Political cartoon powder keg and recent president of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists; his latest book, The Anti-American Manifesto, debuts Oct. 11. He appears 3 pm Saturday with Matt Bors on the Wieden & Kennedy stage.
What are your favorite themes to write about?
Evil politicians, apathetic citizens, Afghanistan and Central Asia.
Name three books on your nightstand or shelf right now.
My Life With the Taliban, The Communist Hypothesis and The Last Mughal.
What's your personal writing ritual?
I am boring: I sit in front of a 2003 Mac G4 and hunt and peck. Best time for me to write is early morning before the phone starts ringing.
The most beautiful word in the English language is:
"Five-figure advance." (I know that's three words. Sue me.)
What authors made you want to pick up a pen in the first place and why?
Mark Twain, Sherwood Anderson, and Hemingway set the bar. Sartre made me want to be a politically engaged creative person.
Name a book you think is highly overrated. Be honest.
Ulysses. A pretentious, dated, unspeakable waste of time.
The dumbest thing I ever did is…
Go to engineering school.
The best piece of advice I ever got was…
Don't worry about what other people say or think. (Which is kind of meta, now that I think about it. Should I have disregarded that advice too?)
What's your literary guilty pleasure?
Stephen King. I'm looking forward to reading Under the Dome.
The closest I've ever come to quitting is…
When all the magazines I used to write for, and which paid pretty well, went out of business and I couldn't find new ones to write for.
Most recent nightmare:
Being chased down a corridor by some sort of snake creature. I assume it represents overdue bills.
Your cure for writer's block:
Walk away. Sherwood Anderson told young authors that, when the ideas weren't coming, to step away from the typewriter and go do something fun. He admitted that he didn't take his own advice.
A dead person you'd like to meet (they'd be alive during the meeting):
Hitler. Before the drugs made him loopy in '44.
What was your favorite book as a kid?