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Maurice Sendak fantasized about assassinating Bush, Chenney

The Comics Journal ran a sneak peak of an interview between Gary Groth and “Where the Wild Things Are” author Maurice Sendak, where it’s revealed that Maurice thought about assassinating President George Bush and Vice President Dick Chenney with a suicide bomb and said the act would have been a “very brave and wonderful thing.” The sneak peak ran mid-May, but is just now being picked up by main stream media (ABC, MSNBC. The Atlantic Wire)

The explosive (pun!) excerpt:

SENDAK: Bush was president, I thought, “Be brave. Tie a bomb to your shirt. Insist on going to the White House. And I wanna have a big hug with the vice president, definitely. And his wife, and the president, and his wife, and anybody else that can fit into the love hug.”

GROTH: A group hug.

SENDAK: And then we’ll blow ourselves up, and I’d be a hero. [Groth laughs.] To hell with the kiddie books. He killed Bush. He killed the vice president. Oh my God.

GROTH: I would have been willing to forgo this interview. [Sendak laughs.]

SENDAK: You would have forgotten about it. It would have been a very brave and wonderful thing. But I didn’t do it; I didn’t do it.

The full interview will be published in the next print edition (#302).

Community Comments

#1 Rich Diesslin
June/26/2012
@ 1:49 pm

What an idiotic thing to a) think and b) admit.

#2 Mike Lester
June/26/2012
@ 2:09 pm

GROTH: “I would have been willing to forgo this interview.”

Think about that. The sheer giddy prospect of a suicide bomber blowing up the Vice President, The President and the First Lady of Your Own Country in the White House versus never having the opportunity to interview the suicide bombing author of “WhereTheWildThingsAre” was a preference this man was willing to make.

At least Sendak’s dead.

#3 Steve Skelton
June/26/2012
@ 2:10 pm

The US has lost 4,484 military personnel since 2003 in Iraq. Civilian casualties exceed 100,000.

Not such an idiotic thing to think.

#4 Jim Lavery
June/26/2012
@ 3:08 pm

Remember: murderous violence against Republicans and their wives is OK. It is the sign of a passionate, sensitive, loving heart. Kum-by-ah, motherf#&$a!

#5 Dave Stephens
June/26/2012
@ 4:08 pm

I used to be very political for many decades, but as I grew older I noticed the kool-aid I drank had a curious aftertaste of fascism and tribalism, so I stopped being a “good democrat” and now I find both parties are rife with the worst kind of lies and distortions about just about everything… Some people’s eyes open wider with age, but not most people’s…

The desire to blow up the other side? Pure animal instinct..
The desire to include anybody in the room? Extra crazy with insanity sauce.

But I’ve heard this craziness non-stop from liberals – it’s like breathing to them..

#6 Mike Cope
June/26/2012
@ 4:23 pm

Nothing sells a book better than a food controversy. *sigh* RIP Mr. Unibomber Sendak… I hope you gave them permission to run the interview before you died.

#7 Mike Cope
June/26/2012
@ 4:24 pm

Err, good NOT food … stupid iSpellcheck.

#8 Carl Moore
June/26/2012
@ 6:12 pm

“The US has lost 4,484 military personnel since 2003 in Iraq. Civilian casualties exceed 100,000.

Not such an idiotic thing to think.”

Vietnam = 50,000 American dead, millions of civilian casualties.

Not such an idiotic thing to think… about Eisenhower, JFK and LBJ who got us into Vietnam?

To say anytime an American president or presidents make a mistake that results in casualties – even many casualties -that they deserve at least the momentary satisfying chuckle of blowing them up is… well, simply, idiotic. Idiotic internet bloggers can be forgiven, but so-called sensitive artists and thinkers with the overblown reputation of Sendak cannot.

#9 Dave Crews
June/26/2012
@ 6:14 pm

Disgusting.

#10 Mark Juhl
June/26/2012
@ 6:51 pm

How many deaths since have occured during the current admin Steve? Does the same go for this one?

Where exactly do you draw the line?

