home > archive > 2004 > this article
Interview with Chris Muir
By Bernard Chapin
Chris Muir is a cartoonist who produces, in his spare time outside of work, a daily comic strip called, "Day by Day." It immediately caught my attention because of its reflexive politically incorrectness. I began following his work on a daily basis after it was reproduced on a website of which I am intimately familiar.
In this interview, he shares some insight about his characters and the way in which he selected them, which readers should appreciate. He has a large following even though he is not carried on any major media sources at present. Mr. Muir has successfully produced his own form of Samizdat with "Day by Day" as his audience can find his cartoon via links on the blogs and websites they visit. Mr. Muir has generously provided webmasters with links to his strips for free, which is something quite rare in our age.
BC: Chris, the way in which I am familiar with your work is through seeing your panels everyday at the bottom of mensnewsdaily.com. How successful have you been in getting more mainstream sources to carry "Day by Day?" I know that many blogs and websites reproduce it, but, overall, have you witnessed a rise in interest in your work as of late?
CM: Sorry, I can't comment on mainstream sources at this time. "Day by Day" has gone from roughly 3000 hits per day to 7000 hits per day in about two years time. That means it gets up to three million individual visits and eight million page views every year. It's almost 200,000 readers per month means that it is roughly similar to a city newspaper in its circulation. This is just calculating from the "Day by Day" site itself and not including the 1000 plus sites it appears on.
So, it's probable that more than my Mom & Dad and my friends are reading it.
BC: I read an article the other day in National Review by Henry Payne where he argued that conservative cartoonists like himself don't even bother applying for Pulitzer Prizes because the review committees are so biased to the left. Has a liberal journalistic bias been evident to you through your experiences? Has your failure to respect establishment sacred cows like affirmative action and reparations resulted in many editors slamming the door in your face?
CM: If Henry & I did a cartoon based on 'Gay Whales for Peace', maybe I‘d win a Pulitzer......that prize is a joke, but it probably would be awarded for ‘Gay Whales for Peace.'
The media are overwhelmingly Liberal but the country is not. It's an interesting dynamic. I understand syndicates are addressing their market (liberal editors) but the real problem is that the end users, the readers, are NOT liberal or, particularly, conservative. They wish to be entertained, sans PC filtered dreck, when they get up in the morning and read their paper. They'd like to read something that addresses them, people they know, issues they identify with, day to day.
It's rather like where one sees TV sitcoms now, where the 'average' family is portrayed as having a home the size of the Goodyear Blimp hangar-it's so out of touch with average Americans, but rich Hollywood types can't break out of their bubble and see that.
BC: Obviously, there's no getting around the politics with somebody like Ted Rall, but do you think that many readers are not consciously aware of the ideological viewpoints of the cartoonists that they read? I ask you this because I am amazed at how accepting I was of "Doonesbury" when I was younger.
CM: Ted Rall and politics? Please. Rall's a complete hack, an appetite for conflict masking an absolute lack of ability, in contrast, he makes Goebbels seem elegant. Here's a little secret: readers are not stupid. And, they dislike it when creators deem them as such.
Doonesbury (Trudeau) on the other hand, is a true political commentator. Trudeau was able to get under the skin of the zeitgeist of the country, see what was up, and zero in on the issues of the day. The man was HOT then. Ultimately, a la Capp, time and the country passed him by. Should he ever decide to look inside himself again, he could really cook.
BC: Was your choice in having two women and two men as your main characters in "Day by Day" a deliberate device for you to address gender issues along with the battle of the sexes? Also, having characters in both their twenties and in their forties gives you a unique opportunity to explore intergenerational relationships. Was this also intentional on your part?
CM: Definitely a deliberate device, both generational and gender. You may note that Jan is extremely political and focused. Damon is the same, and a high IQ type. These characteristics steer them clear of typical generational issues-issues which, as a 45 year old man, I can never really do justice to; I can never be thought 'cool' by their generation. But, perhaps, I can relate to them as Americans, as people, as fellow citizens. Also note that Damon is an orphan, raised without close relatives. I am white. Damon is black. But we are both Americans.
