Season 2 Episode 57: Dave Astor on Comics, Cartoons & Confessions

“Sometimes I lie awake at night, and I ask, ‘Where have I gone wrong’. Then a voice says to me, ‘This is going to take more than one night.”  Charles Schulz

Welcome to Tea, Toast and Trivia.

Thank you for listening in.

A photo of Dave with Jerry Robinson of Batman comics fame. Jerry (1922-2011) created the iconic pop-culture character, The Joker around 1940; and also came up with the Robin name for Batman’s sidekick. (photo credit Dave Astor)

Dave Astor and I are once again  bridging the 3,923 kilometers between New Jersey to Vancouver.

Listeners, you will remember that Dave Astor’s book, Fascinating Facts About Famous Fiction Authors and the Greatest Novels” was one of my first 2020 reads! It was a marvelous collection of delicious literary trivia. And you know how I love trivia!!

Today, Dave has come back to talk about comics, cartoons, confessions, and his first book, “Comic (And Column) Confessional,” which covers an extraordinary period in media history that witnessed the advent of the digital revolution, media mergers, and the shrinking newspaper business that changed journalism forever.

This conversation came about when I read Dave’s post on October 5, 2020 celebrating the 70th anniversary of the 1950 debut of Charles M. Schulz’s “Peanuts.”  I have followed Peanuts all my.  So how much influence does comics strips have on our society and cultural values?   Dave has a unique perspective on this question.  Put the kettle on and add to this exciting conversation on TeaToastTrivia.com

I am your host Rebecca Budd, and I am looking forward to sharing this moment with you.

(photo credit Dave Astor)
(photo credit Dave Astor)
(photo credit Dave Astor)

Thank you for joining Dave and me on Tea Toast & Trivia. And a very special thank you and shout out to Dave.  You can connect with Dave on Dave Astor on Literature.   There is always an adventure in reading waiting for your arrival on his blog.

Why can’t we get all the people together in the world that we really like and then just stay together? I guess that wouldn’t work. Someone would leave. Someone always leaves. Then we would have to say good-bye. I hate good-byes. I know what I need. I need more hellos.”  Charles M. Schulz

Dave Astor on Literature (photo credit: Dave Astor)

Robbie Cheadle on Writing Children’s Books Tea. Toast. & Trivia.

  1. Robbie Cheadle on Writing Children’s Books
  2. Klausbernd Vollmar on Beauty
  3. Welcome to Tea Toast & Trivia Season 3
  4. Aaron Launches Family Book Challenge 2021
  5. 'Twas the Night Before Christmas

59 Comments Add yours

  1. Dave Astor says:

    Thanks so much, Rebecca, for having me on your great podcast again! It was a pleasure to discuss cartooning in response to your always-expert questions. I will post the link to our conversation on my Facebook page tomorrow. 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      This was a wonderful conversation, Dave. Thank you for your generosity is sharing your experiences with the great names of comics and cartoons. I had to add this quotes by Charles M Schulz: “Stop worrying about the world ending today. It’s already tomorrow in Australia.” Looking forward to our next conversation.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Dave Astor says:

        You’re very welcome, Rebecca, and thanks again!

        Also, that’s another great Charles M. Schulz quote! Quietly brilliant wisdom. And funny!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Mary Jo Malo says:

        Hello! And yes, it really was. Your conversation, Dave and Rebecca, was so enlightening. The world of syndication, your interviews, comments on the demands of comic strip creators, the inside scoop so to say, were all wonderful. My favorite strips varied over the years. As young child, Nancy also was my favorite and helped me learn to read. I didn’t really have any favorites for years, but I enjoyed perusing the colorful Sunday comics just because. Does anyone remember having daily comics in part of the ‘green sheet?’ In college my roommate absolutely adored Snoopy and Woodstock, and that became my favorite eventually…and Peanuts is still my all time favorite! I must not have appreciated Schulz’s more philosophical humor packaged so deceptively simple 🙂 As a young mother, I enjoyed The Family Circus. A bit later I added Doonesbury too. Thank you both for adding to the history of comic strips and their creators! Who knew?!?!

