Tom Wilson, the talented illustrator who created the optimistic Ziggy character for American Greetings, passed away Friday from complications due to pneumonia at a hospital in Cincinnati. He was 80.
Wilson first published Ziggy in 1969 in a cartoon collection titled When You’re Not Around. The strip, which was launched in 15 newspapers in 1971, now appears in more than 500 daily and Sunday papers and also has a lucrative book, calendar and greeting card line.
His son Tom Wilson Jr., who took over the strip after his father’s retirement in the 80′s said his father was always optimistic and passionate about everything he did. “He loved ideas and he loved creating: that was really what drove him. He wasn’t a loser in that sense, because his passion just came out and inspired everyone around him.”
Ziggy starred in the ABC Christmas special Ziggy’s Gift, which won a 1983 Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program, and was re-released on DVD in 2005. The special was directed by Richard Williams (Who Framed Roger Rabbit) and featured the talents of top-notch animators such as Eric Goldberg and Tom Sito.
According to Universal Uclick, Wilson was also the head of a creative team that developed the Strawberry Shortcake and Care Bears character licensing.
Besides his son, Wilson is survived by his wife, Carol, and daughters Ava and Julie.