James Kemsley

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James Lawrence Kemsley OAM (15 November 1948 3 December 2007) was an Australian cartoonist who was notable for producing the comic strip Ginger Meggs (originally created by Jimmy Bancks) between 1984 and 2007.

Order of Australia series of Australian national honours

The Order of Australia is an order of chivalry established on 14 February 1975 by Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia, to recognise Australian citizens and other persons for achievement or meritorious service. Before the establishment of the order, Australian citizens received British honours.

<i>Ginger Meggs</i> 1982 film by Jonathan Dawson

Ginger Meggs, Australia's most popular and longest-running comic strip, was created in the early 1920s by Jimmy Bancks. The strip follows the escapades of a red-haired prepubescent mischief-maker who lives in an inner suburban working-class household. While employed at The Bulletin, Bancks submitted cartoons to the Sydney Sunday Sun, where he began his Us Fellers strip in 1921 in the "Sunbeams" section of the Sunday Sun. Ginger first appeared in Us Fellers on 13 November 1921, drawn by Bancks. When Bancks died on 1 July 1952 from a heart attack, Ron Vivian took over the strip (1953-1973), followed by Lloyd Piper (1973-1982), James Kemsley (1983-2007) and since 2007, Jason Chatfield.

Jimmy Bancks cartoonist

James Charles Bancks was an Australian cartoonist best known for his comic strip Ginger Meggs.



James Kemsley was born in the Sydney suburb of Paddington, but lived for a few years with his parents and sister in New Guinea where his father served as mastor of patrol boats. He then attended the Roman Catholic boarding schools, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College (1958–60) and Chevalier College (1961-62), both located in Bowral, New South Wales. He also attended the Christian Brothers College at Rose Bay (1962–63). Afterwards he lived for a while with his father in Traralgon, Victoria. [1]

Sydney City in New South Wales, Australia

Sydney is the state capital of New South Wales and the most populous city in Australia and Oceania. Located on Australia's east coast, the metropolis surrounds Port Jackson and extends about 70 km (43.5 mi) on its periphery towards the Blue Mountains to the west, Hawkesbury to the north, the Royal National Park to the south and Macarthur to the south-west. Sydney is made up of 658 suburbs, 40 local government areas and 15 contiguous regions. Residents of the city are known as "Sydneysiders". As of June 2017, Sydney's estimated metropolitan population was 5,230,330 and is home to approximately 65% of the state's population.

New Guinea Island in the Pacific Ocean

New Guinea is a large island separated by a shallow sea from the rest of the Australian continent. It is the world's second-largest island, after Greenland, covering a land area of 785,753 km2 (303,381 sq mi), and the largest wholly or partly within the Southern Hemisphere and Oceania.

Chevalier College Catholic high school, New South Wales

Chevalier College is an Australian Catholic co-educational school in Burradoo, New South Wales conducted by the priests and brothers of the international religious institute, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (M.S.C.). It is a member of the Independent Schools Association (ISA).

Early TV and Acting Career

Kemsley attended the Independent School of Dramatic Art, North Sydney (1968–71) as well as a National Institute of Dramatic Art Playwright Forum in 1973 and a RADA Professional Workshop in London in 1979.

The Independent Theatre Ltd., was an Australian dramatic society founded in 1930 by Dame Doris Fitton, and was also the name given to the building it occupied from 1938. It was named for London's Independent Theatre Society founded by J. T. Grein and was one of several amateur drama groups of high standard which sprang up in Sydney, Australia in the 1930s to fill the gap left by the closure of all but two professional theatres. The range of plays essayed was impressive – from classics to avant-garde pieces, from recent West End and Broadway successes to offerings from local dramatists. The death of Doris Fitton's co-producer Peter Summerton in 1969 put extra strain on her deteriorating health, and with no-one able or willing to fill her shoes, the Independent closed in 1977. It was to reopen in 1998, continuing its tradition as a training ground for young actors and playwrights.

North Sydney, New South Wales Suburb of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

North Sydney is a suburb and major district on the Lower North Shore of Sydney, Australia. North Sydney is located 3 kilometres north of the Sydney central business district and is the administrative centre for the local government area of North Sydney Council.

Kemsley's background was in acting and television. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Kemsley was known to television audiences as "Skeeter the Paperboy", an on-screen cap-wearing persona (who once said his full name was Amos Skeeter - a play on "a mosquito") that he portrayed as a cast member of The Super Flying Fun Show , and then as host of Skeeter's Cartoon Corner in Sydney and Melbourne, both on the Nine Network.

