Doug Marlette and Walker Percy

An excerpt from the Garden & Gun article by Doug Marlette (who tragically died in a car accident shortly after the article appeared):

My communication with the good doctor after that was infrequent but always lively. Every once in a while I’d find a simple handwritten postcard in my mailbox, scrawled like a prescription in his unmistakable, barely legible physician’s script. They required study. Once he complimented me on a cartoon collection I sent but complained my drawings were too tough on Jimmy Carter. I teased him that he sounded like Binx Bolling writing letters to the editor. That following spring after th Nieman year my comic strip Kudzu was launched and I sent him the syndicate brochure announcing its debut. He told Will Campbell, “I had no idea he was so funny. I couldn’t tell from our conversation,” reminding me of the intensely serious young man who confronted him that summer day in the mountains. A few years later I sent him another brochure that featured prominently a two-panel editorial cartoon, the first frame showing Jerry Falwell holding a sign that read “Stop Planned Parenthood” saying “We just want to return to the old-fashioned way.” The second panel showed a coat hanger with the caption: “The old-fashioned way.” Percy thanked me for the brochure, but suggested another idea I might draw, which he sketched out at the bottom of his card. It showed a pile of corpses at Auschwitz, labeled “Germany, 1945.” Next to it was a pile of fetuses outside an abortion clinic in Los Angeles, labeled “America, 1985.” The caption read simply “Progress?”

Percy’s fierce Catholic opposition to abortion was always troubling for namby-pamby liberals like me. He connected the issue to the Nazi devaluation of human life, the modern willingness to exterminate anyone we find inconvenient — Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, troublesome Negroes, retarded children, the elderly, the unborn — which frankly I found hard to refute. I haven’t drawn a pro-abortion cartoon since.


  1. Matthew Lickona says

    Now *there’s* something worth scanning in and sending ’round the Internets (the Percy-sketched cartoon, I mean). Still need to pick up my copy of Garden & Gun.

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