#11 Steve Skelton
June/26/2012
@ 7:06 pm

Hey, don’t over think what I said. Talk to someone who had a loved one die in this war, which in my opinion was unnecessary and perpetrated by lies. I am proud to be an American, but the day of that invasion was one of my worst as an American. Quote history all you want, my point was it was not an “idiotic” thought in my opinion. I feel that if Bush wasn’t president, that war (invasion) would have never happened.

I am not a flaming liberal, and I realize mistakes have been made by both sides. Having said that, I do not nor ever endorse the assassination of an president. Hell, the NSA is monitoring this thread.

#12 Mike Cope
June/26/2012
@ 7:10 pm

Part of me wonders the appropriateness of publishing such statements posthumously. Even if he swore by the statement at the time, is this something he really wanted to be remembered by.

#13 Clay Jones
June/26/2012
@ 7:31 pm

I’m disgusted by Sendak and the interviewer. Even if it’s a joke, it’s sick. I think Bush/Cheney was probably the worst administration in United States history but that doesn’t make talk like that OK. And why threaten the wives?

#14 Jim Lavery
June/26/2012
@ 9:45 pm

“And why threaten the wives?” Because the same bloodlust he was assigning to Bush-Cheney was living in him.

#15 Jamie Smith
June/26/2012
@ 10:16 pm

The quotes reveal as much about the ethics and intent of both the person interviewing him and the publication which is promoting it. Taking advantage during an interview with a guy in his eighties and deliberately capitalizing on a manufactured controversy after his death is pretty low. Or at least one would have thought it beneath the editorial standards of such an industry leader as The Comics Journal.

#16 Stacy Curtis
June/27/2012
@ 1:11 am

I agree 100% with Jamie’s (#15) statement.

Let’s take a small controversial segment from an interview with Maurice Sendak and use it to sell copies of The Comics Journal after he’s died.

Seems filthy. I won’t be buying it.
Besides, I don’t think Maurice Sendak will be killing anyone anytime soon.

#17 Dave Stephens
June/27/2012
@ 3:42 am

As a long time comic reader (since 1970) who used to read The Comics Journal, let me assure you that NOTHING is beneath the editorial standards of The Comics Journal… ;)

#18 birdie
June/27/2012
@ 8:31 am

Wow such vitriol over one measly piece of an interview. He said he thought about it. He wasn’t dreaming about it, he wasn’t making plans to carry it out. He had a quiet thought and mentioned it later in an interview.

I’m not condoning what Mr Sendak said but I’m not abhorring it either.

#19 Jim Lavery
June/27/2012
@ 10:08 am

would you abhor it if it was said against…ohhh…let’s seeee….President Obama?

#20 Stacy Curtis
June/27/2012
@ 11:05 am

Jim Lavery get over yourself.

Do a Google search for “Kill Obama.”
I did. Lots of articles came up.
Hell, there is even a Kill Obama video game out there.

(BTW – The black helicopters will be circling my house at any time now for doing that Google search.)

There have been lots of …. ohhh …. let’s seeee … Republicans who’ve said stuff in the same vain of killing Democrats. A senator, a Ted Nugent and let’s not forget Gabrielle Giffords’ little friend, Jared Lee Loughner.

Stop trying to twist this into an issue of Democrats vs. Republicans. That’s bullsh!t and you know it.

It’s a case of a 83-year-old man just six months away from the end of his life saying something batshit crazy in an interview and The Comics Journal exploiting a small segment of a larger conversation about politics to create a controversy to make money.

#21 Joe Engesser
June/27/2012
@ 11:59 am

…nuff said.

#22 Jim Lavery
June/27/2012
@ 12:23 pm

not the point Stacy, I was asking Birdie if he’d abhor the same thing said about the current president, not whether the same thing IS said about him elsewhere already

#23 Donald Rex Jr
June/27/2012
@ 1:20 pm

Free to think.
Free to speak.
Free to draw cartoons.
Free to publish.
Who are any of us to judge or condemn any of these?
Critics. Pfffft.

