Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Growing up, Virgil Partch was one of my heroes. He had a sense of humor and a style of drawing that was absolutely unique - and hilarious. I'd always wanted to own one of his originals, so when I finally found one, it turned out to be extra special. For me, anyway.
It's a rough for a one panel gag, done with pen on a piece of typing paper, one of probably thousands he did over the course of his career. They would usually be sent in batches to cartoon editors at magazines, who would choose the ones they liked (if any) and then notify the cartoonist which gags to take to finished art.
What I love about this piece is that you can see the work, from the staging of the gag to the seemingly last-minute rewrite of the caption. With a minimum of detail, you immediately know this guy is wealthy: large room with huge picture windows, enormous bed and a butler. The only other prop in the picture is that tiny bedside table, which only serves to make the bed look even bigger. That's all there is, and yet it's all you need. The command of his line is impressive, too: there's no underdrawing or white-out on the page at all.
The original caption, scribbled out at the bottom, reads "Well, tickle them, Volus, and we'll soon find out if they're mine." I think either caption would have worked, as it's the drawing that's the actual gag. It's funny to look at. And "Volus" is a great name for a butler. He must have liked it...he used it in both versions.
I have many collections of VIP's work, and this gag doesn't appear in any of them. That's not to say it was never published, but if it wasn't, then I have a gag of his that he couldn't sell. And boy, can I identify with that.
Either way though, it's special all right. Hey man, it's VIP.

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