Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Doug Marlette — A Warrior for Truth


Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Doug Marlette, creator of the "Kudzu" comic strip and a relentless and honest observer of the human condition, was killed in a car accident in Mississippi yesterday morning.

He was 57, my age, and one of my oldest friends.

We met our freshman year at Florida State, working for the school newspaper, and shared those crazy years together. Just when I thought we were all going to grow up and become "serious" journalists, Marlette got a job at the Charlotte Observer and talked me into moving to North Carolina. It was Marlette who believed — absolutely believed! — I could spin a haphazard career out of air. I sold him my first real bicycle, a Raleigh, when I moved to New York City to become a magazine editor.

When he drew the cartoon above, What Would Mohammed Drive?, a few years ago, he did so as a committed liberal and a religious man who was as appalled at the rise of Islamofacism as he was by the rise of the Praise the Lord Club — he was, as he always said, an equal opportunity offender. The fascist declared a fatwah on my friend and called for his death.

More painful to him, far too many of his long-time "friends" deserted him; publications who routinely ran Marlette's broadsides against the Pope, against PTL, against Jerry Falwell (a favorite target) refused to run the Mohammed cartoon out of "sensitivity" to Muslims. "Cowards," he called them.

And he went on with his life, because Doug Marlette was not a coward.

Got an email from him a month or so ago complimenting me on "your web empire" and telling me he had started drawing for the Tulsa World. "Hey, we'll get together soon!" he wrote, and he signed his note, "Your old friend..."

I don't know what else to say, except that my friend was always a warrior for truth and a true son of the South in the oldest, deepest and most profound sense.

I will miss him. So will the world.

7 comments:

Rob Reed said...

My condolences for the loss of your friend. I didn't know him, but I always liked his work.

Tim Burke said...

I'm sorry for your loss,Michael. I knew his strip, and I'd seen his editorial work, but I never put the two together. He was right about the cowards... and Mohammad's vehicle.

Gary said...

Indeed we shall, Michael, indeed we shall. Sandi and I were stunned by the news of his death.

Gary & Sandi in TLH

The Adventurist said...

Hey Michael,

I seen this in the paper. Very Tragic to say the least. In today's society many people don't speak their minds, it was great that he had the opportunity to do so and through such a powerful medium.

My thoughts and Prayers are with you as you begin to deal with this tragic loss.

The cartoon you represented here speaks volumns for the guy..in a sense it is humorous but very scary and real at the same time...and another word...Ballsy.

Take care Michael.

Trevor said...

Sorry to hear about your friend. My condolences to you and his family.

His work was wonderful. We need more like him.

hillbilly said...

Kathleen Parker has a wonderful tribute to him in her column today.

http://www.townhall.com/columnists/KathleenParker/2007/07/13/missing_marlette_by_the_wind_grieved

DonWorsham said...

MB,

Did you see this on CNN's website

http://www.cnn.com/2007/SHOWBIZ/books/07/15/marlette.appreciation/index.html