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Posted at 12:45 PM ET, 07/13/2009

The Comic Riffs Anniversary Gift: Telling Quotes From Top Cartoonists

By Michael Cavna

It only fully dawned on me several hours ago: The ever-humble, still-sprightly Comic Riffs blog is officially turning 1-year-old. Like, today.

Hitting that milestone wasn't always a foregone conclusion, so the blog tips its proverbial cap to the thousands of readers and commenters who have fostered its growth by making it a part of their regular e-reading diet. (This Riffster is also indebted to numerous people at The Post who supported its launch, most directly former Style editor Deb Heard and producer Nancy Kerr, as well as comics partner-in-crime, David Betancourt. )

But 'Riffs would be especially remiss if it didn't also nod to all the cartoonists, syndicate folks and comics editors and bloggers who've supportively warmed their digits at this conversational campfire. And a special nod to "Doonesbury" cartoonist Garry Trudeau, who agreed to the very first 'Riffs interview.

So to mark the first anniversary in some fashion, this week we'll run some of the choicest comments that cartoonists have uttered to Comic Riffs over the past 12 months. Here's the first sampling of Ten Fave Quotes. Cheers!

"For Better or For Worse" creator LYNN JOHNSTON, on deciding to start her strip's story all over again:
"I thought I would now be a retired woman with my Tilly hat and sitting on a cruise ship and going to the Galapagos. I really wanted to be happy as a couple and make everything right and things became more stressful. [The news of my husband's affair] was a shock -- if it has to happen, it has to happen -- but it made me look again at my career."

"Mother Goose and Grimm" creator MIKE PETERS, on his "drawing Juan Valdez" controversy:
"People then started calling me up and saying to me: 'You ought to be sued.' I never knew Juan Valdez was like George Washington in Colombia."

Garry Trudeau calls the election for Obama in next Wednesday's "Doonesbury." (Universal Press Syndicate)Enlarge Comic

"Doonesbury" creator GARRY TRUDEAU, on what prompted him, days in advance, to run a strip that "called" the 2008 race for Obama:
"If I didn't call the election, I'd have no premise for the week and be forced to write about something else. I didn't want to write about something else. This is history."

"Beavis and Butt-Head" and "King of the Hill" creator MIKE JUDGE, on requests to do character voices in public:
"I do the voice of Butt-Head pretty quietly. If I'm in a restaurant or bar and someone asks me to do it, they can barely hear me. And they go: 'You're not the guy! [Expletive!]' ... And I don't have anything spontaneous to say -- they're not the kind of characters that are [easy to make up] a conversation for."

"Boondocks" creator AARON McGRUDER, on being misquoted as if he said, "Obama is not black because he is not a descendant of a slave":
"Sadly, it no longer matters how carefully you choose your words -- you said what the dumbest person in the audience said you said. I've certainly had my share of criticism for the 'legit' media -- in fact, I largely stopped doing press because I hate being misquoted or misinterpreted by journalists -- but this new kind of 'gutter news' from sites ... [is] going to make it extremely difficult to engage in any sort of intelligent discourse."

Philadelphia Inquirer political cartoonist SIGNE WILKINSON, on trying to caricature John McCain:
"Middle-aged white men are a pain in the neck to draw because they're so pale. When they get white eyebrows and white hair and no discernible features, that gets difficult."

"Maus" creator ART SPIEGELMAN, on the history of the art form:
"Comics were the first rock 'n' roll. That's part of what I'm really interested in. Comics broke rules and infiltrated youth culture in the '50s, during the Senate hearings. That made it kind of dangerous, and it's still being felt. Comics were the Grand Theft Auto of the '50s."

Alt-weekly "Slowpoke" editorial cartoonist JEN SORENSEN, on her cartoon titled "First Ironic Great Depression":
"You'll notice the girl [in the fourth panel] is Twittering from a soup kitchen. I'm quite certain some people would give up food before they gave up their cellphones. I can't imagine how the Okies got through the 1930s without the ability to broadcast the mundane details of their westward migration!"

His trunk packed, Opus said a sweet-eyed goodbye. (Copyright 2008 Berkeley Breathed. Dist. by The Washington Post Writers Group)

"Bloom County"/"Outland"/"Opus" creator BERKELEY BREATHED, on how he felt saying "goodbye" to Opus for the last time:
"I drew the last image ever of Opus at midnight while Puccini was playing and I got rather stupid. Thirty years. A bit like saying goodbye to a child -- which is ironic because I was never, never sentimental about him as many of his fans were. I think "Madama Butterfly" pushed me over the top, though. He suddenly seemed alive."

Marvel Comics legend STAN LEE, on what he'd like to see in the next "Spider-Man" film:
"Me, with a bigger cameo."

By Michael Cavna  | July 13, 2009; 12:45 PM ET
Categories:  Interviews With Cartoonists  
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Next: The Interview: 'SpongeBob' Creator Stephen Hillenburg


Friday the thirteenth falls on a Monday this month.

Posted by: filfeit | July 13, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Congratulations, Michael. It's been a good year. Your latest interviews with Iranian cartoonists show that you're keeping the quality up.

Posted by: Mrhode | July 13, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the memory
Of riffing on the strips, cartoonists’ awkward slips,
Each morning’s comics blogs where you gave us all those tips,
How lovely it was!

Thanks for the memory
Of censors who wouldn’t budge, of Mark Trail’s toxic sludge,
And how we got the Washington Post to bring back the Judge,
How lovely it was!

Many’s the time that we riffed
And many’s the time we were miffed
But then Cavna applied his gift
To make us moan, with a homophone

And thanks for the memory
Of polls that kept the score, your interviews and more,
You might have been a Rat or Pig but you never were a Boar
So thank you so much!

Posted by: seismic-2 | July 13, 2009 6:43 PM | Report abuse

has it been a year?? after I read 3 different comics sites - I read you! So glad you are here.

Posted by: ZeldaJane | July 14, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse

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