIntyre 1930s-1962 and undated

Physical Description: Sketch of matador; paint and pastel.
Box 18, Folder 10

Skilton cartoon late 1940s

Acquisition Note

Donated by David Skilton in 2008.
Folder XOS 1

Untitled sketch for painting undated