Toast to Mike Peters
by Kids Voting in Dayton, Ohio

Sunday 10/19/2008
with Jim Borgman, Mike Luckovich and Chip Bok

You begin to understand the power of political cartooning when three governors (one via video) and several other elected officials of importance to Ohio show up to support Mike Peters (and Kids Voting of course). It's also a tribute to Mike Peters that they all really seemed to like and respect him even when it's clear that they are and have been fair game for his cartoons. Good use of humor is disarming that way. It does seem to be a truly bipartisan gathering which was nice to see for this cause. I guess since kids really can't vote, it's okay to promote the process more than who to vote for.

It was a very nicely run affair as you can see by the agenda on the right. Being a fund raiser for kids voting there was plenty of time to buy drinks, bid on silent auction items, enjoy a good meal and best of all take time to talk with the guest of honor and his "toasters."

I'd like to say that I'm now Mike Peter's new best friend, that I'm wonderful and a sweet boy. I later found out that everyone he meets is, but somehow I still feel special. Mike is a very positive guy and I can see where it would be hard for anyone who meets him not to like him.


Frank Pauer and Mike Peters

Sorry about the fuzzy picture (left), but there you see Frank Pauer talking with Mike Peters before the dinner. Frank is the Art Director for the University of Dayton Alumni Magazine, former Charles Schultz award winner and NCS member. I met Frank last year after reading The Daily Cartoonist discussion on the award. I only mention that as a plug to TDC and the fact that folks are really very approachable and kind with their time.

Rather than a "roast" of hurling profanities and mock insults, the roast was more of a toast, recounting fun stories with Mike Peters.


(Mike is talking with three more wonderful people. Does this guy (Peters) look 60?)

 Mike Luckovich Toasts Mike Peters
Luckovich here is relating a story of when he and Peters were at a conference together. In this case Luckovich hatches a plan and calls Peters to come downstairs with sunglasses and a phone cord. Peters apparently never questioned the odd request because they both are known for doing weird things. The plan was to put on the sun glasses and hang the phone cord from their ears thus posing as secret service. Luckovich was hoping that they could escorts some celebrity, like George Clooney. So the two were there in their tuxes, glasses and phone cords. As it turned out, Henry Kissinger came into the lobby and asked them to escort him in to the event. So they did looking very official.    

Once the were through the metal detectors, they stayed there for a while as Peters made folks take off their shoes before he would let them through the detector.

In addition telling this story, Mike L. sketched out how they looked (adjacent right and immediate left). It seems that Peter's tux had superman buttons on it as well.

Chip Bok related how as a young artist he sought out Mike Peter's advice. First he went to the Dayton Daily News in hopes of meeting Peters. He got as far as the main door and then chickened out and went home. The next day he decided to buck it up and go back. When he approached Mike's


 (Mike Luckovich draws with pen and paper and it is projected up on the larger screens around the room)

(Arthur "Chip" Bok)

office he saw that some other young, skinny kid had stolen his idea and was there ahead of him. However, the skinny kid looked up and invited him in saying something like "Oh hi there you wonderful person ..." Yep, the skinny kids was Mike Peters. He credits Mike's help to assisting him in landing his first job as an editorial cartoonist (in an untimely fashion).

Since Chip is going to take the buyout from his Akron paper after this election cycle, he decided to take advantage of the captive Dayton Daily News editors and auditioned for Mike's job (implying at 60 you never know ...)

So he drew Joe the Plummer (to the right) and in the second panel Joe the Vice President


(to the left). I'm still not exactly sure what he was implying but both panels received a good laugh from the crowd!

One of Chip's lines was "I'd like to come back to Dayton (where he is originally from) to work for the Dayton Daily News (DDN) so I can live in Florida (as Mike does)."

Chip also related a story or two from their USO tour. See Tom Richmond's blog for details on that.


(Jim Borgman)

Next it was Jim Borgman's turn. Jim started out by saying (about his age) that Mike is considered inside NCS circles as the John McCain of cartooning. Then Jim proceeded to tell three Mike illustrated stories.

First was when Mike's wife had him watch the kids for a long weekend. She knew him well enough to be apprehensive about that kind of responsibility but he assured her he could handle it. Apparently she returned to find Mike and three children sitting on the floor, naked, gnawing on chicken bones (right).

Then at a golf outing (a fund raiser perhaps, I'm not sure of the details), Mike came prepared. After wiffing the first two attempts at the golf ball, he step aside and donned a t-shirt with "BLIND GOLFER"


in big letters and put on sunglasses. After that, every time he just managed to hit the ball drew applause from the crowd. A good strategy I might have to try sometime!

Then at one annual Pulitzer awards ceremony Mike waited at the end of the line to greet one of the judges. Mike shook his hand and without letting go went into a monologue about how much he really enjoyed winning his first Pulitzer and the more he thought about it the more winning a second time would mean to him. After a minute or two of this he left the man standing there with a $20 bill in his hand and a concerned look on his face. Mike didn't win his second Pulitzer that year, but everyone enjoyed it none-the-less.


Jim ended on a more serious note, thanking Mike for being an inspiration and friend to him over the years. Looking back to the 1940s and 50s political cartooning was very somber and stoic with broad strokes and heavy messages. Then in the 60s Oliphant arrived on the scene with lighter drawings and biting sarcasm. Shortly thereafter Peters, MacNeeley and others arrived injecting light hearted humor and just plain funny jabs. He compared them to the Beatles for not only setting the trends but making political cartooning a "cool" thing to do. He said if it weren't for them, he would have had no interest in political cartooning.

Jim is soon to focus primarily on his and Jerry Scott's Zits comic strip, leaving the Cincinnati Enquirer and political cartooning. (Frank Pauer interviewed Jim in-depth about this transition and it should be in the next NCS Newsletter).

Next Grimmy (ala Mike Luckovich) made an appearance (left). Earlier in the day they used the Grimmy suit to made a video which I will call "Luckovich and Grimmy Make a Porno" which was very funny. Hopefully it will be on YouTube or one of these days so all can see it. It was a hoot.

The dynamic trio also presented Mike with a nice 3-panel tribute to hang somewhere appropriate. The text didn't come out to well so I'll try to give you the idea ...

A nice, typical-pose caricature of Peters,

Mike saying many of his catch phrases ("you're wonderful, sweet boy, etc.") to his new best friend Beelzebub and

Grim taking Mike for a walk.
Then the 4 cartoonists did many of their favorite characters and caricatures as quickly as possible to the tune of dueling banjos. The "Dueling Cartoonists" are shown below in two photos (left, right) and a very short video (center).
 Click here to view
the video segment

Their cartoons were later autographed and sold as part of the fund raiser.

(Mike Luckovich signing his drawings)

(Jim Borgman touches up his Reagan)

(a better angle)

Finally Mike Peters had the opportunity to tell a few stories mostly on crazy stunts he pulled on his kids, and had a chance to thank everyone for coming out to the event. I'll save those for another time perhaps.

Anyway, it was great chance for folks - Daytonians, politicians, Kids Voting sponsors and staffers, cartoonists, fans, etc. - to come out and meet some incredibly talented cartoonists and support a good cause. I especially enjoyed my brief chats with Mike Peters and Jim Borgman - very nice and friendly fellows ... oh and the meal was pretty good too!


Reported by Rich Diesslin

Dayton Daily News Article

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