tv Discussion on the Role of Satire CSPAN May 23, 2015 8:00pm-9:21pm EDT
map of capitol hill, and a look at congressional committees, the president's cabinet, and state governors. order it today, it is $13.95 plus shipping and handling through the c-span store at www.c-span.org. announcer: next, cartoonists and satire. after, lessons learned in baltimore. announcer: three month after the terrorist shootings at the charlie hebdo magazine in paris this is the polk award ceremony in long island university -- at long island university. >> let me quickly introduce our panelists. tomorrow, garry trudeau will receive the george polk career award.
his comic strip has attained the status of a great american institution. four 45 years he has spared no public figure or ill-conceived policy in a unique satiric approach to political commentary. he stands alongside such legendary cartoonist such as our next panelist, jeweled pfeifer --jules feiffer. jules feiffer brilliantly probing iconoclastic cartoons for 42 years, author of 35 books, he has written novels plays, movie scripts and an acclaimed biography. he received a george polk award way back in 1961. he said to the other men that that was the first major award that he had received. it took our colleagues another
25 years to recognize this man with a pulitzer prize. his work has cut across multiple -- our next guest, django gold has had work cut across multiple art forms. she has gone to guantanamo bay -- drawn guantanamo bay, and rebels in syria. the guardian has recognized her as hieronymus bosch and cirque du soleil and i would also add friends is going and lenny bruce to the mix. django gold will not be with us, he got stuck in chicago with bad weather's -- bad weather. our moderator is a distinguished
journalist, and all i will say about him is that he wrote an article in 1971 that mentioned a man name -- named steve jobs and computers. i want to remind everybody please, if you have not already please turn off your cell phones, there will be a q&a later on. [applause] >> thank you, ralph, and thank you amongst all who had her -- who are here. at least we had some of the best and brightest at what is it really a crucial moment in the history of free speech. once there were sensors --
censors, once there were dissident cartoonists and graphic artists, and now we have murderers. we are meeting just three months after 12 people were murdered in paris, and i read yesterday that there are police still in paris newsrooms. and so it makes it even more an honor to be with these people because they are brave, they are talented and they are facing a different kind of world, i think. so the first thing i want to say is, respect to all of them. george packer in the new yorker recently said that the problem with free speech is that it is hard, self-censorship, hitting the mute button is easy and you
not only have to be brave, but you have to be smart and you have to be funny, and that ain't easy. so i would like to start with the polk honorary gary trudeau who i had the honor of being and yell with when he started writing his cartoons. -- at yale with when he started writing his cartoons. he has a brilliant sleight-of-hand and a pull the rug out from under these people kind of job and gary, could you walk us through what you have done? mr. trudeau: sure, are we going to be seen back here? mr. rosenbaum: sure. mr. trudeau: the problem that i thought this presented for all
of us as american cartoonists at least in talking with my colleagues, is that we were sold ambivalent -- so ambivalent, professionally, and don't really relate to satiric culture of the french. we don't really have a charlie hebdo in this country. jules is more of the world of edgy cartooning and being in a newspapers his whole life, i had my career was in family newspapers, so i had a different set of constraints and a different set of imperatives. in talking with my colleagues, we agreed on a number of things. one, obviously, we were all horrified with these murders because they were part of our small global family of cartoonists, but secondly, we could identify with what they had done, as i will get to that
in a moment. -- and i will get to that in a moment. and let me show the cartoon, and i show, mon dieu, what a motley crue, folks, it these cartoonists -- motley crew, folks, these cartoons have disappeared, but they will live, and in the last panel you hear, mohammed, may i -- and no, put some clothing on. [laughter] mr. trudeau: this was important for me to be able to honor the cartoonists without honoring the smith -- without honoring the specifics of what they would do. i would not draw mohammed, but that is not to say that i would
stay away from the issue. for years, i have written about the satanic verses, and that earned me a bodyguard for a while. i hate to speak for a group, so i shouldn't, but it is not that american cartoonists don't love the edginess of the fight, it's not that we don't love doing battle for the things that are important, it is just the american tradition, as was the french tradition at one time, is to punch up and not punch down. our colleagues created a very insidious situation in which they actually caused mainstream muslim public in france to a line itself with it and
sympathize with their outliers. there is enormous symphony -- sympathy in france for them. this happened because their approach was one of provocation not challenging, not confrontation, not starting a dialogue, that simply to provoke and simply to hurt. now maybe ujules feels differently speaking from the alternative world? mr. feiffer: i never saw myself as part of the alternative world because there wasn't one when i began. i was just looking for an outlet in which i could express what liberals back in the 50's post-mccarthy days, didn't know they had. so when people went around
