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Posted at 1:15 PM ET, 01/ 3/2011

'RIFFS IN REVIEW: The Top Comics Quotes of 2010

By Michael Cavna

Some artists thrilled at surprise Oscar nominations and Pulitzer Prize victories. Some comic-strip creators such as Garry Trudeau marked anniversaries, while others like Cathy Guisewite called it a career from daily syndication. And some cartoonists traveled to Afghanistan to learn more about the culture or to support the troops, while the "South Park" creators and Molly Norris sparked death threats and international controversy over whether an artist should depict Muhammad.

From raised iPad hopes to frustrations over Apple's app store rejections, the year in cartooning ran the emotional gamut. Throughout, smart and talented people who are devoted to the art and craft and business of cartooning shared their insights with Comic Riffs. So from those who were "thrilled" to those who were "horrified" by what they experienced these past 12 months, here are our Top-40 Comics Quotes from 2010:

"iPad. Inspired by 'Star Trek' -- those devices for crew manifests were called PADDs [personal access display device]. Also, makes sense."
-- Alt-political cartoonist and graphic novelist TED RALL, predicting what Apple's new device should be named, prior to Steve Jobs's announcement (Jan. 27).

"It's a sad loss for all of us, not having him do 'Judge Parker.' Eduardo brought a sex appeal and panache to the strip and that was needed."
-- WOODY WILSON, on Eduardo Barreto, whose serious illness forced him to leave "Judge Parker" (Feb. 12)

"I don't want to kill newspapers. Anyone who tells you that the Internet is killing newspapers is full of it. Newspapers don't have to die in order for my business to succeed."
-- "PvP" creator SCOTT KURTZ , on the title of his Macworld 2010 webcomics talk, "He Wants to Kill Your Newspaper" (Feb. 12)

"When I was in the sixth grade or so, it was a book of Herblock's cartoons that first flicked on a little light in my head illuminating the very unlikely career path of the political cartoonist. To get this honor in his name almost 50 years later is truly mind-boggling."
-- Politico's MATT WUERKER, on winning the 2010 Herblock Prize (Feb. 18).

"There's nothing you can't do in terms of creating a performance. It's only a matter of time, money and imagination."
-- "How to Train Your Dragon" director DEAN DeBLOIS, on discovering the powers of CGI animation (March 26).

"Just being nominated is by far enough pressure. I don't expect to get this kind of recognition again for at least two or three more films."
-- Irish filmmaker TOMM MOORE, on receiving an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature Film for "The Secret of Kells" (April 2).

"I feel more strongly than the statement -- and am particularly appalled by Comedy Central's lack of spine."
-- Philadelphia Daily News political cartoonist SIGNE WILKINSON, who was among 19 Pulitzer-winning cartoonists signing a petition to condemn the threat by Islamic extremists against the creators of "South Park" (April 28).

"If I had wanted my one-off cartoon to be the basis for a worldwide movement to draw Mohammed, then at this moment I should be thrilled. But instead I am horrified!"
-- Seattle artist MOLLY NORRIS, whose controversial "Everybody Draw Muhammad!" illustration spawned international Facebook campaigns and, later, death threats that led her to change her identity (May 20).

"I have decided that people like me, who presume to critique comic strips, are anuses.
-- Post columnist GENE WEINGARTEN, on what he's learned as he enters the ranks of syndicated comic-strip creators (June 4).

"This script is so dense and so ripe with invention, there's no way I could have written this by myself.... I'm just one guy on a large team. There is so much manpower and brainpower applied to these scripts -- it's like working for NASA,"
-- Oscar-winning screenwriter MICHAEL ARNDT, on writing "Toy Story 3" (June 17).

"Full disclosure: I was bulimic and had been since I was about 15. I'm more than okay today. In fact, I'm pretty sure my 17-year-old self would be totally amazed to see me -- a happy, married mom who doesn't feel compelled to work out every day. That is, after she totally took apart everything I was wearing."
-- cartoonist TRACY WHITE, on her "mostly factual" cartoon memoir "How I Made It to Eighteen" (June 27).

"All I remember is that Jeff [Kinney] called me after the first 48 hours and said: 'You crashed the server,' It was their biggest launch by 20 percent."
-- "Big Nate" creator LINCOLN PEIRCE, on joining forces at Poptropica with best-selling "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" creator Jeff Kinney (July 7).


