Born: January 7, 1945, Orange, New Jersey
Died: March 5, 2017, Candor, New York
Jay Lynch, cartoonist, satirist, and counterculture archivist had a career that spanned more than six decades and made full use of his many graphic talents. He contributed to the earliest counterculture press, drew and edited many underground comic books, designed confectionary novelties and promotional products, and in later years painted a myriad of private commissions for fans of his work.
Jay Lynch saw himself as a cartoonist even when he was just a young whippersnapper. He liked to draw. He liked funny stuff. It just made sense. He enjoyed the strip There Ought to be a Law!, which appeared in his local paper. He noted that the cartoonists, Al Fagaly and Harry Shorten, invited readers to send in gag ideas, maybe events from their own lives, that could be adapted for the two-panel strip. The first panel set up a situation that required quick action, and the second showed how their best efforts went awry. The name and address of the person who suggested the joke was included in the strip. Lynch sent Fagaly and Shorten dozens of ideas but none of them were ever used. Rejection, he soon realized, was part and parcel of a cartoonist’s life, and he accepted that.
Many years later, There Ought to be a Law! provided inspiration for his Give ’Em an Inch series that appeared in Playboy during the 1980s. Similar setup, same sort of payoff, but with many more naked adults.
Lynch was a key figure in the underground comix movement, producing eight issues of Bijou Funnies with his partner-in-crime Skip Williamson. They were a vital part of what became one of the most revolutionary art movements of the 20th century. Lynch contributed to numerous other underground titles like Bogeyman, San Francisco Comic Book, Bizarre Sex, Arcade and Teen-age Horizons of Shangri-la. The last issue of Bijou Funnies featured Harvey Kurtzman-style parodies of popular underground comic characters drawn by other cartoonists. After the underground faded he moved into commercial work, overseeing the production of celebrity sticker books and fast food giveaways. He drew cartoons and illustrations for Playboy, Oui, and other men’s magazines.
His juvenile sense of humor was also in high demand at Brooklyn’s biggest bubble gum manufacturer, Topps Chewing Gum, who hired him to design cards and stickers, which prominently featured puke and booger jokes for Garbage Pail Kids, Wacky Packages, and many others. In recent years, he has worked on public interest campaigns, illustrated childrens books, and designed covers for the last remnant of the underground impertinence, Mineshaft magazine.
2017 Topps Jay Lynch GPK Wacky Packages Tribute Set
Jay Lynch died from complications of lung cancer in 2017. His personal archives are stored in his home in a small town inupstate New York, where he moved in 2000, and include every letter he ever received since 1958, every publication in which he has appeared, file cabinets full of notes and rough sketches, and extensive collections of humor magazines. He bequeathed his property and belongings to the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum at the Ohio State University.