Cartoonist Bob Thaves, creator of the comic strip Frank and Ernest, died of respiratory failure at age 81 on April 1, 2006.
Thaves attended the University of Minnesota where he received both a Bachelors degree and a Masters degree in psychology. He was still in college when he started selling cartoons to various magazines.
It was in 1972 that Frank and Ernest was first published. The single panel strip featured the observations (often filled with puns) of two old men named, of course, Frank and Ernest. Frank and Ernest were not always featured as human beings. In fact, they could appear as nearly anything--animals, vegetables, home appliances, and so on. The comic strip was revolutionary in other ways as well. It was the fist newspaper comic strip to feature comic book style, block lettering, the first to utilise digital colouring, and the first to feature its creator's email address. It was among the first comic strips to have its own web site. In 1997 Thaves's son Tom began collaborating with him on the strip. He has now taken it over completely.
Thaves also drew a similar, single panel strip, King Baloo, in the Eighties.
Over the years Thaves won many awards. He won the National Cartoonist Society Newspaper Panel Cartoon Award in 1983, 1984, and 1986. He won the H. L. Mencken Award for Best Cartoon in 1985. And in 1990 he was named Best Punster.
Growing up I enjoyed Frank and Ernest. The gags did not always work. Sometimes the puns were truly atrocious. But it had an honesty and genuine quality to it lacking in many comic strips of the late Twentieth Century. It certainly looked like no other comic strip before or since it. It is sad to know that Thaves is gone.
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