What was it like breaking into the "boy's club" of cartoonists at Rhode Island School of Design and the New Yorker?
Well, actually, I had more of a struggle at RISD then I did in New York. In many ways — I've had this conversation with my daughter who goes to school for liberal arts — there are really great things you learn at art school and one of them is that you're not the only talented person. You go to non-art school because you can feel like, "Well, I must be really really special person. I mean I know a lot." Because you're the only one in your art class, particularly in a public high school, who was excelling in that sort of class and actually cares about what your doing, but then you go to art school and it's just like, "Oh my god. These people are really talented." When I went to RISD, and this was in the 70s, there was a comic magazine and it was all boys and it was called Fred I think they were trying to be funny. And I submitted some work to them and they rejected me. But it was really, you know, heartbreaking for me. For me it was tragic to have my work rejected in that way.
[When I moved to New York] I was not one of those people who knew how to talk about art and have these long conversations about it. "So and so and the validity that he displays and the attention he shows to this skill and it's superb." I just didn't know how to have these conversations and so I never really bonded. I missed the seriousness that a lot of these people really did, but it was like, "Look at this," and I'd be like, "Ha! Stupid squares."
I think it was just such a different time for comics. Representational drawings, narrative drawings, that was really passe. If you were trying to express yourself, even if it was in a round about way, it was inevitably going to be tacky. But if you were making jokes and trying to make people laugh that was like the bottom of the barrel; there was no lower than that. And so that was not that congenial in and environment for me. Getting to New York I took around my portfolio and I was very fortunate at the New Yorker to find a respected editor.
Image: courtesy of the author