thumbnail of The Fine Print; Program 00 33 Guest Jules Feiffer Book Some Things Are Scary
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
from nashville public radio this is defined freedom and exploration and celebration of the written word i'm rebecca bain and even though he's seventy years old jules pfeiffer shows no signs of slowing down although he didn't retire from his weekly syndicated cartoon strip a few months ago he still has plenty of projects keeping him busy he's been writing and illustrating children's books he's producing a series of the rise of tap dancers and he's been commissioned to write another play he also takes an active role in raising his sixteen and six year old daughters jules pfeiffer introduced his social commentary cartoon strip in the village voice in nineteen fifty six five years later he won an academy award for an animated version of his short story monroe and the nineteen eighty six he won the pulitzer prize for editorial cartooning he has created many characters along the way including the extremely popular and very athletic little dancer and man of many talents
jules pfeiffer is also well known for his plays and screenplays including little murders and carnal knowledge his latest project was illustrated and delightfully i might add the children's book some things are scary like many of you i have been a fan of jules pfeiffer for decades i hope you'll enjoy beating this man as much as i did over the course of this next half hour i'm going as this question the man who wrote little martyrs also writes children's books are a discrepancy in this know there's a question i've up but few know one would think they would be i should brake and i thought there really wasn't till putting together a talk on children's books i realize that from the very beginning of my mean spirited political social satirical or air the first piece i did not attacking viciously roasted summer was in the
form of the jaws look for grownups called monroe about a four year old boy you're stressed by mistake and written as an award show is written in that in the voice of a children's book and monroe as this pathetic four year also there was something that connected me to speaking through the miles of show and even when i was beginning my life of social and clinical center and i can think of other examples of them have gone back and forth in this trip through all issues of syndication i often deal with children with grown ups do with the parents teachers fear but each other and was he like a natural thing to do because it always seemed to me that my point of view came out of that in a sense fuels afforded innocence we use the word child like vision and then you get your abs also maybe powerlessness children in many ways or powerless they can see something that angers them terribly
but they are not able to change it or do anything about it it's a horrible sense of frustration or a few very frustrated and they have no back a lot of experience in all those feel frustrated as adults we feels much frustration i suppose is kids ever do but we have an enormous backlog of experience to draw upon knowing that this too shall pass on knowing how to deal with it or knowing how to have a tantrum get over it or do about of self pity overton go back to work i we no all sorts of ways of resolving that sense of helplessness are mortification of humiliation kids think is forever you know and i see you haven't for you the man the ceiling which was my first novel the children will much of that was inspired by the idea of fairly i'm dealing with a smart kids sense of failure because i wrote my own experience and experience of my children that when you as a young person to live up to your own estimate of what you expect of yourself and can't do what you think you should be able to go instead of dealing with this as one step along the way the tennessee is a
deal with it as a judgment from god and you're being paid back feel hopeless and you're no good and your thoughts and your own you're going to then you go into this nerdy they backed up dots getting that particular unit country like the united states where we talk about winning and therefore never investigated major losing and how that's a process and how it almost any area if you don't fail at first what everyone is going to be fairly worthless or mediocre that's not something we teach anybody knows that a flight i might want sons and leticia class golf at one a one on the power of failure so the man his ceiling deals with that birth order dealt with that almost entirely until people's for the book came back to leo's about the creative process something ida knows about that's interesting i just assume that that was part of it to europe because it is about the creative process wasn't one when i write these things i don't know what they're about until i'm into
them and when i got into this at a point that seemed to strike home more strongly than anything else i guess because i had begun this book will within six months after my last mr thorp my best play had opened in a wonderful production directed by mike nichols with a cast of actors that includes just about everybody wins emmys and television today christine baranski david hyde pierce oliver platt all the more wonderful and i killed by the critics and i said never again so feeling to my debts pain of that fed put the very close to my hero jimmy situation in this book as a boy a cartoonist and took me back to all these frustrations and humiliations as a young boy but also his uncle his uncle the playwright years his uncle western tourists love musicals and so unworkable candidate to be everybody in this vote
nice thing about writing in any form is you can re state and restated the argument so you went at the fascinating that doesn't always open and was now a dozen i want to say i will love the man in the ceiling i love the cartoons that jimmy draws any especially surprised me with the ending i had no idea where this book was going and i was next to the last page and i thought he cant possibly wrap this up in a way that's going to be satisfied to the reader he doesn't have enough pages left what's going to happen i'm not telling listeners know what happened in the lead the man in the ceiling the last page it anyway you are actually kill my favorite anecdote regard to that is when the book came out and i was in one of these barron summer rituals of los angeles during a bookstore is pushing it and i had an appearance you on the adolescence which is in the middle of nowhere in a lovely little bookstore
