Backing into Forward
Backing into Forward
Subversive, funny, and effortlessly droll, Jules Feiffer’s cartoons were all over New York in the 1960s and ’70s—featured in the Village Voice, but also cut out and pinned to bulletin boards in offices and on refrigerators at home. Feiffer describes himself as “lucking into the zeitgeist,” and there’s some truth to the sentiment; Feiffer’s brand of satire reflected Americans’ ambivalence about the Vietnam War, changing social mores, and much more.
Feiffer’s memoir, Backing into Forward, like his cartoons, is sharply perceptive with a distinctive bite of mordant humor. Beginning with his childhood in Brooklyn, Feiffer paints a picture of a troubled kid with an overbearing mother and a host of crippling anxieties. From there, he discusses his apprenticeship with his hero, Will Eisner, and his time serving in the military during the Korean War, which saw him both feigning a breakdown and penning a cartoon narrative called “Munro” that solidified his distinctive aesthetic as an artist. While Feiffer’s voice grounds the book, the sheer scope of his artistic accomplishment, from his cartoons turning up in the New Yorker, Playboy, and the Nation to his plays and film scripts, is remarkable and keeps the narrative bouncing along at a speedy clip. A compelling combination of a natural sense of humor and a ruthless dedication to authenticity, Backing into Forward is full of wit and verve, often moving but never sentimental.
“Jules Feiffer’s original and neurotic voice. . . . 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, mellowed and laced with wisdom. He’s an inspiration.”—Art Spiegelman
See some drawings by Jules Feiffer.
456 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2012
“Backing into Forward is . . . .youthful, full of insouciance, vanity and playfulness. While other accomplished men bronze their success or dip it in amber, Feiffer treats his own as one big wonderful caper.”
David Carr | The New York Times Book Review
“Writing with wit, angst, honesty, and self-insights, Feiffer shares a vast and complex interior emotional landscape.”
“Jules Feiffer’s original and neurotic voice. . . . 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, mellowed and laced with wisdom. He’s an inspiration.”
Table of Contents
The Bar Mitzvah Hostage
A Jewish Mother Joke
“Jules, What Are You Doing Here?”
I Ain’t A-Gonna Be Treated This A-Way
The Secret of My Success; Or, Over the Cliff
Part Two: Famous
A Dance to Spring
Odets is Back!
Lucking into the Zeitgeist
The Mating Dance
Heckle and Jeckle Meet Mike and Elaine
Playboy at the Second City
Alex and Al
The Warrior Liberal
Hall of Fame
Part Three: Another Country
The Assassination of Cary Grant
Harry, The Rat
What I Did on My Summer Vacation
The Comeback Kid
Pro Bono Playwright
The Jewish Mother Cabal
No Sense of Direction; Or, How to Get from Carnal Knowledge to Bark, George
The Professor of I Don’t Know Where I’m Going with This but Let’s Find Out
Bedtime for Memoir
And in Conclusion
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