#24 Donald Rex Jr
June/27/2012
@ 1:33 pm

And I’d like to know when the Comics Journal ever made money? Dern Gary Groth has owed me $200. since 1978. Wait, maybe I owe him? Say what you want about that guy, he isn’t in it for the money, he is not perfect, but he is one of the most decerning and intellegent people I’ve known. He doesn’t care at all what anyone thinks of him, and because he is generally apolitical and self absorbed he blows a lot of potentially profitable deals and relationships, and in turn more often than is comfortable, burns people as a result.

Hail to thee Gary Groth! You showed us at last that Maurice Sendak had a vivid inner-fantasy imagination.

“batshit crazy” – crystal clarity. ha

#25 Pete McDonnell
June/27/2012
@ 2:52 pm

Maurice Sendak’s gonna be grilled for this, although he always spoke his mind and didn’t seem to give a damn either way. For example, he said in a recent radio interview that his childhood idol, Mickey Mouse, had been turned into a “fat whore”!

I think the invasion/occupation of Iraq was the worst cluster#&*% since Vietnam, it was tragic and not worth the loss of blood & treasure. I had some visceral feelings over that war and hate the entire crew of neocons that perpetrated it, but I don’t think my emotions ran quite as red as Sendak’s.

#26 birdie
July/1/2012
@ 8:02 am

Jim, I’d abhor anyone saying “I want to kill the president” “it’d be great to kill the president” not “I thought about killing the president”

It’s all about the context of the term. I don’t wish anyone to die, but I have weird thoughts and fantasies like everyone and I hope the thought police doesn’t take me away just because I thought about doing something I would never ever do.

#27 Dave Stephens
July/1/2012
@ 12:05 pm

Don’t forget – Sendak thought killing the Vice Prez, the Prez, the wives and anyone else in the room would “have been a very brave and wonderful thing.”

See, Birdie, you DON’T wish anyone to die. And I don’t wish anyone to die. But Sendak DID. “Brave and wonderful?” Really? You don’t abhor THAT sentiment? I know I do…

#28 birdie
July/1/2012
@ 1:55 pm

Dave, the beginning Sendak’s answer starts with “I thought” which means he only thought about it. he thought about it with a lot of care and creativity, but it was still a thought.

You can’t judge a man by what he thinks, but by what he does.

#29 Dave Stephens
July/2/2012
@ 3:30 am

So Birdie, if a stranger looks you in the eye and says, “I thought about killing you the other day. In various painful ways. With common household items easily purchased. Just a thought.” You wouldn’t judge that stranger?

See, Birdie, you certainly CAN judge a man by what he thinks…

When some guy says to me, “I think (insert skin color here) people shouldn’t be hired here,” I immediately and without hesitation judge the living #@%&*!! out of that person. I judge that person on what he said, on the words that came out of his mouth.

#30 Shawn Labadie
July/2/2012
@ 11:48 pm

I’d like to say that it was very encouraging to see that most of the people who read “The Daily Cartoonist” are thoughtful and reasonable regardless of where they are politically. I may vehemently disagree with a politician, but the reality is that most of them (even the crooked ones, which is most of them it seems) are just regular people who you would have a pleasant conversation with if they were your neighbor and you didn’t know their political leanings. To publicly admit that you fantasize about their deaths, regardless of whether you are serious or not, lowers the public discourse and creates and atmosphere of hate.

Call me naive, but I was shocked to learn the truth behind Sendak’s beloved children’s book “Where the Wild Things Are”. It frankly disgusted me and as a result I will never read it to my children again even if they never “get” the true meaning. This man was not a good guy and I don’t think we should be celebrating him IMHO.

#31 Donald Rex Jr
July/3/2012
@ 12:11 pm

#29 – wake up, the objection in your example is not the thought, but the action proposed to have come from that thought.

I know many people cannot make this sort of fine distinction.

#30 – Aside from Charles Schulz few cartoonsts or other artists led impecable lives with pure thoughts. An artist’s intentions in creating their work is completely disconnected from the readers perception of it, if it has true merit. Truth in Sendak’s work is what the reader feels on feels in reading it, not in something we later learn about his “intentions.”

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