Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Jules Feiffer entertained a standing-room-only crowd by reading aloud from many of his cartoon panels — complete with imitations of the accents of various political figures — during a discussion of his life and work at the James Stewart Film Theater Dec. 2.
Feiffer, affecting Bill Clinton’s Southern drawl, Lyndon Johnson’s Texas twang, and Henry Kissinger’s German inflections, elicited laughter from the crowd through a discourse of his popular comic strips “Sick Sick Sick” and “Feiffer,” which ran for more than 40 years in the Village Voice.
Fascinated with comic strips as a child, Feiffer loved “the sense of immediacy” in cartooning and how it “displays what’s going on in a character’s head.”
“Psychoanalysis played a big part in the cartoons I did,” he explained.
Inspired by early animators like Winsor McCay and Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, Feiffer described how he would “go to the library, look up great cartoonists, and figure out who [he] would steal from.”
Other inspiration came from dancer and actor Fred Astaire, whom Feiffer considers a model of elegance as well as hard work. Expressing his “love of movement,” Feiffer ended his talk with a “dance recital,” actually a slide show of his drawings depicting figures in dance postures.
In addition to his cartoons, Feiffer’s work includes the Obie-winning play Little Murders; the screenplay Carnal Knowledge; the Academy Award-winning satire Munro; the Tony nominee Knock Knock; the Pulitzer nominee Grown-Ups; and several children’s books. His memoir, Backing into Forward, will be published next year. By Fran Hulette