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Clanmother says:

        You always give me an excellent mini research project, Mary Jo! I had never heard of the Green Sheet before so when I did a google search I found this article http://archive.jsonline.com/greensheet/get-ready-for-a-look-back-at-some-of-the-green-sheets-favorite-comics-b99684094z1-372286801.html

        Comics were a go-to for me. It became ubiquitous, an integral part of daily life, and a reflection of the time in which they were created. One thing that didn’t come out in the podcast, but Dave and I talked about after we finished recording was how comics and comic books influenced the emerging graphic novels. We continue to learn and move forward based on what came before us. One of the quotes that I found this morning that was captured with Snoopy and Woodstock: “Learn from yesterday. Live for today. Look to tomorrow.”

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Mary Jo Malo says:

        Yes, I was thinking about graphic novels too. And that newspaper which had the green sheet was the one I read as a child! It was literally printed on green newsprint.

        Liked by 2 people

      5. Clanmother says:

        I love when there is serendipity at work!!! Hugs and more hugs!

        Liked by 2 people

      6. Mary Jo Malo says:

        Happy Thanksgiving, Rebecca! 🤗🤗🤗

        Liked by 2 people

      7. Mary Jo Malo says:

        Oops…just remembered you’ve already celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving!

        Liked by 2 people

      8. Clanmother says:

        Oh Mary Jo! I love celebrating thanksgiving with you every day. One of my most favourite quotes that I repeat often, sometimes daily, especially in our current reality is by Meister Eckhart: “If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.”

        Liked by 2 people

      9. Mary Jo Malo says:

        🤗❤️🤗❤️

        Liked by 1 person

      10. Dave Astor says:

        Thank you, Mary Jo, for your wide-ranging and enjoyable comment! I was very lucky to witness “the inside” of the comics profession for a number of years. 🙂

        “Nancy” was definitely the “go to” first comic for young kids (in addition to yourself) for many years — with perhaps “Garfield” then becoming THE strip for beginning readers of later generations.

        Nice that you became an avid “Peanuts” fan with the help of your college roommate! (One of my strongest college-dorm memories was having a roommate who played The Grateful Dead way too much; never became a fan of that band. 🙂 )

        Rebecca, wonderful that comics were a big part of your life! And they indeed reflect their times — in some cases lagging a bit behind their times due to newspapers of decades ago not wanting anything too “controversial” on their “funny pages.” Thankfully, things eventually loosened up some.

        Liked by 2 people

      11. Clanmother says:

        I’m wondering if the comics were the were the catalyst that brought the change.

        Liked by 2 people

      12. Dave Astor says:

        Rebecca, I certainly think “Doonesbury” had a big impact in the 1970s, along with a general change in cultural mores.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Ms Frances says:

    How can I say all that I would like to say about this podcast? ? It was FUN, educational, historical, intellectually broadening, and on and on. Thank you to both of your for sharing. I have always enjoyed comics. When I was young, and could rescue the paper from the rest of the family, the first page I turned to was the comic page. And why not, it was the best part! ! I am waiting until your next podcast. do not wait too long.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      I am delighted that you listened in Frances. I remember when we read the comics together when I was a child. I loved Peanuts (still do) but I also remember Mary Worth, who was always in the middle of a crisis, and Rex Morgan MD, solving a medical problem I did not know that Beetle Bailey was the brother of Lois in Hi and Lois. I agree – comics were the best part! Dave has promised to come back so you won’t have to wait too long.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Dave Astor says:

        Thank you, Ms. Frances, for all those kind words! Glad you liked the conversation! Rebecca can get and keep a discussion going wonderfully, can’t she? 🙂

        I also read a newspaper’s comics pages first for many years. Certainly nice to enjoy before turning to the (often depressing) news. The New York Times was an exception — no comics. 😦

        Rebecca, SO many crises in those story strips. The characters in them had to have had high blood pressure. 🙂 Perhaps treatable by Rex Morgan, MD?

        And I was also amazed to learn that Beetle and Lois were cartoon siblings!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Clanmother says:

        You will find this interesting Dave: I was looking up why we enjoy comics in preparation for our conversation. What came up was all the articles written In “Psychology Today” about why comics and superheroes like Batman are important to us. It was a confirmation of what you said in our discussion – reading comics gives us laughter and a way in which to connect with the “real world”.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Ms Frances says:

        Looking forward to the next conversation!

