Tom Wilson (cartoonist)

Last updated
Tom Wilson
Born(1931-08-01)August 1, 1931
Grant Town, West Virginia, U.S.
DiedSeptember 16, 2011(2011-09-16) (aged 80)
Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.
Area(s) Cartoonist, Writer, Artist
Notable works
AwardsEmmy (producer, Outstanding Animated Program) for Ziggy's Gift (1982); [1]
Purchase award, Butler Museum National Painting Competition [1]
Spouse(s)Carol Sobble
Childrentwo sons, two daughters

Thomas Albert Wilson (August 1, 1931 – September 16, 2011), [2] [3] [4] was an American cartoonist. Wilson was the creator of the comic strip Ziggy , which he drew from 1971 to 1987. The strip was then continued by his son, Tom Wilson Jr. [5]


After growing up in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, Wilson served in the U.S. Army from 1953 to 1955. [1] [6] He attended the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, graduating in 1955. [1] He was a Cooper Union art instructor from 1961 to 1962. [1] [6]

Wilson's career began in 1950, doing advertisement layouts for Uniontown Newspapers, Inc. [1] [6] In 1955, he joined American Greetings (AG) as a designer, becoming Creative Director in 1957 and vice-president of creative development in 1978. [1] While at AG, he developed the Soft Touch greeting card line. [1] He also served as president of Those Characters From Cleveland, AG's character licensing subsidiary. [1]


The Ziggy comics panel, syndicated by Universal Press Syndicate, launched in 15 newspapers in June 1971. It expanded to appear in more than 500 daily and Sunday newspapers and has been featured in bestselling books and calendars. Ziggy merchandising has included plaques, T-shirts, buttons, glass tumblers, lunch boxes, coffee mugs and greeting cards. In 2002, Ziggy became the official spokescharacter for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Throughout his career, Wilson demonstrated a remarkable ability to anticipate future trends in the marketplace. A veteran of the licensing business, Wilson headed up the creative team that developed such character licensing blockbusters as Strawberry Shortcake and Care Bears.

In 1987, Wilson's son, Tom Wilson Jr., took over the Ziggy cartoon after having served as an assistant on the strip for many years. [7] Even though Tom Sr. lived in Cleveland and Tom Jr. lived in Cincinnati, the two worked as a team, collaborating by fax and phone.

Wilson was a talented painter with works appearing in exhibitions throughout the United States, including the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Society of Illustrators annual show in New York.


The 1982 Christmas special Ziggy's Gift , based on a Ziggy story by Wilson, won a 1983 Emmy award for Outstanding Animated Program. [8]

He received the Purchase award in the Butler Institute of American Art's annual exhibition. [1]

Wilson was a survivor of lung cancer. [9]


He died in his sleep on the night of September 16, 2011, [9] of pneumonia at a Cincinnati hospital. He was 80. [7]

Related Research Articles

William Boyd Watterson II is an American cartoonist and the author of the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes, which was syndicated from 1985 to 1995. Watterson stopped drawing Calvin and Hobbes at the end of 1995, with a short statement to newspaper editors and his readers that he felt he had achieved all he could in the medium. Watterson is known for his negative views on comic syndication and licensing, his efforts to expand and elevate the newspaper comic as an art form, and his move back into private life after he stopped drawing Calvin and Hobbes. Watterson was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. The suburban Midwestern United States setting of Ohio was part of the inspiration for Calvin and Hobbes.

<i>Calvin and Hobbes</i> Comic strip by Bill Watterson

Calvin and Hobbes is a daily American comic strip created by cartoonist Bill Watterson that was syndicated from November 18, 1985, to December 31, 1995. Commonly cited as "the last great newspaper comic", Calvin and Hobbes has enjoyed broad and enduring popularity, influence, and academic and philosophical interest.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">National Cartoonists Society</span> Professional organization

The National Cartoonists Society (NCS) is an organization of professional cartoonists in the United States. It presents the National Cartoonists Society Awards. The Society was born in 1946 when groups of cartoonists got together to entertain the troops. They enjoyed each other's company and decided to meet on a regular basis.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Patrick McDonnell</span> American illustrator

Patrick McDonnell is a cartoonist, author, and playwright. He is the creator of the daily comic strip Mutts, which follows the adventures of a dog and a cat, that has been syndicated since 1994. Prior to creating Mutts, he was a prolific magazine illustrator, and would frequently include a dog in the backgrounds of his drawings.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cartoonist</span> Visual artist who makes cartoons

A cartoonist is a visual artist who specializes in both drawing and writing cartoons or comics. Cartoonists differ from comics writers or comic book illustrators in that they produce both the literary and graphic components of the work as part of their practice. Cartoonists may work in a variety of formats, including booklets, comic strips, comic books, editorial cartoons, graphic novels, manuals, gag cartoons, storyboards, posters, shirts, books, advertisements, greeting cards, magazines, newspapers, webcomics, and video game packaging.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Print syndication</span> Sale of news items to other news outlets

Print syndication distributes news articles, columns, political cartoons, comic strips and other features to newspapers, magazines and websites. The syndicates offer reprint rights and grant permissions to other parties for republishing content of which they own and/or represent copyrights. Other terms for the service include a newspaper syndicate, a press syndicate, and a feature syndicate.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chic Young</span> American comic strip cartoonist (1901–1973)

Murat Bernard "Chic" Young was an American cartoonist who created the comic strip Blondie. His 1919 William McKinley High School Yearbook cites his nickname as Chicken, source of his familiar pen name and signature. According to King Features Syndicate, Young had a daily readership of 52 million. Stan Drake, who drew Blondie in the 1980s and 1990s, stated that Young "has to go down in history as one of the geniuses of the industry."

