“Berry’s World” could often be topical, sometimes obliquely, but with enough of a personal “slice” and viewpoint of life that Jim became president of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. (Even glancing topicality, of course, can lead to controversy; according to lore, a passing reference to Scientology in a ’70s gag once greatly inflamed founder L. Ron Hubbard.)
“Berry’s World” could employ stock gag scenarios reminiscent of the New Yorker’s cartoon archives — say, a spin on a doomsday sandwich-board toter — but Jim’s twist forever felt fresh. His peers agreed, and he was a five-time recipient of National Cartoonists Society honors, as well as a National Headliners Club Award.
Syndicated by the NEA, Berry’s cartoons were distributed to about 1,000 papers at the feature’s peak, and the artist proudly said he never missed a deadline, as he created roughly 15,000 published works.
James Osmyn Berry was born in 1932 in Chicago, studied business administration and art at Ohio Wesleyan, and split his time between residing in Massachusetts and Florida.
Mr. Berry died last Friday in Boynton Beach, Fla., at age 83; his wife of nearly six decades, Heather D. Berry died last year. They are survived by two sons, a daughter-in-law and four grandchildren.
Several years before he retired his feature in 2003, I had the true pleasure to be seated next to Jim at a National Cartoonists Society ceremony. I was the newly signed talent, and he was the reassuring veteran. He was warm. He was witty. And, mostly, he was eminently welcoming.
Having long read “Berry’s World,” I expected nothing less.
(A memorial service will be Friday in Florida; the Massachusetts graveside service date will be announced later.)