Editorial Cartoonist Clyde Wells has passed away.
Clyde Wells – the longtime Augusta Chronicle editorial cartoonist who used his deft pen and keen wit to render unwavering opinions from caustic to caring – died Monday morning at his home in Martinez. He was 87.
A self-described “attack cartoonist,” Wells penned thousands of cartoons for The Chronicle from 1971 to his retirement in 1998 that caught the attention of readers not only locally but across the globe. Syndicated to more than 400 publications worldwide, his cartoons often appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and magazines such as Time, Newsweek and Playboy.
Clyde moved to Atlanta in 1967 and tried his hand at real estate and selling cars for several years, not really successful at either. In between he also worked at a McDonalds with the idea of acquiring a franchise in the nascent fast food business. One day during his car sales phase, it occurred to him, (more like a startling revelation!), that he had been given a gift and not using it in some fashion was a sin…He kept his day job and in his free time starting drawing gag and editorial cartoons and sports drawings and presenting and mailing them to magazines and newspapers.
About this time The Augusta Chronicle-Herald editorial page editor Louis Harris became aware of his work and talked publisher W.S. Morris lll into hiring him on a temporary 90-day basis to aid in passing an impending city-county consolidation bill referendum. He was hired on March 31, 1971. Clyde retired from the Chronicle on January 3, 1998.
During his nearly 27 years with the Chronicle he was recognized for several international, national and local awards but the one that meant the most to him was the first awarding of the first Louis Harris Journalist of the Year Award in 1979.
Upon the occasion of the memorial service held later in Houston for the astronauts who perished in the Challenger shuttle disaster on January 28, 1986, NASA asked for and received permission from Clyde to use his cartoon of the tragedy depicting Challenger flying into the hands of God for the cover of the service program. A singular honor in that every editorial cartoonist in the country and many throughout the world based a cartoon on the tragedy.
His work was nationally syndicated to over 400 newspapers and publications worldwide, often appearing in publications such as Time, Newsweek and Playboy magazines and the New York Times and Washington Post. This exposure brought inquiries about employment from newspapers from Miami (Herald), San Diego (Union-Tribune), Los Angeles (The Daily News), Washington (Times) and Providence, RI (Journal-Bulletin) but he chose to remain in Augusta.
During his career, the Chronicle published three books of Clyde’s cartoons and works of art, selling over 11,500 books. A remarkable achievement in Augusta’s relatively small market and a tribute to the fact the he always emphasized local and state cartoons to the more prestigious and remunerative national cartoons.
Member: American Association Editorial Cartoonists, National Cartoonist Society.