Ask A Cartoonist: Father’s Day Edition

By Tea Fougner

My dad is the person who introduced me to comics: every Sunday, sitting on the floor of our living room, reading the comics was a family tradition.  With Father’s Day coming up, I asked our cartoonists to share some of their memories of dads– real ones and cartoon ones!

One of my favorite memories as a child was not of my old man but Jimmy Durante’s . Jimmy said he could stop a cold in your head from going to your chest without using medicine. He tied a knot in your neck. –Bud Grace, The Piranha Club

My father was an enigma to me. He never spoke of his past. I was too dumb at the time to ask him about it and now he’s gone. He had 3 siblings growing up in New York. He never mentioned any of them. I’m working on a graphic memoir now about my mother and her secret affair with a famous cartoonist. My father plays a big part in it, as well. –Bill Griffith, Zippy the Pinhead


read an original poem by Mort’s father! 

My father was a vital inspiration for my cartooning career. He was an architect, and an artist who sold his oil paintings. He wrote a poem every rnorning and took it to the Kansas City Star on his way to work and took me with him so I could visit with the six cartoonists on their staff. They let me watch them draw and look through their drawers of originals and take my favorites home to tack to my wall. My father was the Poet Laureate of Kansas and President of the Missouri Writers Guild. He was also a concert pianist. A real Renaissance Man. He gave me a room in our house for my studio and encouraged me every step of the way until I became a professional cartoonist at the age of 12. Happy Father’s Day to my dad in heaven. –Mort Walker, Beetle Bailey

Here’s a pic of my dad from Christmas 1979. He had gotten the first “Herman” collection by Jim Unger and spent the most of the day laughing (or he was overcome by the patterns on his pants and the bedspread…) It’s one of the memories that made me want to draw comics. –Jonathan Mahood, Bleeker the Rechargeable Dog

Dethany is very devoted to her father, organizing his chaotic freelance business bookkeeping in her spare time. –Bill Holbrook, On the Fastrack and Safe Havens


This is a story that I referenced in a very early strip. I was about 8 months pregnant with my first daughter. My husband, Mike, was having stomach pains for a few days. He has high pain tolerance, so I knew it was serious when he finally let me take him to the hospital. We were in the waiting room for a while; he was growing paler and paler and began having chest pains. At that, they finally wheeled him in. The chest pain turned out to be a panic attack (note: if you want to get into the ER right away, fake chest pains).

Anyway, we walked in and everyone assumed I was in labor. So I was doted on while poor Mike writhed in agony. Turned out he had appendicitis and had to have emergency surgery. Even while prepping him, the nurses paid much more attention to the pregnant lady. It was the same after the surgery.

This is the strip that ran on Father’s Day 8 years ago (I cringe at the art). It includes that day at the hospital. Mike is an incredible husband and dad and I think he always deserves special attention. –Terri Libenson, The Pajama Diaries



When my two brothers and I were young, I remember our Dad getting up early with us and watching Saturday morning cartoons each week. We’d watch Scooby Doo, Speed Buggy and all the rest! And then he’d make us a big breakfast of pancakes and eggs! Yum! He still does when we’re all together. –John Rose, Barney Google and Snuffy Smith


My dad was a sign painter, but he also undertook other art projects for our church. When I was little he painted a life-size manger scene that the church annually erected outdoors in a local shopping center. On Christmas Eve it was our tradition for us kids to change into our pajamas after dinner and then drive with dad to the shopping center to put the plastic baby Jesus doll in the manger so he’d be there on Christmas morning.

Wouldn’t you know it, every year Santa came to our house at exactly the time we were taking this trip to the shopping center. We’d barely miss him every year! As we’d pull into our driveway, Dad would say, “Look! Did you see him? Up there on the roo– Oh darn it, he’s gone.” When we came in the door the living room would be transformed with presents and my mom and grandparents would be the only ones who’d seen Santa. –Jim Borgman, Zits


This has always been one of my favorite Henry Mitchell gags……….go figure. –Ron Ferdinand, Dennis the Menace