|Self-portrait courtesy of Billy Ireland Library|
ComicsDC has learned that Falls Church illustrator and sometime cartoonist James Bellora passed away on February 18, 2015. He was born in St. Charles, MO on June 6, 1960 according to the CaringBridge website that reported his passing. The site also notes that he had an engineering degree and was an avid bicyclist, and is survived by his wife and daughter. According to a brochure for his services held at Ohio State University's Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum, his cartoons appeared in trade publications such as FBLA Association News, Air Force Acquisition Network News, Actuarial Association Magazine and Sketches magazine. He listed himself as a cartoonist and "humorous illustrator." He also recieved work from Arlington's BonoTom Studio. At points in his career, Bellora was a member of the National Cartoonists Society and the Illustrators Club of Washington, DC (where he also served as President). A funeral will be held on March 6th at St. James Catholic Church in Falls Church.
Several local cartoonists and illustrators have given us their thoughts on him.
Editorial cartoonist Steve Artley: "In the 90's, he was a regular at the annual Cartoons & Cocktails event and hung with Jack Higgins, Chip Beck and I during the event and afterward in the bar upstairs. He and I had a great time banging out songs on the piano in the lounge. He was very friendly and outgoing, engaging and seemed happy... ."
Illustrator David Hagen: "We had sort of a competitive relationship especially in the days you used to hump your big illustration portfolio around town for freelance jobs. I'd see him either coming or going. He was the president of the Illustrators Club when I joined and remember pausing by his display table at the yearly portfolio shows. I think I stepped up my game because I knew he was out there! Which made me a better illustrator."
Cartoonist Joe Sutliff: "James (I never called him Jim or Giaccomo) and I hung out a lot years ago, but I lost touch after he met his soon-to-be wife. He was full of passion for anything he got involved in, and truthfully I had been thinking about him a lot lately... I remember James as always being "full throttle"… whatever he went after, it was never halfway. He was always ready to lead the way - he went from a freshman member of the Illustrator's Club to President in just a couple of years, and joined the National Cartoonist Society and organized the local chapter as well. He was always fun-loving; I remember one Illustrators Club Holiday party where he lead me, Rob Sprouse and some others in a full dance-out of YMCA… I think it's still on online somewhere…:
Illustrator Kevin Rechin: "So unbelievably sad. I knew him fairly well. Saw him quite often in the '90s either at NCS stuff or Illustrators Club gatherings. He was definitely a go-getter and full of life. Always had a smile on his face. Thoughts and prayers to his wife, daughter and family."