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Local Writers Remember Cartoonist Don Asmussen

Asmussen’s “Bad Reporter” comic emerged shortly after the Examiner merged with the Chronicle in 2000. Delightfully deranged, Asmussen’s biweekly, syndicated strip mined culture and politics for “the lies behind the truth, and the truth behind those lies that are behind that truth.” This was where Asmussen found his stride, garnering a devoted readership. His deft use of satire and absurdity was entirely his own.

In 2019, Asmussen publicly announced that he had been diagnosed with brain cancer.

On Dec. 9, Asmussen died at age 59.

The Bay City News Foundation asked some people to recall memories of their friend.


Mary Ladd: “For someone so incredibly talented, there was zero tolerance for ego or B.S. He inspired me because I often got a fresh take on an issue or public individual from his strips. It was also exciting to realize it’s OK to push boundaries and say things that are controversial but true — as an artist and also as a cancer patient. Don did not want to be a cancer hero to anyone, and that made me dig deeper on how to interact with the world with that in mind.” 

Jack Boulware (writer and cofounder of Litquake): “He looked fairly normal, but I was already aware of his comics and his demented sensibility (I was editor of the satirical Nose magazine in the ’90s, and the editors were big fans of Don’s stuff). I remember thinking, ‘Oh cool, if Don’s doing the graphics, it’s going to be pretty unique.’ Jane and I gave him the basic info, date and time, author names, and he turned in the artwork, and it was just hilarious. Spot-on. The following year, he did another poster for us, and both have hung on the walls of every office we’ve had in the city. That tone of irreverence still runs through the DNA of our festival, and is a reminder for all of us to never take it too seriously.” 

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