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Christopher Wheeler | profile | all galleries >> Cartoon(ist) Gallery >> Bill Hume tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Bill Hume

(March 16, 1916 - June 27, 2009)

Man of many talents: sculptor, artist, actor, playwright, ventriloquist, prestidigitator, author, clown, newspaper man, father, husband, photographer, animator, TV producer, corporate art director, and, most importantly for present purposes, a first-rate cartoonist.

After graduating from Hickman (Missouri) High School at age 15, Mr. Hume attended the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism, developing his creative talents as he went along. Like other young men of his era, Mr. Hume served his country during World War II, providing him with a wealth of material to use in his cartooning pursuits.

On March 17, 2006, Bill Clark of the Columbia (MO) Daily Tribune published a lovely piece about Mr. Hume, who turned ninety the day before. After recounting Hume’s early days (and describing him as that man of many talents), Clark wrote:

“After a stint at the Kansas City Art Institute, he wound up in the U.S. Navy during World War II. It was as a swab jockey at Coco Solo Naval Base in Panama that he got his start on his Hall of Fame career as a ventriloquist. It was in Panama, too, that he developed his talent as a cartoonist and started on the fast track toward international acclaim. Her first words were always "Que Pasa," and Bill parlayed those words into a cartoon character named "Kay Pasa." The GI newspaper, "Yank," labeled Bill "the U.S. Navy's most talented service man."

"In 1951, the Navy reactivated Bill and sent him to Japan, where he was a petty officer in charge of damage control. As he had done in Panama, Bill landed on the local base newspaper, the Oppaman, and created a cartoon character he called "Babysan." He worked with John Annarino, the editor of Oppaman and later an advertisement executive who became famous for his "Get Small" ad for Volkswagon. Bill did the artwork, John the commentary, and Babysan moved from a cartoon to a book and outsold Hemingway and Spillane in the Japanese-American market.
"I didn't invent Babysan," he says. "I just reported life as it was." (Babysan was a beautiful Japanese girl dressed in the latest Western-style clothes, speaking broken English. Any military man who served in the Far East during U.S. occupation can relate to Babysan. Both Babysan and Bill Hume would probably be politically incorrect today, but they were immensely popular in both Japan and the United States in their time. So popular, in fact, that "Babysan" was banned in Japan as a bad influence on young Japanese women.)”

Mr. Hume was married for 57 years and survives his wife, Mary, who died in February of 2005. They have two (lucky) children.

In 2008, Mr. Hume kindly signed a couple of his books for me. Many thanks, Bill!

June 27, 2009: Bill passed away today at a ripe, ripe age. Farewell.
Bill Hume in 2006 (courtesy Gene Baumann)
Bill Hume in 2006 (courtesy Gene Baumann)
When We Get Back Home (1953) (inscribed)
:: When We Get Back Home (1953) (inscribed) ::
Babysan (1953) (inscribed)
:: Babysan (1953) (inscribed) ::
Babysan's World (1954)
Babysan's World (1954)