Gary Panter

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For the sheriff of Midland County, Texas, see Gary Painter.

Gary Panter (born December 1, 1950 in Durant, Oklahoma) is an illustrator, painter, designer and part-time musician. Panter's work is representative of the post-underground, new wave comics movement that began with the end of Arcade: The Comics Revue and the initiation of RAW, one of the second generation in American underground comix. Attended East Texas State University now known as Texas A&M University-Commerce where he studied under Jack Unruh.

Panter has published his work in various magazines and newspapers, including Raw, Time and Rolling Stone magazine. He has exhibited widely, and won three Emmy awards for his set designs for Pee-Wee's Playhouse. His most notable works include Jimbo, Adventures in Paradise, Jimbo's Inferno and Facetasm, which was created together with Charles Burns.


Panter claims to have been influenced by among others, Frank Zappa's art director Cal Schenkel.[1] His comics are fast and hard and are drawn in an expressionistic manner. His works balance the worlds of painting, commercial art, illustration, cartoons, alternative comix, and music. Panter undertakes all of his projects with imaginative punk flair.[2]


As an early participant in the Los Angeles punk scene in the 1970s, Gary Panter defined the grungy style of the era with his drawings for Slash magazine and numerous record covers.

Some time around 1980, Panter's Rozz Tox Manifesto was published in the Ralph Records catalog, calling for artists to work within the capitalist system.

In the 1980s, he was the set designer for Pee Wee's Playhouse, where he won three Emmy Awards. Prior to Panter's work, kid shows had a more lulling aesthetic: everything was round, "cute", simplified, and pastel. The set of Pee-wee's Playhouse was the antithesis of pablum-art: it was dense as a jungle and jam-packed with surprises, often loud and abrasive ones.

While doing illustration and set designs, Panter kept up an active career as a cartoonist. His work in comics includes contributions to the avant-garde comics magazine RAW and the graphic novel Cola Madnes. Matt Groening, the creator of The Simpsons TV show, once noted that Panter "applied his fine-art training to the casualness of the comic strip, and the result was an explosive series of graphic experiments that are imitated in small doses all over the world today". Groening himself can be seen as an example of a cartoonist who has learned much from Panter. The jagged smashed-glass rawness of The Simpsons (think of Lisa's hair) can be traced back to the post-apocalyptic world that Panter was sketching in the early 1980s. The Simpsons could be seen as mutant escapees from Panter's early work.

Panter also created the online series Pink Donkey for Cartoon Network.

He has recently published Jimbo in Purgatory, and Jimbo's Inferno, lavishly produced graphic novels which incorporate classic literature elements (most prominently Dante's Divine Comedy) with pop and punk culture sensibilities. One of his paintings was used as the cover art for Yo La Tengo's album I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass.

He is best friends with Matt Groening. From 1978 to 1986, Panter was married to writer Nicole Panter, who was the manager of the notorious Los Angeles punk rock band, The Germs.


In 2010, the French publishing company United Dead Artists founded by Stéphane Blanquet published two books on the work of Gary Panter: The Wrong Box[3] and The Land Unknown[4]

Awards and honors[edit]

With Winsor McCay, Lyonel Feininger, George Herriman, Elzie Segar, Frank King, Chester Gould, Milton Caniff, Charles Schulz, Will Eisner, Jack Kirby, Harvey Kurtzman, Robert Crumb, Art Spiegelman and Chris Ware, Panter was among the artists honored in the exhibition "Masters of American Comics" at the Jewish Museum in New York City, from September 16, 2006 to January 28, 2007.[5][6]

An exhibition of originals of Gary Panter's drawings and paintings was shown at the Phoenix Art Museum in Phoenix, AZ from April 21 through August 19, 2007. An exhibition of paintings was at the Dunn and Brown Contemporary gallery in Dallas in October 2007.[citation needed]

A 2-volume monograph was published in March 2008 by PictureBox.[citation needed]

Panter was the recipient of the 2012 Klein Award, which is given by the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art at their annual MoCCA Art Festival in New York.


  1. ^ Gary panter interview
  2. ^ Chris Bors (May 8, 2008). "Gary Panter in New York". ARTINFO. Retrieved 2008-05-14 
  3. ^ United Dead Artists page on the book The Land Unknown website
  4. ^ United Dead Artists page on the book The Land Unknown website
  5. ^ "Exhibitions: Masters of American Comics". The Jewish Museum. Retrieved 2010-08-10. . WebCitation archive.
  6. ^ Kimmelman, Michael. "See You in the Funny Papers" (art review), The New York Times, October 13, 2006


External links[edit]