Mary Anne Grimes


Frank & Ernest Creator Bob Thaves Dies at 81

NEW YORK, August 4 -- Bob Thaves, creator of the innovative comic panel Frank & Ernest, died Tuesday in Torrance, California. He was 81.

For more than three decades, Frank & Ernest has continued its tradition of innovative humor that has delighted millions of readers daily since 1972. Frank & Ernest stars Frank and Ernest, playful punsters with the ability to appear as any person, place or thing in any time period, past, present or future. The constant element is the pair’s “frank and earnest” iconoclastic attitude. Frank & Ernest is distributed to more than 1,300 newspapers worldwide by Newspaper Enterprise Association, and is read by more than 25 million people every day, making it one of today’s most popular comics. Frank & Ernest will continue to be produced by Thaves’ son, Tom, who has collaborated with his father on the strip since 1997.

“Bob Thaves was a wonderful man, a talented cartoonist, and a comic strip innovator,” said Lisa Klem Wilson, United Media’s Senior Vice President and General Manager. “All of us at United Media enjoyed working with him and representing his brilliant creation, Frank & Ernest.”

Thaves was a three-time winner of the National Cartoonists Society’s Reuben Award for Best Syndicated Panel and was given the Free Press Association’s Mencken Award for Best Cartoon. He was voted “Punster of the Year” by the International Save the Pun Foundation and just this year was recognized as a Champion of Creativity by the American Creativity Association.

Creator Bob Thaves was a master of the twisted phrase and skewed outlook. A true innovator, Thaves’ Frank & Ernest was the first comic panel presented in a strip format. It was the first to vary the roles of its characters and the first to use block lettering. It was also the first to use comic book-style digital coloring for the Sunday pages. Frank & Ernest was one of the first comic strips to have its own Web site,, which has included several components including the first 3-D interactive comics based on a comic strip.

Thaves, who held both bachelors and masters degrees in psychology from the University of Minnesota, began cartooning as a kid and never stopped. He created Frank & Ernest while working as a consultant in industrial psychology in California.

Thaves is survived by his wife of 52 years, Katie, of Manhattan Beach, Calif.; son Tom; daughter Sara; and son-in-law Michael van Eckhardt.

Newspaper Enterprise Association and United Feature Syndicate are divisions of United Media, the information and entertainment company that develops and markets 150 comic strips and editorial features worldwide, including Peanuts, Dilbert, Get Fuzzy, Pearls Before Swine, Miss Manners, Nat Hentoff, and Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole. United Media ( is a wholly owned subsidiary of The E.W. Scripps Company. # # # 080406



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