"Before [Harvey Pekar], there wasn't much to show. You had the power fantasies of 14-year-olds and the 19-year-old tits-and-drugs fantasies. ... Harvey believed there was no limit to how good comics could be. To chronicle his life from these tiny wonderful moments of magic and of heartbreak -- and the most important thing was that he did it. ... I discovered Harvey somewhere around 1993 or 1994, when I picked up an American Splendor. I probably discovered him through R. Crumb, whom I had loved since as a kid. You come for Crumb -- you stay for Harvey."
-- NEIL GAIMAN, on the legacy of fellow writing legend Harvey Pekar [1939-2010] (July 13).

"We knew we wanted to change Wonder Woman's costume, but Joe [Straczynski] gave us a story reason to change it to what you now see."
-- DC Comics Co-Publisher DAN DiDIO, on Diana Prince's updated costume (July 22).

"Mostly, I think people are empowered by being a geek, especially at Comic-Con. I remember years ago, the thing about Comic-Con was: It was the only place where you I felt like I could beat up [most of] the guys in the room."
-- "The K Chronicles" and "The Knight Life" creator KEITH KNIGHT, on the evolutioin of San Diego Comic-Con (July 22).


"I used to be embarrassed because I was just a comic-book writer while other people were building bridges or going on to medical careers. And then I began to realize: Entertainment is one of the most important things in people's lives. Without it they might go off the deep end."
-- STAN LEE reflects on his career (July 23).

"I miss the 70 million readers if you want to know the truth. Who wouldn't? But it's an era that's past forever. I'm an author. It's fun to have readers. But they're elsewhere now."
-- Pulitzer-winning "Bloom County" creator and father of Opus BERKELEY BREATHED, on the shifting place of the comics page in pop culture (July 23).


"It's for a new audience that probably hasn't read MAD before -- it's a different generation. It's a well-paced modern cartoon with a lot of modern humor -- though they'll also [feature] a couple of us old farts."
-- SERGIO ARAGONES, on the new MAD television show (July 24).

"I think we are in a time where 'geek' as come to mean so much more than before. To be 'geek' now is to embrace everything about yourself no matter how childish or extreme it may be. Being a 'geek' to me means not being afraid to love what you love and enjoy life to its fullest."
-- Podcasting personality and Diggnation/G4 veteran ALEX ALBRECHT, on the power of the geek in pop culture (July 25).

"I kept staring at pictures of the spill. Then, as a creative person who works with dark liquid all the time -- in ink -- something organically grew out of that. I play with dark liquid all the time, so I decided to use oil as my ink."
-- Pulitzer-winning political cartoonist STEVE BREEN, on why he traveled to the Gulf to gather tarballs for his cartoons tinted with BP crude (July 27).

"I don't see it leaving. That's just an empty threat to get more money for the convention. Comic-Con is too big an institution for San Diego -- they will never let it go, and they would lose scads of money if they are stupid enough to do so."
-- Eisner Award-winning "Chew" writer JOHN LAYMAN, on San Diego Comic-Con (Aug. 3).

"As an American who pays taxes, I'm partly responsible for this war. It concerns a lot of people and others go about their lives oblivious to the people in the third world, specifically ones their government kills. I want to see it for myself. I don't really separate artistic and personal -- my personal life is my work, since I spend most of my waking hours drawing comics -- so they are sort of one in the same."
-- Alt-political cartoonist and graphic novelist MATT BORS, on why he traveled to Afghanistan this past summer (Aug. 9).

"If it hadn't been for my father, I wouldn't have been a cartoonist," ...
"My dad said: 'You're crazy -- go into advertising.' He would complain about the ulcers and bellyaches and high-stress. 'You're crazy -- go be a teacher,' he said. But I went into Marvel after a circuitous route because of my father, the artist."
-- JOHN ROMITA JR. on following dad into the comics profession (Aug. 10).

"We are all solitary folk by nature and control freaks, which leads us to comic stripping, the ultimate personal expression with very little outside influence. But because of the state of comics and newspapers, we must self-promote and stay in the public mainstream to remain viable."
-- "Lio" creator MARK TATULLI, on the dual nature of his role as a comic-stripper (Aug. 11).

"I have loved doing this job and feel blessed to have done this for a living, To be able to last this long and to be paid to turn every [personal] 'disaster' into money [is special]. To turn every bathing suit disaster -- to get back at some clerks -- and every calorie blunder and shopping blunder into a [comic strip] -- it's been great."
-- CATHY GUISEWITE, on ending her Reuben Award-winning strip "Cathy" after nearly four decades. (Aug. 13).

