Jim Chambers was born Julian Graeff Chambers on September 13, 1914 in White Plains, New York. His father, James Chambers, was born 1868 in New York of Irish ancestry. His mother, Pauline Eifler, was born 1876 in New York of German ancestry. His parents married in Manhattan on September 15, 1909. He was their only child. He was named after his maternal grandmother, Juliana Eifler. Although his name was Julian he preferred to be called "Jim," the name by which his father was also known. They lived at 13 Lake Street. His mother's widowed sister, Catherine D. Eifler, also lived with them. His mother was a school teacher. His father was a lawyer in a White Plains law firm.
In 1924 the family moved to a more prosperous home at 8 Orchard Street in White Plains, NY.
In June of 1933 he graduated from White Plains High School, where his interest in art was influenced by an art teacher, who encouraged him and a fellow classmate, Robert Jenney, to go to NYC for more advanced art training.
In September 1933 he enrolled as a full-time three-year art student at Pratt Institute School of Art in Brooklyn. His teachers included Nicholas Riley, H. Winfield Scott, John Fleming Gould, Frederick Blakeslee and Monte Crews.
While attending school he lived two blocks away in a boarding house at 124 Willoughby Avenue.
He was active in athletic and social events as a member of the swimming team and Chairman of the Social Committee.
During the summer break in 1934 he signed on as a Duty Officer on the steamship, Ponce, for his first ocean voyage. They went to Puerto Rico and back to NYC. At the time he was recorded to be twenty years old and five-foot-ten.
On November 23, 1935 he married Velma Catherine Moline, who was born 1913 in Middlesex, Connecticut. She was also a student at Pratt, where she majored in Costume Design. She was the younger sister of the artist Ed Moline. Although she was twenty-one years old, she had her own apartment at 14 Glen Street in New Britain, CT.
The newlyweds moved to an apartment at 119 Prospect Place in Brooklyn.
In 1936 he graduated from Pratt Institute. His yearbook description says, "You'd be surprised that his work's so strong, because it's hidden beneath a song." His lifelong pal, Robert Jenney, also graduated from Pratt that same year.
In 1936 he began to work as a freelance pen-and-ink artist for several NYC publishers that produced pulp magazines as well as comic books, such as Dell Publishing, Winford Publications, Trojan Publications, Street & Smith and Fiction House. His pen and ink story illustrations appeared in pulp magazines, such as Ace Sports Monthly, Mystery Adventures, Western Action Novels, Spicy Detective Stories and The Shadow.
Aside from illustrating pulp magazines, he also contributed to many pre-war comic books produced by DC Comics, Centaur, Dell and Fiction House. He drew the original Crimson Avenger, which first appeared in issue #22 of Detective Comics in December 1938.
In 1938 he and Velma moved to Poughkeepsie, NY.
In 1941 they moved to Middletown, CT, where their son Richard Graeff Mark Chambers was born on March 19, 1941.
During WWII he served with the U.S. Marine Corps. He worked as a staff artist in the Personnel Relations Office at an Air Base in Cherry Point, North Carolina. Several artists also worked in the Marine Corps at the same time, including Tom Lovell, John Clymer, and Elmer Wexler.
On January 31, 1946 he was honorably discharged, and subsequently joined the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve.
In 1947 the family moved to 315 Columbus Avenue in Meriden, CT.
He continued to draw pen and ink story illustrations for post-war pulp magazines, such as Giant Western, Fighting Western, Spicy Detective Stories, and Thrilling Western.
He also worked for post-war comic books published by Dell.
According to the artist's eldest son, "I well remember sitting by my father's side in his studio, watching him deftly illustrate the next adventure, while we listened to episodes of The Shadow on the radio. It was a magical world to be sure, uniquely preparing me to fully appreciate life's magical adventure. Dad loved his work that brought so much joy to others."
On April 12, 1956 his son Charles Edward Chambers was born, after which they moved to Eastford, CT, where he gradually restored their antique home that dated from 1750.
The artist went on to become Art Director for Post, Johnson & Livingston Advertising Company of Hartford, CT.
He continued to do freelance illustrations for local clients, such as American Optical of Southbridge, MA.
In 1965 he retired from illustration and moved to Old Lyme, CT, which was a popular artist community. Some of the artists who lived in Old Lyme were Al Avison, Delos Palmer, Remington Schuyler, and Margery Stocking.
On November 21, 1971 his wife died at the age of fifty-eight.
Jim Chambers died in a hospital in West Haven, CT, at the age of sixty-two on February 3, 1977.
© David Saunders 2012