saying what they had to say on a specifically possibly dangerous level, only in small rooms or small bars or over drinks when they felt brave, because it felt like a very dangerous time in this country. they might lose their jobs. since i was unemployable and had nothing to lose, i could say whatever id. -- i damned pleased. i felt giddy and excited about doing that. the thing i feel about the cartoons then -- felt about the cartoons then and feel now, it is not about commenting on a particular point at the moment or something on the news, it is bringing along an audience that has been groomed in a certain way and teaching them why the method of humor, and in my
case, panel by panel by panel, and to look at it in a different way and to consider a different view. it was not about slamming a person over the head. it was making people think. much of our lives then an even more of our lives now we are being brainwashed, and to try to cut into that crap and point into an alternative view and to do it through humor, which took away the defense of this so people would not allow the point of view to be attacked without people saying -- getting defensive about it. some doing all of these things and trying to turn it on specific issues one week after
another week, and sometimes i went along. so that is basically how i saw it, i did not think it was about democrats or republicans or this guy or that guy, i thought it was about what this country was and what it had become and what it should be and what i hoped it would be and what it certainly wasn't and what it certainly isn't now. mr. trudeau: what was your reaction to the charlie cartoons? >> i was devastated, and even though i did not know any of the "charlie hebdo" cartoonists after that, i was angry at so many different people and it was a very complicated anger. i was angry at the murderers and angry at the politicians from
every single country in the world and the people who spy on dissidents i was angry on the crackdowns of free speech on the people of france after the cartoonists' murders. there was actually a parody of a young muslim in france being arrested for posting on facebook. i was angry at the americans who can't speak french, because americans don't often learn other languages who are commenting on these cartoons and thinking about regrettable choices of men who had very long careers and the totality of what they had after one situation. a lot of rage was my reaction. >> there is a question that i meant to ask to all three of
you, and it is and this is a question for each of you is there something that made you an oppositional kind of person growing up where you could see through the piety -- pieties and it made you angry? mr. trudeau: as jules knows, it was his fault, it was kind of accidental, i was doing the strip in college as a kind of sports script, -- sports strip, and i was offered my current job, and it is a story my kids hate on every level. i had not put in the 10,000 hours, i had put and maybe 30.
i was given this opportunity, i ended up putting in the 10,000, but it was kind of after-the-fact. i was making all of my mistakes in full public view. but jules was very influential for a number of us. his strip was where the main idea was about a serious subject, and i always imagined that jules might have a different explanation of it, but there was not much change from cartoon to cartoon in the 50's. i would pay attention to what was being said, and maybe that came from your love of theater as well, and that you loved dialogue, but i really took all of that to heart, and of course, i was a of the counterculture
and in college at the time when people were pushing against every institution. so when i graduated from college, i thought it was perfectly normal that i would take those interests and concerns, politics, rock 'n roll sex, drugs, all of those things that had bubbled up in my life during those four years and put them on the comic page. most editors were unfamiliar with those subjects on their pages. there was a lot of crossing of red lines early, so that is why i find it so difficult to be talking about a redline now with "charlie hebdo" because i had that debate over and over again with editors. at one point, this is just about how clueless and young i was. i sent a letter to all of these editors and i said, which of the following subjects should i not
address in the comic strip? and i put a list of things like a is for abortion, and just a long list, and i sent it off to a dozen leading editors, and amazingly, almost all of them took the bait and checked the boxes, this is for benton, this is not. [laughter] mr. trudeau: finally, i heard from a wiser head, and he said this is just bullshit, this is nothing to do with the subject it is how you treat it. are you serious as a satirist? if you convey that seriousness of subject there is nothing you cannot write about. i think one of the proudest moments of my career was two or three years ago when i wrote about the texas sonogram law and transvaginal probe, language
that is not usually in the comics and i was kicked out of about 70 papers, but all have rarely. -- all temporarily. i built up enough -- they said this is not right for our community, for any number of reasons, but that does not mean that you have to go away, it just means that we cannot hear your voice this week. well, i am not entitled to have my voice heard in dozens of communities every day, that is a privilege. sometimes i get that, and sometimes i don't. that is called editing, it is not called censorship. there have been editors that for most -- for some of the most despicable reasons, they have thrown me out, but that is editing. mr. feiffer: it is quality
control, and you know that you are still being affected. for everything you do come you must be doing something want -- something wrong. ms. crabapple: it shows that you are dangerous a little bit? mr. trudeau: not all of my smoking mr. bu mr. butts strips went into north carolina papers, when i went and wrote about frank sinatra, the strip went dark in las vegas. [laughter] mr. trudeau: some stories i wrote about, a dallas paper threw it out. ms. crabapple: i think one of the interesting things that we are seeing right now is the death of that sort of context because once we move a way from print and online everything can be contextualized.