        Liked by 3 people

      4. Dave Astor says:

        Interesting indeed, Rebecca! I should start reading “Psychology Today.” 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Clanmother says:

        Now that would make for an interesting podcast!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Well said, Frances! I, too, would rush to be the first to get at the Sunday funnies when I was a kid, in the process making a mess of the paper. Dad would not be happy about that.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Dave Astor says:

        Fun memory, Liz! I’m thinking some families needed a second copy of the same newspaper. 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Yep! I was shameless. Rifled through the paper for the funnies and strewed the pieces on the living room floor.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Dave Astor says:

        Ha, Liz! 🙂 Kids will be kids. We’ve all been there. Or many of us, anyway.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. This really is a fascinating podcast, Rebecca. I enjoy cartoons and know all of the ones mentioned by Dave, but I’ve never really thought about the creators of the cartoons. It definitely takes talent to draw the cartoons and create the funny stories.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      I am so glad you listened in, Robbie. I knew you would enjoy listening to Dave recounting all the fabulous interviews with the writing heroes behind the comic heroes. Knowing the background of writers, poets, artists etc adds nuances to our understanding of their creative work. Even more exciting – we are inspired and influenced by their stories, themes and messages. I am grateful to those who write – they add depth and breadth to our experiences. Many thanks and hugs coming your way.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Dave Astor says:

        Thank you, Roberta! It IS interesting to think of the people behind creative work in addition to enjoying the creative work itself — whether it be comics, novels, paintings, music, etc. Cartoonists are indeed talented people, and I was always fascinated to watch them draw at meetings. Some of them were quite fast!

        Rebecca, I very much agree that “knowing the background of writers, poets, artists, etc., adds nuances to our understanding of their creative work.” There is clearly a connection! And creative people definitely add enjoyment to our lives; it’s great for them to be in professions that do that!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Thank you, Rebecca, a really entertaining and interesting show. I think writing a cartoon must be quite difficult as they need to address current events, including politics, in a funny way without being cynical. It is a talent to do this well. We have a political cartoonist in South Africa called Zapiro (Jonathan Shapiro) and his cartoons are incredible.

        Liked by 3 people

      3. Clanmother says:

        I agree wholeheartedly, Robbie! To balance with humor and cynicism is indeed difficult. And then add the ability to draw the meaning in cartoon form is a formidable talent.

        Liked by 3 people

  4. elisabethm says:

    Very enjoyable! What a wonderful way to start my Tuesday morning. Both your enthusiasm makes you want to re-read all those wonderful comics immediately (Peanuts was my favourite!). It was super interesting to hear Dave talk about the creators of these iconic comic strips. Thank you both!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      Elisabeth, your company is so very much appreciated. Dave’s adventures into the world of comics brings back so many wonderful memories. Dave’s ability to connect with the creators of comics and cartoons speaks to his thoughtful approach to conversations and how he built trusts within this small community. Dave has genuine interest in those he interviews and his humour is contagious. BTW, I am almost finished with “Three Apples” and am on to Zuleikha. Thank you so much for your recommendations. I am looking back on your Instagram for more recommendation. Sending many hugs across the ocean.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Dave Astor says:

        Thank you, Elisabeth! Very pleased that you enjoyed the conversation Rebecca and I had. 🙂 Your favorite comic, “Peanuts,” was such a worldwide phenomenon — in 2,600 newspapers globally at its peak. And of course the TV specials, products, etc.

        I agree that it’s fun to reread comics; I have a number of collections in book form that I look at from time to time.

        Rebecca, I appreciate the kind words! Interviewing creative people is is usually very interesting. I was always terrified of misquoting anyone because I would inevitably run into them later at a meeting. Fortunately, errors happened very seldom. 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

