What a fun morning! About every six months I try to pull together a group of folks to get with our buddy Jim Ivey for a marathon breakfast session. This time we belatedly celebrated Jim’s 92nd birthday! That’s Jim Ivey to the far right, me, Mike Sikes, Bill Black, John Beatty, Cliff Weikal and Jim (missed his last name). Taking the photo was Steven Martinez.
Jim Ivey is one of my oldest [as in been a friend the longest], oldest [as in age] and dearest friends. I first met Jim in the mid 1970’s when he was running The Cartoon Museum in Orlando, Florida. At the same time Jim was working as a syndicated cartoonist [The Thoughts of Man], a political cartoonist [The Orlando Sentinel], a publisher [CartooNews], teacher [UCF cartooning class] and even a comic book convention organizer [OrlandoCon]. I was just graduating high school and into collecting comic books and later original art. Jim’s shop was like heaven.
Going to The Cartoon Museum became a weekly trip [almost always accompanied by my best friend, John Beatty]. When I moved to Orlando to attend UCF, my trips to Jim’s Cartoon Museum became even more frequent. We’d spend the day shooting the breeze and playing cards [blackjack, gin, hearts, poker] and would occasionally stop for lunch or Jim to make a sale. Jim hated it when business got in the way of fun!
You never knew who would come through the store. Sometimes it was other buddies like Bill Black [pictured in the photo above with Jim and I], Mike Kott, Rafael Kayanan, or Robert Smith. Sometimes it was established artists like Mike Zeck, Bob McLeod, Bruce Stark or so many others.
As the years have gone by and we’ve all gone in different directions. Many of us correspond via e-mail, but Jim doesn’t mess with computers. So it’s snail mail correspondence for us. I love getting my letters from Jim. Just like when we’d go to his shop and you’d never know what would be waiting; it’s the same experience opening an envelope from Jim.
Getting back to today’s breakfast…
John Beatty, Cliff and I went in on stogies for Jim — got him some really nice cigars individually rolled ones from a specialty shop. Other gifts included a nice Prince Valiant book, a Bill Black movie, a homemade carrot cake and more. Jim was truly touched that so many old friends made the trip to honor him. Old stories followed faster that our ice tea refills. It was a wonderful time for all. My guess is that our next get-together will be more of the same. How could it not be when old friends make a point to re-connect?