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RIP James Kemsley

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RIP James Kemsley

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Date: December 05, 2007 01:05AM

Ginger Meggs cartoonist James Kemsley dies age 59
4th December 2007, 13:00 WST

Tributes are flowing in from around the world for Ginger Meggs cartoonist James Kemsley, who died yesterday aged 59.

Kemsley, who has been drawing the iconic comic strip since 1984, died at his home in Bowral NSW Australia, late yesterday after a two-year battle with motor neuron disease.

Ginger Meggs, which was first published in 1921, is the most syndicated Australian comic strip, appearing in more than 120 newspapers around the world.

Kemsley was the fourth artist to draw the comic, and was credited with taking it from a Sunday strip into a daily format.

Under his pen Ginger Meggs enjoyed unprecedented popularity.

Australian Cartoonists’ Association president Peter Broelman said Kemsley loved cartooning and was working on Ginger Meggs right until the end.

“He was working on Meggs that morning,” Mr Broelman said.

“He couldn’t draw as such but he was certainly writing ideas and ... involved in the production of Meggs.”

Kemsley, who was a former president of Cartoonists’ Association, was a mentor to up-and-coming cartoonists, Mr Broelman said.

“He was one of those few guys that you meet who always helped other people,” he said.

“He certainly helped me with advice and he didn’t limit his advice to anyone, and he was keen to help younger cartoonists I think basically out of a sense of camaraderie to further the greater good.”

A former actor who hosted Skeeter’s Cartoon Connection and starred in Seven Little Australians in the 1970s, Kemsley was a cricket tragic, a theatre lover and a St Kilda football club fan.

Mr Broelman said he had been inundated with messages from friends and colleagues of Kemsley’s from around the world.

“I’ve been receiving a lot of emails and phone calls, not only from Australia but from the US and from England, where he made a lot of friends over the years,” Mr Broelman said.

“He was one of those affable guys, just a friendly bloke who was quite happy to travel around the world just to meet other cartoonists.”

Kemsley leaves behind his wife Helen and three sons Jed, Hywel and Sebastian.

Award-winning cartoonist Jason Chatfield will take over the production on Ginger Meggs.