Cartoonist Jay Lynch passed away yesterday. He died from complications of lung cancer. He was 72 years old.
An underground cartoonist, who worked in underground comics, and created the Wacky Packages and Garbage Pail Kids' bubble gum card line, he was also a children's book writer.
Although Jay and I have chatted on the phone, we are, so far as we could figure, unrelated. But we are united in the brother/sisterhood of cartoonists. He is a singular talent, whose lasting and personal work has touched many generations.
He was one of the foundational underground cartoonists with such titles as Bijou Funnies and Nard ‘n’ Pat but made perhaps his greatest contribution to culture with his work as an illustrator on Wacky Packages and Garbage Pail Kids. He also wrote the long running comic strip Phoebe and the Pigeon People, illustrated by Gary Whitney, and wrote the Bazooka Joe comics inserts for years, as well. In recent years he wrote children’s books, including Otto’s Orange Day (illustrated by Frank Cammuso) and Mo and Jo (illustrated by Dean Haspiel) for Toon Books.
Topps just released a Jay Lynch Tribute set of trading cards this year, with classic Lynch gags illustrated by contemporary artists. It’s only available on the Topps website until the 15th.
He was a key figure in the underground comix movement, producing eight issues of Bijou Funnies with his partner-in-crime Skip Williamson. They were a vital part of what became one of the most revolutionary art movements of the 20th century. Lynch contributed to numerous other underground titles likeBogeyman, San Francisco Comic Book, Bizarre Sex, and Teen-age Horizons of Shangri-la. The last issue of Bijou Funnies, an homage to Lynch’s favorite satirist, featured Harvey Kurtzman-style parodies of popular underground comic characters drawn by other cartoonists.
After the underground faded he moved into commercial work, overseeing the production of celebrity sticker books and fast food giveaways. He drew cartoons and illustrations for Playboy, Oui, and other men’s magazines. His juvenile sense of humor was also in high demand at Brooklyn’s biggest bubble gum manufacturer, Topps Chewing Gum, who hired him to design cards and stickers, which prominently featured puke and booger jokes for Garbage Pail Kids, Wacky Packages, and many others. In recent years, he has worked on public interest campaigns, illustrated children’s books, and designed covers for the last remnant of the underground impertinence, Mineshaft magazine.
Above: Skip Williamson and Jay Lynch back in the day. Nicked from Mr. Williamson's Facebook page.
Skip Williamson posted this on his own Facebook page early yesterday afternoon:
My dear friend and collaborator, Jay Lynch is dying from cancer. He is in the last stages, under hospice care and may be gone by the time you read this.
I’ve known Jay for 56 years. We’d become fast friends when he was 15 years old and when I was sixteen. We were both full of the cartoonists’ furore. And it was because of Jay Lynch that I moved to Chicago in 1967.
First we published “The Chicago Mirror” and then “Bijou Funnies”. We worked in tandem but Jay was always the editor in chief but we were always hand in glove.
To say that I loved him is an understatement. He’d called me immediately when he found out he was sick and we’d talk every week. Today was my day to call him but he can no longer talk.
My heart is broken, but I’m very happy that his suffering has come to an end. He’s got other fish to fry.