I used to run them by my son and get a vote but at that point they were already done. So the weirdness in my head, or the strange predispositions all come out.
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Sometimes for good, sometimes for bad, but always my voice. KS : I read the story of when you met Charles Schulz. You were still a lawyer at this point, and you took the day off work to meet him. Why that day?
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SP : I was in the middle of a terrible, shitty case. It was the only time I was ever a plaintiffs lawyer and there were like 20 defense lawyers against us. It was just one nightmarish day after another. So I asked my wife directions and took the day off work—which may have been literally the only day I just plain took off work—just on the off chance that the article was right and that he would be there.
He was taken aback because he thought he was being served with a subpoena.
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It was unbelievable how kind he was. And he asked if I had my stuff, which was very nerve-racking. He was very nice, despite my shitty drawings and we took a picture together. He gave me advice on it and, yeah, it was crazy…. He was dying. And lo and behold, it turns out that day he got out of the hospital.
It was no reflection on me as a cartoonist. It was just a weird thing to say to somebody who, as far as he knew, was never gonna be in papers and it was so unforgettable, especially the fact that he was crying. KS : I distinctly remember when he died, when I was in about 4 th grade and the only comparable thing was when Mr. Rogers died. Just two people who were such a huge part of my childhood. He dies with the strip. I guess I would never have believed that anything I did creatively mattered enough or would have been good enough to succeed.
That was a huge departure for me, and I hope one day that I can do more of that, because I like writing more than I like drawing. Do you ever get the hankering to put it in another medium? SP : Oh yeah. I wrote a whole Pearls screenplay and went round and round with studios twice in terms of getting it made. I loved writing the screenplay. I loved writing the novel. I think a more natural end is somewhere in the 15 to 20 year range. SP : It is. You have to constantly challenge yourself. My model for that is always Bob Dylan. You look at his career and he was constantly shifting things up for whatever reason.
KS : When it comes to doing anything creative, it takes a little bit of an ego to put your work out there and expect people to take the time to read it. When did you feel like you had that? Before that day, I had nothing.
I was just a guy who cartooned for his high school newspaper. I look at that moment as more exciting than when I found out I got syndicated. KS : Have you had much brush back from readers? SP : Yes. Like the one I do the most often is Family Circus. People always run to their defense.
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Jeff his son , I visited his home last week. Jeff is like a brother to me. That you have nothing that day. That insane, odd profession bonds you more than the realities of the zero sum game. I was watching a documentary on Hunter S. Thompson yesterday, and it just made me want to have a career that had as much integrity and individualism as that.
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Hemingway is the same way for me. Early Letterman. Early SNL—Mr. Bill, Belushi, Chuck Jones.
The Honeymooners —that influenced me. How you make a comedy in one room with four strong characters? Showed you how little you need to be funny. The funniest guy now, to me, is Zach Galifianakis. I will watch those over and over.
That to me is the essence of comedy. If you watch those little shorts, the second he goes out is not a frame too soon or too late. After Peanuts , it was something I got into. I loved those books. But he retired early… what are your thoughts on the strip or the man? I learned recently that he learned who I am and I was so thrilled to hear that. Everybody places him on the pedestal for the cartoon, deservedly so.
Then I have to draw. So, drawing takes about two hours for a daily, and four hours for a Sunday. Stephan : I go from eight to seven, four days a week.
Stephan : I go to a coffeehouse and listen to really loud music on my iPhone, and drink coffee. Stephan : My favorite part is that you have total control over it. No one can tell you what to do. So, whatever you can think of, is what you can do more or less, to some limits. Stephan : I guess it depends on what kind of cookie.
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