July 31, 2023 posted by Jerry Beck

Jim Korkis 1950-2023

Jim Korkis (circa 1993) – photo by: John Cawley

Today we celebrate Jim Korkis – who left us last week to teach slang to St. Peter. He produced 612 posts for this blog, Cartoon Research, spanning March 15th 2013 through March 17th, 2023 – exactly ten years – sometimes only weekly, sometimes more than once a week.

When I departed Cartoon Brew to revive/reboot this website, Jim was the first person to contact me about being a part. I immediately took him up on his offer and give him a weekly berth. He never let me down – in fact, he sent me his columns weeks, and months, in advance! I never had to sweat about Fridays – Jim had me covered.

Jim and I go way back. We “met” as two regular contributors to David Mruz’s animation fanzine Mindrot – starting in 1976!

I can’t recall when we met in person – probably at at San Diego Comic Con in the early 1980s – but we became instant friends. When I joined Apatoons in the early 80s with the second mailing – Jim was already there from from the first coalition (where he had submitted TWO zines – thus his contributions were always numbered one-ahead of the actual mailing. Re: his issue #3 was in the second mailing – and so on).

Visiting Jim in Orlando, in 2010.

I moved to LA in 1986 and the company I was employed by started Animation Magazine. Jim was once again an inaugural contributor – and eventually a long-running columnist there. Back then, Jim was the go-to guy for animation information.

And here’s the thing: he was a super-nice guy. Happy, funny, smiling. That’s how I’ll remember him. He was a school teacher, a magician, and an occasional actor.

He was also a FRIEND.

I’m still trying to process the loss. I’ve asked several of our past Cartoon Research contributors to send me their thoughts. You’ll read them below.

Rest in Peace, Jim. You were one of the best.

Jim Korkis, in his own words – as told to Didier Ghez: James (“Jim”) Patrick Korkis was born August 15th, 1950, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He passed away at the age of 72 of stage four colon cancer on July 28th, 2023. He is survived by his two brothers Michael and Chris. Jim was divorced and had no children.

Jim on the pilot for “The Origins Game” (embed below)

When he was five years old his family moved to Glendale, California where Jim grew up attending Edison Elementary School (where one of the teachers was Mrs. Disney, the wife of Walt’s older brother Herbert), Roosevelt Junior High, Hoover High, Glendale Junior College and Occidental College where he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree and Master’s Degree with a major in English and a minor in Theater Arts. After graduation he spent two decades teaching English and Drama at Huntington Middle School in San Marino, California. Jim helped pay his way through college by working at the Los Angeles Zoo as a driver and tour guide.

Jim was known as a comics historian writing a column of comics trivia for Amazing Heroes as well as articles for Comic Book Marketplace, Comics Artist and more. He was a vendor at the San Diego ComicCon for several years with the company he co-owned, Korkis and Cawley’s Cartoon and Comic Company. He wrote introductions of over three dozen Malibu Graphics collections of vintage comic strips and comic books.

Jim was known as an animation historian who wrote long-running columns for Animation Magazine, Animato!, Animania, Comic Journal, and more. For the last ten years he wrote a weekly column for With writing partner John Cawley he co-wrote four books about animation like Cartoon Confidential.

In California, Jim also pursued a career in theater. He appeared in over 100 theatrical productions, starting with Glendale Center Theater. He directed over 100 stage performances. He did some occasional voice over work.

Disney Archivist David R. Smith (left) with Jim

With his brothers, Jim appeared at The Gong Show, The Dating Game and Family Feud. By himself he appeared on Camouflage (where he won a Cadillac) and the pilot The Origins Game (embed below). He appeared on Entertainment Tonight as a Disney historian.

With his brother Mike, Jim developed a comedy magic act as part of a show he wrote and directed at Six Flags Magic Mountain Lucky Louies Roaring ‘20s Revue. They performed at the Variety Arts Theater, Johnathan Clubs, J.C. Penny and more. Jim was a performer in Pelican’s Corner at Magic Mountain and helped design the Halloween Haunted Mountain promotion.

