Gary Panter (born December 1, 1950) is an American cartoonist, 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 main instigators of American alternative comics. The Comics Journal has called Panter the "Greatest Living Cartoonist."[3]

Gary Panter
Born (1950-12-01) December 1, 1950 (age 73)
Durant, Oklahoma, U.S.
Area(s)Cartoonist, Writer, Artist
Pseudonym(s)Gars Panter[1]
Notable works
Pee-wee's Playhouse set designs

Panter has published his work in various magazines and newspapers, including Time and Rolling Stone, and in notable comics anthologies such as Raw, BLAB!, Zero Zero, Anarchy Comics, Weirdo, Kramers Ergot, and Young Lust. He has exhibited widely, and won two Daytime Emmy Awards for his set designs for Pee-wee's Playhouse.[4] His most notable works include Jimbo: Adventures in Paradise, Jimbo's Inferno, and Facetasm, the latter of which was created together with Charles Burns (and which won a Firecracker Alternative Book Award).[5]



Panter was born in Durant, Oklahoma, and grew up in Brownsville, Texas, and Sulphur Springs, Texas.[6] He attended East Texas State University (now known as Texas A&M University-Commerce), where he studied under Jack Unruh and Lee Baxter Davis, where he was one of "The Lizard Cult."[7]

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

Panter created Jimbo, his punk everyman, in 1974.[8] Jimbo embodies elements of Jack Kirby and Picasso.[8] The character was a regular feature in Slash, Raw, and has been featured in his own comic book series and a number of graphic novels. Panter's good friend Matt Groening[9] said of Jimbo, "He and his friends are always up against systems of control... Jimbo is a wild combo-platter of brilliant drawing and stuff you didn’t know could be done with mere pen and ink."[8] (Groening has also admitted that Jimbo's spiky hairdo inspired the look of Bart Simpson.)[10] Jimbo in Purgatory (Fantagraphics, 2004) and Jimbo's Inferno (Fantagraphics, 2006) are lavishly produced graphic novels that incorporate classic literature elements (most prominently Dante's Divine Comedy) with pop and punk culture sensibilities. Jimbo's Inferno was given an American Book Award in 2007.[11]

In 1979,[12] Panter's Rozz Tox Manifesto was published in the Ralph Records catalog, calling for artists to work within the capitalist system.[13] He also worked on, with Jay Cotton, Pee-Dog: The Shit Generation for the Church of the SubGenius.

In the 1980s, he was the set designer for Pee-wee's Playhouse, where he won two Daytime Emmy Awards. Previously, children's 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.

Panter also created the online series Pink Donkey for Cartoon Network.[14]

In 2008, PictureBox published Gary Panter, a two-volume 700-page comprehensive overview of his work, including never-before-published sketches.

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[15] and The Land Unknown.[16]

Use by music artists


Warner Bros. Records commissioned Panter to paint the album covers for the unauthorized releases of Frank Zappa's albums Studio Tan (1978), Sleep Dirt and Orchestral Favorites (1979).

In 2006, one of Panter's 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.

Personal life


From 1978 to 1986, Panter was married to writer Nicole Panter, who was the manager of Los Angeles punk rock band the Germs. He later married art director Helene Silverman.[6]



Panter was influenced by, among others, Frank Zappa's art director Cal Schenkel.[17] 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.[18]



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.[19][20]

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

Awards and honors


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


  • Hup (self-published, 1977)
  • The Asshole (self-published minicomic, 1979)
  • Okupant X (Diana's Bimonthly Press, 1979)
  • Dal Tokyo (Fantagraphics Books, 1983)
  • Invasion of the Elvis Zombies (Raw Books, 1984)
  • (with Charles Burns) Facetasm (Gates of Heck, 1992)
  • Cola Madness (Funny Garbage, 2001)
  • 100.1: Drawings by Gary Panter (Plywood Press, 2004)
  • Satiro-Plastic: The Sketchbook of Gary Panter (Drawn and Quarterly, 2005)
  • Hey Dork!: The Sketchbook of Gary Panter (Drawn and Quarterly, 2007)
  • Gary Panter (PictureBox, 2008) [22]
  • The Land Unknown (Galerie Martel, 2009)
  • Songy of Paradise (Fantagraphics, 2017)[8]
  • Crashpad (Fantagraphics, 2021)






  1. ^ Jimbo: Adventures in Paradise. Pantheon Books. 1988.
  2. ^ "Inkpot Awards". San Diego Comic-Con International. Retrieved June 3, 2024.
  3. ^ Seneca, Matt (October 24, 2011). "IN THE LAND UNKNOWN WITH GARY PANTER". FEATURES. The Comics Journal.
  4. ^ "Daytime Emmy Awards". Retrieved June 3, 2024. 2 WINS & 3 NOMINATIONS
  5. ^ "Firecracker Alternative Book Awards". Archived from the original on March 4, 2009.
  6. ^ a b "Bio". Jimbo: Adventures in Paradise. Pantheon Books. 1988.
  7. ^ AGRESTA, MICHAEL (January 2, 2018). "HIS PET MONSTERS". The Texas Observer. Panter and his wild college cohort became known as the Lizard Cult...
  8. ^ a b c d Jennings, Dana (July 21, 2017). "When a Comic Book Hillbilly and Milton Collide". The New York Times.
  9. ^ Matt Groening On Gary Panter, May 27th, Los Angeles. Dan Nadel. June 13, 2008. Archived from the original on December 13, 2021. Retrieved October 23, 2021 – via YouTube.
  10. ^ a b Park, Ed (April 5, 2021). "Gary Panter's Jagged, Shape-Shifting Antihero Was Made for Our Moment". GRAPHIC CONTENT. The New York Times.
  11. ^ "'JIMBO' GETS AMERICAN BOOK AWARD". ICv2. October 30, 2007.
  12. ^ "Gary Panter". Lambiek.
  13. ^ Panter, Gary. "The Rozz-Tox Manifesto". New West Magazine – via
  14. ^ Owen Phillips (September 5, 2000). "Gary Panter's lo-fi, high-tech art". CNN. Retrieved June 19, 2024.
  15. ^ "The Wrong Box". United Dead Artists. Archived from the original on February 20, 2015.
  16. ^ "The Land Unknown". United Dead Artists. Archived from the original on February 20, 2015.
  17. ^ Pouncy, Edwin (2003). "Gary Panter interview". Archived from the original on October 28, 2008.
  18. ^ Chris Bors (May 8, 2008). "Gary Panter in New York". ARTINFO. Retrieved May 14, 2008.
  19. ^ "Exhibitions: Masters of American Comics". The Jewish Museum. Archived from the original on May 11, 2011. Retrieved 2010-08-10.. .
  20. ^ Kimmelman, Michael (October 13, 2006). "See You in the Funny Papers (art review)". The New York Times.
  21. ^ "Interview with avant-garde artist Gary Panter -- one of the first New Wave cartoonists in the 1970s". Interviewed by Michael Limnio. June 17, 2015. Retrieved October 23, 2021.
  22. ^ Brian McMullen (October 1, 2008). "Gary Panter". Bomb. Retrieved June 19, 2024.