  5. Klausbernd says:

    Dear Rebecca and dear Dave
    thanks a lot for this informative podcast. Especially Hanne-Dina is a dedicated Peanuts fan, I really loved the Freak Brothers and Asterix and Obelix. Wherever I visited people there were the Asterix and Obelix comics on the loo.
    Keep well
    Klausbernd 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      I laughed out loud when I read the last line, Klausbernd. I understand that there are movies (French) that have come out of the Asterix and Obelix comics. I am fascinated by how an idea takes on a life of its own, becoming more that was originally thought of by a creator. Hanne-Dina and I share the same enjoyment of Peanuts. I love when Lucy sets up her Psychiatric Booth. To fix Charlie Brown’s depression “Go home and eat a jelly-bread sandwich folded over.” And the best line of all: “I never made a mistake in my life. I thought I did once, but I was wrong.” Thank you for listening in – always enjoy your company. Hugs and love to my dear friends the Fab Four of Cley.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Dave Astor says:

        Thank you, Klausbernd! Glad you found the podcast informative! And I’m glad you mentioned wonderful cartoon characters who originated outside North America. Cartoons are truly a worldwide art.

        Rebecca, Lucy in “Peanuts” was indeed a force of nature, hilarious, and rather full of herself. But at least she kept her psychiatric booth prices low — just a nickel. 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Klausbernd says:

        Dear Rebecca
        well, Peanuts are great. But Asterix and Obelix were more common in my world in Germany and Scandinavia. I always loved the combination of Latin and German or Swedish.
        A couple of years ago I read about Disney’s Donald Duck Comics. My mother always bought them for me when I was ill. They are amazingly clever made and educational (that was Walt Disney’s idea).
        Nowadays I am not a comic reader any more and I don’t like reading graphic novels. I tried but I found it boring.
        With lots of love to my dear Canadian friends and a big HUG
        Klausbernd and the rest of
        The Fab Four of Cley
        🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Clanmother says:

        After I read you comments, I went online to see if there were any comic strips available. Now, that I have all my news delivered to my desktop and iPhone I have not read a comic strip for some years. There are apps that provide comic strip templates for making comics and apps that deliver comics – but they are not the same as the ones in the newspapers. As for reading graphic novels, I confess that I haven’t read any. I was planning on reading one in 2020, but alas, time ran out…. Sending hugs back your way to my dear friends the Fab Four of Cley.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. Jean-Jacques says:

    What an enjoyable and informative, Dave Astor insight, on the comic book and cartoon world. Indeed a pleasurable 25 minute investment, listening to you and Dave. Thank you Rebecca for your initiative, with Dave’s help, in bringing back the sweet youthful memories of Peanuts, which of course led to the nostalgia of all those books and strips of yesteryears. A truly bright spot in our present rather grey days of social restrictions!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      I am so glad you listened in, Jean-Jacques. Like you, I loved the comics, and especially looked forward to the Sunday edition because they were expanded and in colour. I am thrilled that Dave shared the “back stories” of the the innovative men and women behind the comics. I just watched Charlie Brown’s Halloween and waited in the pumpkin patch with Linus on October 31, 2020. So much fun!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Dave Astor says:

        Yes, Rebecca, the Sunday comics were/are extra special with their color and bigger size. 🙂 Often, some of them were even a full page before things started shrinking during the past few decades.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Dave Astor says:

      Thank you very much for listening, Jean-Jacques, and for the kind words! Glad you enjoyed the podcast! “Peanuts” and other comics indeed hold a nostalgic place in many readers’ hearts. Cartoonists give the world so much pleasure. As does Rebecca with her fabulous podcasts and blog posts.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Thank you, Rebecca and Dave for this fascinating interview! I thoroughly enjoyed it–and, oh, did it bring back memories. My dad, my brother, and I had an common interest in comics when I was growing up, and we would discuss them on a regular basis. My dad was a huge fan of Peanuts. He identified with poor, put-upon Charlie Brown, while Snoopy was his hero.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      For me, the best Snoopy quote is “Be yourself. No one can say you’re doing it wrong.” Thank you for listening in, Liz. I am looking forward to another conversation with Dave about Dear Ann and Dear Abby and how to give advice. Those sisters did it well.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Dave Astor says:

        Thank you, Liz! Happy that you enjoyed the comics conversation Rebecca and I had! So nice that comics were a discussion topic for your family when you were growing up! And the “Peanuts” characters ran such a gamut that there was always one or more with whom almost any reader could identify.

