downthetubes is sorry to report the death of San Francisco cartoonist Phil Frank, whose cartoons graced the pages ofthe city’s The Chronicle and other newspapers for more than 30 years. He was 64. Paying tribute to Phil, The Chronicle reports he died on Wednesday night in West Marin, a place he loved, only a few days after he announced his retirement from drawing his well known and much loved strip Farley because of illness.
Frank’s alter ego was a newspaper reporter on The Daily Requirement and sometime park ranger named Farley, the central character in his Farley comic strip, which he once described as “really a horizontal column, documenting the life and times of the characters in the Bay Area.” It was the only local comic strip in the United States, and included a cast of characters that included politicians, bears that ran a restaurant called the Fog City Dumpster in San Francisco and were rabid San Francisco Giant fans, a raven named Bruce, feral cats and assorted humans like Velma Melmac, a female camper who spent her time trying to make nature just like her suburban home.
Fellow cartoonist and close friend Michael Jantze, who draws The Norm, describes Phil as “one of the brightest stars in our Northern California cartoonist galaxy. A friend, a mentor and about the nicest guy on Earth to so many of us. He’ll be missed.”
Phil Bronstein, editor of The Chronicle says Phil Frank was one of those rare artists whose work really defined and articulated the spirit of San Francisco.
“Like his main character, Farley, Phil was a consummate and devoted journalist and proved that great reporting on this unique place can take many forms. We’ll sorely miss Phil, the characters he made us feel so connected to and the way in which he saw the world.”
• Update 8 October 2007:
• Grief, whimsy converge at send-off for Farley cartoonist Phil Frank
San Francsico Chronicle, 25 September 2007: Led by a brass jazz band, creatures from the life and times of the late cartoonist Phil Frank paraded around San Francisco’s Washington Square – 40 uniformed park rangers, seven horses, Giants mascot Lou Seal and hundreds of people dressed as creatures from Frank’s imagination celebrated his life.
• Phil Frank, Honorary State Ranger
16 September 2007: Dan Winkelman celebrates the life and times of Phil Frank