Lawrence resident and The New Yorker cartoonist Jack Ziegler dies

Lawrence resident and The New Yorker cartoonist Jack Ziegler, who published more than 1,600 cartoons in the magazine during his career, has died.

Ziegler, born in Brooklyn, N.Y., began contributing cartoons to the magazine more than 40 years ago. In a recent New Yorker post, Ziegler was referred to as the “Godfather of Contemporary New Yorker Cartoonists.”

Jack Ziegler is pictured in downtown Lawrence in 2014.

Ziegler was asked in an interview last year whether he was aware that his work was different from that of the previous decades when he began contributing to The New Yorker. Ziegler responded that he had “no inkling” of that, and that while he thought the cartoons at that time were good, too many of them weren’t making him laugh the way they had when he was a kid.

“I wanted to do drawings that were funny to me, and not necessarily to anyone else,” Ziegler said. “I was out to please myself, so I never asked: Is this a New Yorker cartoon? Who knows? Is this a Jack Ziegler cartoon? Yep.”

The characters in his cartoons might be human or animal, and the humor satirical or lighthearted. In one cartoon, a father at a family meeting says, “Kids, your mother and I have spent so much money on health insurance this year that instead of vacation we’re all going to go in for elective surgery.” In another, a man mows his yard while in the foreground one bug says to another, “The gods seem angrier than usual today.”

For the past six years, Ziegler’s cartoons have gone to the magazine by way of his home in west Lawrence. Ziegler’s wife, Kelli, is from Kansas, which is what brought them to the area, according to his daughter Jessica Ziegler.

“So that’s how they ended up coming back here,” Jessica Ziegler said. “They loved the whole college town thing.”

She said that her father worked from home and loved to sit outside and watch people go by the adjacent golf course. Of her father’s nonworking time in Lawrence, she said he enjoyed the restaurants, KU basketball games and going out to have a martini or see a concert.

“He’s a huge music fan, so the fact that modern music would come through and he’d be able to go see things without the drama of going all the way into Kansas City or something like that was great,” she said.

A lot of the pleasures of life seemed to make it into Ziegler’s cartoons as well. In one, a man pauses at a fork in the road, pondering a sign that indicates “the meaning of life” is one way and “cheese and crackers” is the other. Hamburgers or cocktails often appear, including a scene of the Last Supper in which below the glass-strewn table the caption reads, “One more round and then we should probably order.”

Ziegler also published eight collections of drawings, including a book of food cartoons, one of drinking cartoons and one of dog cartoons, according to his New Yorker biography page. “The Essential Jack Ziegler” was published in 2000.

Ziegler, 74, died Wednesday at University of Kansas hospital. His wife, Kelli Ziegler, and his first wife, Jean Ann Ziegler, survive him, as well as his three children, Jessica, Benjamin and Maxwell.