Jim Unger, creator of the comic panel “Herman,” died on May 29. He was 75 years old.
Whenever I see a Herman cartoon, it instantly brings me back to my childhood. From the late ‘70s through the early ‘80s, my parents were big fans of Herman. The bookshelf in the den of our house held two or three “Herman” collections. It was the first single panel cartoon I read and I loved it. If I didn’t understand a joke, it didn’t matter. The drawings were always fun to look at.
When I was in 2nd grade, I was playing a soccer game and my parents and my teammates’ parents were cheering us on. One of the parents had brought a Herman book and, during the game, several of them were cracking up at the cartoons (which of course was much more entertaining than watching a bunch of seven-year-olds chasing a soccer ball). During halftime, I saw a few of my parents' friends looking at the cartoons, laughing, and saying things like, “That’s so true!” and “Oh my God, look at this one!” I distinctly remember one woman laughing so hard she was crying.
From about 1978-1984, it seemed like everybody loved Herman. By the mid ‘80s, The Far Side had become hugely popular and Herman was suddenly yesterday’s news. Herman was still hilarious but The Far Side was both hilarious and “out there.” Since I was a little older, I understood all the Far Side jokes. I was hooked.
Over the years, I had somehow forgotten about Herman. The passing of Jim Unger reminded me of a brilliant single panel comic and a wonderful period during my childhood.
Thanks for the laughs, Jim Unger. You were one of the greats.