So now it’s the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Folded. Not completely. There will be a much-reduced online version. But the old P-I is gone from print. Only the name remains. What I said when the Rocky Mountain News folded goes double for the P-I, which helped me survive as a freelance many years ago by buying stories I pitched them.
Jules Feiffer, wearing a turtleneck and jeans, sits beneath a large fig tree in his West Side living room. “It came with leaves so I bought it,” he cracks.
Tall and angular, he has glasses on his nose, a monk-like fringe of hair, an expensive cigar in his hand and a fluffy, pedigreed dog named Pasha at his feet.
At 50, Feiffer is possibly America’s most versatile and unconventional pundit. He has 10 collections of cartoons behind him, beginning with “Sick, Sick, Sick.” He’s also a playwright (“Little Murders,” among others), a novelist (“Harry the Rat With Women”) and a screenwriter (“Carnal Knowledge”).
“Before I wrote plays,” he says, “people would say, ‘This isn’t really a cartoon; this is literature.’ As soon as I had a play open, they’d say, ‘This isn’t really a play; this is a cartoon.'”
The P-I’s crosstown rival, The Seattle Times, was full of itself in those days — apparently, it still is — too haughty to bother with an independent freelance and, I was told, so larded with syndicate subscriptions in any case that it was constrained from buying direct. It never took anything of mine, except once, when I did a five-part series for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate about Gay Talese and his sexual explorations. That it bought. Got it real cheap, too, because of its subscription to the LAT service. I think my payment came to 35 bucks.
The P-I didn’t pay much, but it was always more than 35 bucks — usually 75. Such extravagance. Wow. No wonder it folded.