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Biographies of the Stars

James Swinnerton

James Guilford Swinnerton was born on November 13, 1875 in Eureka, California. His father was Judge J.W. Swinnerton and also the founder of the Humboldt Star.

Jimmy got his first job in Journalism 1892 at William randolph Hearst's San Francisco Examiner where Swinnerton created a weekly cartoon panel that was featured in the Examiner's children's section. The panel, first called the "California Bears", and then "the Little Bears". The popularity of Swinnerton's "bears" led to an ever growing list of assignments frequently putting Jimmy's art on the front pages of the paper.

In 1896 Swinnerton moved to New York City to work for Hearst's Journal American where he worked alongside George Herriman, Tad Dorgan, Harry Hershfield, George McManus and others.

The main purpose of the move was that Hearst neeeded to have his "men on the spot" so to speak. The previous year, Jospeh Pulitzer's "The World" had introduced "the Yellow Kid" whihc had become an enormous success. Hearst was no idiot and he saw from both Swinnerton's success with the Little Bears and the the Yellow Kid's success at the World what a goldmine there may have been under his nose. These were fertile times for the fledging medium, and many seeds needed planting.

Once in New York Swinnerton created a strip known as "Noah's Ark" (or "Mount Ararat") and then another animal strip featuring tigers instead of his bears. The Little Tigers as the strip became known was an immediate hit. The cute felines and Swinnerton's wry wit entranced kids from six to sixty.

A bit later the strip was rechristened "Mr. Jack" and featuring a boorish womanizing tiger dressed in tux and tails. Then he created his most well known feature, "Little Jimmy" about a little boy constantly in the thick of innocent mischief.

In 1920 Jimmy moved to Los Angeles to recuperate from tuberculosis. He had been told by his doctor that he would likely not live very long , but he fooled them on that one living to 98 years.

In the west he began to paint western scenes and it was not very long before he became a very popular western artist. He is recognized as one of the top artists in the field of western oil painting and many of his paintings hang in museums throughout the southwest.

Multi talented and ever famous, Jimmy Swinnerton is one of a small handful of people responsible for the birth and proliferation of the comic medium.

He died in Palm Springs September 8, 1974.

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