BC: One of your earliest cartoons has the character of Zed say to Sam, as a means in which to extricate himself from a potential sexual harassment situation, that she's wearing a "nice dress for a primate." Isn't it a wonder that the forces of political correctness have won the culture war given the ease with which they can be ridiculed?
CM: I have always wanted to comment on politics, philosophy, sex, civics...PC is a Godsend as a ludicrous sounding-board to bounce such commentary on.
BC: Speaking of political correctness, Damon, to me, is the star of your comic. He has the best punch lines and he's a wonderful foil for the non-reflective liberalism which surrounds him, but have you received criticism for making a black conservative the star of your series? What types of venomous responses have been thrown your way?
CM: There has been, in total, over 2000 comments concerning "Day by Day", and only one negative comment on Damon. I am frequently asked if I am African-American (not to mention if I am a Christian). There is so much more that unites Americans than divides us.
BC: As much as I enjoy his presence, it is unfortunate that characters like Damon are all too rare in real life. The Democratic Party continues to own the black vote, and there doesn't seem to be much that can be done about it. Why do you think that the Democrats, the party of Jim Crow and segregation, have been so successful in convincing African-Americans that they represent their interests? I frequently appeal to the blacks I know on an issue by issue basis and find that my conservative arguments are well-received. Yet they will have nothing to do with the Republican Party. Why might this be the case?
CM: Well, sensible individuals are out there like Darmon Thornton, MH King, Bill Cosby, and Harold Ford (yes,a Democrat!). Also, the Black Republicans are here and include Hobbs, Condaleeza Rice, Powell, Clarence Thomas and Donny (a neighbor of mine). Actually, millions of Americans-who happen to be black-are already making up their own minds as to who represent them best-as Americans. Middle class Americans who need tax breaks, school vouchers, less government intrusion in their lives. With Old Media, Democrats sold their message of a Bad Guy-'Rich Republicans'-who kept blacks down. It was always Us vs. Them but that time is past.
BC: In a previous interview, you said something that I liked very much: "Conservative isn't even ‘conservative' anymore. It's a label for normal." Does this give you hope for the future of the United States? The constituency of normals seems to be broadening at present. Nowadays, every liberal who laughs during "South Park" or enjoys looking at pictures of naked women has the potential for being another possible defector to the right.
CM: The ol' U. S. of A. will be just fine. When humor starts targeting you, you know you're outta the mainstream (PC).
Naked women, it's a good thing in my mind (Martha Stewart probably would not agree-or maybe she would?).
BC: What issues do you find yourself most passionate about? Are there certain topics that raise your blood pressure more than others?
CM: The Second Amendment for one as government should only recognize the rights of the people. As for Affirmative Action, it's racism, pure & simple. Media Monopolism is another. It's time for our revolution from the 'elites'. Feminism is something that used to be valid, but has now twisted into Misogyny. I believe that the Democratic Party has become a front for Big Business, Foreign influence, elite families like the Kennedys, Hollywood hoi-polloi, and the rich & connected (Marc Rich, McAuliffe, Soros,etc.etc.), and most of all, against people who say one thing, and do another, and I'm afraid at this moment of time in our history, The Democratic Party is the number one example of this.
Russia had its' Revolution-now it's our turn.
BC: You've said previously that the fact that you were born at the tail-end of the baby boomer generation was part of your motivation for creating the strip; so you can showcase that not all boomers are filled with "dried up old hippie platitudes." For what reasons do you think your generation became so radicalized? Also, do you think that we can ever reverse, or mitigate, the damage that the sixties have done to our society?
CM: My generation had it easy compared to the previous one. Perhaps they were spoiled? Perhaps they were radical because no great mission awaited them, the whim of the useless? And yet, they did great things-music, art, literature, protesting a war that was not being fought to be won by the government...
Societies have cycles, I don't see any great social damage here - though as to the Nation's security, the Clinton administration sold missile technology, ignored Bin Laden four times, and stripped any vestige of ethics and law from public expectation.
With the internet and new Media, people can see and compare…this bodes well for the people, and poorly for the parties (especially the Democratic Party at this point in time, with their message of class war, victim status for all, moral equivalency, etc.).
BC: Thank you for your time, Mr. Muir.
Bernard Chapin is a writer living in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
? 1996 - 2005, Enter Stage Right and/or its creators. All rights reserved.