UNC Professor Inspired 'Shoe' Creator
Posted June 8, 2000
CHAPEL HILL — Cartoonist Jeff MacNelly died Thursday after his battle with cancer. He got his start in Chapel Hill and based his comic strip, "Shoe," on aUniversity of North Carolinaprofessor.
Jim Shumaker, UNC professor of journalism, is the "Shoe" in "Shoe." He says MacNelly was an absolute genius who had no ego at all.
"He was a huge guy. He had the biggest chin I've ever seen until Jay Leno came along," Shumaker says. "I didn't help him really. I mean no one taught him anything. He could do it all."
MacNelly planned to major in art at UNC, but he quit school in 1969. He signed on with the local paper and began a career that earned him three Pulitzer Prizes.
"His work is a view of ourselves in itself," says freelance cartoonist Cullum Rogers. "He had the edge, but he also had the great humor. He could see the joke."
MacNelly died of lymphoma. He was 52 years old.