Edward Sorel Visits Jules Feiffer

Jules Feiffer and I were born 94 years ago in the Bronx, two months apart. We both grew up to be terrible at sports, and we both started to draw characters from the comics when we were 8 or 9 years old. We both became cartoonists, and last year, both of us ended up in different emergency rooms with heart failure, in the same week.

Edward Sorel, for The Atlantic, recalls his long friendship and a recent visit with Jules Feiffer.

It’s difficult for a generation younger than mine to realize how important Jules’s drawings were to so many of us in America in the 1950s and ’60s.

In the 1950s, newspaper cartoons didn’t really focus on relationships, therapy, conformity, self-doubt, or the latest fads in lifestyle and literature. In the early ’60s, even liberal newspapers were nervous about the civil-rights movement and virtually unanimous in their support of the Vietnam War. Because Jules was a lone voice of protest for so long, he was revered by many readers.

© Jules Feiffer

Some competition as Edward shared pages with Jules from The Village Voice to The New Yorker.

The events that led to my friendship with Jules began in 1974, when Clay Felker, a co-founder and the editor of New York magazine, bought The Village Voice, the countercultural weekly that had started publication in 1955 … Felker gave me—a contributor to New York magazine since its very beginning—a weekly spot in the Voice. Jules and I would now be appearing just a page apart every week.

After four hours of driving from one boring highway to another, we were told by the car’s GPS that we had arrived at Joan and Jules’s home. Kathy [Hourigan, a vice president of Knopf Doubleday and a good friend of Jules’s] and I found ourselves in front of a very long one-story house that Joan later described as neoclassical or Gustavian. No one answered our knock, so we just walked in. We soon discovered Joan in the kitchen; she welcomed us with hugs and rushed to find Jules in the other wing, and we followed. When he saw us—or the blurred image of us—he let out his familiar high-decibel shout of joy, and we all returned to the kitchen…

A wonderful read about a friendship past and present.

Further reading:

Backing Into Forward by Jules Feiffer; Profusely Illustrated: A Memoir by Edward Sorel

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