Jules Feiffer’s new memoir recalls a time when cartoonists were big names in American culture, said Sage Stossel in TheAtlantic.com. Born in 1929, Feiffer grew up dreaming that creating a daily newspaper strip would be his escape from the Bronx—and chronic pipsqueak-dom. “I was a failure as a boy,” he says. “I was smaller and skinnier than virtually all the other kids—including the girls. It became clear to me that either I was going to be a cartoonist or I was going to be a nothing.” Back then, he recalls, newspaper strips “had a lot of clout. They were a big, big deal, not at all like today, where they’re not part of any kind of public consciousness.” His problem? The strips he started drawing, after an Army tour in Korea, proved too biting for the 1950s’ funnies pages.
Feiffer’s break came when Norman Mailer and others launched The Village Voice, the country’s first alternative newspaper. For 45 years, his Voice cartoons memorably used satire to “trace the links between our public and private anxieties,” said Michiko Kakutani in The New York Times. “The Voice—and this can’t be overstated—was responsible for my having a career,” Feiffer says. Feiffer eventually won a Pulitzer Prize, and when he inked his final Voice strip, in 2000, he was openly revered by a rising generation of ambitious cartoonists and illustrators. “It’s very heartwarming for me, that these people whom I admire enormously consider themselves my children,” he says. “I love that.”
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