"The fact of the matter is, comic books proper -- whether in print or digital -- is still a niche story art form and will never be able to compete with the Hollywood industry, The filet mignon I enjoyed at the Governor's Ball in Los Angeles to celebrate the Emmy win ... doesn't mean I can stop working until midnight six days a week and stop eating peanut butter sandwiches at my art table for dinner. I do what I love and that's almost why the pay is allowed to be so damned lousy but I have no fantasy that my work will get me on Easy Street and that's okay."
-- Artist DEAN HASPIEL, on life after winning an Emmy for the opening sequence of HBO's "Bored to Death" (Aug. 27).

"San Diego is sensory overload, but Baltimore Comic-Con is just the right size, with the right amount of people who still get a kick out of comics."It's still a very personal show."
-- Maryland-based artist FRANK CHO, on why he returns to the Baltimore Con each year (Aug. 27).

"Having people see our work was a completely new experience. We were trying to make comic books at Kinko's and leave them at the store [for people to see]. We started to have an audience. ... We were making [almost] no money -- we thought the payment was that people were seeing it."
-- "Penny Arcade" co-creator MIKE KRAHULIK, on breaking into comics with Jerry Holkins in the late-'90s (Sept, 3).

"I got the idea for the gag of my strip from my cousin Lauren, who two years ago, at the age of 30, was diagnosed with breast cancer. I wanted to do a strip that talked specifically about the experience of having the disease. Lauren is a hilarious person, and was very candid about how much it sucked. I feel lucky to share her experience with my readers, and lucky that she is alive and healthy and here to see in print."
-- "Rhymes With Orange" creator HILARY PRICE, who drew pink-tinted cartoons for Breast Cancer Awareness (Oct. 5).

"It's similar to the trip to Burma. We had to meet with a security officer at the embassy who said not to do X, Y and Z and don't go out late at night. The standard stuff. Nothing to be [scared of] -- hey, I grew up in New York in the '80s."
-- "A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge" cartoonist JOSH NEUFELD, on traveling to the Mideast and North Africa as part of a State Department tour to showcase cultural freedoms (Oct. 8).

"I hold in my sweaty mitts an 0-1 visa, allowing me to work on cartoons with [Texas-based co-creator] Rob [Denbleyker] until 2013 at the very least. I think the hardest part for us was convincing the old farts in U.S. Immigration that I was an internationally recognised [sic] cartoonist."
-- "Cyanide & Happiness" co-creator DAVE McELFATRICK, on winning permission to come from Ireland to work in the United States (Oct. 20).

"Even when he used the traditional set-ups of magazine cartoons, his take on them was always fresh. I will miss him and his work enormously."
-- ROZ CHAST, memorializing fellow New Yorker cartoonist Leo Cullum [1942-2010] (Oct. 26).

"It didn't take me long to realize that, even though it feels like it, winning the Prize is not like winning the lottery, after all the celebration, you go right back to work. I've actually felt more pressure to live up to the Pulitzer Prize, which I think is one of the best things about a prize like this -- the never-ending post-Prize pressure to avoid professional slackery."
-- Self-syndicated animator MARK FIORE, on life after the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning (Oct. 27).

"Thanks to people like Neil Gaiman and Greg Rucka, crossover seems pretty widespread. It makes it an exciting time to be a writer in general."
-- "American Vampire" creator SCOTT SNYDER, on the disappearing divisions between writing for comics and "literature" (Oct. 28).

"Frankly, I never really talked to the guys about the war. I ask them questions like: 'Are you able to talk to your family? Do you have kids? Is it a good thing or a [difficult] thing to see your kids on Skype?' "It's more personal. ... They often want to talk about family and seem to want to talk about anything but the war."
-- "Family Circus" cartoonist JEFF KEANE, on visiting troops in Afghanistan as part of a National Cartoonist Society USO tour (Nov. 18).

"The advantage of an early start is the absence of inhibition. When you're young, with less on the line, it's easier to be audacious, to experiment. So I introduced the concerns of my generation -- politics, sex, drugs, rock-and-roll, etc. -- to the comics page, which for many years caused a rolling furor. ... But I never did it for the rush, to provoke outrage, as many editors suspected. And having stretched the boundaries some, I'm perfectly content now to work within them. 'Doonesbury' doesn't need to become 'South Park.' You won't ever see any singing turds."
-- Pulitzer-winning "Doonesbury" creator GARRY TRUDEAU, reflecting on the evolution of his strip at the 40-year mark. (Nov. 29).

"The hardest part was making the choice to pull the trigger and start the clock ticking toward unemployment. I'm a fancy man. I like things like food and shelter. It's both scary and exhilarating leaving a job you've had for a long time to pursue something new and different. Kind of like the first time you try sushi. You might love it or you might get violently ill."
-- Political cartoonist DREW SHENEMAN, 35, on taking a buyout offer from the Newark Star-Ledger (Dec. 1).