and i was a little earlier i walked in and this those empty except for the manager and she looked at me and he had the book in hand and she had two summers and he said i just finished the last page and she came in she hugged me off i understand the impulse perfectly if you had been near when i finished the book i will invest a fight that has until now he's come earlier jimmy of course is a young boy who his sense of frustration is great at school he's on the only gift he has is that he can draw cartoons and one of the big guys at the school is impressed by jimmy's tell a mother to give to get too much of this away but this young boy who draws cartoons his dad doesn't understand him jimmy is not anybody that he really appreciates his older sister and younger sister love him i know you probably there's this a million times how much of jimmy is jules pfeiffer well very little of what happens in the book actually happened to me but
everything julie feels and flanks i felt and thought jimmy's reactions his impatience with himself his ambivalence about his family the one of my favorite chapters in the book is a picasso that chapter where his mother is lecturing him and because of my mother as well was jimmy's was a fashion designer and she would give me these lofty coolidge's on art which booked the whole interruption and which i found on most noble though an end and every once in a while she'd say mr bohr you and i'd have to say no one in fact i can barely stand up i was so bored so i got so that in there and jimmy's relationships with his two sisters very much my with my two sisters i had an older sister another says who is a wonderfully charming smart very bright woman with the worst emperor in the west moral out of control and yet and she learned to have a little poetry and all that but as a young woman as a girl she was a holy terror and
i've got her in the book says he's very vivid the two least accurate in terms of representing real life with apparent jimmy's mother professionally is what my mother was but jimmy's was somewhat vague my mother was the boss the leader they interview one did not make the move when did not take a breath without her approval was was a jewish family in the bronx during the depression they had come over to this country from poland all my mother was raised in richmond virginia and in this neighborhood where almost everyone spoke oil hit with an ax and she was walter cronkite and she sounded like a really old or a jester an egg a person and therefore was considered the lady on the hill she spoke so perfectly you couldn't believe she was jewish and that get only one reason richmond virginia she had a kind of love very ladylike and somewhat satirical manner of present yourself which we worked wonderfully with our friends but not too well with her own children
in that's not the picture of the mother i drove and in the book of what i love about writing whether it's a theater or whatever fourteen these days is mostly joe's books is that it allows me to nail down trees without getting at the facts and i'm not interested in what really happened either a common interest in telling my story because i believe that and over till things just as they happened employers my eye when i sit down to write something i want to be surprised as i want the reader to be surprised and i can't be surprised if i just say will on monday this happen on tuesday that happen and would say something else happened and all that relates to real incidents of my life so i try to do is take episodes that meant something and find ways to fictionalize as someone who both rights and is a visual artist when he do what i mean well the buffalo the books also the comic strips to rodeos been charged my love for the comic strip beginning of the age of five was six
old is that districts appear in sunday supplements which were tabletop size not anything like what we have today is to a big war isn't color and went magic to the press brown swirl so these were not just pictures or words and pictures in their characters and then one identify with the characters and my love of a comic strip about fourteen and a chill was books i do too they really just extended versions of those summits elements in many ways my love for that is that you use everything it's a movie on paper and the writing has to be perfectly juxtapose with neil strachan and the reader has to feel that the recall comes out of one mind one set of principles one point of view feeling that way why did you decide that it was time to retire the strip pfeiffer because let me speak on behalf of countless people around the country we were saddened by that that was one of the things i look forward to each week when the national saint was to be able to see
that strip agreed that strap the last four days as well as you look across the table you see someone who is aging fast and though asian fast i've got a young family i've got one daughter who'll be six and holloway and i've got another who will be sixteen a month after that and there's a lot going on my life i'm also reading these books had been commissioned to write a new play and don't wanna be and never has been an absentee father says something had to give because at one time i have the energy to do all of these things but i'll be seventy two on my next birthday it just stops being fun when its relentless anna has to be fought by marijuana do this not for one issue and that you can't or the pleasure from and the one thing that was a deadline and i couldn't change with something i couldn't alter know that i was no longer in the village voice was used a lot was no longer making me any real money was the syndicated strip so that seemed to be the only area which there was any
give and once i got rid of that i would have a weekly deadline anymore and i'd have a lot more time and it's worked out that way and i don't listen all i really appreciate the reaction i've gotten from readers but i've been doing this for forty three years and i can continue doing add another full time while still appear in magazines like the new yorker and papers like the new york times op ed page but you know i don't even feel like doing that anymore like i kind of want a stunt something else i don't have an idea what it is yet but i figure about really reinvent myself a guy can figure out quite what but i love doing the kids' books are a source of enormous satisfaction them and they have so you do with aging young children some of it has to do with my own feelings as a kid of feeling underrepresented in most of what i saw around me in terms of life around made in terms of my family in terms of my few my friends and it was comic books and books that algorithmic gave me a sense of place maybe few others like me i'm going to get back to young readers is something i try to do when i see that it's working at movie you
