As we approach the end of The Jerry Brown Era (at least for the moment), I have been forced to confront a new cartoon subject: Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom.
When I first came down to Sacramento in 2013, Brown was a comforting figure to me. I had been working in Oregon for 28 years, and I had no idea what CEQA, CalPERS, CalTrans, or any other Cal-Prefixed agency was.
But I did know Jerry Brown.
I have been drawing Gov. Brown since I was in junior high school. That’s a while back: 1975. I still have some of those drawings, and I’ll bet I’d find more in my garage if I were to clean it.
When I returned to California, Gov. Brown was still here. The fluffy white sideburns and dark, slicked-back hair were gone. But the Latin aphorisms and Greek analogies kept coming.
With my favorite subject’s departure I will have a new set of challenges. I must face these challenges with Courage, for a Change.
Brown was a set table for me in many ways. First, there was Sutter, the First Dog. Sutter became like my own pet in many ways. Sutter lived in my head on Friday afternoons for several years, quietly barking cartoon ideas to me. When Sutter was ill, I got a phone call from Evan Westrup, Gov. Brown’s spokesman. He very generously passed along the message that the Brown family wanted to know if I wanted to say goodbye to him. I did, but I had to go to New York to pick up the Pulitzer that week for drawing their dog.
Consequently, I did not have a chance to say goodbye to Sutter. I had met Sutter a few times. He was a busy guy, energetically sniffing things and generally not paying attention to me whatsoever. I did get to rub his belly once. He attended my 53rd birthday party and was the hit of the event, I can assure you.
A few months ago, I emailed now-Gov.-elect Newsom’s spokesman, Rhys Williams, and inquired sweetly as to the status of Newsom’s dog ownership. He promptly and gamely replied that the Newsoms have a white lab named Max.
Whether or not Max makes any appearance in my work is still debatable. The Newsoms have not rolled him out in any public way, and I am sure he is enjoying his private life in Marin County. I do call upon them to introduce him at a news conference.
As for how I will portray the new Gov. Newsom, I have worked out some of the kinks in my caricature of him. He has aged a little bit since I’ve been here (so have I), but caricatures are evolutionary things. Where Brown is intense and cerebral, Newsom is more spontaneous and chatty. It should make for a good contrast, but I am hoping he will throw in some Latin once in a while.
And roll out Max.
Carpe canis, I say. I need an alter ego. Cui bono?
Me. And Max.