        One interesting thing about put-upon Charlie Brown was that Charles M. Schulz occasionally made the character a bit less put-upon in the comic’s later years. Once, he even allowed Charlie Brown to hit a home run! When I asked the Charles why, he said dryly that he had always wanted to draw Charlie Brown doing a joyful somersault! But I also like to think Charles felt a little sorry for his creation. 🙂

        Rebecca, that’s a stellar Snoopy quote! And I’d be happy to discuss Ann and Abby in a future podcast, if you’d like. Those twin sisters were a very interesting pair — wonderfully astute advice-givers who had a somewhat tense rivalry for several decades.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Clanmother says:

        Oh that would be brilliant, Dave, and a wonderful opportunity to discuss how advice columns were so important – and still are!! I just read a dear Abby column this morning, which I believe has been taken over the “Abby’s” daughter, Jeanne Phillips. https://www.oregonlive.com/advice/2020/11/dear-abby-moms-well-meant-feedback-sends-daughter-into-a-rage.html

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Dave Astor says:

        Great, Rebecca! Advice columns were/are indeed important! Yes, Jeanne Phillips has done the column for a while after assisting her mother (Pauline Phillips, the original “Dear Abby”) during Pauline’s later years.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. You’re welcome, Rebecca. I’m so glad to hear that Dave will be back to talk about Dear Ann and Dear Abby! His mention of Dear Ann caught my attention.

        Liked by 2 people

  8. Resa says:

    Finally made it here!
    I adore this podcast. All my cartoon heroes are here. Dave, how wonderful that you got to meet these artists.
    Also, gaps have been filled in. I know Hi & Lois. I know Beetle Bailey.. Now, I know they are related. So cool!
    I agree with you, Dave! Rebecca is a wonderful podcast host.
    Rebecca and you found each other, and now the rest of us have found both of you.
    Enthusiasm is the keyword in this podcast!
    Thank you so very much, both of you!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      I am so glad you joined this conversation, Resa. Comics were my go-to place when I was a child – a place that I learned to read and follow a narrative. After “see spot run” books (I am grateful for those books too) , comics offered a new world of unimaginable possibilities. They allowed me to take my reading skills to the next level. What I never expected as a child was that I would still be following comics as an adult. Dave has a way of building trust with those he interviews – just as he does with every one who follows his blog. It seems that what began as a formal interview situation between Dave and the comic writers transformed into friendships. Which is exactly what we are experiencing in our blogging community. Thank you, Resa for sharing your insights on TTT. My favourite quote about enthusiasm (you knew that I would get a quote didn’t you?!!) is by Colette: “You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm.” Sending hugs and more hugs!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Dave Astor says:

        Thank you, Resa! I loved your comment. 🙂 So glad you enjoyed the podcast, and that several of the cartoonists you’ve liked were mentioned in the conversation! Comics ARE such a fun medium; it’s not hard to be enthusiastic about them. 🙂 And we’re all very enthusiastic about Rebecca’s podcasts!

        Rebecca, thank you for the very kind words! Much appreciated! And so true that when we enjoyed comics as kids we might not have expected to enjoy comics as adults. But many comics have enough depth for grown-up tastes. 🙂 Also, I’m glad you quoted the great Colette; I like her fiction a lot!

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Paul Andruss says:

    Dave – I meant to comment how much I enjoyed this talk when I first heard it, but my computer had a nervous breakdown (I ended up getting a noew one) and the opportunity slipped by. I am not familiar with al lthe cartoons or all their creators but loved the wit and humour of the darkside and peanuts- well who could not like that? Speaking about Schultz opened into his mind and creative processes. Fascinating. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      I am delighted that you listened in Paul. One of my favourite Charles Schulz’s quotes that I read to reduce any stress I may have: “Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It is already tomorrow in Australia.”

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Dave Astor says:

        Thank you very much for the kind comment, Paul! 🙂 Charles M. Schulz was definitely a more complex person than some people thought he was. That complexity came out in “Peanuts,” which was a pretty “deep” comic in a lot of ways in addition to being entertaining.

        Sorry about your computer; hope your new one is working well.

        And, Rebecca, that’s another first-rate quote from Mr. Schulz! You find SO many great quotes. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Clanmother says:

        We need to talk about quotes in a podcast called “I wish I had said that!”

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Dave Astor says:

        Terrific idea, Rebecca!

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Paul Andruss says:

        That is genius!

        Liked by 2 people

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