This is the first part of a two-part interview. The second part will be published in one week.
I first met Larry Gonick in a private online community and when I heard mention of his Cartoon Guide series I resolved to check them out. I read one of his books on early world history and found it fascinating that he can write and draw something so educational and informative yet funny at the same time.
About 18 months ago when struggling to pass a chemistry class I bought his book, the Cartoon Guide to Chemistry and it helped me pass the class. Sure, it felt a bit weird to alternate between a textbook, a cartoon book and class notes, especially when cramming for a test or writing up a lab experiment, but if it works, it works.
And, yes, I read his hilarious yet quite educational Cartoon Guide to Sex. I made a point of asking him about each of those books during this delightful interview about The Cartoon History of the Modern World, Part 1: From Columbus to the U.S. Constitution.
One other thought to give you an idea of the kind of guy Gonick is: I have two friends, one adult and one a student, who are fans of his work. I thought it might give one or both of them a thrill if they had an autograph from him.
So I emailed him out of the blue telling him he may not remember me but it would be great if he could send an autographs to his fans. Sure enough, he sends a piece of his artwork with an autograph and was very gracious about the whole experience.
Here now is part one of the interview
Scott Butki: Why write -- let alone read -- a cartoon history? Did you ever think when you started your first cartoon book that you’d be writing them 20 years later?
Larry Gonick: When I started cartooning “seriously,” in 1971, I already knew I’d be concentrating on nonfiction. This was an uninhabited niche at the time, and one that promised an endless supply of material. In the course of doing political strips and books, I found that history was a natural subject: characters, complicated stories, action, politics, irony, humor, conflict, you name it!