Jim Mooney: 1919 - 2008
Jim was more than just a comic book artist - he was a consummate professional. There was nothing he couldn't draw, nothing he wouldn't try to draw. He was as good as they came. But there was more to Jim, much, much more. He worked at virtually every major, and not so major, company over a career that spanned nearly seven decades. His first work appeared in print about 18 months after the debut of Action Comics #1 and he worked well into the 1990s and off and on into early 2000, along the way becoming one of the most prolific artists of the genre. Indeed it could be argued, and I suspect successfully, that Jim drew more pages than anyone else. He penciled, he inked. But there was more to Jim than that.
Jim loved collecting American Indian artifacts. He loved restoring houses. He once told me, with justified pride, how he and his first wife bought an old Civil War era house and then spent a few years bringing it back to it's previous glory. He loved cats, oh, did he love cats. He'd take any opportunity to draw cats and he told me, more than once, that he loved putting Streaky into almost every Supergirl commission that he did. He had a wicked sense of humour. He loved going to hospitals and visiting sick kids where he'd draw Spider-Man for anyone who asked. He was generous to a fault and gave me, personally, much of his time so we could work on his official (as yet unpublished) biography. I learnt a lot about Jim from doing that book and I'd not trade that time for anything. One day that book will be published.
What sums Jim up to me is this: when we were working on the biography Jim gave me a list of people that he thought might be of interest. Everyone on that list, from Stan Lee to Steve Gerber, from Mark Evanier to Fred Hembeck - everyone - said the same thing when approached: "For Jim? Anything!" Not one person turned Jim down, nor did they let him down, because he never let anyone else down. Jim never turned in a bad page and he was always on time. I once asked him about that and he told me that he'd been late on a job once and was told, in no uncertain terms, that there were plenty of other artists out there who wanted work. Faced with the prospect of unemployment, Jim made damn sure that he was on time, if not early, on any job he did. He saved many a bad penciler from their own flaws by making other artists look better than they were. He was good, he was better than good.
When I'm a bit less upset I'll write some more about Jim, about the artist and about the man himself.