that was the whole thing about "charlie hebdo," i think that it was one little small percentage of cartoons, some pretty horrible cartoons and it affects a small minority, but everything affects everybody in some way. mr. trudeau: but they said we are doing this for a very particular reason, and i inc. just because it you can -- and i think just because you can say something doesn't in you should. ms. crabapple: i think there is a huge difference between what you should be legally permitted to say, which is everything, in my opinion, and those horrible things that you say, like tabloids that shame women for walking around in bikinis. i don't think these two things
are contradictory at all. mr. rosenbaum: jules, you had some very strong things to say about the state of cartooning particularly political cartooning, for a number of years -- mr. feiffer: gary, i think you are down to under 200 editorial cartoonists? mr. trudeau: maybe like 145? when i started, it was about 200 editorial cartoonists making a living from a home paper where they got salaries and benefits and now it is under 50. [laughter] mr. trudeau: if you are trying to cut a budget of a newspaper it costs a lot. mr. feiffer: i would venture that those 45 crossed this vast
nation, maybe five of them are worth looking at? it has always been a small minority. everybody was as a brilliant as paul conrad or a few of the others but film old, who was extraordinary -- phil mold, he was extraordinaire, and he was doing cartoons in the 60's on race and civil rights and was an editor on the paper, i don't remember if it was the "post dispatch" or the "sun-times" at the time but he was actually talking real stuff about civil rights that were going on. and this was unheard of at the time. mr. trudeau: you included in one of the things -- mr. rosenbaum:
you included a one of the things a take on the brilliant hypocrisy of civil rights. can we see that, jules? mr. feiffer: this is a black man from the early 60's. this guy says, i love jazz, discussesthis guy says, i dug freedom, and i am among -- a thought among american racists that every part of black culture they will pick up, but not blacks. they will pick up the music, they will pick up the style they will wear their hat
backwards, they will act cool, they will get a certain sway to their hips, but actually acknowledge that there are other races, not just blacks, but other races? that is a no-no. that is what whites have always done, they can plunder other cultures, but you cannot let them into the club, that is a no-no. mr. trudeau: did you get backlash from other liberals who did not like to see their hypocrisy exposed? mr. feiffer: the answer to that question is that i don't know. i did not get that much feedback, you get a lot of feedback but i did not come at basically did not communicate with me except on very weird issues with hat -- issues which
had nothing to do with anything. [laughter] mr. feiffer: i didn't get much feedback. it allowed me to just pay attention to what i wanted to do. i got wonderful attention from figures in the black community and that made me feel good. and when i probably did a collection of cartoons on civil rights it was written by a civil rights leader, a man who not only organized the march on washington but for me, on a personal level, he taught me everything i knew about race. when i was out of the army and looking to meet girls at left-wing places, which was the only place you could go, i went to a pacifist group where an unknown speaker was speaking on civil rights, and i thought, what can he tell me, i know
everything about civil rights? and then he started talking in a way that changed my entire life and the way i looked at things in the way that i worked. he said that the most important issue in america is not the cold war and the fight with the soviet union it is that we have never resolved the issues of the civil war and we are still fighting the civil war. this is how white liberals should give blacks a break but about how the negro, as he called them back then, is all of us, and what he says then is familiar now, but it was radical and revolutionary and it will my mind apart. -- it blew my mind apart. i got to know him and not just
the cartoons that i did on race, but we try to figure out, what are they telling us and what is really going on and how do i broach this in a way that communicate to a reader? mr. rosenbaum: it is something i was thinking about this morning when i was watching that black man, scott, who was shot eight times while he was running away. are there some things that are just too awful to caricature, to capture, in real terms, or just, i don't know, breakout of the frame? mr. feiffer: as awful as that was, let's wait for the trial and see whether he is found not guilty. which is the american way. ms. crabapple: and the shocking thing is that they are putting him on trial in the first place, and that is only because of the
bravery of that guy who filmed it. mr. feiffer: and the story of that guy, this young man, this gentleman from the dominican republic, his first thought was to erase this, his first thought, in this free country in america, to erase it, because he thought he would get in trouble, but then he took it to a police department. and then he got out of there because he knew if he he turned the tape over to them, first of all, he would never get his phone back, and that tape would never be seen again. mr. rosenbaum: how about you gary, are there subjects, not necessarily this 1 -- mr. trudeau: i will give you an extreme example of that, and i am sorry because django is not here but when 9/11 happened, there was pretty much a moratorium on humor. in fact, essays were written on the idea, is irony dead?
all the late shows went dark, and all of us were so stunned and didn't know how to respond in a way that would be socially useful. "the onion" did a very useful thing, they said, you know, comedy is not the opposite of serious, comedy is the opposite of despair, so how do we direct a response that confronts that despair? so their headlines, two days later, were -- i wrote them down -- ms. crabapple: let them go into a jerry bruckheimer movie? i think the response was, put them in a jerry bruckheimer movie? mr. trudeau: i don't remember that when, one was, god clarifies, and mr. trudeau: they got thousands of letters from people, all
positive. they were shocked that the response to the horror would be humor, that is the salvation. the reason that humor exists is because life is such a pitch. this was a wonderful response. thousands of letters that poured into the onion. david letterman and everyone else figured it out later my they came back on the air, they were part of the healing. ms. crabapple: there's something in lebanon, these activist having their life -- lives threatened by isis, instead of giving and they have reacted with vicious mockery and hilarious mockery. there is a web series of actors dressing up like -- and making fun of him. and there is a rock band that sings about putting bras on cows.
