Jules Feiffer

Biography of Jules Feiffer

Jules Ralph Feiffer (born January 26, 1929) is an American syndicated cartoonist, most notable for his long-run comic strip titled Feiffer. He has created more than 35 books, plays and screenplays. In 1986, he won the Pulitzer Prize for his editorial cartooning in The Village Voice.

Raised in The Bronx, New York City, New York, where he graduated from James Monroe High School in 1947, Jules Feiffer won a John Wanamaker Art Contest medal for a crayon drawing of the radio Western hero Tom Mix.

He read comic strips in the New York World-Telegram newspaper that his father brought home, including Our Boarding House, Alley Oop "and my favorite at the time, Wash Tubbs, with the 'soldier of fortune' hero, Captain Easy". When his father switched to the evening edition of the New York Post, Feiffer absorbed other strips, including Dixie Dugan, The Bungle Family, Nancy (then titled Fritzi Ritz), "and that masterpiece of sentimental naturalism, Abbie an' Slats. I studied that strip – its [Preston] Sturges-like characters, its [William] Saroyanesque plots, its uniquely cadenced dialogue. No strip other than Will Eisner's Spirit rivaled its structure. No strip, except [Milton] Caniff's Terry [and the Pirates], rivaled it in atmosphere."

At age 16, Feiffer began as an assistant to writer-artist Eisner, whose comic strip The Spirit appeared in a seven-page insert in Sunday newspaper comics sections.

Before this, in 1947, when Feiffer asked for a raise, Eisner instead gave him his own page in The Spirit section, where the 18-year-old Feiffer wrote and drew his first comic strip, Clifford (1949–51), published in six newspapers.

Feiffer's strips ran for 42 years in The Village Voice, first under the title Sick Sick Sick, briefly as Feiffer's Fables and finally as simply Feiffer. Initially influenced by UPA and William Steig, the strip debuted October 24, 1956, and 14 months later, Feiffer had a bestseller when McGraw-Hill collected the Village Voice strips as Sick Sick Sick: A Guide to Non-Confident Living (published January 1, 1958). Beginning April 1959, Feiffer was distributed nationally by the Hall Syndicate, initially in The Boston Globe, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Newark Star-Ledger and Long Island Press.

His strips, cartoons and illustrations have also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The New Yorker, Esquire, Playboy and The Nation. He was commissioned in 1997 by The New York Times to create its first op-ed page comic strip, which ran monthly until 2000. He was married twice and has three children. His daughter Halley Feiffer is an actress and playwright.

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