I first came across author Kerry Soper when I noticed somewhere that he had written a scholarly book about Doonesbury, one of my favorite comic strips ever. I asked if he could give me a copy and would be interested in doing an email interview about his book and his thoughts on the series.
He agreed to both and was very patient as it took me a while to getting it all together since this transpired around the time I moved from Maryland to Austin, Texas and then ran into some problems like having my apartment burglarized and finding work that made it hard to focus on an academic book. Yeah, I know--excuses, excuses.
I published the finished interview here at Blogcritics. If you like Doonesbury you should pick up the book: Garry Trudeau: Doonesbury and the Aesthetics of Satire. It provides insight into not only the author and series but satire in general.
About a year ago Soper told me had written a new book but this time it was on a strip of which I was quite unfamiliar since it was before my time. But I agreed to read his new book, We Go Pogo: Walt Kelly, Politics, and American Satire.
I learned a lot from the book, not only about artist Walt Kelly but also about how he impacted, mostly positively, the comics industry. There are interesting parallels between Trudeau and Kelly, such as that they had their strips moved, at times, from the comics page to the editorial pages by editors nervous about the strips being too political.
Here is the result of my new interview with Soper.
Scott: Why did you decide to write a book about Walt Kelly and Pogo? What makes him important enough to be worthy of such a thorough biography?
Kerry: I’ve been a fan of Walt Kelly since my college days (at a time when I aspired to be a professional comic strip artist myself). As the cartoonist for my university newspaper, I set the goal to learn from the best cartoonists of the past; after a few months of poking around in old collections, I found myself spending the bulk of my time poring over the work of George Herriman (Krazy Kat) and Walt Kelly. In particular, Kelly seemed to excel at every aspect of the craft: fluid brushwork, dynamic characters, genuinely funny dialogue, and challenging satire. I came to the conclusion that he was perhaps the best artist and writer to ever work in the medium.