This page is dished up at a reader's suggestion, and it seems not a bad idea (time of course will tell). It is basically an FAQ; but it will range more freely, subject to no rules in particular save my whim. The thoughtful and germane are welcome. The rude, crude and ugly will be flushed away before I ever see them, as ill-bred and an offense to the retinae.
Q: You have an overinflated ego.
A: Actually, I keep mine at 42 psi, which is within the recommended guidelines.
Q: I have read that you can't take criticism. Why aren't you open to comments?
A: The two are not the same. I admit to reading very few comments anymore; however, those I have seen are more akin to spitballs than conversation, and have nothing to do with criticism. As far as any exegesis is concerned, if it is consumed without discrimination, it is worthless. I never read it because it is random, anonymous, self-aggrandizing, rarely acquainted with grammar and possesses the nutritive value of sludge.
I have met nobody yet who is as deeply knowledgeable and painfully critical of my work as I am. Therefore, I choose my critics from people whose experience and sagacity I trust. One is a former editor of mine, one a noted cartoonist, and the last is my wife. These people pull no punches, and I trust them.
All the anonymous, squalid, sociopathic clamor of the internet has no place in the precincts of individual thought. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
THE COMMENTS BOG
Q: When will you re-open your strips to online comments?
A: I do not plan to do it.
When I signed my first syndication contract, in 1993, online posting was yet a relatively new way of presenting comics (mine was one of the first to be so displayed by United Feature Syndicate). The idea of attaching comments was unknown. Therefore, my contract contained no suggestion anywhere in its innumerable clauses that what I create should of necessity be accompanied by an anonymous farrago of other people's prattle and opinions. Had that been included, I should have nixed it. I work solo.
However, somehow, as time passed, my work, as well as other cartoonists', began to appear with a commentary bog bubbling at its feet daily. Some of the annotations were erudite and thoughtful; a lot of them bland; and a startling share of it vituperative, opprobrious and vapid, directed in the main amongst the trenches of commentators until, with very little provocation, what might begin as an opinion advanced conversationally could degenerate into an imbroglio of shouting and abuse in print.
And it was always anonymous.
Cartoonists are contractually placed under editorial oversight before anything appears in print. Reader comments are not. Clean-up takes place after the fact. I warned my syndicate, when they first told me of their plan to include comments, that the practice would inevitably make them party to libel, an ominous concern to which they were blithely indifferent.
Finally, I called it off. I felt that my work was appearing in the company of the kind of expression unworthy of a maggot. I proposed to my syndicate that I withdraw my strip from publication. My syndicate counteroffered to withdraw the commentary.
This is where it all stands: I gladly publish my work unlinked to, unchaperoned by, extrinsic debate. If that cannot be, I will not allow my work to appear at all. The space in which it you see it online is mine. Those who wish to comment have the entire cosmos of the internet upon which to emblazon their thoughts, and are welcome to do so. And, naturally, they may write to me.
The nook where my work appears will remain free, quiet, a blessed oasis.
Q: Dear Sir or Madame...
A: I just want to take this opportunity again to thank the great many of you who have taken the time to write such thoughtful, intelligent, touching, considerate, literate and enjoyable letters, begging no boon, just wishing to drop me a line. You know who you are: You raise the tone of cartoonist-reader correspondence to new heights, and I think a pat on the back is in order.
Again, my thanks and best wishes. Stay in touch.
Now back to our regularly scheduled doodling.