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Non Sequitur to turn 15

Universal Press has posted an interview with Wiley Miller who will be Non Sequitur’s 15th anniversary. Non Sequitur is now in 700+ papers.

Here is the Q&A from Universal’s site:

Q: What was your first cartoon, Fenton, like? How was it different from Non Sequitur?

“Fenton was pretty much a traditional, family comic strip. It had moderate success, but wasn’t anything really groundbreaking. And that pretty much explains how it was different from Non Sequitur, where I set out to do things in a completely different way than the old, traditional comic strip. I prefer to take the risk in breaking new ground than the safety of mediocrity in following a well-trod path. That, to me, is the essence of creativity, and this is supposed to be a creative endeavor.”

Q: When you first started Non Sequitur, what were your main objectives? How have your objectives changed? Did you ever think you would still be writing and drawing the comic after 15 years?

“The last question first: The whole point of how I developed Non Sequitur was to guard against the burnout that has ended other strips. I wanted to give my strip the broadest base possible so that I could strike out in any direction my creative juices wanted to go while still remaining relevant to the feature itself. And it worked! Taking departures from the usual fare, doing something completely unexpected, is like creating a whole new feature, but on a limited basis. This keeps the creative juices flowing and prevents burnout. And, yes, I fully expected to be still at it after 15 years, and expect to keep doing so until they find me slumped over my drawing board and planted in the ground.”

Q: Non Sequitur is known for being popular among many audiences. Why do you think your comic attracts so many kinds of readers? Was this initially a goal that you had?

“In a way you could say I set out to do this, but in a backward way. My approach has always been to assume the intelligence of the reader and not dumb-down or pander to any particular demographic. And it’s this approach that has generated most of the response I get from readers. What did surprise me is the number of young people who write to me. I honestly didn’t think this brand of humor would appeal to them.”

Q: In hindsight, what do you make now of the whole cartoon parody that sparked so much controversy in the New Straits Times in Malaysia? What was your reaction to the people’s responses?

“I make of it now the same as what the people’s responses have been from there, much ado about nothing. My cartoon was simply used (misused, actually) as an excuse for that government to march in and shut down the newspaper. They had to go way out of their way to rationalize that, but that’s what governments do.”

Q: You stated in a previous interview that you thought the media was doing an unsatisfactory job with exposing the truth. You used your comic strip in order to show people the real truths. On the eve of an election period and in the midst of a controversial war, how do you think the media today are doing their job?

“The media are just now starting to catch up and ask questions that they should have been asking since 2002. When I would satirize what was going on, trying desperately for people who were just marching lockstep behind the false front of patriotism to wake up, I would get an avalanche of vitriolic hate mail from Bush supporters. Such mail gradually started to dwindle a couple of years ago as it became more clear that what I was saying was true. Now the hate mail from Bush supporters is almost nonexistent.”

Q: What’s next for Non Sequitur? Do you have any plans to change the cartoon in any way regarding layout or text?

“Oh, I like to surprise people with new stuff. It’s no fun if I give it away early.”

Q: In 2006 you came out with your first children’s book. How do you switch hats from sardonic and cynical used in Non Sequitur to sweet and kind?

“Actually, my children’s book (“The Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Basil”) came from Non Sequitur. It was another experiment of mine in the Sunday editions, where I wanted to do a series done in a narrative rather than the usual comic fare. My approach was to write it as though I was writing a book instead of a comic strip. I honestly had no intentions of it actually becoming a book at the time. As a matter of fact, when I started the series, I had no idea where I was going with the story! It was the kind of tightrope act only a cartoonist under deadline would be dumb enough to do. But it worked, and got a tremendous response from the readers, especially from kids and parents who enjoyed reading it to their young children every Sunday. It really just harkened back to a bygone era, when comics were at the height of popularity.”

