Weingarten talks about upcoming launch of Barney & Clyde

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.”

34 thoughts on “Weingarten talks about upcoming launch of Barney & Clyde

  1. Ugh- I hate that “Let’s you and me do a comic strip” deal where the writer bangs out copy while the cartoonist does all the hard work.

    It’s a very nicely drawn strip. I hope the cartoonist is getting at least half of the gate.

  2. And I swear I will keep posting this until someone stops me forcibly, apparently.

  3. Glad to see that, Gene (x3.)

    That’s a beautifully drawn strip and the concept looks like a winner. I hope rival cartoonists wince at the quality.

    I’m one of those die-hards who still believes that, while newsprint can’t break news anymore they can give us analysis, features and entertainment.

    Cartoon art and comics are more popular than ever (ask Hollywood.) Somehow newspapers missed that story.

  4. These sample comics are very okay and I’m looking forward to see more of it. However, I’m always a bit skeptical if a character-centric comic strip with just two main characters works in the long run or if it begins repeating itself early on.

  5. Aside from only serving up four, rather than six, dailies as a sample, here’s a problem:

    The art is quite good, the pacing and dialogue ditto, but, in the fourth daily, there’s no reference for those who missed (or forgot) the previous days strips and are coming on the arc fresh. You can sorta-kinda get away with that in a web comic, where they can (if they are sufficiently motivated) click back to see what’s going on, but it’s not a luxury available in the print medium.

  6. I don?t see the problem. Of course one should try to make it somewhat comprehensible for new readers, but you can?t write a summary of the whole storyline in the first panel of each strip. Just compare it with stuff like ?Mary Worth? where you?re expected to have read weeks of material to understand what?s going on at all.

  7. Hey, Oliver. Fear not: We will have 15 regular characters. If anything, too MANY.

  8. Ah, good to know that the other characters on the cast page will get significant ?air-time? too. I hope Cynthia won?t have to be watered down too much because of the newspaper censorship. Of course you?ll never be able to with her what we?ll do with our character Larisa (also an 11 year old girl who?s into arts and against authorities), but having such an extreme character like Larisa is also not really necessary. But a child character who?s supposed to be a cynic and menace and then goes on to just make politically correct resp. ?Haha, kids say the darndest things.? jokes… that?s just sad.

  9. Like any comic strip, if written well it will be worth the read. And it’s very difficult to pass a judgement one way or the other with just a handfull of samples to look at. I don’t know how syndicate editors do it! (dart board?)

    I do like the “Cul de Sac Condensed” font, though LOL!

  10. I think it should be 75/25. If you add up the hours it takes to draw these things vs. write them, and the role of the illustrator in character development, I don’t know how 50/50 adds up.

    Cartoonists get a raw deal.

  11. So, they’re really syndicating a strip in which the main emotional dynamic is that everyone, including a wise homeless guy, constantly tells a greedy billionaire what a schmuck he is? Really? I guess at this point, the Washington Post thinks the majority of newspaper readers are so senile they’re beyond having their intelligence insulted.
    At least the artist imitates Richard Thompson instead of Gary Larson.

  12. Terry, why is it any better to insult the intelligence of the very intelligent Gene Weingarten and the Washington Post Writers Group (which has a couple of smarty pants on staff too)? Even if the “main emotional dynamic” could be ascertained from these samples, what’s wrong with it? Using the word “really” with a question mark isn’t really an argument. Show us all your intelligence with a deeper criticism of the property, if you have one. “The Simpsons” was sold on the emotional dynamic of a dimwitted dad and an underachieving son. “Calvin and Hobbes” is a precocious kid with an active imagination. Really?

  13. I’ve read that the Miami Herald is running Barney And Clyde. They also added Pickles as well. Get Fuzzy, Grand Avenue And Pearls Before Swine (which will continue on Sundays) have been dropped.

    The Chicago Tribune is picking up Barney And Clyde. No word yet on which comic they’re dumping for.

  14. @rod
    Just to be clear, I totally agree with your post directed at Terry LaBan.

  15. @Rodd
    What’s insulting to the intelligence about a strip that features a billionaire who’s constantly told money doesn’t matter by a homeless guy? Gee, Rodd–I guess everyone knows that homeless people are actually happier than billionaires because they know that the true secret of life is that all you need is a battered overcoat and a park bench. Except, that is, almost anyone who’s actually spent more than 5 minutes as an adult. The fact is, the happy bum cliche wore out it’s welcome right about the same time as one about the boss who chases his secretary around her desk. And it’s the cheapest sort of moral pandering to tell people, in the middle of a recession, that rich folks are all miserable anyhow and they, honest little strivers, are actually better off being broke. But I don’t blame Gene for all that–I blame the syndicate. Obviously, they have zero respect for their intended audience.

  16. “At least the artist imitates Richard Thompson instead of Gary Larson.”

    A comment from someone who clearly hasn’t done their homework.

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