James Simpkins - Career


His professional life began by contributing to the Hudson's Bay's company magazine and submitting cartoons to Macleans. He was drafted into the army in World War II, but was still able to continue to make use of his artistic skills. He was with the Signal Corps security and intelligence group producing training posters and film strips. He recounted that during this period, on a trip to New York for training with the U.S. Signal Corps, he met Charles Addams who had just begun to sell cartoons to The New Yorker. After the war, he became one of the original artists of the National Film Board in Ottawa where he worked for 16 years.

In 1948 he began a regular cartoon feature for Maclean's magazine, Jasper the Bear, which would prove to be his most famous and enduring creation. In 1955, Simpkins provided the artwork for a 5ยข Canadian stamp which was the idea of Canadian hockey great and member of parliament Lionel Conacher. The stamp featured three Canadian hockey players in action. On August 6, 1962, while living in Beaconsfield, Montreal in he began a thrice-weekly cartoon feature for the Montreal Gazette called "Simpkins' Montreal".

He eventually moved to Toronto where he continued freelancing to the Toronto Star, ad agencies, book illustration, and numerous magazines in Canada and the US. His clients have included General Motors, The National Enquirer and Jaspar the Bear has been used by the Boy Scouts of Canada and Jasper National Park. He had five collections of his cartoons published in book form. Four collections of his Jasper cartoons and also his medical cartoons from the Medical Post, "When's The Last Time You Cleaned Your Navel?", were published. He also provided the illustrations for other writers' books, most frequently for Canadian humourist Eric Nicol.

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