SPKIMINS James Nathaniel

C:\Users\Robert\Documents\CARTOONING ILLUSTRATION ANIMATION\IMAGE OF PERSON\S\SIMPKINS James, Beastley Ballads, dj.jpg                                 Beastly Ballads, Dust jacket.

James Nathaniel Simpkins, born 26  November 1910 in Winnipeg. was the creator of “Jasper The Bear,” a regular cartoon feature of Maclean’s magazine for about 24 years and the mascot of the Jasper National Park community in Alberta.

James studied at the Winnipeg School of Art and his first job was as a commercial illustrator for the Hudson’s Bay Company’s Beaver Magazine. During World War II, he joined the army medical corps as an illustrator and after the war in 1945 he joined the National Film Board as a staff artist where he worked for sixteen years. After becoming a freelancer, he continued to be a regular contributor. Although he drew strip films “.. which are like cartoon strips you can project on a screen …” he never put Jasper on film.

His endearing “Jasper” character first appeared in Maclean’s magazine as an unnamed character on 1 December 1948. At least partly because of the doctor’s bills piling up  James had “headed for Toronto in the fall of 1948 to show Maclean’s editors a group of his cartoons. As he recounts, “The art editor asked if I would try to develop an animal character that would be distinctively Canadian (‘but no Bertie-the-Beavers, please’) and suggested I rough out thirty-five samples as a start. We agreed it should be a bear and I went home to my sketch pad until I had thirty-five bear jokes, of which the magazine accepted only six.” From that beginning the character became a magazine fixture.

In addition to Jasper, Simpkins did monthly cartoons for The Medical Post which were collected and published as When’s The Last Time You Cleaned Your Navel? He also freelanced with clients including the Toronto Star, magazines in Canada and the U.S., book publishers, and add agencies. He did the series “Simpkin’s Montreal” a cartoon feature three times a week  for the Montreal Gazette beginning 6 August 1962, and he was commissioned to do a Canadian postage stamp commemorating Canada’s world champion hockey players.

James has described his work place and home  as: “ a ten by twelve room up under the gingerbread eaves of a rambling Victorian house originally built eighty-five years ago as a summer home overlooking the St. Lawrence [River] at Beaconsfield near Montreal.”

In 1994 he was the recipient of the first Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the Toronto Cartoonists Society. On 14 May 2016, he was inducted into the “Giants of the North hall of fame operated by the Doug Wright Awards committee.

He died 1 February 2004 in Dundas Ontario.




 Content story & Cover book front:

Jasper and the Cubs. Copp Clark Publishing Co., 1970.


 Content serial:

 Potlatch presents The 1980 Comics Annual. Ed., Ian Carr. Potlatch Publications, 1979:             “Cave-in”: 68.                                                                                                                       “Cave-in.”: 92.


Content panel & Cover book front:

When’s the last time you cleaned your navel?” Potlatch Publications, 1976.

Content panel & Cover book front & back:

Jasper. McClelland & Stewart Ltd., 1972.

 Content panel & Cover book wrap around:

Jasper. Burns & MacEachern Ltd.& Rinehart & Co., Inc., 1960.

Content panel & Cover dust jacket front & back:

Jasper. Ryerson Press, Oct. 1954.


Content story:

 Canadian Children’s Annual, 1978. Ed., R. F. Neilson. Art Dir., M. Tach. Potlatch Publications, 1977:                                                                                                                        “Jasper’s Cubs”: 140.                                                                                                          “Vikings arrive in Newfoundland”:173.


Content panel cartoon:

 Maclean’s, 16 Apr. 1965: “Jasper: “Boy do I need a shave”: 32.

Montrealer Expo 67, 41-5,May 1967: “Man In His Worldiness”: 26. A page of humorous panels connected with Expo 67.  



 Content collection essay humour & Cover book front:

In Darkest Domestica. Writ., Eric Nicole. PaperJacks, 1972.  

Shall We Join The Ladies. Toronto: PaperJacks 1972.

Content collection essay humour & Cover dust jacket front:

Girdle Me A Globe. Writ., Eric Nicole. Ryerson Press, 1957.

In Darket Domestica. Writ., Eric Nicole.Ryerson Press, 1959.

 Content information & Cover book front:

Canada’s Monsters. Writ., Betty Sanders Garner. Potlatch Publications, 1976.

 Content Poetry & Cover dust jacket front:

 Beastly Ballads. Writ., Stuart Hemsley. Toronto: Burns & MacEachern Ltd. 1954.




Canadian Children’s Annual, 1977. Ed., Robert F. Neilson. Art Dir., Mary Tach. Potlatch Publ.,  1976:                                                                                                                                 “Hi! Welcome To Jasper’s Game Forest.” Writ., William Ettridge: 36-39.                           “Chopper’s Challenging Conundrums: Weights & Measures.” Writ., W. Ettridge, J.            Hunt & N. Charles. 95-99.


Canadian Children’s Annual, 1978. Ed., R. F. Neilson. Art Dir., M. Tach. Potlatch Publ. 1977: “Introducing Sir Issac Newton.” Writ., William Ettridge: 99-101.


Canadian Children’s Annual, 1978. Ed., R. F. Neilson. Art Dir., M. Tach. Potlatch Publ., 1977: “Do You Read Me Over.” Writ., William Ettridge: 97-98. (Citizen’s band radio.)


Canadian Children’s Annual, 1979. Ed., R. F. Neilson. Art Dir., M. Tach. Potlatch Publ. 1978: “Ring-Tailed Clown.” Writ., Jo Ellen Bogart: 88-90.


Canadian Children’s Annual, 1977. Ed., R. F. Neilson. Art Dir., M.Tach. Potlatch Publ., 1976: “The Summer Of The Moon Goddess.”  Writ., Barbara Hendershot: 80-84

Cover book back:

Canadian Children’s Annual, 1977. Ed., R. F. Neilson. Art Dir., M. Tach. Potlatch Publ., 1976.



 Maclean’s 18 February 1956.

Maclean’s 27 April 1957 “With Jasper’s apologies to Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven.”

Maclean’s 6 July 1963.

Content journalism:

Maclean’s, 1 Dec. 1950: “Never Get Friendly With A Friendly Bear.” Writ., Fred Bodsworth. 23.

Star Weekly Magazine, July 5, 1958: “Canada 100 Years From Now.” Writ., Emile Schurmacher: 24-26.


“Jasper: Seasons Greetings/Meilleurs voeux, no date. 1155 mm h X 860 mm w.



Content memoir:

Maclean’s, 6 July 1963: “How I was trapped by Jasper the bear for Maclean’s Magazine”: 15-17.


Colouring Book:

Jasper’s Journey Across Canada/Le Voyage de Jasper à traverse Le Canada. Irwin Specialties/Irwin Toy Ltd., no date.


 Article periodical:

Maclean’s, 6 July 1963:                                                                                                                “How I was trapped by Jasper the bear for Maclean’s Magazine.” Writ.,                             J. Simpkins: 15-17.                                                                                                           “Jasper 1948 … Jasper 1963”: 51.

Maclean’s, 21 March 1994: “Grin and bear it”: 55

Taddle Creek, 41, Summer 2018: “Distinctly Canadian.” Writ., Conan Tobias. 33.



                                    When Was The Last Time You Cleaned Your Navel: Front cover.

In Darkest Domestica, Paperjack, 1972: Front cover.                                                      Shall We Join The Ladies, Paperjack, 1972: Front cover.