In 1995 he moved to Orlando, Florida to take care of his ailing mom and dad. Jim became identified as a Disney historian and worked as a performer (Merlin in the Sword in the Stone ceremony and Prospector Pat in Frontierland), an animation instructor at The Disney Institute, Guest Relations at Epcot, tour instructor with Disney Adult Discoveries, and coordinator with The Disney Learning Center. He was brought as a special consultant for Disney Cruise Line, Disney Vacation Club, Imagineering and Animation (where he taught different classes for interns) among other departments.

Disney laid off Jim in 2009 along with thousands of others. Jim started writing books about all things Disney and ended up producing over three dozen books. He was a popular guest on podcasts.

Jim’s last words: “There are so many books I wanted to read or re-read, so many movies and television shows I wanted to see or re-see and more many food treats I wanted to enjoy again like See’s chocolates. I know God loves me and this is part of his plan. Be happy and kind to each other. When you think of me, I hope you smile. I loved you all and appreciated your generosity, support and hope.”

Mark Kausler:

Click to Enlarge

We bid farewell to our friend and beloved cartoon historian, Jim Korkis. The last twenty years or so, our contact greatly diminished, but in 1981, my wife Cathy Hill entered Jim’s “Little Miss Madre” Caption Contest and she won first prize! “Little Miss Madre” was a weekly panel cartoon which aspiring cartoonist Jim “sold” to the Sierra Madre News, a local newspaper centered in the little town of Sierra Madre, Ca. Jim had a great sense of humor about himself and Cathy’s caption satirized the gag level of the Miss Madre panel. Jim never took himself too seriously, but instead looked at cartoon history and especially Disney history as subjects worthy of PHD scholarship.

Our favorite book of Jim’s is How To Be A Disney Historian – a unique anthology of scholars’ opinions of the challenge and tasks of writing about a vast subject–with a big corporation watch dogging the process.

I used to see Jim at Comic-Cons and other gatherings with his business partner, John Cawley, Jr. As Korkis and Cawley, they formed a cartoon scholarship lodestone selling cartoon oriented books and dispensing sober and jocular platitudes. Jim was always the “Gooey” half of the partnership and John was the “Prickly” half.

Jim’s personal life was not a smooth path for him, he went through a divorce that took away everything he had, and a hard stint at Disney World in Florida where Jim did magic tricks, character performance and taught guests and cast members alike about Disney History.

Jim produced hundreds of “Animation Anecdotes” columns from the primitive days of “Mindrot” fanzine through to the digital universe of the Cartoon Research website. Jim knew a lot of detailed lore about nearly everyone who had ever worked for the Mouse. We’re going to miss his gigantic catalog of stories both significant and trivial, but I’ll miss his non-stuffy attitude about himself–he loved laughter. So long, old pal.

Jerry Beck, Mark Kausler and Jim Korkis – circa 1994 – introducing a screening.

Steve Stanchfield:

Jim Korkis was, since I was in high school, someone I looked up to. The issues of Mindrot/Animania I’d purchase secondhand at a used book store always featured his ‘Harequin’ column, and I read those short stories he wrote over and over, committing all of them to memory. Over the years I enjoyed correspondence with him – and it was wonderful to see the tradition continue on Cartoon Research of all these fun little stories. Jim was an entertainer in his writing, making history a fun experience with hi dedication to sharing history. I’ll miss him and his wonderful storytelling here most of all.

Greg Ehrbar:

Back in those great days of Walt Disney World lunchtime strolls, Jim Korkis and I would constantly encounter people who read his books, saw his countless lectures, sought his expertise, or were greeting a familiar friend. “You’re like Lucille Ball, Jim,” I would often quip, “And I’m Gary Morton.” Jim would throw back his head and utter his distinctive laugh.

Jim Korkis was a celebrity. He was also an actor, magician, educator, mentor, and all-around mother hen to those who orbited in his vast solar system of enthusiasm and knowledge. Nothing made Jim happier than sharing what he knew, to one person or thousands. He lived for every flicker of understanding that he saw as he imparted a story or fact.

Jim relished gathering others who loved talking about animation and Disney. Jim introduced me to one of my best friends, Michael Lyons when Mike was speaking to a group about Walt Disney’s Alice in Wonderland. The three of us became a trio of chattering historians.