there is an incredible tradition of parity in the middle east and it has been turned to a great effect toward isis. the thing is, throughout the world, authoritarians, secular authoritarians, ever every kind, they hate humor and cartoons, it gets under their skin. there is something viscerally irreverent about it. this is why they become authoritarians, it kills them. when hitler was in power, one of the things he made a specific list of was cartoonists in england who had drawn pictures of him. he wanted to kill them. they had hurt his feelings that much. i had an interesting incident in terms of someone i had angered. i went to guantanamo bay in 2013 -- mr. rosenbaum: can we show her
guantanamo bay. ms. crabapple: i do these, i don't believe in hiding the fact that you are censored, you draw the censorship. when i went there, i made a lot of stops on the press tour. i pointed out the absurdities of the place and the military was so angry. one officer called my editor and said that i quote," made him look like a toll." -- tool." mr. rosenbaum: do you think there is something about that, getting under the skin, the fact to the caricature that makes you look ugly? ms. crabapple: the immediacy of it.
with an essay, you have to read the whole essay. and there is no barrier to it. no linguistic areas, you don't have to speak fluent french to know that that picture was a really mean caricature of someone. they laughed through time, through borders, through languages. it goes straight to your eyes. that is why they have that impact. mr. trudeau: thomas matthew is our hero. most of his audience was illiterate. a great cartoonist. mr. rosenbaum: like tammany hall corruption. mr. trudeau: his nemesis flood new york, the mayor, and he was capturing spain, was a he -- he was captured in spain? mr. feiffer: yes, and it was
tweeted -- tweed, who said, i don't care what they say about me. now his pictures were extraordinary. there were a number of people who work store near you. -- extraordinary. mr. rosenbaum: do you think there is a fine line between caricature and sort of offensiveness or oversimplifying , or stereotyped or is it the best kind of visual representation, one that evades the stereotype? mr. feiffer: i think it requires a brain and an opinion. not just lyndon johnson had a big nose. the best lyndon johnson was by david levine, the greatest
caricaturist of the last half of the 20th century. he did new york review. lbj had a famous gold letter operation and there was a photograph of him, because he was a famous bulgarian, as well as famous everything else, and in the picture he is holding up this shirt and he is showing his scarf. the new york review gets a wonderful caricature of l aj -- lbj, and it shows that of the annam. it seemed to sum up the ball garrity -- the vulgarity of the president, his personal possession of the vietnam war which is why kept escalating. it seemed to be a profound, and
on so many things that were going on at the time that nobody -- the cartoon got it all in one shot. mr. rosenbaum: to think there is anything for you any of you, that is beyond the limits that you wouldn't touch? ms. crabapple: i think what you could do a good job touching his dependent upon who you are. i don't think i would draw mohammed myself. i wouldn't draw him, not like the cartoonists in charlie hebdo did. but, if someone who was muslim and living in the country -- in another country, did a picture of mohammed. that is not punching down, that is challenging the power
structure. it is different to criticize a community from within and outside of it. imagine if the producers of all blonde german capita group and writing team, they would have had a different feel to it. i think it depends on what your personal limits are. free often they come from who you are -- very often they come from who you are and the place you occupy in a power sector. mr. trudeau: i agree with that. there are things i stay away from. at the subjects i have not collided with our really a failure of imagination. not of nerve. they are just, i cannot think of anything that is entertaining or
concise and to say about the subject. it isn't because i fear the repercussions. mr. rosenbaum: you mentioned your drying board. i think people want to know about the physical layout, how you produce these. you sit at a drawing board and you do verse traps -- first draft, then revise? mr. trudeau: i do it the same way i did it in grad school. i was doing the strip while i was a grad student. i jot in pencil that i send it to an assistant and if it is sunday it goes to a third assistant who does the color. first draft, that is it. mr. rosenbaum: only in the nick of time. no time for revision? mr. trudeau: some artists needed that structure. i need to have once a week when i can say that is good enough. mr. rosenbaum: you go to a special room? mr. trudeau: i have a studio,
but i have worked everywhere through the years. it is a skill. mr. feiffer: how soon after you write the script do you think you have to sit down and draw it? is there any time, because of deadline? mr. trudeau: no, for that reason i needed to take the ideas that they come in order. there is a story arc that goes from monday to saturday. i might come up with thursday first. then i have to reverse engineer. so you create your own problems. but the desperation is such so that he if you have an idea -- so that if you have an idea, you have to use it. [laughter] what do you do when you don't get an idea? the answer is thomas thank you for not noticing. that's the answer is, thank you for not noticing. mr. rosenbaum: this is a work of
much time and effort. ms. crabapple: that took about 20 hours. i started with these rough sketches, they are in -- illegible to everyone but myself. a shorthand version of drawing. then i take a big piece of paper, i drip died into it. -- dye into it. i use little steel nibs that you dip into ink. if you look at how they wrote on little house on the prairie. then i ink -- mr. rosenbaum: so little house on the prairie. ms. crabapple: so i ink and pencil simultaneously because i am too distracted to sit down and just ink. i'm compulsive.