"I'd just made a documentary about the best baseball player in the world, [Willie Mays]. So I decided to make a documentary about the worst baseball player in the world -- Charlie Brown."
-- Emmy-winning producer/director LEE MENDELSON, on the birth of the 1965 classic "A Charlie Brown Christmas" (Dec. 7).

"I don't expect my fame over this to last past this week."
-- New York artist EDMUND EARLE, whose viral animated parody "Boo Boo Kills Yogi" has been viewed more than 3-million times on YouTube (Dec. 14).

"Whether it's Obama or Sarah Palin, we're not really involved in [political cartooning]. For us, it's not about whether the emperor has any clothes. It's, for example, whether the emperor spent too much on those clothes."
-- New Yorker cartoon Editor BOB MANKOFF, on the magazine's topical humor in its cartoons. (Dec. 16).

'RIFFS IN REVIEW: Remembering 10 cartooning greats who died in 2010

'RIFFS IN REVIEW: Top Obama cartoons from 2010

THE YEAR IN COMIC RIFFS: What most resonated with readers in 2010

By Michael Cavna  | January 3, 2011; 1:15 PM ET
Categories:  Interviews With Cartoonists  | Tags:  Comics Quotes of 2010  
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Next: The Riff: Why DC Comics is right to bring back the letters columns of yore


"It's a sad loss for all of us, not having him do 'Judge Parker.' Eduardo brought a sex appeal and panache to the strip and that was needed."
-- WOODY WILSON, on Eduardo Barreto, whose serious illness forced him to leave "Judge Parker" (Feb. 12)

And, I would say that us Judge Parker readers still wish that Eduardo drew Judge Parker. I hear he has recovered and is taking on new projects. Which is AWESOME! Unfortuately, the syndicate has seemingly moved on. While Mike Manley is a very good artist, his version of Judge Parker is a bit stiff. And, the women don't look like Barreto's. So, I guess I am saying it is currently "lacking sexual panache", to steal part of Woody Wilson's line.

Maybe Eduardo didn't want to do the daily grind of comics syndication? I am really glad his health has recovered. I hear his latest work is just as good, if not better. He is sorely missed on Judge Parker.

So...Brendan Burford...are you listening?

Posted by: Jam893 | January 3, 2011 5:54 PM | Report abuse

You left out perhaps the most poignant quote about the state of the industry, from Frank Power's Aug. 26 remarks about the cancellation of his strip "My Cage" due to its not being carried by enough newspapers: "I feel like my childhood dream was shot point-blank through the eyes."

Posted by: seismic-2 | January 3, 2011 8:58 PM | Report abuse

I meant "Ed" Power, not "Frank". Total disconnect between my fingers and my brain.

I suppose it's a good thing I'm not a cartoonist.

Posted by: seismic-2 | January 3, 2011 9:01 PM | Report abuse


Thanks, and I agree -- that was a tellingly poignant quote by Ed. In a similar vein, there were also these quotes I'd included in my initial bulging list:

1. "I am crestfallen and angry, but also exhilarated. 'Matt Davies 2.0' is way overdue, in my opinion."
-- Pulitzer-winning political cartoonist MATT DAVIES, on his recent layoff.

2. "This sort of thing is happening to people everywhere. I'm determined to show that this isn't the end of the world. It's just a new one."
-- Pulitzer finalist MARSHALL RAMSEY, on seeing his cartoonist duties reduced.



Posted by: cavnam | January 3, 2011 9:57 PM | Report abuse


Agree. At times Manley's art on Judge Parker has been underwhelming when stacked up to Eduardo Barreto's art on JP. It's not realistic in the noir way that Eduardo drew it. But, there are times when it's not too shabby. But, if I had to pick, I would bring Eduardo back.


Was there ever any follow up with the syndicate or Woody Wilson regarding why they didn't let Eduardo Baretto resume drawing Judge Parker if he indeed regained his health in a fairly short order?? I googled him and found that he is working on a new Sinbad project with Chris Mills and has a Captain Action comic book coming out this month with Beau Smith.

Posted by: alevine76 | January 3, 2011 11:15 PM | Report abuse


King Features and Woody Wilson told me that they initially were hopeful Barreto could return from meningitis, but then -- given the absolute severity and indetermine length of Eduardo's "grave" illness -- they determined a swift and permanent change was in the best interest of everyone concerned.

As for Barreto's condition now, it's good and great to have him back.


Posted by: cavnam | January 4, 2011 11:12 AM | Report abuse

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