Though he could expound on almost all forms of animation (and entertainment as well), Jim was first and foremost a Disney Historian. For many years, he presented some of the most popular programs at the then-new Disney Institute. He also taught both trainees and veteran Cast Members at Disney University, various company divisions, and at Disney Learning Centers scattered throughout the property. This was in addition to lectures for organizations like

The Walt Disney Family Museum and D23. In short, Jim Korkis became one of the “go-to” people for insight and information.

That’s why it made sense at the time for Jim to be one of the “faces of Disney” when the Resort celebrated “100 Years of Magic” in 2001, the centenary of Walt‘s birth. Jim became an on-camera historian for one of my projects at Disney’s Yellow Shoes Creative Group (the Parks and Resorts in-house ad agency). We filmed it at the fabled Walt Disney Animation Studios Florida, in front of those glass walls where Guests could watch real animation (Mulan, Brother Bear, Beauty and the Beast) in production. Jim spoke effortlessly to the camera in the engaging way we knew so well. His performance was unanimously approved by the advertising and marketing management. Over the next year, the 100 Years of Magic Vacation Planning Video was enjoyed in millions of homes. As of this writing, the YouTube version has been seen by over 200 thousand viewers”. Here’s the LINK.

As you can tell from the video, Jim had a very precise, specific way of speaking. He would emphasize words and phrases to make his points with clarity. Almost automatically, Mike and I realized that we had picked up some of Jim’s nuances in our own presentations. Like many celebrities, his personality lent itself to Mike and me doing our best Korkis impressions and spouting “Korkisisms.” Jim loved it, of course, with that laugh of his.

It will be a while before Mike and I will be able to “Korkisise” again. But if we find it inadvertently happening during a presentation or conversation, visions of Jim chuckling will dance in our heads.

Joe Ranft contributed this cover to the animation fanzine APATOONS in 2000.

Bob Miller:

I knew Jim Korkis not only for his love of animation, and for his vast knowledge of the artform and business, but for his willingness to share it. Among many other venues, he always contributed to APATOONS, the Amateur Press Association devoted to animated carTOONS, representing the finest in animation scholarship. For over 30 years members from the U.S., Canada and Australia exchanged hard-to-find information about cartoons past and present—much of that coming from Jim. He wrote about the group’s legacy HERE.

It was in APATOONS that he learned about my long-term project, The Star Wars Historical Sourcebook. Jim told his publisher at Theme Park Press about it; the publisher contacted me, and his new imprint, Pulp Hero Press, then published Volume One of The Star Wars Historical Sourcebook, plus three volumes of The Animated Voice: Interviews with Voice Actors.

Circumstances forced the publisher and myself to part company, and these books will later see print with another imprint. But I do credit Jim for getting the ball rolling on publishing these works.

Over the years Jim talked about his problems, as one would with friends, but he always seemed to find a silver lining in those grey clouds, ever hopeful, ever upbeat. Now he’s gone. At least his life can still be honored from the many works he has written. Thanks, Jim. May eternal happiness now be yours.

Kamden Spies:

I have been an avid reader of the Cartoon Research blog since it was revised in 2013. I became an even more avid follower in high school. At the end of the year of my sophomore year of high school, I bought a copy of Jim’s book that was a collection of his best Animation Anecdotes.

Even though I had read many of these tidbits before on the blog, reading them in print for the first time was almost like discovering them again for the first time. I was an avid fan of Jim’s column and his writing style.

In high school, I worked in computer repair services on my high school campus. However, there was just one problem when working my sophomore year that summer. I couldn’t put Jim’s book down. Whenever I wasn’t on duty to repair a computer, I was reading Jim’s book. I even skipped lunch a few times just to read it instead of eating with friends who were working with me. I’m a slow reader, so it took a month and a half to read it. And when I finished it, it was disappointing that I didn’t have more anecdotes to read. I think reading Jim’s columns are what ultimately inspired me to write for Cartoon Research.

Michael Lyons:

Jim Korkis was a prolific writer, an in-depth researcher, a talented speaker, and a passionate animation historian. Like a superhero, these were his strengths, but even together, they weren’t his greatest strength.