drawing for me is like picking scabs. mr. rosenbaum: did he do this while you are at gitmo? ms. crabapple: no, i kept a detailed sketchbook while i was there. i actually developed those smiley faces because i was in the courtroom and they had a censor their -- there, it would look through the sketchbook and he was allowed to cut out anything he did not like. mr. rosenbaum: really, what didn't they like? ms. crabapple: faces of anyone who worked there. so that is what i did instead. the second time i came back they realized how grim it looked to only have these blank masks for faces. they found me the most attractive soldier i have ever seen. [laughter] and then i could draw the face. and the most attractive and nurses. mr. rosenbaum: that is
wonderful. those aren't smiley faces, maybe through a nightmare. and did you start with pen and ink, mr. feiffer? mr. feiffer: i started with pencil. i would write pencil notes or ballpoint pen, the dialogue. figure out the idea. and for me it was always the idea that had to come first. after a while, i discovered what was working best, not knowing where i was going. i knew what i wanted to comment on, but not how i was going to do it. and, i did what classic improvisation does, which they
did at second city, you start with an opening line. sometimes that remains the opening line, sometimes not. but with it, that is pay no one -- panel one. then it writes itself and takes you on a trip. by the third panel i know where i am going and it goes home. or maybe i have to start all over again. but it is a constant trial and air. -- error. but there is a point in mind and i know that point. in my case, the cartoons i did it often had to do with how the use of language was, the official and unofficial language. the distrust of the government, the content for government, the hatred for government, that we
now find with the tea party and on the right. that began on the american left. it was the belief on at the left that nothing they tell you is the truth, nothing government says is true. that was what i believed to be so. and there was enough evidence to back it up. at the time i was studying, there were nuclear tests and the government was always bringing out statistics to say that there was no harmful effects from radiation. but sheep and cattle were falling over out west. and john wayne got cancer from working out there. so i did a cartoon called "doom ." where the government announced as people fell over, there were no awful effects of radiation. tickling would we use to prove people, to mislead people, to
lie to people, to satirize a way out of hand, to make it funny. what was really going on. in that way, i wanted people to consider it. that was the game. mr. rosenbaum: was that about the ad man trying to convince people -- none mr. feiffer: yeah that was one of them. mr. rosenbaum: here is a question, you are aware of the question of trigger warnings, that was used recently in this course. i -- people are familiar with this, in which survivors of trauma feel that they should be protected from being reminded of
it because it would cause ptsd and therefore a lot of dramatic things that happen to people from rape to whatever, those who bring up that subject are responsible for warning people who may want to leave the room or something like that --do you think that this is something that will eventually affect your work? ms. crabapple: as i understand it my friends who do work on trigger warnings, they view it as having an ingredients label so that if you have an allergy something contains peanuts, you know -- i personally think that trigger warnings make sense in specific communities. if you are on a web tour with people who are recovering from
anorexia, they might have a trigger warning of people who mention weight. but i've heard amazing critiques of trigger warnings, people like roxane gay who worry that it will be used by college students to avoid engaging with material that makes them uncomfortable. it is a complicated issue. the idea that in a college class you might warn students if you are discussing rape doesn't seem particularly good for anyone, or particularly bad. mr. feiffer: there was a phrase called, grown up. after a. of years when you get kicked around, you get disappointed, this and that happens, you get a condition within yourself where once you had it to open a bottle and had to pour it down, because
some but something. you are able to shrug it off and say screw it and go on. [applause] if we are so sensitive and watchful as to not hurt people who are herbal in so many ways -- hurtable in so many ways, we get so many generations that never grow up. i'm looking at all of you. [laughter] and i think one of the things we haven't given up on is the motion of behaving like grownups. we don't and in families we don't, it is something that you aspire to and the only way to do that is to -- the only way i could, i got better and pissed off and didn't speak to people, now who will pick me off, we will have a wonderful conversation template later.
