Jim Comstock

Class of 1934

Jim Comstock is a nationally recognized publisher of Appalachian heritage, folklore and humor and noted for his column, The Comstock Lode. Starting his career as a high school English teacher, Comstock moved into the newspaper business as a writer and publisher. His career was interrupted when, in 1942, he enlisted in the U. S. Navy where he served as a message decoder on Guam during World War II. After the war he worked for a time for the Clarksburg Exponent Telegram, and then founded the News Leaderin Richwood with his former pupil, Branson McClung. He launched in 1957 a 20-year project of publishing materials by and about West Virginians in The West Virginia Heritage Encyclopedia.From 1957 to 1980 Comstock and McClung edited and published The West Virginia Hillbilly, saluting and celebrating Appalachian tradition and custom and originating his witty column, The Comstock Lode.  A 2016 Paris Review article identified the West Virginia Hillbilly as not just a paper, but an art project. Comstock served as the editor of The New West Virginia Review, he published a book titled, Pa and Ma and Mr. Kennedyand he established Mountain State Press to publish books about West Virginia. Comstock was instrumental in the preservation of the Pearl S. Buck home and the Cass Scenic Railroad. He founded the University of Hard Knocks in 1954, an honorary society for successful individuals who never completed college, received a Doctor of Letters from Marshall University in 1963, was the 1982 West Virginia Writer of the Year.