Friday, January 07, 2011

Reprint: Interview With Patrick McDonnell, 1996

I conducted this sprawling interview with Patrick McDonnell in September, 1996, when his superb daily comic strip, Mutts, was barely two-years-old. It was published in Fantagraphics Books' Comics Journal #197,  July 1997. I've always been an obsessive fan of newspaper comics, the Great American Art Form, and when Mutts debuted, I immediately recognized it as an example of the form in its purest state. Fantagraphics was initially dubious; they almost never, at the time, acknowledged the existence of newspaper strips, and I clearly remember that Fantagraphics muckety muck Gary Groth had never even heard of McDonnell, although the young strip was already a huge success and McDonnell was already an acclaimed illustrator and cartoonist. Eventually, however, they agreed to run the interview, and were a joy to work with after the amateur hour I had endured at low-rent Hypno Magazine. This was by far the longest, most thorough cartoonist interview I ever conducted, and it was great to be given the space to cover every aspect of McDonnell's career, from his childhood to his time at the NY School of Visual Arts, his success as an illustrator, his co-authorship of the first major monograph on George Herriman's Krazy Kat (still available!), and even his short-lived career as a punk rock drummer in the band Steel Tips, fronted by artist/wild man Joe Coleman. I'm very proud of this interview, and it may be, if I don't say so myself, the most in-depth look at what it's like to be a daily cartoonist you'll ever read. Each of the pages below may be clicked on for a readable enlargement. Enjoy:


Dale Hoyt said...

So glad someone also loves Mutts. They showed a number of his ink drawing in a "Dogs" show at the highly recommended Charles Schultz Museum in Santa Rosa.

And as far as Joe Coleman goes, I knew him in NYC and his softy side is immediately apparent.

Peteykins said...

I met Joe in the mid 90s, and he was a really nice guy, a pleasure to be around.