Election 2008: An Interview with Tim Kreider

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For hundreds of years, editorial cartooning has played a role central to the political process, criticizing, lampooning, and generally bringing down a peg those who have chosen to place themselves on soapboxes. The medium has proven itself an ideal format for those subject matters we’ve otherwise had difficultly expressing by other means.

We’re two days away from what many on all sides of the political divide have deemed the most important election of their lifetime, and while we’re not quite at the finish line looking back, we’ve certainly experienced enough over the past ten months to give us a fitting picture of how the majority of the 2008 presidential election has played out. The time seemed opportune to speak with a veteran political cartoonist about the ways in which the race has played out on their end—a state of the union of sorts for editorial cartooning.

When I put the call out suggested interviewees (thanks, Twitter), the majority of responses turned to Tim Kreider. Kreider has been producing his weekly strip, The Pain—When Will it End, since 1997. About three years into the process, said pain turned external, and the artist’s work shifted its focus toward the political, a move which soon consumed his work, transforming him, for better or worse, into a full-fledged political cartoonist.

Kreider’s work has since been anthologized as two books by Fantagraphics: The Pain—When will it End and Why do They Kill Me? Recently, the artist announced plans to end the publication of  his weekly strip in its current form, early next year.

We spoke to Kreider about the state of editorial cartooning in 2008, the role of equal time, and what precisely his proposed retirement means.

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Interview: Jules Feiffer Pt. 2 [of 2]

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Over the course of a professional career that has spanned some seven decades, Jules Feiffer has built a staggering body of work in a diverse array of mediums, including the theater, motion pictures, novels, and children’s books. But it’s the artist’s groundbreaking work in the world of political cartooning that really put him on the map. Feiffer’s work for The Village Voice began in the 50s and ran for 42 years, earning him a Pulitzer in 1986.

Fantagraphics celebrated the artist’s work for The Voice with the recent release of Explainers, which compiles the first 10 years of his weekly strip.

In honor of the new book, we sat down with Feiffer to discuss the state of contemporary editorial cartooning, the difficulties of penning a daily strip, and legacy of Will Eisner.

[Part One]
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Interview: Jules Feiffer Pt. 1 [of 2]

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One of the great things about interviewing the Jules Feiffer, from an editorial standpoint, is the fact that the legendary cartoonist invariably has some new project to speak about, between a seemingly endless parade of comics, plays, and books, all of which the artist thankfully continues to crank out, a mere six months away from his 80th birthday, to a bottomless stream of career retrospectives that publishers such as Fantagraphics seem to issue like clockwork.

Conducted with the artist after a recent appearance at The Strand Bookstore, just below Manhattan’s Union Square, this interview largely celebrates the latter, in light of the recent release of Explainers, a hardbound volume celebrating the early Village Voice strips that first put Feiffer on the map, released by the completists at the aforementioned indie comics publishing house.

After his discussion [video of which is available here], Feiffer happily signed several towering piles of books for admiring fans, from the aforementioned new Fantagraphics volume, to classics like The Phantom Tollbooth, to the poster for the black comedy, Little Murders, for which Feiffer penned the screenplay.

In this first of our two part interview, we discuss the roles that newspaper comics, Will Eisner, and the Korean War played in the genesis of Feiffer’s career.
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