know i said you know i bet you our conversation with us why for her soon after this brief time and i hope you can continue to check the fine print broadcast of the fine print is made possible in part by helen told her and jane smith heron langford and associates entrusted to sell the most cherished homes in the nashville area create three sixty six hundred yet and they know and i never knew where i sat down with a young friend with this latest book that you've illustrated some things are scary or a which i did not write which he did not write which he did illustrate years to see how my young friend would respond to these illustrations i love them but i wanted to know what a six year old
these illustrations and i am delighted to tell you this child was crazy for the illustrations and was having a great time making the same kinds of faces of the talent was making when he was talking about what things are scary i think it's wonderful you have a gift that you can project and know what a child will respond to the military about this book that all the flies perry it is eighty years old she's been reading show us books are people or forty years i've only met one she's beautiful and wonderful woman and this book was sent to me in manuscript form as originally published as a book actually an official in the late fifties early sixties illustrated by a great cartoonist a robert osborne who was a friend of mine and they were going to redo the book and they won of i was interested and i looked at the book and i thought this is my mate because there is a series of single pal kids reacting to life with all sorts of fear anxiety stress and if she had written it i could've so what i did
is curator of thrown a lot more material and you have the original book and a race to go into performance and now and found that and try it i felt freer in illustrating her work than illustrating my own because my all of my books tell a story and you have the job is illustrated to point out the mason points in a text you can't get away from attacks but here there was no text it was just about emotions holy on to somebody is and who you think is a mother and an it's not as scary as carried out by somebody you don't like a scary so i could go operatic on this an end to the drama in each situation and played full tilt and so i had a ball readers have such a brawl with this book the text is wonderful some things are scary and she's learned a lot and then the pictures are just irresistible well it's interesting when i went through with my five year old or girlfriend they were in competition with a book less than scary well let's
hear the one that you know think your holy rollers and it's someone else and welfare act really scary that's hilarious yeah well that is the reaction actually that's the reaction as an adult and i think that's pretty scary or maybe there's not as character what the drawings from blue well it turns out as they don't fully outside is to somehow get the sense of the internal emotion going downhill on roller skates when you get in there and i had to stop going to give the feeling of terror the terror of the speed but this is what cartoon is a trained to do from the get go which is to create a motion on the page to action and through expression let's talk a little bit about another famous collaboration of yours because they look toward the bit that would be the phantom tollbooth all clapped twenty fifth anniversary and more than that more than that thirty fifth floor of this anniversary has just about
as think that her decision to do that this book is one that i only discovered when we booked this interview and i was looking over one another but i didn't know the book i'm so happy doing this book was done when norden i were both young men we shared an apartment with a third friend of brooklyn heights in new york were all bachelors we're all just out of the service post korean norton was a cook he was the sheriff and it was clear that i was an illustrator i would meet demand so he would bring down a chapter every day in sight reading at the minute he wrote it and then i do sketches in it was an enormous amount of fun i had no i did not having done anything like this before my cartoon in the village voice was already a success but i had never done a book illustrations there was maurice sendak and others as an awful examples of what i could yes and so i was intimidated by the whole idea and what i found out over the years about intimidation fear is that you find out what you're really afraid of in europe for it and so i
did and there's a lot in that book now that they could do better by the time i finished it and i had a wonderful time doing it i decided i didn't want to illustrate anybody's work again that interpret and norton's voice was a wonderful trick but for somebody who has his own voice and a strong voice to it's a stretch and after a while it becomes to get tired of the trick him by the end of the book i wanted the book to end and i swore i would never go straight aways work of my own again until foreign society came along and i found it irresistible and we're talking about doing other books together cause i think that there's something about her approach which is so sometime ago of my own that i don't think of it being a stretch at all it do to do what she does i was just thinking man i thought aha which you said earlier this was a book you could have written yourself and so that makes a difference when we think of jules pfeiffer we think of political commentary we think someone who looks at the world's with one eyebrow higher than the other getting older does
that know you at all no island known for years just the world isn't shaped up and i'm tired of beating up but i just so fed up with al gore and george w bush that that well i can go around and would've i was still doing a weekly curtain between one or the other up what's the point of what's the fun and i think both of them are turkeys and i prefer one turkey over the other but as someone said to me is that you had two letters but i can't get steamed up about any of this so that passion that i used to bring to the comic strip and might even as some time in the future be it would bring in between at this point is gone that the passion that goes into other where compassion goes into joe's books it will go i hope back into thin or so employees again but at least for the time being i don't find the political sane interesting enough responsive enough or promising