Community Comments

#1 Richard Sykes
August/5/2007
@ 9:17 am

Thank you for posting the interview. It’s very sad, but too true that comics such as Non Sequitur and comedy shows like The Daily Show are the best form of commentary on the state of the union. Of course this manner of communication has been with us from the beginning and using humor makes it much more palatable. Still, I sometimes long for the days when I was a kid and I thought that grownups knew what they were doing.
PS: How can I get hold of Mr. Miller’s email address, please?

#2 Kris Zuidema
October/17/2007
@ 6:50 am

I would like to get Wiley’s book autographed for my nieces. I am a school librarian. Each Christmas I give them autographed books. I’ve been doing this for 20 years now. Their ages range from 15-20 so I know they would love this. How do I reach him? I live in Maine, only an hour or so from where he lives. I’d be willing to mail the books with a self addressed and postage paid envelope or I could drive and meet him in Kennebunk. Thank you for any help you can offer. Do you have an e-mail address? I think I found his phone number, but do not want to bother him.

#3 Wiley Miller
October/17/2007
@ 8:24 am

Thank you, Kris.
You can e-mail me at wileyink@earthlink.net to make arrangements.
The best way to do this is to mail the books to me with a stamped return envelope.

#4 Ron Davis
November/10/2007
@ 8:17 am

Just wondering, the pittsburgh pa.sunday paper is running
comics with ordinary basil is this new or reprints of the book.
The weekday comics with Danae are great.

#5 Wiley Miller
November/10/2007
@ 10:14 am

This is a whole new series currently running, not reprints of any kind.

#6 Dawn
November/10/2007
@ 11:28 am

Congratulations on 15 successful years, Wiley!

Oh, wait, this story was from back in February. Oh, well, it’s a year’s anniversary, so it’s still valid to wish you a Happy Anniversary and many more papers to come. ;)

#7 kevin wong
November/18/2007
@ 8:49 pm

is there any way to get the first ordinary basil strips? (not the newer ones)

#8 Christopher Howard
December/8/2007
@ 8:17 pm

I enjoy your comic strip, Wiley Miller, and I think you have a unique way of writing.
I really enjoy reading these recent adventures of Ordinary Basil. You have brought back some of the pleasant experiences that were found in the older comics through Non Sequitur, and you are a master at storytelling. Your “Ordinary Basil” storyline now holds 110 % of my attention, as I am quite interested to see how the storyline will turn out.
Bravo, and hats off to you. You have helped make my day more complete.

Sincerely,
Chris.

#9 Dawn Douglass
December/8/2007
@ 8:41 pm

Wow. People like Chris make all the idiot editors worth it, eh Wiley? :)

#10 Chris Hardiman
December/9/2007
@ 8:46 am

Damnit! After all those months commenting as just “Chris,” Chris Myers began posting and I began using my last initial (H.). But now “Christopher Howard” who naturally has the same last initial as me has forced me to reveal my last name.

A victory for Alan I suppose.

With that said, I completely agree with what Chris Howard wrote. I especially enjoy Wiley’s Sunday strips. “Ordinary Basil” has been just as intriguing the second time around.

#11 Wiley Miller
December/9/2007
@ 9:03 am

“Wow. People like Chris make all the idiot editors worth it, eh Wiley? :)”

Indeed it does, Dawn. And thank you so much for those kind words… to both Chris’s!

To answer the initial question, the first story line of Ordinary Basil appeared in 2005 and ran for several months. That turned into a two book deal with Scholastic, where the first story was adapted for book form (The Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Basil), so you can read it there if you don’t want to subscribe to GoComics.com to gain access to my entire archives.

The second Ordinary Basil book, The Attack of the Volcano Monkeys” will be coming out in February. You can find both books on Amazon.com. This second story was done exclusively as a book, which allowed me to write a more complicated story and do much more detailed art. So the story that’s currently running in my Sunday editions is actually the third Ordinary Basil story, which picked up where the second story left off.

#12 Christopher Howard
December/9/2007
@ 11:23 am

Ah…Heh heh. I’m sorry, Hardiman.

