Q. Do you ever worry that posting your live sketchbook pages will allow other cartoonists to rip off an idea before you have time to execute it?
A. I consider the blog a kind of publication. Once an idea is posted there, it's pretty much on the record that it's mine. I've been pleased to see few if any cartoons by others that seem to trace back to my sketchbooks. And I'm not sure it would work anyway -- an idea that is not honestly arrived at seldom has any punch.
Q. How do you decide what will make a good cartoon and avoid beating to death whatever the topic du jour like Anna Nicole Smith or Super Bowl wardrobe malfunctions? You could probably do one each day in criticism of the government and its policies … how do you keep it from veering off in that direction?
A. I pride myself on never having mentioned Paris Hilton in an editorial cartoon! Gawd, I hate that kind of cartooning. Look, to some extent it’s just a matter of following what seems interesting to me. I never watch TV, so I’ve never done cartoons on American Idol or Desperate Housewives or any of that. I avoid the gossip stories, the ephemeral stuff. What interests me is trends in technology, education, relationships, family life, and how we’re handling the rush of change coming at us. To a lesser extent I care about policy and politics. I have little interest in political squabbles or election horseraces. Washington is mostly boring. I like subjects that are closer to home, that have an impact on how we live our lives day to day. I am beyond loathing George W. Bush – I barely know how to take him seriously.
Q. I get the opinion of you that you are, despite all of your success, still a very grounded person. How do you do that despite all the success you’ve had to date?
A. This profession is very humbling. It takes nothing more than a blank piece of paper to make me aware of my limited abilities. I like to think I give readers something to think about or smile about in most of my cartoons, but I’m also acutely aware of my enormous body of mistakes.
When I get in my car to go home at night I am invariably struck by the unlikeliness of it all – that I arrived in the morning with no ideas, that I furrowed my forehead until some notions came out, that I spread some ink around with the tip of an animal’s tail, and that tomorrow people will look at it all over the country and react in some way. It feels like walking across the Grand Canyon on a tightrope every day. It's remarkable to me that the process ever works, much less that it regularly works.