Melbourne City in Victoria, Australia

Melbourne is the capital and most populous city of the Australian state of Victoria, and the second most populous city in Australia and Oceania. Its name refers to an urban agglomeration of 9,992.5 km2 (3,858.1 sq mi), comprising a metropolitan area with 31 municipalities, and is also the common name for its city centre. The city occupies much of the coastline of Port Phillip bay and spreads into the hinterlands towards the Dandenong and Macedon ranges, Mornington Peninsula and Yarra Valley. It has a population of approximately 5 million, and its inhabitants are referred to as "Melburnians".

Nine Network Australian broadcast television network

The Nine Network is a major Australian commercial free-to-air television network, that is a division of Nine Entertainment Co. with headquarters in Willoughby, a suburb located on the North Shore of Sydney, Australia. The Nine Network is one of three main free-to-air commercial networks in Australia.

The daily afternoon program offered a mix of US-based cartoons (such as Wacky Races , Scooby-Doo and The Archies ), with viewer competitions. One of his tag lines on the telephone with viewer contestants who were unsuccessful was "golly gosh". When Kemsley left in 1973, Daryl Somers took over the time slot.

<i>Wacky Races</i> (1968 TV series) American animated television series

Wacky Races is an American animated television series produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions. The series features 11 different cars racing against each other in various road rallies throughout America, with each driver hoping to win the title of the "World's Wackiest Racer".

<i>Scooby-Doo</i> American animated cartoon franchise

Scooby-Doo is an American animated franchise, comprising many animated television series produced from 1969 to the present day. Writers Joe Ruby and Ken Spears created the original series, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, for Hanna-Barbera Productions in 1969. This Saturday-morning cartoon series featured four teenagers—Fred Jones, Daphne Blake, Velma Dinkley, and Norville "Shaggy" Rogers—and their talking brown Great Dane named Scooby-Doo, who solve mysteries involving supposedly supernatural creatures through a series of antics and missteps.

The Archies fictional music group

The Archies is an American fictional garage band founded by Archie Andrews, Reggie Mantle, Jughead Jones, Veronica Lodge, and Betty Cooper, a group of adolescent characters of the Archie universe, in the context of the animated TV series, The Archie Show. The group is also known for their real world success, through a virtual band.

In 1973 Kemsley compered a variety program on the Nine Network titled Junior Cabaret . He also appeared in the ABC TV mini-series The Cousin From Fiji and Seven Little Australians .

<i>Seven Little Australians</i> book by Ethel Turner

Seven Little Australians is a classic Australian children's literature novel by Ethel Turner, published in 1894. Set mainly in Sydney in the 1880s, it relates the adventures of the seven mischievous Woolcot children, their stern army father Captain Woolcot, and flighty stepmother Esther.

Kemsley studied acting at the Independent Theatre of Dramatic Art from 1969 - 1972 under Doris Fitton and attended the Playwright Forum at the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) in 1973 under the directorship of David Whittaker. He went on to write three successful children's plays, "The Land Of Coloured Dreams", "Once Upon A Time... And All That" and "The Magical Adventures of Puck".

Kemsley left Channel Nine and then studied in England at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA) in 1979.


In 1984 Kemsley was invited to take over the syndicated comic strip, Ginger Meggs , and several comic books featuring the character have since been published.

He has also contributed to The Traralgon Journal , Adelaide's Sunday Mail , Sydney's The Sun-Herald , The Sydney Morning Herald and The Daily Telegraph . Kemsley twice served as President of the Australian Cartoonists' Association.

Awards include the 2001 Stanley Award for Cartoonist of the Year, presented by the Australian Cartoonist's Association. In 1990 & 2004, Kemsley received the Stanley for Comic Strip Artist, as voted by his peers. Under Kemsley's pen and Atlantic Syndication's marketing, "Ginger Meggs" now appears in newspapers in over 120 newspaper in 30 countries.

Kemsley continued to draw the Ginger Meggs strip until he died at his home in Bowral, New South Wales on 3 December 2007 after a two-year battle with motor neuron disease. [2]

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  1. Allen, Peter (2007) Jack of all trades, mast of Meggs, James Kemsley, 1948-2007 (Obituary)
  2. "Ginger Meggs cartoonist dies". Sydney Morning Herald. 4 December 2007. Retrieved 7 November 2011.

Select Bibliography of Kemsley's Books