Thank you, Wiley Miller. I appreciate what you said, and I think I know a bit more about ordinary Basil.
Forgive me for asking, but I can’t find your regular address anywhere. I understand if you wouldn’t want to give out this piece of information, but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t just being oblivious.
I’m having a hard time finding your books though, so I’ll have to order them online. Once again, thank you for Non Sequitur (And for writing back.) I’m still laughing at this weeks worth of gags, and the “Horse Profiling.”

Chris.

#13 Chris Hardiman
December/9/2007
@ 11:47 am

No hard feelings, Howard; I said that all in jest.

Wiley, I didn’t realize that the story was picking up after the end of the SECOND “Basil” story, which is still unpublished. I’m assuming that the second volume has nothing to do with Dr. Von Rottweil, then, to maintain the continuity in the newspaper strip. I hope that we’re nowhere near the end of the third story (the one in the paper)…after all, they only just now got out of the caverns.

#14 Wiley Miller
December/9/2007
@ 11:57 am

“Iâ??m having a hard time finding your books though, so Iâ??ll have to order them online. ”

Here’s link to a page on Amazon that has both books, as well as others:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_gw/105-6196433-7071621?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=ordinary+basil&x=20&y=21

“Iâ??m assuming that the second volume has nothing to do with Dr. Von Rottweil, then, to maintain the continuity in the newspaper strip.”

You assume VERY incorrectly!

“I hope that weâ??re nowhere near the end of the third story (the one in the paper)”

I’m actually working on the last edition today, much to my relief. This sort of work takes about 5 times as much work as my regular work. I won’t tell you when it ends, though.

#15 Christopher Howard
December/9/2007
@ 12:03 pm

Wiley Miller, you are certainly on the ball, aren’t you?

If I may ask, what kind of pen do you use for the non sequitur strip? And do you write/draw with an assisstant? I just emailed you, but I forgot to ask you those questions.

I can hardly wait for its finish! The writing is marvelous and poetic. I’ve clipped out all of the sunday series.

#16 Wiley Miller
December/9/2007
@ 12:20 pm

“If I may ask, what kind of pen do you use for the non sequitur strip?”

The old, trusty Rapidograph.

“And do you write/draw with an assisstant?”

NO!!!!

Although my wife, who is a writer, has helped me with the editing in this story. It’s the first time we’ve actually tried working together, as it can be dicey working with a spouse. We prefer to keep our creative workings individual.

#17 Rich Diesslin
December/9/2007
@ 5:56 pm

Congrats on 15 years!

#18 Rich Diesslin
December/9/2007
@ 6:01 pm

D’oh! Sucked into another old post. Dang I’ve got to pay more attention! So, super way belated congrats. Where to folks dig these up at!? ;)

#19 Christopher Howard
December/9/2007
@ 6:01 pm

I admire your strong opinion on whether or not you have assisstants… 15 years of classic comic strips from one guy’s nib.

Great work on the comic strip.

#20 Dario Ritchie
December/10/2007
@ 8:23 pm

I Love your “The Genesis Big Bang Theory

#21 Stanley Wood
December/23/2007
@ 12:44 pm

Dear Wiley—
First I want to say I think you are the best all-around cartoonist on the scene today. I have been reading your strip for years. Your art work alone is the top of the mark. My all-time favorite is Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes and you are right up there on a par with him. My only concern is your series on Ordinary Basil. I know why you produce it. I’m an artist also, just not a cartoonist and I feel the need to create and experiment. But I just can’t get into that series. Maybe it’s strictly for children and I just miss the point but it just dulls me to death. I’m waiting for a different series from you now. Your daily strip with Danae et al is the best. Thanks again for what you do.

