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Andy Marlette pays tribute to uncle Doug

Andy Marlette, the nephew of Kudzu creator and editorial cartoonist Doug Marlette who died last summer in an automobile accident, recently spoke at Columbia College Chicago department of journalism’s John Fischetti Award ceremony about the legacy left behind by his uncle. A text transcript of his speech has been printed in TheSequitur.com.

And now to further the Marlette mimicry, Iâ??ll be damned if I didnâ??t grow up to be an editorial cartoonist. I ponder this: his life and mine, the connectedness of it all and this art form that Iâ??ve been summoned to. Would I draw cartoons had he not? Is it coincidence? Is it fate? Is it genetics?

Yes, my path is inevitably tied to his; I have accepted this. But every time I get a paycheck, I think of my Uncle Doug and curse that son of a bitch for not having been a corporate executive instead.

On the day he died, I had just returned from lunch and sat back at my desk in the newsroom. Our office secretary suddenly appeared and said that our editor needed to see me in his office. She followed me in and closed the door and after I sat down, my editor said, â??Andy, your uncle was in an accident; this just came across the desk. We are so sorryâ?¦â? He passed me a printout of the initial AP wire release that said Doug had been killed.

For the remainder of that day, I drank heavily and made all the wrenching phone calls. Immediately, I felt the first tremors of how his death shook the world. My inbox flooded with condolences from everyone you could imagine, people I had never met in my life: reporters, columnists, cartoonists, politicians, his former public school teachers. My cell phone even rang from a Tallahassee area code and on the other end was the audibly horrified voice of (Florida) Gov. Charlie Crist, who called to offer sincere condolences and supportive words.

Sometime late into the night, I sat down to draw Uncle Dougâ??s obituary cartoon.

Andy is the cartoonist for the Pensacola News Journal (FL).

Community Comments

#1 Jason Nocera
May/20/2008
@ 12:02 pm

I just got done reading Doug Marlette’s Book, In Your Face: A Cartoonist at Work. Highly recommended. He was an incredible talent.

#2 Jann (Foster)Boll
July/2/2010
@ 12:44 pm

Doug and I were at FSU together, and we both attended IV activities. He was just starting with his cartoons. I kept his cartoons for years and years (we were there a long time ago). Am so sorry to hear of his death. He was an incredible talent with a point of view that was refreshing. He is missed by many. But Doug, keep it up…he’s a great act to follow.

#3 Jann (Foster)Boll
July/2/2010
@ 12:45 pm

Doug and I were at FSU together, and we both attended IV activities. He was just starting with his cartoons. I kept his cartoons for years and years (we were there a long time ago). Am so sorry to hear of his death. He was an incredible talent with a point of view that was refreshing. He is missed by many. But Andy, keep it up…he’s a great act to follow.

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