an of all social comment and satirist is beside the point we'd want to do is barry head man's and have them go where you go away because it seems all hopeless and toward what point now this is the blather you know an asian man and his tool personal be a point where things look more promising again but i'm too old to rebuild enough allusion or no sense of hope to go at it with a gusto and slam bang i stand for what's right and everyone else that's what's wrong that i was able to during the cold war years of the viet nam years of the surratt years any case at a certain point that young people have to do this over for you right than that the energy for and the passion meanwhile jules pfeiffer is going to be running more plays and doing your children's books and enjoying his family and i teach as well it's not as if i'm laid back and just doing what i do in different venues and as i mentioned earlier we'll pick you think you will
have a news monopoly a touch for example ibm out of nowhere doing these law george limbs drawings of tap dancers just because i was when we get away from being counted but my own text and all my life i've had a crush on fred astaire who more than a crash meant something to me about doing very very hard work and making it look effortless getting to the essence of something so that it looks purely giving a word came from all that so i started trying to put these drawings on paper and i put on some have a glass of wine and put on some jazz inside doing these large jars and durham we'll be doing a book of them because they tended to be very successful people buy them and i loved on them so that's another thing and i know the only thing that upsets me about not going this trip as a dancer is presently unemployed so i'm living with some ideas in somewhere to offer her a regular menu and yet she doesn't beat one answers wonderfully as i love the bolivian the dancer was originally inspired by the first woman
young woman and she was a brooklyn college girl and a dancer who spent the night with me my first apartment on the lower east side of manhattan you don't forget things like that and of course in the middle of that night the phone or easily was a you know it was of course my mother but at work in a storytelling family yes but i wasn't a storyteller and the family guy could wear for civil and the only male my family other than my father who was also varies i was i had won told it'll assistant one token of mother a younger sister who only became talkative when she came of age but then she became very talkative i always thought that if i ever decide to write an ally or three would be touching tale of a world full of what because i was never allowed to finish a sentence and so while everyone told stories between my mother and my older sister i never had the confidence until the story so i listened a lot and i wrote much of this simply call grownups and didn't fool around with a console store and who couldn't and filled with the facts or put
their storytelling was a very important part of my growing up and i was rather startled well i think though for a lot of people who go on to become writers that the storytellers in their family either they develop that year for the story and what works in the story what compels in the story and what makes the story go forward what started in its tracks here is that also i grew up in a time of all time radio when there were drummers and cereals on the air and you pick up your affairs i was a sense of structure also the old movies were far more tightly structured in terms of craft and they are today and you learn if you're observant of these things as i was you and unconsciously how to deal with these are workshops when you're young without even knowing that on the job training i agree with that they are all books that iran as a child all those years they were good children's books you know there's also a lot of junk and they'll be in our man cherry game student nurse el barrio as nancy drew now that bubble the job lobel
what iran actually blacked out but you learned something from all of them go ahead absolutely i mean the notion that kids should only read the right stuff is a good way of getting kids never read anything there you go you knew your left i knew i do i've got a website at seventeen when i got my own website and one is that is that you don't you don't you jules pfeiffer dot com our huge people up to date on what i'm doing now on iran to do it because i'm computer illiterate ultimate israeli informant off why i'm delighted to know that more new things are happening for you all the time and i wanted i much i appreciate you coming in and talking to me i consider this a great honor i have been a fan of euro for so many years what was a great pleasure the irreverent irrepressible irresistible jules pfeiffer who's latest book for children is some things are scary my personal
favorite is the man in the scene and that does conclude our program for this week and i hope you enjoyed it and i hope you can join me next week as well when together for national public radio stations the fine print is produced by rebecca davis that's good for national public radio as the copies are available for information call six one five seven six of two nine or three or you can email us interest is rebecca at wpln it's
both i mean
The Fine Print
Program 00 33 Guest Jules Feiffer Book Some Things Are Scary
Producing Organization
Contributing Organization
WPLN News/Nashville Public Radio (Nashville, Tennessee)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip-6bf30c5e735).
Episode Description
An episode of WPLN's The Fine Print featuring host Rebecca Bain discussing an author's work with the author.
Broadcast Date
Asset type
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Guest: Feiffer, Jules
Host: Bain, Rebecca
Producing Organization: WPLN
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Identifier: cpb-aacip-16e95bb82cf (Filename)
Format: CD
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “The Fine Print; Program 00 33 Guest Jules Feiffer Book Some Things Are Scary,” 2000-12-02, WPLN News/Nashville Public Radio, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed October 3, 2023,
MLA: “The Fine Print; Program 00 33 Guest Jules Feiffer Book Some Things Are Scary.” 2000-12-02. WPLN News/Nashville Public Radio, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. October 3, 2023. <>.
APA: The Fine Print; Program 00 33 Guest Jules Feiffer Book Some Things Are Scary. Boston, MA: WPLN News/Nashville Public Radio, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from