#22 David Lovell
January/1/2008
@ 12:03 pm

Dear Wiley-
Possibly surprising facts: I’m 26, an avid Bush supporter, an ultra-conservative, and a big Non Sequitur fan. (P.S.- loved the Obviousman movie aside from the erroneous idea that if you’re not a liveral you don’t appreciate freedom of the press)

#23 David Lovell
January/1/2008
@ 12:06 pm

but apparently I still can’t type the word liberal corretly when I’m typing fast

#24 David Lovell
January/1/2008
@ 12:06 pm

or correctly for that matter

#25 Zack spencer
January/5/2008
@ 9:34 am

I noticed that the story for the “ordinary Basil” strip you do for sundays in the Philadelphia inquirer ended today. Will you continue with a new story?

#26 Wiley Miller
January/5/2008
@ 10:56 am

No, I have no plans in the near future to do another Ordinary Basil story in my Sunday editions. These stories take an enormous amount of time to produce, making my deadlines that much deadlier. It’s back to my usual insanity next week.

#27 Gregg Oreo
January/29/2008
@ 6:04 pm

Thomas Nast would be proud of you!
If Paul Conrad is NOT proud of you, he’s simply not reading the funnies.
I’m proud of you, and if you ever have a cointest where your e-mail fans can have breakfast or lunch with you, please enter my name: Heck! I’d even pick up the tab!

What amazes me about you — and of you I know nothing — is your skillful rendering of — USUALLY — above the scene perspective; sometimes your bird’s eye view (Sometimes? ALWAYS!!!) renders the strip’s comic visuals (and verbal zingers) all the more brilliant and treasured.

I hope you’ll be like Schultz and draw til the day you drop! The Creator of Calvin and Hobbes was a sore loser and took his ball and went home, leaving all the rest of us saddened with his (I speak for myself) “wimping out” — if he felt so strongly, he could have started his own cartoon syndication house. Please, be like Walt Disney, and keep creating and producing and being in charge of Quality Control til the last week — anyone who has a marvelous gift– such as yours, such as you do — owes it to his fellowman as much as any great leader or humanitatrian — you — in the cartoon world,– are the Churchills, the Gandhis, the King, Jr.’s, because you are brave and true, and brilliantly humorous. You lift up your fellow world citizen s: I am glad our First Amendment protects geniuses like you (Ben Franklin would approve!).

My lips are chapped from kissing, but I’d rather be a kisser than as biter!

Kiondest reagrds, Sir, ever! GREGG OREO

#28 Gregg Oreo
January/29/2008
@ 6:05 pm

Thomas Nast would be proud of you!
If Paul Conrad is NOT proud of you, he’s simply not reading the funnies.
I’m proud of you, and if you ever have a cointest where your e-mail fans can have breakfast or lunch with you, please enter my name: Heck! I’d even pick up the tab!
What amazes me about you — and of you I know nothing — is your skillful rendering of — USUALLY — above the scene perspective; sometimes your bird’s eye view (Sometimes? ALWAYS!!!) renders the strip’s comic visuals (and verbal zingers) all the more brilliant and treasured.
I hope you’ll be like Schultz and draw til the day you drop! The Creator of Calvin and Hobbes was a sore loser and took his ball and went home, leaving all the rest of us saddened with his (I speak for myself) “wimping out” — if he felt so strongly, he could have started his own cartoon syndication house. Please, be like Walt Disney, and keep creating and producing and being in charge of Quality Control til the last week — anyone who has a marvelous gift– such as yours, such as you do — owes it to his fellowman as much as any great leader or humanitatrian — you — in the cartoon world,– are the Churchills, the Gandhis, the King, Jr.’s, because you are brave and true, and brilliantly humorous. You lift up your fellow world citizen s: I am glad our First Amendment protects geniuses like you (Ben Franklin would approve!).
My lips are chapped from kissing, but I’d rather be a kisser than as biter!
Kiondest reagrds, Sir, ever! GREGG OREO

#29 Wiley Miller
January/30/2008
@ 9:33 am

Aw, shucks… thank you, Gregg. And my mom agrees with you! :-)

