We complete our series of interviews with the triumvirate behind the porcelain throne by questioning co-co-creator David Clark, the genius who gives the characters form.
Q: So, David, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, one of the seminal arts institutions of the United States, a great architectural treasure by Frank Furness, did your training there prepare you for working with Weingarten?
A: I think so, most of my teachers were '60s hippie/Trotskyites.
Q: You are sandwiched between Richard Thompson and Bob Staake in the Reuben award list. Are you ham or cheese? (Yes, bad pun on Reuben, I know. No ham there.)
A: Between those two? I'll say cheesy.
ME: The Reuben Award, not the sandwich, presented by the National Cartoonists Society, is named after Rube Goldberg, Founding Father of the NCS and inventor of hundreds of intricate and complicated devices that perform simple tasks. (All you whippernappers, think Wallace of Wallace and Gromit.) It is the Oscar of the cartooning industry.
Q: As an illustrator, you must have a continuous slideshow playing before your mind's eye in reaction to things you read and hear. Are you the kind of guy who goes to see Lord of the Rings and thinks, "No, no, Peter Jackson is an idiot. The Nazgûl don't look like THAT?"
A: Actually, the Hobbits were more disappointing.
Q: How much of a description did you have of the characters in Barney & Clyde when you sat down to draw them?
A: Gene & Dan gave me some very good character studies. I sent sketches, and we went back and forth. Gene spent an inordinate amount of time considering the female characters... (insert a throat growl ala Roy Orbison)
Q: Barney seems to bear a resemblance to C. Montgomery Burns. Is that intentional?
A: I'm thinking more like Elmer Fudd...but, I'm not responsible for my subconscious! Besides, don't you know all wealthy industrialist look alike?
Q: Weingarten is known as the King of the Underpants Jokes. Was your skill at drawing underwear key to you being chosen to illustrate the strip? Can we look forward to lots of underpants humor? And, since Amy Lago has imposed a no-nudity rule: Barney, boxers or briefs?
A: Long live the King! I don't think Gene or Dan have ever seen my underwear...art... and I'm pretty sure Amy's "no-nudity" rule only applies to Gene. Lucretia probably buys Barney's undies, soooo.......(cue Roy Orbison)...more to come, I'm sure.
Q: Which of the characters is your favorite to draw?
A: Clyde and Dabney have a lot of slapstick potential which makes them fun to draw. Can't wait for the "When I nod my head, hit it." routine.
Q: Weingarten has described you as putty in his hands. (Actually, he said "malleable" and "nitrogylcerin," so he could have been talking about Semtex). How do you let him know that a particular joke or idea isn't going to work visually?
A: Semtex, eh? That could be very persuasive... Gene and Dan write very visually and have a real grasp of comic art (Dan especially). I lean on them a lot...so far so good!
Q: Has your collaboration reached the point where you feel secure enough to secretly draw caricatures of Gene with daggers stuck into him?
A: You've been peeking! Dan's a little tougher, but I show no mercy!
Q: As a freelancer, what kind of adjustment have you had to make to accept this regular gig?
A: No huge adjustments, just a little less free time for now. A regular gig sounds good.
Q: Are you and Dan plotting to take over the strip?
A: Have you heard something...? Dan, call me!
Q: What religious groups have you decided to mortally offend -- other than the Quietists and the Society of Friends?
A: I'm afraid Gene & Dan won't be satisfied until the Shakers declare a Fatwa on us.
Q: Do you think the Flyers can take the Habs in the conference playoff and advance to the Stanley Cup finals? (As a native Philadelphian, I am obligated to ask.)
A: A dated question, love the goon squad. But I grew up with the Blackhawks. Cooler uniform!
ME: Blackhawks took Game One, 6-5.