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Interviews: MacKay, Kelley, Griffith, Fies


An Unapologetic Political Cartoonist

WELLS: I saw on Twitter, I mean I just saw a bit of it, but he apologized and then he sort of apologized for the apology. But people started giving a hard time for apologizing.

MACKAY: I think the big difference there is that he’s a freelancer so he doesn’t answer to an editor. My editor is Howard Elliot and he cleared it. He looked at it and he didn’t raise any worry it about or anything. There’s been subsequent apologies since then and they all come from freelancers who don’t have those filters that thank goodness I have here at The Spectator because I’ve never apologized for a cartoon.

WELLS: With that one, people are missing the whole boxing analogy. Trudeau was famous at least for people following his career for boxing publicly…

MACKAY: I’m kind of amazed that we as cartoonists haven’t really capitalized on this whole thing because you could you can see the good in that. But you can also see the ugly side of being a boxer as well, and I think both Mike and I did that job as was expected in a satirist.

Toronto Star editorial cartoonist Graeme MacKay talks of influences to and how he does his craft, of the easing of pressures from editors as his career has grown, of today’s political climate in which he works, and more in a fascinating interview.

Both as an audio or read the transcript at the Hamilton Spectator.



Red Cartoonist in a Blue City

“Rob Rogers, who preceded me here and was here for 24 or 25 years and is just a spectacular talent, in my opinion you know, he was her and beloved…I feel a little like Camilla Parker Bowlesgoing to an event at Buckingham Palace.”

“I’ve never worked somewhere where I was so reviled and openly…among the readers of the newspaper.”

Conservative political cartoonist Steve Kelley visits conservative radio hosts Wendy Bell and Marty Griffin to discuss working at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
A seven minute audio interview via KDKA Newsradio.



Bill Griffith’s Weird America

Q. Was making “Nobody’s Fool” a way of paying back the success you’ve had with Zippy the Pinhead?

A. Well, yeah. I always periodically feel I owe my public an explanation for Zippy. Like, what’s this all about? I even have another book in mind that I’ll probably never do, it’s just a joke book to me, called “The Key to Zippy.” Like “The Key to ‘Finnegans Wake.’” And I would absolutely, dead seriously, completely explain Zippy in infinite detail. I’ve done it satirically a number of times in the “Zippy” strip. [But] this book has some quality of that, of me saying “Here’s the inspiration for Zippy.”

Q. How much of Schlitzie’s story were you able to verify and how much is invented?

A. There’s no way to really pinpoint Schlitzie’s name, and his actual birthdate is not pin-pointable either, but on his death certificate it put his age at 70. So that would mean he was born in 1901. When he was a full-grown adult, a couple of years after the “Freaks” appearance, he was adopted by George and Dorothy Surtees, who were sideshow managers. [So] his last name was legally Surtees, but whatever his first name was is lost. Schlitzie is the name he was given early on, I don’t know exactly why. There are all kinds of possibilities. I think he was probably born to German-Jewish parents in the Bronx, or the Lower East Side, and maybe their last name was Schlitz or something— who knows?

Bill Griffith‘s book Nobody’s Fool release date is next week.

Here Bill talks with Ty Burr of the Boston Globe about Schlitzie Surtees and Zippy the Pinhead. In a Zippy kind of irony the Boston Globe has tried to cancel the Zippy comic strip a couple of times, bringing Zippy back only last month from the latest expulsion.



We Will Get By, We Will Get By, We Will Survive

Your line in the book about how the stuff we own is a marker of time and memory is so true. What do you feel you have lost?

I’ve always had a sense of being a sort of steward of history, if that’s not too pretentious. Old family possessions had come to me, and it was my job to take care of them and pass them down. Well, I certainly botched that job! The losses that mean the most are those connected to sentiment and memories. My late mother’s handwritten notes, a Second World War cap from my grandfather, videotapes of our grown daughters as babies. My kids will never be able to hold those things and tell stories about them. That continuity ended. So we start a new one.

Graphic journalist Brian Fies‘s A Fire Story was released to bookstores last week. Brian has done a few interviews since the drop, here’s the latest one with The Herald of Glasgow, Scotland.





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