that im no longer into -- that i'm no longer into grudges, it doesn't make any sense. it is not warned -- warrant anything. mr. trudeau: you are asking for -- mr. rosenbaum: you are asking for trigger warnings, those boxes to check. what are the biggest scariest subjects for editors these days? mr. trudeau: i can only talk about my own experience because i don't know what they are shutting down and other strips. i know that there is a double standard, in that, i'm not in editorial cartoonist, other strips are held to different standards. i can't tell you what they are being -- what kind of constraints that they are under.
i'm -- i have not heard amber like warnings from editors, you shall not right on a particular thing. mr. rosenbaum: his religion ok? mr. trudeau: religion is fine. reproductive issues are fine. it drugs are fine. it is how you deal with it. mr. feiffer: just a row up your hands. ms. crabapple: i think the only thing you are not allowed to do in america for the sake of your career is you cannot say that american soldiers are bad. mr. trudeau: what? i've actually done that a few times. but not generically. for specific reasons. and, among some of my first strips, i depict the behavior of armed forces in the anon. it was told from a kind of
hippie perspective, why can't we all get along? the vietnam on -- the vietnamese who befriends a good -- befriends agi -- a g.i. --that was original source of material for me, trying to understand those issues. if i make blanket statements about troops, that will not help me and try to deal with those issues. i have written about ptsd and many other wounds that warriors home with. it's not that i try not to antagonize them, it is just that for me it is the brass, because i am a liberal. there is no good reason for me to be welcome on military bases and such. but enough, i get enough of
feedback from the field, they say that i am writing about their issues and i think my break there was in 1990. i got a letter from the chief of staff of the army, gordon sullivan, who said -- this is just before desert storm -- we are getting a lot of good strong response from soldiers who seem to feel that you are connected to their issues. i had been getting a lot of letters from them. i was invited over, brought over by a tank commander. at first, i cannot get out of the country -- i could not get out of the country. it you had to go through saudi arabia and have a visa. i didn't have one, it was timing, i was spending a week reporting about the saudis in their country clubs while men
were in the field. at this went on for it a week. -- and this went on for a week. i couldn't get a visa. i get this call from bill nash, the commander outside of kuwait city. he said, i know you have trouble getting here but, anyway. i got on a train with no visa. i arrived at 2:00 in the morning. i get closer to the immigration desk and i thought, this will not go well. at the last minute, a door opened, a side door and some soldiers came in and picked me up. they put me in a helicopter and flew me over. when 9/11 happened and the given reason, the reason been plotting gave --osama bin laden gave, they had the country and
they acted like it. i was -- when i flew over, i was met by nash and he said, i was reading your cartoons. i was trying to keep these alive and into this hateful war, i was curious about you. and i said, -- and he said, i will fly you around the battlefield. you can enjoy all the toys, but you needed to go under the barracks and the dining facilities and talk to these guys. try to understand what they have then it through. it is a professional force, they are very different than the soldiers of your era. that was the beginning of my introduction, so that when the d -- vd, the character loses his
leg, they say, amputation that is a long arc. come to find out what that means -- long story short, they got me over to walter reed. and i was able to tell that story, wounded warriors. what they were suffering, having performed their duty. that is an interesting balancing act, i was trying to keep two things alive in a script at the same time. mr. rosenbaum: a lot of the best cartooning is investigative. you snuck into a -- nine ms. crabapple: -- ms. crabapple: i was doing and investigative case with migrant workers who were building the branches of these western cultural institutions.
the guggenheim, nyu, they are all building bridges on this island and abby. b. -- abu dhabi. labor has long been exploited in the gulf. they work for 12 hours a day doing brutal labor. this has been an issue, long been known that these workers come over and they have their passports confiscated, they can't leave the country or change jobs. what was happening, these western institutions were saying, we are different. it was not true. not at all. it was not true a little bit. they were exactly like every other company doing construction there. so with the help of a local journalist and a young construction worker, i was able to sneak onto the sites, and also into camps, and talk to
these guys. talk about their ambitions, what it was like to be a worker there. talk to them if they were happy. there is this idea that these men coming from poor countries they are just passively accepting of just getting $200 a month. i found it -- i found that they were not -- found that that was not true. they were on strike all the time. i tried hard to get to know people. and also with that story, a lot of times when it was covered in the western press, they had these ideas of these men being taken advantage of. i said no, these guys are ambitious, they are being repressed but they are also fighting against it. i want to do them the honor of making them men that they are. i truly believe that good art is
against cliche. cliche turns people into objects. good art is all about puncturing that. just by doing art that is thoughtful, rigorous, good, you are cutting away at cliche. you are trying to get to the truth. mr. rosenbaum: jules, you have revolutionized the comic world. it did you invent the graphic novel -- did you invent the graphic novel? mr. feiffer: no, what kerry is doing now without being called a graphic novel, is doing a series of them. in doing real characters that have a real wounds in the real world. day by day, we find out about them.
