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Jules Feiffer
Jules Feiffer


NYS Writers Institute, March 16, 2010
4:15 p.m. Seminar | Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center
8:00 p.m. Reading | Clark Auditorium, NYS Cultural Education Center, Albany


Jules Feiffer, one of the most influential editorial cartoonists of the last half century, and winner of the Pulitzer Prize, will speak about his new memoir “Backing Into Forward” (2010) on Tuesday, March 16, 2010 at 8:00 p.m. in the Clark Auditorium, New York State Cultural Education Center (State Museum Building) in downtown Albany. Earlier that same day at 4:15 p.m. the author will present an informal seminar in the Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, on the University at Albany’s uptown campus. The events are free and open to the public and sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute and the Friends of the New York State Library.

Jules Feiffer,
one of the most influential editorial cartoonists of the last half century, received the Pulitzer Prize in 1986 for work that appeared as part of his long-running strip in the “Village Voice.” A writer as well as an artist, Feiffer has earned distinction in many genres, including fiction, children’s literature, drama and screenwriting. His many honors include an Academy Award, a New York Drama Critics Circle Award, and the 2007 Writers Guild Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Backing Into ForwardHis new book is a memoir of his Bronx childhood and early career, “Backing into Forward” (2010). The book has earned high praise from notable American writers of every generation and a wide variety of genres. Cartoonist Art Spiegelman said, “Jules Feiffer’s original and neurotic voice— expressing the whiny child in every adult and the world-weary sophisticate inside every kid—reinvented comics in the 1950s and made possible what’s now called the ‘graphic novel.’ His engaging new memoir is told in that same witty and perceptive New York cadence, now mellowed and laced with wisdom. He’s an inspiration.”

Jules FeifferNovelist Jonathan Lethem said, “Jules Feiffer… remains one of the signature voices of a long era of American satire and dissent, the bridge from Lenny Bruce to ‘The Simpsons.’”  Poet Honore Moore said, “‘Backing into Forward’ is not only a hilarious memoir by the dazzling, discomfiting comet that is Jules Feiffer, but a rambunctious and vivid cultural history by an American master.”

Feiffer’s strip, known variously as “Sick, Sick, Sick,” “Feiffer’s Fables” and “Feiffer,” began life in the “Village Voice” in 1956, received national syndication in 1959, and ran for a total of 42 years. In book form, under the title “Sick, Sick, Sick,” an early collection of cartoons became a national bestseller in 1959.

Feiffer’s 1963 comic novel, “Harry the Rat with Women,” and his satirical 1978 detective story, “Ackroyd,” were reissued by pioneering graphic novel publisher Fantagraphic Books. The “Newsweek” reviewer called “Ackroyd” “wildly funny,” and praised its “flawless dialogue.” Feiffer is also the author of numerous books for children including the recent picture book, “Bark George!” (1999), an ALA Notable Children’s Book and Charlotte Zolotow Award Honor Book.

Jules FeifferFeiffer’s influential 1965 essay, “The Great Comic Book Heroes,” a defense and appreciation of comics, helped to bring respectability to that genre. Quentin Tarantino adapted a portion of the essay as a speech for David Carradine in the film, “Kill Bill.”

Feiffer received the Academy Award for a 1961 animated short, “Munro,” based on his same-titled comic strip about a child who is drafted into the U. S. Army. His best-known screenplays include the groundbreaking “Carnal Knowledge” (1971) directed by Mike Nichols, and Robert Altman’s “Popeye” (1980). Feiffer received the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for the play “Little Murders” (1967), which he adapted as a 1971 film directed by Alan Arkin.

In 2004 Feiffer received three major honors: Lifetime Achievement Awards from both the National Cartoonists Society and the Writers Guild of America, and induction into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame.

Previous Visit: November 11, 1998

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at https://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.