That would be his superpower as a friend.

I met Jim when we both worked at Walt Disney World and knew him from the magazines we contributed to. From our first meeting, Jim became a friend and significant support, convincing me to do things I never thought I could do, like public speaking, taking on new opportunities, and even writing my own book.

It takes a lot in our busy world to go out of your way and take time for others. Jim was never too busy to do this, reflected in the outpouring of gratitude and appreciation for Jim from so many over the past few days.

Jim had many “Jim-isms,” clever sayings he would call upon occasionally. One of my favorites was, “There’s an old proverb that states: ‘May you always live in interesting times.’’’ To this, Jim would always, jokingly, add, “…and take that however you want.”

Jim made all of our lives interesting in the best possible way and always will, with the rich legacy he leaves behind.

I will truly miss him. He was a super friend.

Jim Korkis
Photo: Scott Thomas – Thanks: Mike Tiefenbacher


  • I always looked forward to Jim’s weekly columns on Cartoon Research. His anecdotes and insight into animation history were completely captivating. He was generous with praise, never failed to give credit to others where it was due, and showed an almost unbelievable graciousness in accepting criticism and corrections. His infectious enthusiasm, his abundant good humour, and above all his warm and fun-loving personality shone through in every line he wrote.

    I never met Jim, but over time he came to feel like a friend, and now that he’s gone I feel as though I’ve lost one. To his family and friends who are feeling that loss all the more acutely, I extend my condolences.

  • Lot of thoughts are swirling in my head about the news, so I’ll try to make this short: he was a gift that made all of us who love animation feel loved and respected, and I cannot thank him enough for helping me and countless other people for making a niche subject matter into a mode of thought that we can use to help us discover something about the human condition through facts about animation.

    I never got to know him personally and I am sadden that I missed my chance to do so. But I have gotten to know him as a writer from following him even way before this website was relaunched: I have spend the last decade and more looking forward to what Jim wanted to share, and I always walked away feeling like I learned something that I can carry around with me. It feels like I lost a wonderful uncle who encouraged some of us who wanted to study animation to keep it alive and make sure it’s as exciting to talk about as it was to him.

    I have no doubt he doesn’t want us to cry that he’s no longer around, and I’m sure he left this world knowing that he accomplished what he wanted to do with the information he learned throughout the decades. That is indeed something to celebrate, and I’ll do my best to not pine his vanishment but instead be grateful someone like him was smart and wise enough to talk to many members of animation and get their memories written before they were no longer of this world. And by doing that, he has done the same for himself. He may be gone, but his influence will be around forever.

    So long Jim. Thank you. Say hi to Walt for us.

  • Incredibly disappointing news, especially considering it was sounding like he was recovering- albeit slower than he would’ve liked. We really need a cure for cancer yesterday.

    Also never met him but frequently read his articles on here. RIP Jim.

  • Such sad news.

    Jim was a wonderful, witty writer, and, as the expression goes, he had probably forgotten more about Disney history than the rest of us will ever know. I remember his Mindrot/Animania columns and many books with fondness, and for the past ten years it has been a delight to know that every Friday there would be a new “Animation Anecdotes” column at Cartoon Research.

    I never met Jim, but I wish I could have.

    Requiescat in pace.

  • The loss of Jim’s entertaining, informative posts leaves a void that will never be filled. And though I never met him, I feel like a I’ve lost a true freind and fellow animation buff. We’ll always have his material to cherish and re-read, but Cartoon Research will never be the same again.

  • Man, this is really sad. I can’t really add to what others have said. I’m just not that eloquent.

    But I always enjoyed his articles (and all the others on here). I do wish I could have met Jim in person, too. If he had been my English teacher in school I might have paid attention more. LOL. (Sorry, you gotta either laugh or cry)…

  • I still miss him so much.

