Benton, Jim 1963–

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Benton, Jim 1963–

Personal

Born 1963, in OH. Education: Attended Western Michigan University.

Addresses

Office—JK Benton Design Studio, Inc., 3170 Middle-bury Rd., Bloomfield, MI 48301. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Simon & Schuster, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020. E-mail[email protected]

Career

Artist, cartoonist, and writer. J.K. Benton Design Studio, Birmingham, MI, owner.

Awards, Honors

Best Art Brand License of the Year, Licensing Industry Merchandisers Association, 2005, for "It's Happy Bunny"; Gryphon Honors Award, 2005, for Lunch Walks among Us; American Library Association Quick Picks for Reluctant Teen Readers designation, 2006, for It's Happy Bunny: Love Bites and It's Happy Bunny: Life. Get One.

Writings

Dealing with the Idiots in Your Life, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1993.

It's Happy Bunny: Life. Get One; and Other Words of Wisdom and Junk That Will Make You Wise or Something, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2005.

It's Happy Bunny: Love Bites, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2005.

It's Happy Bunny: What's Your Sign?, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2006.

Benton's books have been translated into French.

"FRANNY K. STEIN: MAD SCIENTIST" SERIES

Lunch Walks among Us, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2003.

Attack of the 50—Foot Cupid, Aladdin Paperbacks (New York, NY), 2004.

The Invisible Fran, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2004.

The Fran That Time Forgot, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2005.

Frantastic Voyage, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2006.

"DEAR DUMB DIARY" SERIES

Let's Pretend This Never Happened: By Jamie Kelly, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2004.

My Pants Are Haunted: By Jamie Kelly, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2004.

Am I the Princess or the Frog?: Jim Benton's Tales from Mackerel Middle School, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2005.

Never Do Anything Ever, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2006.

Can Adults Become Human?, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2006.

Sidelights

By age twenty-six, Jim Benton was "one of the most visible cartoonists in America," according to People contributor Susan Reed. He is the creator of such characters as Happy Bunny, the "Misters", and Franny K. Stein, who make appearances not only in books but on T-shirts, key-chains, and other memorabilia. By Reed's estimate, by 1989 Benton's characters had already been featured on more than ten million articles of clothing, coffee mugs, pens, and greeting cards; by 2005 the fans of Happy Bunny alone were estimated at thirty million.

Though much of his humor is on the mature side, Ben-ton has designed two book series for young readers. The first, "Franny K. Stein: Mad Scientist," features a young girl who is only occasionally out to conquer the world. "I have a daughter and I love being able to share a smart, tough, girl character with her," Benton explained to a reporter for Home Textiles Today. Describing Franny in School Library Journal, Barbara Auerbach wrote: "The pigtailed protagonist looks suitably 'mad' with her demonic grin and narrowed eyes." Franny faces such dangers as a fifty-foot-tall cupid that threatens to end Valentine's Day forever, a two-headed robot, and, most frighteningly, a teen version of herself. "Hilarious cartoon drawings by the author capture the action on nearly every page," wrote Booklist contributor Ed Sullivan of Attack of the 50—Foot Cupid. Reviewing the same title for School Library Journal, Sharon R. Pearce predicted that the book is "likely to fly off the shelves faster than a giant Cupid shoots an arrow." In a review of The Fran That Time Forgot, Elaine E. Knight wrote in School Library Journal that Benton's "short, deadpan text is just spooky enough for transition readers." Stephanie Zvirin, reviewing for Booklist, commented on the "deliciously gross comedy" and "freewheeling black-and-white sketches" featured in Frantastic Voyage.

Benton's "Dear Dumb Diary" series is told from the point of view of "feisty diarist" Jamie Kelly, explained a Publishers Weekly contributor. Jamie's nemesis is popular and perfect Angeline. While this series is designed for middle-grade readers, the "It's Happy Bunny" books, featuring one of Benton's iconic characters, better appeals to older teens. First featured on T-shirts and collectable items, It's Happy Bunny: Love Bites was the sarcastic rabbit's first picture-book appearance. The bunny's second outing, It's Happy Bunny: Life. Get One; and Other Words of Wisdom and

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Junk That Will Make You Wise or Something. was described by publisher Maria Barbo as "a spoofy take on the path to enlightenment," as quoted in Publishers Weekly. Benton's Happy Bunny character has been featured on advice books as well as postcard books, and its popularity prompted a Publishers Weekly contributor to quip: "Who can resist?"

Benton always knew he wanted to be an artist. "All my fine art had a cartooning quality to it anyway," he told Susan Reed in People, adding: "A fine artist is just a cartoonist with longer hair."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, March 1, 2004, Ed Sullivan, review of Attack of the 50—Foot Cupid, p. 1193; January 1, 2006, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Frantastic Voyage, p. 88.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, December, 2003, Deborah Stevenson, review of Lunch Walks among Us, p. 142; January, 2006, Loretta Gaffney, review of Frantastic Voyage, p. 219.

People, May 8, 1989, Susan Reed, "Success Brings Cartoonist Jim Benton a Pile of Funny Money," p. 81.

Publishers Weekly, August 2, 2004, review of Let's Pretend This Never Happened: By Jamie Kelly, p. 71; January 17, 2005, Joy Bean, "A Snarky Bunny Breaks into Books," p. 23.

School Library Journal, May, 2004, Sharon R. Pearce, review of Attack of the 50—Foot Cupid, p. 102; January, 2005, Barbara Auerbach, review of The Invisible Fran, p. 86; August, 2005, Elaine E. Knight, review of The Fran That Time Forgot, p. 85.

ONLINE

Brand Channel Web site, http://www.brandchannel.com/ (January 30, 2006), profile of Benton.

Jim Benton Home Page, http://www.jimbenton.com (June 26, 2006).