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A fond farewell to Bob Banks, 1923-2009

Bob Banks, on a visit to the TransLink offices last year.

Bob Banks, on a visit to the TransLink offices last year.

I’m sad to report that longtime Buzzer cartoonist Bob Banks passed away on Sunday, May 17, at the age of 86.

For those who don’t know, Bob spent 22 years as the Buzzer’s cartoonist, illustrating our newsletter from 1954 to 1976. His cartoons were a beloved fixture of the Buzzer, and still something that many people talk about fondly even today.

I was lucky enough to meet Bob last year, after I tracked him down for a Buzzer anniversary article. At 85, Bob was still spry, amazingly funny, and incredibly humble.

A Bob Banks cartoon from the Feb. 16, 1962 Buzzer.

A Bob Banks cartoon from the Feb. 16, 1962 Buzzer.

He was happy to talk about his time with the Buzzer and his long career as a professional illustrator. He had been illustrating in the Lower Mainland since 1954, drawing everything from annual reports to maps to calendars for clients like B.C. Electric, CP Air, Canfor, the RCMP, and the B.C. government.

He also drew local icons Century Sam and Century Sue, the mascots for B.C.’s centennial celebrations. (Here’s a Globe and Mail article on Bob with even more stories from his career.)

And last year, TransLink was also lucky enough to rekindle a working relationship with Bob.

We commissioned him to do a special cartoon for the 60th anniversary of the trolleys last year, and showcased his work at the Stanley Park trolley celebration. Bob came to the event, and encountered many transit enthusiasts who were so happy to meet him. I’m not certain he knew just how loved his Buzzer cartoons were, and it was wonderful to show him how much he mattered to everyone.

Ah, Bob Banks. I am glad to have met you, and I know you will be missed, sir!

A celebration of his life will be held on Saturday May 30, at 10 a.m. at the Boal Chapel, 1505 Lillooet Road in North Vancouver.

And to celebrate Bob’s memory, I have put together a selection of illustrations from the 1950s and 1960s. I hope you will enjoy them and remember Bob warmly too.

Published in the Nov. 4, 1960 Buzzer.

Published in the Nov. 4, 1960 Buzzer.

Published in the Oct 19, 1962 Buzzer.

Published in the Oct 19, 1962 Buzzer.

An unpublished Banks cartoon. (Bob would typically draw 2 or 3 for each issue, and not every cartoon made it in.)

An unpublished Banks cartoon. (Bob would typically draw 2 or 3 for each issue, and not every cartoon made it in.)

Published in the Dec. 4, 1963 Buzzer. (Transit at the time was a concern of B.C. Hydro, so cartoons on electricity were often featured.)

Published in the Dec. 4, 1963 Buzzer. (Transit at the time was a concern of B.C. Hydro, so cartoons on electricity were often featured.)

Published in the Nov. 2, 1962 Buzzer.

Published in the Nov. 2, 1962 Buzzer.

Published in the Nov. 23, 1962 Buzzer.

Published in the Nov. 23, 1962 Buzzer.

Published in the May 12, 1961 Buzzer. This cartoon refers to the Pacific Stage Lines coach tours, which would take residents out to local holiday destinations.

Published in the May 12, 1961 Buzzer. This cartoon refers to the Pacific Stage Lines coach tours, which would take residents out to local holiday destinations.


3 Comments

  • By Robert, May 29, 2009 @ 12:49 pm

    Sadly missed and warmly remembered.

  • By Darcie Wright, June 23, 2009 @ 7:37 pm

    Bob was a wonderful and funny man. I will fondly remember him and hold my memories of him close to my heart. He will be truly be missed.

  • By Kira McGann, June 25, 2009 @ 5:29 pm

    He was the best and only Great Uncle I ever new. A truly talented individual. Love Ya Uncle Bob.

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