This weekend Jules Feiffer hosted his long-time friend Margie King Barab as his guest at the Montgomery House at Dartmouth College. Margie is the widow of Alexander King, author, memoirist, famous media personality of early television and editor of Americana Magazine, a Depression era humor publication. Margie visited Jules’ class “Graphic Humor in 20th Century America” and told the story of her move to New York City from Nebraska, and how she met and fell in love with Alex King, her super (and 33 years her senior), and of their marriage and his rise to fame. On Sunday night we watched the first of 13 episodes of Alex’s show called “Alex in Wonderland,” in which he reflects on art, literature, humor, Africa, and love, among many other things. A young Margie King is seated next to her host and husband, offering prompts, laughter, encouragement, and an occasional song. Margie still sings around the house at 77 years old.
This week I had the privelege of attending the Politics of Cartooning panel discussion at Dartmouth College, with guests Jeff Danzinger, Jules Feiffer, Ed Koren and Ed Sorel. What a group! I loved them. But more fascinating than the work that they showed and their conversation was the audience’s attitude toward the future of cartooning—and publishing in general—as all but extinct. “You’re all of a certain age…” one woman began. “Just what the hell does that mean?!” came the response. But many audience members were nodding in agreement; are these cartoonists the last generation?
The Center for Cartoon Studies couldn’t exist without a new group of visual storytelling enthusiasts rising to the occasion to step into the giant shoes of past creators and continue forging new ground in the medium of comics. Graphic novels and comics format picture books are turning literary heads, snowballing onward as more titles are published every year. The new future in cartooning won’t rely on newspaper syndicates, but instead on book deals and digital media. Fingers crossed!
Jules Feiffer’s pets Lily and Daisy are up here for the week while his daugther, Kate Feiffer, and his granddaughter Maddie stay as his guests in Hanover. Lily is “the dog that winks” in their book Which Puppy?. She was terrific fun to draw.
Jules Feiffer has offered to looked through some of my past work this week to see what I’ve been doing during my time at the Center for Cartoon studies along with some sketchbooks from RISD. He has responded best to the drawings and stories I love while instinctively critical and unimpressed with the work that I, too, am unhappy with, or fought my way to complete. He can see the inspiration—or the lack thereof—however much I try to hide it. I never knew it was so transparent to the outside world. So where can that come out next year? How? How do you bring yourself to be inspired? Show up, do the work, commit to putting in the hours as your desk. We’ll see what happens in the fall.
Jules Feiffer and I have spent a lot of time together over the last three days, scanning books, organizing slides, discussing possible class topics. It’s been enormously fun to work as his assistant, and I’ve had the chance to reexamine so many gorgeous drawings from the early 20th century. I’ve always loved Winsor McCay’s work, but god- the ingenuity! the draftsmanship! His weekly pace! They are just so beautiful. Here are some of my favorites:
Drawing out on the balcony at the Montgomery House after labeling some PowerPoint slides for Jules Feiffer. And lookin’ cool.
I first met Jules Feiffer when he spoke at the Center for Cartoon Studies with Jeff Danzinger in April. He was charming, enthusiastic, and quite the ham in front of a crowd. He liked my sketchbook, which later resulted in the opportunity to be his teaching assistant for the summer during his Montgomery Fellowship at Dartmouth College, just a few miles away from White River Junction. He arrived yesterday. I’m already having a blast!
Tim drove us home from New York after his three week internship at First Second followed by his birthday celebration. After so much rain, the clouds were incredible. I did this quick sketch in the car– I miss drawing and intend to do a lot more of it this summer.