Back in the day when sensitive singer/songwriters ruled the earth


 Yesterday I spotted this Jackson Browne flier on Telegraph Avenue.  And it reminded me of the time I got kicked out of this Berkeley newspaper for making fun of Jackson Browne.

Back in the olden days, my “Twisted Image” comic strip appeared in the campus newspaper, the Daily Cal, off-and-on from 1986 to 1994.  Every semester the Daily Cal had a big election where the staff voted on which comic strips they wanted to run.  And I surely set the record for the most times voted in and then later voted out.  At least 10 times.  I’m in.  Then I’m out.   It was like every 3 months the staff realized: “Ya know, that Ace Backwords guy is kind of an asshole.”  And then 3 months later they realized:  “Ya know, we kind of miss that weird, funky comic strip.”

So anyways, I remember this one election.  I was always nervous about those things.  So I brought along my friend B.N. Duncan with me for moral support.  Just as we were walking into the jam-packed newsroom, Duncan cut the loudest, smelliest fart you ever heard.  Which was JUST like Duncan.  Who was a great guy and an artistic genius, but had zero social decorum.

So about 20 heads turned en masse and looked at us as we entered the room.  And not a particularly WELCOMING look.  So it was sort of a bad omen for what was to come.

Anyways, the entire staff was debating and arguing about the merits of the cartoonists and columnists that were vying for a place in the newspaper that semester.  And this one guy stands up and angrily confronts me.  He’s an earnest, young blonde guy; sort of a hippie-ish looking college student type, about 20 years old.

“I was DEEPLY offended by that comic strip you did about Jackson Browne,” he said, wagging his finger at me.

I had done this comic strip parody about Jackson Browne —  a sensitive singer/songwriter who was so sensitive he was constantly sobbing and weeping for the plight of the world.  And in one panel he was plugging his latest hit album, “Portrait of a Wimp,” and the album cover had a photo of Jackson Browne’s sensitive face with tears streaming down it . . . Not particularly one of my better comics.  But when you’re cranking out a strip every day you can’t be too picky.

“Your comic strip isn’t CONSTRUCTIVE!!” he huffed.

“Well, I never thought the role of a comic strip was to be particularly constructive,” I said in my defense.

Which was the best I could muster at the time.  Because I’m terrible at speaking in front of large groups of people.  I always think of the things I SHOULD have said an hour later, when it’s too late.  (Like I could have mentioned that this professor at UCLA  had written me, asking permission to use some of my cartoons as part of her curriculum.  That’s pretty constructive.  Or maybe she thought Jackson Browne was a little wimpy, too.)

But the blonde guy went on and on with his righteous harangue against me.  It was obvious I was a public menace and the Daily Cal — that major metropolitan newspaper — had a moral obligation to banish me and my unconstructive cartoons from the public prints forevermore . . . Or, at least until they voted me back in 3 months later.

But yeah, I got trounced in that election.  Which was a blow to my ego.  But I learned a valuable lesson.  Hell hath no fury like a sensitive Jackson Browne fan scorned.