#30 William Lathrop
February/12/2008
@ 8:07 am

I was trying to pass your latest, on to a relative and had no success in finding it,,, YES I’M BREATHING, EATING,SLEEPING,PLAYING ON THE COMPUTER, ETC. I have furry friends but I don’think I’m one of those.And although I live in Pahrump, Nv.where I’ve met some wierd people, who believe there are little green men, and having seen them and even conversed with them..Yes I believe I’m human. I ENJOY YOUR STRIP

#31 Michael Mc Millan
May/12/2008
@ 1:04 pm

Your comics have provided IMMENSE ENJOYMENT to me, my family, and friends over the years.
Today’s strip (5/12/2008), “IF WE HIRED LIKE WE VOTED” touches the very essence of what “USUALLY” :-) has become ACCEPTABLE behavior/mindset for: (1) what the media repeatedly reports as “NEWS”, and, (2) what a sizeable number of the American voting public seems to render IMPORTANT for their objective evaluation of;
“WHO’ can best LEAD us to the CHANGE that this great country so desperately needs, at this time?”
Thanks, Kevin, for Your pointed reminders to us of: “an inference or a conclusion that DOES NOT FOLLOW from the premises.”

#32 Fr. Anthony Dinoto
June/18/2008
@ 2:10 pm

Loved today’s comic re: Sunday Sermon board promising no political implications!

Would love to have permission to copy it into my Sunday Service Bulletin for Christ Episcopal Church!

Fr. Anthony C. Dinoto
Rector (interim)
Christ Episcopal Church
Guilford, Connecticut

#33 Clarence Moe
August/16/2008
@ 8:22 am

Hi I’m looking for a cartoon you did of Noah’s ark this was several year’s ago,can you help me

#34 Wiley Miller
August/16/2008
@ 8:58 am

I’ve done several cartoons involving Noah’s Ark, Clarence.
Just drop me a line and try to give me a little more description of the cartoon.

#35 Victor Emmanuele
December/26/2008
@ 10:29 am

I am just beginning to get in to your work and it is great! I particularly like a cartoon that ran in the Bewrgen Record within the past few weeks depicting Santa in a butcher shop with signs advertising different kinds of reindeer meat for sale.

I would love to have a copy of this cartoon for my son who was away at college when this ran.

Thank you,

Victor

#36 Sharon Davis
January/11/2009
@ 3:57 pm

The favorite part of my (Sun)day is to find your Non Sequitur strip in the paper. Your commentary is right on! As I live in the far north of Idaho in the mountains, your few and far between “Pierre of the North” is my favorites, as it mirrors our lifestyle and winter insanity, as we are usually buried under many feet of “ze steenking snow”. I’d love to see more than the occasional Pierre.
Thanks!

#37 Sharon Davis
January/11/2009
@ 3:58 pm

See above comments on first comment listing. Hope it went through!
Sharon Davis

#38 Jean Boyce
June/30/2009
@ 1:07 pm

Hi Wiley-
I have been meaning to add my comments about Non Sequitur for some time. I guess my ideas of funny are different than some of the other readers. I have always enjoyed your cartoons–single block ones. Then you started using Danae as your main character. I read those, but just can’t get into them as much as the single cartoons. I wish you could do more of them and less of Danae.
Thanks for letting me send my opinion.
Jean

#39 Carl Moore
June/30/2009
@ 5:22 pm

Wiley, I greatly admire your Sunday efforts. The drawings are terrific.

Do you use watercolor on the Sundays?

#40 Cathy Kennedy
September/9/2009
@ 4:27 pm

Hi Wiley,

I wanted to say how much I enjoy your work. Unfortunately, being in the UK I don’t get to see your recent work, but I bought one of your desk calendars for this year, and it has kept me a bubble of laughter ever since…I love the idea of a philosophical yogi in semi-retirement..

Now, all you have to do is find a UK newspaper to carry your work….

Kind regards
Cathy Kennedy

#41 Jasuti Goss
December/9/2009
@ 3:07 pm

Hello…

I am sincerely hoping that you can lead me to a copy of a comic that I want to frame and have on display. The comic, Non Sequitur was distributed by Universal Preass Syndicate and it has the copywrite of: ’06 Wiley Ink 5-22 (or maybe 3-22?)