it is a great tradition, the old newspaper comic trip -- comic strips, going back to gasoline alley, they delved into it. once you put them all together and we them as one piece -- weave them as one piece, it is a novel. characters developing, however satirical it may be, it is a story. and it is a story that one can follow. i loved from the beginning the adventure strips as a kid. the strips that ran in daily papers in the 1930's. they had 12 panels in glorious color. i remember one about pirates. these guys were my masters. i could not draw like them. i didn't know how to draw like
them, i backed into the government as a fallback position. [laughter] and i -- a few years ago i got tired of doing politics and i got tired of commenting. i got tired of all the issues that have been solved. i started from scratch and how we play the same record and issues, i said screw it. i will do something -- i can't do this anymore. i'm too old. i began working on graphic novels. that's what i do now. mr. rosenbaum: what was your first one? mr. feiffer: " kill my mother," which started in 1933 and ends during the war, 1943. now i am working on a prequel.
and there will be a third book. which, i think we will finish it , it is about the blacklist years in hollywood. mr. rosenbaum: nothing is off the table for you. mr. feiffer: you are first finding out? [laughter] mr. rosenbaum: i guess that is something i have always admired about your work. i want to take questions, but i wonder not knowing you guys well, is there something you want to add or subtract to the discussion so far? [laughter] ms. crabapple: o the pressure. mr. feiffer: i was very moved by molly talking about her work and how she goes about it. and gary -- the level, people
even though they are impressed with the different forms of humor in satire, don't really think of the degree of thought and insight and seriousness and the artist trying to figure out how do i present this? what is the best way of communicating this? i don't want to yell at people, how do i get across the point i want to make? you talk about serious journalists, they aren't very serious, because they usually write the same crap that everyone else does. how do i get across my different point of view and make it work using a competition of words and pictures?
it is a whole different form, so we think differently about it. what you do, we think differently about it and what you do, and you do, it is extraordinary. an example of what is out there. there is wonderful talent out there, working alternative forms. it is terrific. i am 86 years old, so sissy in a field that i adored -- so to see in a field that i adored from a young age, i am grateful for it. mr. trudeau: i am always painful to be on the same stage as jules and my new friend, molly. my first exposure to his work was not as a cartoonist.
i was a theater nerd and we did lots of plays in high school. and i went to see three short plays that somebody was putting on, they were hilarious and moving. mr. rosenbaum: what were they? mr. trudeau: one of them was munro, they were cartoon stories that jules had written. i thought he was a playwright, i didn't know they were cartoons. that rang me, sort of as a theater guy. i didn't understand, as i circled back to my childhood interests, that how much of these two art forms have in common. i'm doing a tv show called out the house -- alphahouse, and the
work that we do every day is the preparation for that. there are characters, dialogue, story arcs. television now is a wonderful space to work and, it is so close to the story. it you don't have the absolute control that you do. but, we have a great actors. ms. crabapple: these guys are legends. i'm honored to share a stage with them. that is all i have dad. -- add. mr. rosenbaum: ok, a round of applause for these people. [applause] [applause] mr. rosenbaum: i guess you want to line up at the mic for questions.
you can just shout them out. you are close. it will register unless you go to the mic. >> all right. mr. rosenbaum: don't be shy. [applause] we are with you. we will wait. >> my question is for molly, i'm curious as a woman when you go overseas and try to sneak into these places, are there challenges that you face because you are a female that may be a male cartoonist would not face?
ms. crabapple: everyone has been so courteous to me. people in the middle east are the most hospitable, to be honest. i've never been in a situation personally where i felt that i was at a disadvantage because i was a woman. though i have to say, i have always been it with male translators. but i've always been treated with respect. >> i have a question based on politics. from what i heard earlier, you seem to suggest that most of the brilliant satirists in the political vein are leftists and comic strip artists seem to be primarily jewish, even though jews are a small proportion of
the population. so, mr. feiffer could you comment on your jewish left background? mr. feiffer: i don't know what you are talking about. [laughter] >> i will tell you, i have your book here and it is full of jewish commentary. mr. feiffer: i never saw that book. i never met a jew. [laughter] >> backing into forward. mr. feiffer: you got me. [laughter] comic strip artists of my childhood were mostly irish catholic. a few jews were there, but the jews or mostly in comic books. they came from new york and --
>> cleveland. shuster from cleveland. mr. feiffer: yes, but they came to new york. and i thought about the notion many years ago, that superman did not come from crichton -- krypton, he came from the planet in minsk. i don't think that is true anymore. cartoonists are not necessarily jewish anymore. they come from all over the place. it is a generation that is for generations away from that. from where i am. anything i really have to comment about is about stuff that happened so far back, you want to know where i came from and why, because there was depression. out of the great depression, people formed political
