Sketchy Character

Article excerpt

In his new memoir, Backing Into Forward,}u\ts Feiffer describes channeling dyslexia, anxiety, and a troubled childhood into a prolific career. "There's some brain damage," he jokes, "but I've never met a cartoonist who isn't quirky or weird in some ways." Fortunately, the Oscar-, Pulitzer-, Obie-, tfWPolk-winning author and illustrator's quirks remain in full bloom. The 81-year-old is still cranking out political cartoons and working on kids' books with his daughter and-after a 50-year hiatus- The Phantom ToUbooé author Norton Juster. Not that he's gone soft; his satire remains as sharp as ever: "The grown-ups, or the ones I choose to go after, deserve everything they get." Read the full interview at moéerjoms.oem/juks-feiffer. -Clara Jeff ery

Mother Jones: I should start by confessing that I named my son after Milo in The Phantom Tollbooth and, like a lot of people, became familiar with you through your children's books. How does it feel to have that be the way into people's hearts-the softer side of Jules?

Jules Feiffer: [Laughs.] As long as they pay attention, why should I care? I love doing the children's books as much as anything else I've done. Until kids' books, I was never able to show the more playful side, the sillier side, and just be out-and-out goofy.

MJ: Your kids' books do such a wonderful job of capturing loneliness and other emotional states that we think of, falsely, as adult concepts.

JF: What I try to get at in my books is akin to that sense that Holden Caulfield felt when he reads a writer and wants to call him up in the middle of the night-to be a friend to the reader.

MJ: If you were a kid today, do you think you'd be drawn to comics, or would you be Hogging or writing for The Onion? …