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This interview originally appeared on FLOG! The Fantagraphics Blog.
Above: Photo of Drew Friedman, in his studio. © 2008 David Burd.
Drew Friedman is, along with Daniel Clowes and Chester Brown, one of the primary reasons I am working in comics today and didn't abandon my juvenile love for the medium long after most boys have discovered girls and sports. So when we decided to start conducting some exclusive author interviews for Flog!, it didn't take me long to decide I really wanted to spotlight Drew, especially as we are on the cusp of releasing his new book, MORE OLD JEWISH COMEDIANS. It's astounding to me that throughout much of the 1990s and earlier part of this decade, there was a new generation of comics fans who weren't so familiar with Drew's work as those of us who came of age in 1980s and early 1990s, as Drew somewhat slipped out of the comics field to focus on other pursuits. But he was a powerful influence on me in my formative years, between his work for Topps, Raw Magazine and National Lampoon. His two early Fantagraphics collections, WARTS AND ALL and ANY SIMILARITIES TO PERSONS LIVING OR DEAD IS PURELY COINCIDENTAL were two of the very earliest Fantagraphics collections I ever purchased, and remain two of my favorites. The latter is where I first discovered his strip "The Andy Griffith Show," which was easily the greatest comic strip I'd ever read at the time. I remember getting an argument with my then-girlfriend over whether the strip was brilliant satire or blatantly racist -- it was no surprise we didn't last. In his excellent introduction to THE FUN NEVER STOPS!, Clowes describes this strip as "more 'real' and truthful than any biographical comic or self-revelatory memoir... the connection I felt is like nothing I have experienced since." I couldn't agree more. Same goes for Clowes' statement that "a Friedman caricature looks more like its subject than any photograph possibly could."
Thankfully, you don't have to take our word for it: the last two years have seen the release of not one, or two, but three new Friedman books, introducing his masterful cartooning and riotous satire to a new generation of comics fans, and thankfully Drew was gracious enough to answer some questions for Flog! readers.