alliances in order to survive. there was a -- when i was a kid during the depression, i lived in brooklyn, there is a socialist party, a communist party, a labour party, there was the american labour party. i was 22 years old and moved to manhattan before i heard of the democratic party. [laughter] does that answer your question? >> i thought you would say i was new in the community and wanted to meet the girls. mr. feiffer: also true. mr. rosenbaum: next question. >> hi, it is cool that you can all do work in the field, like going to all of these places and getting hands-on experience, all
these different people. i am wondering it when you're not in the field in other countries, what news sources do you like or do you feel like you trust, because there are a lot of media who skew things. how do you feel you are making a good informed viewpoint on certain subjects. ms. crabapple: a lot of failure in trying. the act of writing something is almost always skewed because reality is complex. what you choose to use with this comic it a reality and jam it into 500 words, it is not unbiased. there is no unbiased source of anything. in terms of what i personally read, i like the guardian for a
big comic it along breeds i like the london review of books. abc is good. but steve has good -- buzzfeed has good reporting. and i follow writers. it is easier to do that now. it is not just one platform. i find writers that i trust. and sometimes you just look at twitter, you follow people on the ground in those areas. there are things that are inaccurate with that, but it is the unfiltered way to find out what is going on in a certain place at a certain time. >> cool. [laughter] >> thank you. mr. rosenbaum: next question. >> it seems, i believe it was during the swift boating times the studies came out saying that
denying a light increases the public's ability to believe a lie in the first place. the more you try to fight a lie, the less effective you would be. it seems that to defeat an idea the only way to defeat something is to -- it, do you feel responsible is because of that? to discredit ideas that are false or harmful in your works? does that come into play in your mode of thinking, that you are performing a service discrediting ideas that are harmful? mr. trudeau: in my case, there is a lot that has to be accomplished in a comic strip. you must frontload it with information that the audience trusts. and after, tell a story that is premised on being what is
contained in the second panel. a lot to do in 100 words or so. so you have to create a read them that the audience can anticipate to understand what is true and what you are making up. and i don't know -- just from doing it over and over, i have figured out how to set up, this is a set of facts that is widely believed, or it is known that certain people are expressing this view -- whatever it is. however, wicked, you do it right away. you must set it up and then you reticle it. then you have fun with it -- ridicule it, then you have fun with it. it seems, deconstructing it would be exhausting.
it is a good thing that i'm not a public intellectual, that i work with -- i work intuitively, because then i wouldn't get anything done. i need to trust my instincts. that's where editors come in and say i'm a you are wrong about this. it is misleading. i don't get so much of that anymore, simple because i know how to do it now. now my standing. -- not my standing. but that is an interesting observation about the responsibilities of humorous. particularly in a reality challenged environment like now. [laughter] i have a character that does his job, his job is to supply alternative facts to clients who need a different reality than the one science might have observed. so you call this company and he provided with arguments to be
your wife into submission with. your own set of facts, because hers are inconvenient. it is an issue that i grapple with, but as i say, it is never particularly in a coherent way it is intuitive. my great hero, we talked about earlier, robert altman. he was entirely like that, to his detriment. it wasn't clear where the story was going. i do think, not being as smart as everyone else, or as people who actually think things, that is probably part of the job description. you need to be able to simplify it to reach a broad audience. mr. rosenbaum: next question. >> you sort of unintentionally
wrote a long novel, i have always wondered do have in the back of your mind, what the last strip will be? mr. trudeau: i don't, the only thing that has occurred to me when that moment comes, it occurs to me that it started on a random moment of two kids meeting together, introducing each other. i think it will end on something like that. i don't see any need to tie everything together. i have 74 characters in the strip that longtime readers would recognize. so, i don't feel that there has to be some closure to all of those storylines. i just braided them all together all these years and i think it will just stand on an event of
no particular moment. mr. rosenbaum: any further questions? well, thank you all for coming. [applause] [applause] [background chatter] >> next, a discussion on lessons learned from the recent protests in baltimore. and then another chance to hear cartoonists and their role as satirists. >> on the next washington journal, executive erector anna g -- exec of director anna
galland talks about the election. and retired colonel derek harvey discusses the isis takeover of the iraqi city of ramadi and the response from the u.s. as always, we take your calls and you join the conversation on facebook and twitter. that is why the 7:00 a.m. eastern, on c-span. >> for he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother. b he never so vile, this day shall gentle his condition. and gentle men in england now at bed, shall think themselves first that they were not -- cursed. that they were not here. >> one drop of blood drawn from
my country's bosom, shall mean to me more than streams of foreign war. >> -- talks about shakespeare and how politicians use quotes from his famous works. >> the sound of the lines, the way that senator byrd did, you can pause and linger over a long phrase and a stop keep going. i think he is using the rhythm of the language, some that shakespeare did so brilliantly so that he can take english and put it into high gear at one moment, then slow down. it is something that shakespeare lets you do if you are a politician. >> sunday night on c-span. >> good night, good night