When I was working with the newspaper syndicate, I got to meet a lot of impressive talent. (That’s how we referred to them, too, as “the talent.”)
The other day I was thinking of a few of them – Mike Peters (Mother Goose and Grimm), Jeff MacNally (Shoe), Dick Locher (Dick Tracy), Doug Marlette (Kudzu) – all of them excellent editorial page cartoonists as well – plus Joe Martin (Mr. Boffo) and Kevin Pope.
For the most part, they were a serious lot. I remember one’s reverential mention of another, “He’s the only cartoonist who makes me laugh out loud” – only to hear, months later, the comment returned without prompting. Like, admiring like, with a twist.
I remember, too, one looking at the work of another and commenting, “This is really funny” – without breaking into the slightest evidence of even a smile.
As I said, a serious lot.
What I also found was that their work was much funnier than what turned up among the others who were more boisterous and comical in person.
MacNally and Locher were both employed by the Chicago Tribune and enjoyed a warm rapport. MacNally’s studio wrapped around the elevator shaft on the 35th floor of newspaper’s iconic tower and had large windows peering out across the city and into the infinite blue of Lake Michigan as it blended into the sky. How he could ever work in such a suite was beyond me. (The top floor, just above his, was filled with electronic gear. Microwaves and the like.)
Locher’s studio was one floor down, with small diamond windows and a rather Gothic feel. I joked that it was like dwelling in a gargoyle, and he agreed.
As we sat in that space, a coworker noticed two framed certificates and remarked, “That’s all a Pulitzer is? A piece of paper?”
And without missing a beat, MacNally, who had just won his third, chortled. “Yup,” he said quietly. “That’s about it.”