OK, comics are in our blood. I grew up in the golden age of the American newspaper comic strip. My parents subscribed to Hearst’s Los Angeles Examiner. The right-wing politics meant nothing to an 8-year-old kid; what meant everything was that it had the best King Features comics, an entire page of dailies and a huge Sunday color section with the mysterious name, “Puck.”
From 1932 onward, I devoured the comics, and carefully copied the characters on my drawing pads. I loved to draw, and was good at it, so naturally I dreamed of one day drawing my own comic strip. Amazingly, I eventually did it — had my own nationally syndicated comic strip, which you may well have never heard of, “Terr’ble Thompson.” It ran less than a year, because another dream — animation — overtook it. But now look right here: something I never dreamed of — all three of my sons are in this great Comic Pictorama book! Who could dream more than having three genius fantasy creators as sons?
I wish I could take credit for their achievements, but the fact is they did it on their own, growing to maturity during years I was working abroad. Needless to say, my parental pride runneth over. We have of course always been in touch, and as I’m only 19 years older than Kim, my oldest, I do feel I’m one of the gang, however passé I might be. I can tell you one thing: Whatever any of you parents might think, as we did at the time, that we were not going to let any socalled generation gap distance ourselves from our kids — that we were modern, progressive parents, keeping up with the talk and the ideas of the time, and would not be so retro as to be out of what’s happening…
Well, the fact is that it’s nearly impossible. The generation gap exists. I have to admit that while I’m working on my own cartoons I’m listening constantly to internet radio playing the swing music of the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s. No matter how much I’ve tried to keep up, I simply can’t get with anything later than The Beatles, but even they don’t grab me like the basic blues of Basie. I can’t stand the three-word lyrics and mindless pounding of hard rock, nor the frightening ramblings of Rap. My great luck is that even though the swing era is what I, not my sons, grew up with, it turns out that the music and culture of the era of my boyhood has somehow grabbed them, even though it was not their era. Music is one of the things that binds us together!
We have a lot to talk about with each other. We’re steadily in touch in this digital era, and their creations talk to me loud and clear. We are in fact not the usual totally distanced father and sons. We share many values, ideas, and interests.
That is my great joy. We are all lovers of stories and fantasy, dinosaurs and legends, the weird and the wonderful, the bizarre and eccentric characters and parallel worlds that reflect what this desperately misshapen world we live in might rather be.
This book sums it all up. Here is a great sample of the thinking and amazing creativity of Kim, Simon, and Seth Deitch. How glad I am that not one of them saw fit to change his family name!
Prague, November 2007
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