James Kemsley was born in the Sydney suburb of Paddington, but lived for a few years with his parents and sister in New Guinea where his father served as mastor of patrol boats. He then attended the Roman Catholic boarding schools, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College (1958-60) and Chevalier College (1961-62), both located in Bowral, New South Wales. He also attended the Christian Brothers College at Rose Bay (1962-63). Afterwards he lived for a while with his father in Traralgon, Victoria.
Early TV and Acting Career
Kemsley attended the Independent School of Dramatic Art, North Sydney (1968-71) as well as a National Institute of Dramatic Art Playwright Forum in 1973 and a RADA Professional Workshop in London in 1979.
Kemsley's background was in acting and television. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Kemsley was known to children's television audiences as "Skeeter the Paperboy", an on-screen cap-wearing persona (who once said his full name was Amos Skeeter - a play on "a mosquito") that he portrayed as a cast member of The Super Flying Fun Show, and then as host of Skeeter's Cartoon Corner in Sydney and Melbourne, both on the Nine Network.
The daily afternoon program offered a mix of US-based cartoons (such as Wacky Races, Scooby Doo and The Archies), with viewer competitions. One of his tag lines on the telephone with viewer contestants who were unsuccessful was "golly gosh". When Kemsley left in 1973, Daryl Somers took over the time slot.
Kemsley studied acting at the Independent Theatre of Dramatic Art from 1969 - 1972 under Doris Fitton and attended the Playwright Forum at the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) in 1973 under the directorship of David Whittaker. He went on to write three successful children's plays, "The Land Of Coloured Dreams", "Once Upon A Time... And All That" and "The Magical Adventures of Puck".
Kemsley left Channel Nine and then studied in England at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA) in 1979.
In 1984 Kemsley was invited to take over the syndicated comic strip, Ginger Meggs, and several comic books featuring the character have since been published.
He has also contributed to The Traralgon Journal, Adelaide's Sunday Mail, Sydney's The Sun-Herald, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Daily Telegraph. Kemsley has twice served as the President of the Australian Cartoonists' Association.
Awards include the 2001 Stanley Award for Cartoonist of the Year, presented by the Australian Cartoonist's Association. In 1990 & 2004, Kemsley received the Stanley for Comic Strip Artist, as voted by his peers. Under Kemsley's pen and Atlantic Syndication's marketing, "Ginger Meggs" now appears in newspapers in over 120 newspaper in 30 countries.
- Allen, Peter (2007) Jack of all trades, mast of Meggs, James Kemsley, 1948-2007 (Obituary)
- "Ginger Megss cartoonist dies". Sydney Morning Herald. 4 December 2007. Retrieved 7 November 2011.
- Ginger Meggs website
- Portrait of James Kemsley, 1996 by Gary Ede
- Kemsley's T'rific Trivia (1988)
Select Bibliography of Kemsley's Books
- The Pocket Frogin' (Commercial Publications 1981 London)
- Ginger Meggs at Large (North Ryde: Angus and Robertson, 1985).
- A Look Inside Ginger Meggs (Melbourne: Budget Books, 1988).
- What's My Name Mean? (North Ryde: Angus and Robertson, 1987).
- The Infamous Adventures of Ginger Meggs (North Ryde: Angus and Robertson, 1987).
- Kemsley's T'rific Trivia (Melbourne: Budget Books, 1988).
- Wake Up, Ginger Meggs (North Ryde: Angus and Robertson, 1989).
- The Cartoon Book (Sydney, New York: Scholastic, 1990).
- The Cartoon Book 2 (Sydney, New York: Scolastic,1994)
- Images of Bradman with Peter Allen (Sydney: Allen and Kemsley, 1994).
- Some Day's You're a Legend - Some Days You Ain't (Sydney: Allen and Kemsley, 1995).
- When You're Into Graffiti - The Writing's On The Wall (Sydney: Allen and Kemsley, 1998).