Q: In the forward of your latest book, David Hume Kennerly asks the question, "Are you a cold-blooded son-of-a-bitch?" Well?
A: Kennerly says, "Is he really a cold-hearted son-of-a-bitch, or in fact, a sensitive, caring human being?" Kennerly answers for me, "He's an insensitve son-of-a-bitch."
Q: Is that part of the image?
A: Oh yeah. You have to maintain some kind of an im ith all different markings on them. Other cartoonists have received death threats. What kind of fan mail do you receive?
A: When people knew where to find me, at the Star, it used to consist of your cartoon torn from the pages with all sorts of obscenities, calling me a communist faggot and everything. Go back where you came from. What are you doing here? That sort of thing. I sort of miss that. There was never any return address. Whenever you picked up an envelope that didn't have a return address, you knew what was inside.
Q: Were you an only child?
A: I was by myself a lot. For the first 12 years of my life I was an only child. I don't know if it was boring; it was solitary. It develops your imagination. You learn to think for yourself.
Q: Wasn't your mother around?
A: Yeah, but you can't hang around with your mother all the time.
Q: Was it very difficult for you to give up your Australian citizenship?
A: No, because I had come here with the idea that this is where I was going to live. And if you live in a place you really should be a citizen of it.
Q: What's it mean to you?
A: I was paying taxes beforehand, like a citizen, only I didn't have the right to vote. Then I got the right to vote and there's no one to vote for. I threw away my first vote on (John) Anderson. I thought if a guy's tried that hard, he might as well be given his money back. I couldn't see voting for the other turkeys. This time I voted my own needs. I voted Reagan for three reasons. One reason being that being in D.C. your vote doesn't count. The second one was, I need Reagan for another four years. It's just pure selfishness. He's a good subject. Everybody else is voting their own special purposes, so I thought I might as well. I couldn't see voting for Mondale. He bored me, more than anything. Whatever you say about Reagan, he doesn't bore you. The third reason, it was a protest vote against the Democrats for fielding a turkey like Mondale.
Q: Who would you have preferred for the country?
A: I don't want anything for the good of the country. That's no good to a cartoonist. If the country was at peace and everything was tranquility and steadiness, there would be nothing for a cartoonist to do. I might as well be living in Australia again. I need villains.
Q: Do you farm at all?
A: Oh, I like to dig in the dirt. I like that sort of thing. I once had about 50 acres up in the mountains in Colorado outside of Denver.
Q: What can you grow in the mountains outside of potatoes?
A: Potatoes. And every afternoon the rain would come through around four o'clock because the thunderheads build up in the mountains during the summer, then they loose off the rain and it smells beautiful. It rains for about half an hour. It's lovely, really. So what you do is dig up the ground, put the spuds in and put straw over them. That way the weeds don't grow. And you just leave it. The rain waters it every afternoon and up turn the spuds. Lovely.
Q: How many acres did you have of this?
A: Those were just a potato patch. The rest I just fenced in and let people run their horses on to keep the grass down.
It had an old log cabin on it, a two- story log cabin. The guy who homesteaded the place was buried there. He had a military tombstone that they must have sent out on the train. It was one like you see in Arlington. It had his New York regiment on it. He must have served in the Civil War. We found an old diary in there which was journal that he must have kept of Sherman's march down to the sea. Really something. I like history like that.
Q: Do you keep a journal?
A: I keep it for two days and then I forget it or try to write in it all at once. Two months at one sitting. There's just not enough time. There are a lot of things to do yet. There's not much point in delaying them, I suppose. About the last thing my dad said to me, I went out to see him when he was dying, he said, "There's not enough time, is there?" I get the feeling like that now. You just get the feeling that there isn't that much time in life.