NEW YORK -- Jim Raymond, the artist who drew the 'Blondie' comic strip for more than 40 years, died Wednesday at his home in Boynton Beach, Fla., after a long illness. He was 64.
Raymond collaborated with Chic Young, the creator of what became the world's most widely published comic strip in the world, until Young's death in 1973.
Since then, Raymond had been working up until last year with Chic's son, Dean Young, who now writes the scripts and gags for the strip.
Six months ago, because of his declining health, Raymond's artistic chores for the comic strip were taken over completely by his assistant of 17 years, Mike Gersher, who will continueto collaborate with Dean Young.
Syndicted by King Features, 'Blondie' runs in more than 1,800 daily and Sunday newspapers with an estimated readership of some 150 million people daily.
Born James Crossley Raymond on Feb. 25, 1917, in Riverside, Conn., Raymond was one of seven children, including his brother Alex, also a cartoonist who created 'Flash Gordon' and 'Jungle Jim,' among several other comic strips.
Raymond drew for his high school paper, but was kicked out of art class for a caricature he did of his teacher.
He worked under several artists before linking up with Young and gradually becoming his fulltime assistant.
In 1937, Young went to Europe to live for a year and King Features appointed Raymond to fill in as artist and writer of 'Blondie.' The substitution was successful and hen Young returned, Raymond continued to draw the strip.
Raymond moved to Delray Beach, Fla., in the 1950s. He and his wife, Helen, also maintained a home in Bermuda.
Besides his wife, he is survived by his four sons, three stepchildren, and nine grandchildren.
A memorial Mass will be offered at St. Vincent de Paul Seminary, Boynton Beach, Friday.