Saturday, September 12, 2015

Hearing from the Old Pros

One of the things I appreciated most from the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists' convention in Columbus last week was the chance to hear from -- and to meet -- some of the cartoonists whose work I have admired since I was a pup.

Legendary Village Voice cartoonist Jules Feiffer was unable to join us in person for health reasons, so he addressed the convention from his home on Long Island via Skype. (That meant that interviewer Jeff Danziger had to face away from the audience toward a camera hooked up to a laptop on stage; Danziger also couldn't use a microphone, apparently, so I'm sure people in the back half of the room could only hear Feiffer's answers.)

Feiffer told us how his long-running Dancer character was modeled after a girlfriend he had once upon a time. She, too, was a dancer; their relationship didn't last long, but they remained on friendly terms and she didn't mind showing up in his cartoons year after year, slim and limber and lithe yet frozen in time.

He no longer draws his cartoons, concentrating instead on writing plays; one is currently in the works.

The irrepressible Mike Peters (Dayton Daily News, Mother Goose and Grimm) had so many stories to tell that his presentation time was almost over when someone called to him that he had barely even mentioned cartooning yet. He does have a great story about donning a Superman costume to bring his then-teenage daughter a paper she had forgotten to take to school.

He could not conceivably be any nicer; when I told him about having mimicked his editorial cartoons for the parody issue of my college newspaper in 1979, he seemed genuinely eager to have me send him a copy.

It made me wish I'd brought my copy of Win One for the Geezer to sign -- except that my editorial cartooning books take up over half of a bookshelf and I'd have had to bring them all. And then I'd have had to explain why I have one of Jack Ohman's books and none of Ted Rall's, or something like that.

Speaking of books I don't have, I never got a chance to talk to Ben Sargent, retired late last year from the Austin American Statesman and in the brown jacket in the background of this photo (the last photo I took before dropping my camera and busting the shutter button). He wasn't a presenter, panelist, or interviewer this year, but I would have liked to ask him about his intriguing drawing style.

Way back when I was a kid, I was given Pogo book for my birthday, having just bought myself the same book a few weeks before. I didn't do a good job of hiding my disappointment, so my policy ever since has been not to buy myself anything in July or December that I wouldn't be happy to have two of. The next July, I happened to see a book of Sargent's cartoons in a small bookstore in town, and I dropped some pretty heavy-handed hints at home about it.

My parents probably came up with a completely different policy regarding giving me cartoon books for my birthday, because they didn't buy me Sargent's book. And it wasn't at the bookstore when I went back to it in August. So my policy has a codicil in it about buying things for myself that are in limited number on the store shelf.

Well, that's enough for this Stripped Back Saturday. Having given this post a heading with the word "old" in it, I don't want to offend anyone else by including them in a category they're not ready to be in.

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