January 11, 2003
I have been contacted by two women who are writing a paper on Honkytonk Sue, the cartoon character I created in 1977. They have been interviewing me via E-mail. Here is a small snippet of the interview:
Q: Why a female as your main character?
BBB: Strong women have always attracted me. Both my grandmothers were quite resilient. My father’s mother was Minnie Hauan Bell, a full blooded Norwegian farm girl who settled in northern Iowa, and my mother’s mother was Louise Guess, but everyone called her Guessie, and she came through Texas, New Mexico and Arizona and lived a pretty hard life on ranches. My wife Kathy Radina (the pretty girl I met at her boyfriend’s wake) is no one to trifle with either.
Q: What does Sue represent in the context of her time, the late 70's?
BBB: The idea of a woman comic strip hero seemed so ripe at the time. The ERA was first being proposed and it seemed so overdue to have women be the heroes of the story. Of course it’s a cliche now.
Q: Every cartoonist has a relationship with its characters, what would you say
yours with Sue is? How has it changed over time?
BBB: The Honkytonk Sue of the National Lampoon feature [where the comic first ran in 1977] is more of a kind of crass bar fly. Well, maybe bar fly is too strong but I was playing drums in a Country band at the time, and that had a lot to do with the character—seen thru the dark prism of the world I was living in at that time. This was also when my marriage was unravelling and the two form a sort of negative, black hole (in fact I want to do a graphic novel on that period of my life and my working title is: Nympho Rodeo). The later Sue, that ran in the comic strip became much more sympathetic because a.) I was, by then, in a good relationship with a good woman who looks quite a bit like Sue, and b.) women reading the strip responded so strongly to her it was shocking to me. I had no idea of the power lurking there! In fact if there is one theme running through this whole experience, it’s the fact that I have been consistently the last to know. Ha.
“A man travels the world over in search of what he needs, and returns home to find it.”
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