American Greetings Corporation is a privately owned American company and is the world's second largest greeting card producer behind Hallmark Cards. Based in Westlake, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, the company sells paper greeting cards, electronic greeting cards, gift packaging, stickers and party products. In addition, the company owns the Carlton Cards, Tender Thoughts, Papyrus, Recycled Paper Greetings and Gibson brands.

<i>Bizarro</i> (comic strip) Cartoon by Dan Piraro

Bizarro is a single-panel cartoon written and drawn by cartoonist Dan Piraro and later by cartoonist Wayne "Wayno" Honath.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ernie Bushmiller</span> American cartoonist (1905–1982)

Ernest Paul Bushmiller Jr. was an American cartoonist, best known for creating the daily comic strip Nancy, which premiered in 1938 and features the title character who has remained in print for over 85 years. His work is noted for its simple graphic style. In 1976, he received the Reuben Award from the National Cartoonists Society for his work on Nancy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jeff MacNelly</span> American cartoonist

Jeffrey Kenneth "Jeff" MacNelly was an American editorial cartoonist and the creator of the comic strip Shoe. After Shoe had been established in papers, MacNelly created the single-panel strip Pluggers. The Wall Street Journal wrote: "MacNelly's superb draftsmanship as well as his heightened sense of the ridiculous is in the vanguard of a new generation of American cartoonists."

<i>Ziggy</i> (comic strip)

Ziggy is an American cartoon series about an eponymous character who suffers an endless stream of misfortunes and sad but sympathetic daily events. It was created by Tom Wilson, a former American Greetings executive, and distributed by Andrews McMeel Syndication. In 1987, his son Tom Wilson II took over writing and drawing the comic strip.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Morrie Turner</span> American cartoonist

Morris Nolton Turner was an American cartoonist, creator of the strip Wee Pals, the first American syndicated strip with an integrated cast of characters.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Muriel Fahrion</span>

Muriel Fahrion is an American illustrator and the original designer of the Strawberry Shortcake franchise.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Andrews McMeel Syndication</span> American content syndicate

Andrews McMeel Syndication is an American content syndicate which provides syndication in print, online and on mobile devices for a number of lifestyle and opinion columns, comic strips and cartoons and various other content. Some of its best-known products include Dear Abby, Doonesbury, Ziggy, Garfield, Ann Coulter, Richard Roeper and News of the Weird. A subsidiary of Andrews McMeel Universal, it is headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri. It was formed in 2009 and renamed in January 2017.

Jack Chojnacki served as the co-president of Those Characters from Cleveland Inc., a division of U.S. greeting card company American Greetings (AGC), in the 1980s. He assisted in the creation of several AGC franchises, including Strawberry Shortcake and the Care Bears.

Quincy is an American syndicated newspaper comic strip published from July 13, 1970 to October 4, 1986, created and produced by cartoonist Ted Shearer. The series, about an African-American boy being raised by his grandmother in Harlem, was one of the earliest mainstream comic strips to star an African American in the lead role, following Dateline: Danger! (1968-1974) and Luther (1969-1986). Another predecessor, Wee Pals, features an African-American among an ensemble cast of different races and ethnicities.

Brian Gordon is an American cartoonist, and creator of the webcomics Fowl Language, Frankie Fearless, and Chuck & Beans.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cloudco Entertainment</span>

Those Characters from Cleveland, LLC, officially trading as Cloudco Entertainment and formerly AG Properties and American Greetings Entertainment, is an American company which formerly traded as American Greetings' former character brand division. Properties owned by the company include Care Bears, Holly Hobbie, Madballs, Buddy Thunderstruck, Tinpo, The Get Along Gang and Boy Girl Dog Cat Mouse Cheese.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 "Tom Wilson." The Complete Marquis Who's Who. Marquis Who's Who, 2010. Gale Biography In Context. Web. 9 Nov. 2010.
  2. "Tom Wilson." Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2002. Gale Biography In Context. Web. 9 Nov. 2010.
  3. jeff560 (2007-02-09). "Famous West Virginians". AOL. Archived from the original on 2007-03-05.
  4. Ziggy creator Tom Wilson Sr. passes at age 80 The Daily Cartoonist
  5. Clark, Paul (2009-03-02). "'Ziggy' cartoonist tells of depression". The Cincinnati Enquirer . Gannett Company. Archived from the original on March 23, 2012. Retrieved 2009-03-02. Much of the book derives from journals [Tom Wilson Jr.] kept along the way, a practice he found therapeutic. Some were recorded on audiotape during his regular travels up Interstate 71 between his home in Loveland and his business in Cleveland, a cartoon-character licensing and branding company called Character Matters.
  6. 1 2 3 Reynolds, Moira Davison (2003). Comic Strip Artists in American Newspapers, 1945-1980. McFarland. p. 170. ISBN   978-0-7864-1551-9.
  7. 1 2 "Ziggy Creator Tom Wilson Sr. Dies at Age 80". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2021-09-16.
  8. Television Academy. "Ziggy's Gift". Television Academy. Retrieved September 16, 2021.
  9. 1 2 Cavna, Michael (September 21, 2011). "'Ziggy' creator Tom Wilson Sr. dies at 80". Washington Post. Retrieved September 15, 2021.