  • may god bless his soul

  • I was a fan of Jim Korkis’ writings on animation since the early 1980’s in such periodicals like The Comics Journal, Mindrot/Animania or The Comic Reader. Particularly, I loved his column ‘Cel Break’ which appeared regularly on The Comic Reader, a great source of news from the exciting world in animation in those pre-Internet days. Way back in 1983 I tried to launch my own, modest animation fanzine, Cartoon, the first of its kind in Spanish. I sent a copy of my zine to Jim and despite he did not read Spanish, he wrote a nice review of it on TCR! It was the work of such pioneers like Jim, Mike Barrier, Leonard Maltin, John Canemaker and Jerry Beck that encouraged me to become an animation scribe. Jim’s countless articles and books are valuable pieces on the history of animation which have inspired and will continue to inspire generations of cartoon lovers (my personal favorite being Who’s Afraid of Song of the South. Only Jim could write a book on such a controversial -though beloved by many of us- movie!).

  • Wow! This is shocking – and sad – news! Recently, when I had read that he had a lot of medical bills that he couldn’t pay, I was trying to figure out how I could find a way to contribute.

    Like a lot of you, I never met Jim Korkis personally, but we corresponded a number of times over the years. He contributed information to me on things he had heard regarding Fleischer Studios – SUPERMAN, POPEYE, etc. – for my upcoming books and I hoped to have them finished by now – so that I could send him copies. For past favors – information back and forth between us – Jim sent me a couple of his books like WHO’S AFRAID OF THE SONG OF THE SOUTH? – and I had hoped that I could do the same.

    In fact, not long after Jim had sent me the books, I felt guilty that I hadn’t sent something back right away – like book that I had written years before – something I could send him as a “thank you” in the meantime. I had written a book on old movie serials starring old horror movie actors Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney, Jr. and I drew something with Mickey, Donald and Goofy – looking as they did in LONESOME GHOSTS – meeting up with Karloff, Lugosi and Lon Chaney, Jr. I didn’t “ink-it” completely the way I wanted it … and now, I can’t remember if I ever sent it off to him, or figured that I’d wait until the new book would be published. I have a feeling now that I did NOT send it out. I found some things I had forgotten to send to people in the recent move from Chicago to Wisconsin. I THINK I sent Jim the old book, but now that I think about it, I”m not sure if I did so. So, I feel very bad about that!

    Jim was very willing to share his knowledge of cartoons and if he didn’t know, he’d send you to somebody else who might know what he did not. I remember he had copied some storyboard art from an un-made POPEYE cartoon from the later ’40s where Popeye dreamed he was in Hell and of course, Bluto was The Devil. Some of the artwork appeared in our Popeye fan-club magazine, only because Jim thought that readers would like it. That’s the kind of guy he was!

    Steve Stanchfield reminded me – from his note above – of the issues of ANIMANIA and MINDROT that I’d infrequently find. (Although I remembered I subscribed for awhile and got photocopies of some of the back issues – which were (even then) out of print. Mostly, I collected them for Jim’s columns. Yeah, he’ll be missed all right! God bless him!

    • I sent the book out to Jim! With the move from Chicago to Wisconsin a few months ago, I had forgotten if I had sent some things out to people and I DID send that book out to Jim before he was in the hospital – so I know he got it. That eases my conscience a little, but it doesn’t make me feel much better, because Jim is gone! He was a “go to” guy in the animation field if there was some nugget of animation history you weren’t sure about. He’d either know or would find somebody who would know – and help you out. We surely need more people like that – for SO many reasons!

  • I first had contact with Jim Korkis in 1982, but by then I had been reading his work in fanzines such as The Comics Journal, The Comic Reader, and Mindrot for years–since I was in junior high, I think. Within a few years, he was an enthusiastic contributor to my own fanzine, Animato, and I finally met him in person at the San Diego Comic-Con in 1988. Jim in person was who you’d hope the author of all those articles and books would be: a remarkable nice guy who loved cartoons and loved sharing what he knew about them. Even in face of some remarkable streaks of personal adversity, he radiated positive vibes and was generous with his knowledge and time.

    The last time I saw Jim in person was a little under 20 years ago in Orlando, which I was visiting for work. We had breakfast and he gave me a magical Disney World pass–one of a handful he received each year–and told me the fascinating backstory of why it was a drab, undecorated card that looked like a prison library card or something.

    A couple of years ago when I wrote a long article about the Bullwinkle statue, none of the comments I got meant more than the one from Jim, who praised the discoveries I made at length, as excited about my research as his own.

