Michael Cavna interviewed Washington Post humor columnist Gene Weingarten about the upcoming launch of his new strip Barney & Clyde (drawn by David Clark).
MC: So what was the genesis of “Barney & Clyde” — how did you come to sire this strip”? And speaking of siring: Can you tell us exactly how this brainchild came from YOUR child?
GW: In my online chats, I appointed myself comic-strip critic, so over the years, I’ve angered — but also befriended — a lot of cartoonists. One day several years ago, one of them sent me samples of a new strip he’d come up with. I really respect this guy — he’s a giant — but didn’t like the strip much. When I showed it to Dan, he agreed with me, but went even further. He began tearing it down from all angles: Conceptual, artistic, philosophical, epistemological. He went on so long, and in such detail, that I actually got angry and accused him of intellectual impertinence. He was 20 years old, a college dropout, a slacker still living in my basement, and here he was presuming to criticize a veteran cartoonist. It’s very hard to conceive of a new cartoon strip, I said, and the hubris he was showing was appalling.
Dan sort of shambled back into his room, sulking, and I went back to my computer, angry. A couple of minutes passed when he came back in and said: “You know what would be a good idea for a strip? A friendship between a billionaire and a homeless person.” Then he walked out again.
I just sat there for a minute, then stood up and walked over to a calendar on the wall of my home office, and I circled the date. It was April 28, 2005. That was the birthday of “Barney & Clyde.”