Tom Wilson Sr., creator of the comic “Ziggy,” died September 16, after a long illness. He was 80 years old. Ziggy, which celebrates 40 years in syndication this year, continues to be produced by Wilson’s son, Tom Wilson Jr., who handles the day-to-day operations.

Wilson Sr. was born August 1, 1931. For more than 35 years, he served as a creative director at American Greetings, where he was responsible for the development of many breakthrough card lines. Wilson Sr. first published “Ziggy” in the 1969 cartoon collection When You’re not Around. The “Ziggy” comic panel, syndicated by Universal Uclick (formerly Universal Press Syndicate), launched in 15 newspapers in June 1971. It now appears in more than 500 daily and Sunday newspapers, and has been featured in best-selling books, calendars, and greeting cards.

A veteran of the licensing business, Wilson Sr. headed up the creative team that developed character licensing blockbusters such as Strawberry Shortcake and Care Bears. He is survived by his wife Carol, son Tom Wilson Jr., and daughters Ava and Julie.