    There are so many interesting Jim Korkis sidelights–his game show appearances, Little Miss Madre (which I’d forgotten about), and on and on. It’s weird to think that I’ll never read a new article by Jim–although I know of at least one that will be published posthumously–but we’ll all be reading and re-reading his work forever, and so much of the man is in everything he wrote.

  • I was first introduced to Jim Korkis when my aunt sent me his book “The Vault of Walt” for my birthday in 2010. Nearly two years later, I went to the Dayton Disneyana convention for my first (and to date, only) time and I got to meet him. We talked a bit about Disney and animation storyman, Homer Brightman (which he liked) and he was kind enough to autograph my book. I really enjoy his articles here and on Mouse Planet and the latter is not going to be the same without him. May he be in eternal peace.

  • A wonderful tribute to an exceptionally talented historian. I was devastated to hear of his passing on Friday, was always a fan of both his books and his “Animation Anecdotes” posts on CR.

  • I had the privilege of meeting and knowing Jim as a Walt Disney World Cast Member. He helped when I was preparing a Disney Heritage presentation and later was gracious with his time and advice while I “plussed” my resume. Sometime after leaving Disney and returning home to California, my wife and I attended a presentation he was giving at the Walt Disney Family Museum. While standing in line to get an autographed copy of The Vault of Walt 3, I wasn’t sure he would remember me. Yet, he enthusiastically greeted me with a warm “Bill! How are you? Great to see you!” And not only was that copy personally autographed but illustrated too!
    While Jim will be missed by his countless friends and fans, his stories will continue to inform, entertain and be used in research.
    That’s a pretty good legacy to leave behind.

  • This is very unfortunate news to hear. Like many here, I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Jim and I’ve only discovered his work over a year ago. I always enjoyed reading his Animation Anecdotes each Friday when he’d post and it was a huge delight learning from his experience and knowledge. He truly was a blessing to this community and I’m very grateful for the work he dedicated his life to. As someone who had also lost a family member to stage four colon cancer myself, my heart goes out to Jim’s family and I will keep them in my thoughts and prayers. God Bless!

  • R.I.P., the world of animation research and history will certainly be poorer in his absence.

  • Adieu and farewell to one of the best of the best film and animation historians.

  • I’ll miss you, Jim. You did so much to help make animation an art. Rest in peace.

  • Rest in Peace Jim Korkis. I never got a chance to meet him. He always seemed like such a warm, kind person and really knowledgeable about Animation History. I would’ve loved to have met.

  • Missed this when first appeared, but still want to say a few words. Jim Korkis was a great guy, who maintained an outward positivity no matter how the world or people treated him (which was too often unkind). Can’t recall when we finally met after years of reading each other in various magazines and apas, but when we did during the 80s, we hit it off well. We loved talking about toons, comics, creators and such. We tried our hands at mail order, but had more success and fun at conventions. Then we began writing together and even edited a magazine together. Jim was the personable, unstoppable force. I was the straight man who tried to keep us on track. Eventually our paths went different directions when he headed to Florida, but we’d keep in random contact. Think everytime we talked or wrote to each other he had to mention how my greatest gift to him was his oft used title “Animation Anecdotes” which I used for his column in Get Animated! I’d reply the greatest gift he gave me was that constant push to do something else. His death makes me sad for the loss… but also a bit angry at how it came. I now wonder what will happen to that massive archive of animation and comics he amassed over a lifetime of collecting and hoarding. At least he shared a tiny bit of it with the rest of us through his writings.

  • On July 31, 2023, I had no words. Now, I do.
    (“Mr Korkis” will be referred to here. WHY? Because I don’t feel I ever earned the right to call him “Jim”.)
    I first learned of Mr Korkis in the early 1990s, thru the books he and John Cawley coauthored. In the CARTOON RESEARCH era, I saw a chance to tell him of and thank him for his contributions to my artistic/historianal life. His response to me was a stone surprise.
    My most wholehearted/wholesouled condolences go to his family, friends, and all who knew\knew of him.
    The likes of him will never again brighten the Earth and the lives of her Children who let themselves be enough moved by him to get off their butts and get his messages. ALL his messages.

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