COUGHLIN William Garnet

COUGHLIN William Garnet ‘Bing’

C:\Users\Robert\Documents\CARTOONING ILLUSTRATION ANIMATION\IMAGE OF PERSON\C\COUGHLIN William, Herbie & Friends, 1990, 24.jpg                                      Herbie & Friends, July 1990: 24

Sergeant William Garnet “Bing” Coughlin, the creator of “Herbie” was born in 1912 in Ottawa, where he attended elementary school before moving with his mother to Philadelphia in the United States after his father who was a train conductor was killed in a railway accident. He attended the Pennsylvania School of Industrial Art instead of high school and while studying there he drew sketches and cartoons for periodicals and newspapers but he did not take these efforts seriously. When he graduated he became a display advertising designer in Philadelphia. In 1940 he returned to Ottawa to work for a Canadian display company.

Bing enlisted as a trooper in the Princess Louise Dragoon Guards at Ottawa in 1941 and was later promoted to Sergeant. He took part in the invasion of Sicily and served four months in the Italian campaign all the while sketching cartoons for his own amusement and that of his fellow soldiers. Captain J. Douglas MacFarlane who was editor of The Maple Leaf, the Canadian Army newspaper, in Italy was advertising for cartoonists and Bing sent him some samples. MacFarlane liked them and had him transferred in January 1944 to the 2 Canadian Public Relations in Naples Italy where he became cartoonist for the newspaper:

Bing based “Herbie” on his own experiences in the Italian campaign and a friend. After he became a cartoonist he reinforced this experience by taking periodic trips to the front lines to visit with the troops.

When the war ended Bing returned to Ottawa. His plans to continue cartooning “Herbie” but in a civilian setting never materialized. After several years of underemployment, Bing in 1950 left for the U.S. responding to offers of stable employment. There he became an industrial designer. As Bing commented:

“I have had many promises but up to now have seen no results worthwhile.               This leaves me with no alternative but to accept employment of a substantial        nature where it is offered.  …                                                                                              I don’t like to leave Canada but … I am going to have no alternative.” [1]

He died at 85 years, 4 August 1991 in West Chester Pennsylvania.


Article book:

Herbie & Friends. Ed. & Writ., Barry D. Rowland. Natural Heritage/Natural History Inc., July 1990.

The Maple Leaf Scrapbook: Souvenir Book printed in Belgium at cost price to forces

Overseas. Belgique: No. 3 Canadian P.R. Group, no date: “Bing Coughlin”: 12 -16.

Article periodical:

Maclean’s Magazine, 1 June 1945: “Battle-Front Humourist” Writ.,  Royd E. Beamish: 10+.

Legion, October 1991: “Bing: Bing Coughlin 1905 – 1991”: 33-34.

 Article newspaper:

“Cartoonist Bing Coughlin Going To U.S.” newspaper unknown.

“Herbie creator dies at age 85.” newspaper unknown