Drawing the Line
edited by Gary Groth
(Fantagraphics, 2004)

The problem is I have no answers, and neither should a satirist or cartoonist -- just complaints, really.
- Ralph Steadman

Drawing the Line reprints lots of artwork from and interviews with four "famous" cartoonists: Jules Feiffer, David Levine, Edward Sorel and Ralph Steadmen.

Feiffer is best known not for his art but for writing the plays Carnal Knowledge and Little Murders, both of which became movies. Comic book fans will also remember his work on The Spirit newspaper insert that has been reprinted many times in varied formats.

Sorel, Steadman and Levine are famous for their ... uh ... er ... OK, so I had never heard of them before this collection.

From their reprinted art, it is obvious that these extremely talented men who have graced the editorial pages of newspapers, magazines and books deserve fame and fortune. It is also obvious from their interviews that none of them seem to want either. Each embraces some form of socialism that doesn't exist (they despise the forms that do) and each hates capitalism (although cashing the paychecks generated by it).

In fairness, each seems to hate everything. These are very egocentric, unhappy men.

They also wanted to change the world at the beginning of their careers. It should look like them, of course.

Steeped in the traditions of comic books, strips and editorial cartoons, their minimalistic art embraces some of the nuances of "fine" art: impressionism, dadaism, surrealism and several other isms. Each style is distinct and dynamic and worth the price of this collection alone.

The overriding impression left a reader is that these men don't like their lives. These acerbic, politically far-Left interviews will irritate or even anger people who hold different beliefs. Nevertheless, Drawing the Line is highly recommended for its in-depth investigation of the artistic styles and the social and political beliefs of these accomplished cartoonists.

by Michael Vance
3 June 2006

Buy it from Amazon.com.