The cartoon shows a man arriving to a mountain cliff where an old man sits at the entrance to a cave with a sign that reads “Some of the answers to the great mysteries of life” and an arrow points towards the old man. The old man is saying,” I’m still working on the mystery of how to make a decent living with a tip jar…”

PLEASE advise me how I can attain a copy of this cartoon, suitable for framing, and the price. Thank you so much!

Blessings… Jasuti

#42 philip dietz
September/20/2010
@ 8:41 pm

Really love your ongoing run with the Ekert. Apathy the bane of our world. Thank you so much.

Still Phil

#43 john a. koerner
January/13/2011
@ 2:08 pm

Just thought “get outta’ my cloud” might work for attacking the antisocial network i.e. ubiquitous computer age, I believe the Stones already took “get offa my cloud”. Enjoy your work, particularly like Danae’s and the Captain’s perspectives. Take Care!

#44 Robert Fabris
February/11/2011
@ 7:29 pm

Just reading your Non Seqitur cartoon on Feb 11, showing The Eighth Day of Creation. I wonder what is the single dot on Adam’s tummy??? Why doesn’t he have a beard?? TIA

#45 Jul Hoehl
February/17/2011
@ 2:38 pm

I own your two novels entitled the extraordinary adventures of Ordinary Basil. Will you be publishing the third book in the series? I followed it in our local paper but do not see it available in book form. It’s the story of Basil and Louise acquiring the crystal needed to restore power to Heliopolis. I hope this book will be available sometime in the future. Also, are your books available in Spanish?

#46 Jul Hoehl
February/17/2011
@ 3:01 pm

I think something went wrong with my email… I was wondering if you were going to publish in book form the third adventure of Basil in the Extraordinary adventures of Ordinary Basisl? I followed it in my local paper and wanted to include it in my library…I have the other two novels. The one i am talking about is where Basil and Louise are in search of a crystal that will restore power to Heliopolis. Also, are your books available in Spanish?

#47 jul hoehl
April/1/2011
@ 1:02 pm

not to be a pest but are you planning to publish the third adventure of Ordinary Basil…where he and Louise are trying to recover a crystal to restore power to Heliopolis…See feb 17, 2011 email…Jul Hoehl

#48 Robert Wrenn
September/3/2011
@ 10:10 am

I would love to have a framable copy of your drawing : L.A. Times Sept 2 nd

“The Bittersweet meeting of Perception and Reality”

Thank You
Just incase the answer is yes:

Robert Wrenn
587 Hargrave St.
Inglewood Ca. 90302

#49 Robert Wrenn
September/3/2011
@ 10:12 am

I did

#50 Chris Bertucci
January/7/2012
@ 8:25 am

I just finished reading today’s (1/07/12) cartoon in the New Orleans, “Times Picayune” and enjoyed it, although not as much as I have the other “Non Sequitur” cartoons that I have seen in the “T-P”, which don’t usually aren’t tounge-in-cheek about a particular religion as this one, with heaven and the gatekeeper seemingly is dressed in the style of the Bishop of Rome, ie, The Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, of which I’m a life long (74 yrears) member, so not as old as The Church (2,000+years).

Also, I’ve just finished reading the blogs and much of your creative bio that they contain. Congratulations on your long term of creative achievements.

Although I don’t have familiarity w/any of your other works discussed in the blogs, I’ll go on line to Amazon to see a list of those other works.

By the way, I’m also a fan of the younger President Bush and feel that he was, by far, more disposed to the base attitudinal credo’s Our Country espoused in the past, contrary to the current President.

#51 connie todarello
January/13/2012
@ 2:42 pm

today, jan. 13, 2012, the cleveland plain dealer decided NOT to print non sequitur….because it objected to the content. i find THEM objectivable. can you please send me the cartoon so my husband and i may enjoy it. thank you. connie

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