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A reflection on John McPhee’s “Draft №4”
February 16, 2018

Before I left for Louisiana last Christmas, the Cartoon Editor of the New Yorker had recommended that if I were in New Orleans, I should make the trip out to Audubon Park and the nearby bookstore, Octavia Books. Sophie and I made a day of it, both snagging armfuls of weighty tomes and hobbling off to Audubon with a clandestine bottle of Chablis.

The first of my haul was John McPhee’s latest book on his vast experience as a writer, entitled Draft №4: On The Writing Process.

I was hooked from the very first word and was lamenting the inexorable conclusion awaiting me in the footnotes. I really couldn’t recommend this book highly enough. I often forget that writers aren’t just people who ‘can write’, but are people for whom writing is hard. They constantly strive for better than their last sentence.

But, to the title of this note;

A passage in the book struck me, not only due to its typical McPhee-isms — (details that were chosen very purposefully to illuminate the readers mind without saturating it. ie. leaving out the right bits.) — but because I’m the author and artist behind a legacy comic strip which has seen 5 separate artist/writers over 97 years.

The quote reads:

What a brilliant, concise way of summing up such a stark truth. In my case, perhaps, cartoonists are a dime a dozen. The kid is immortal.

Written by

🇦🇺 NYC Cartoonist/Writer for @NewYorker and stand-up comic. Syndicated daily in 34 countries. President of The National Cartoonists Society. #BlockedByTrump

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