Pat Bagley makes a book about Clueless George
Pat Bagley is known for his political cartoons, not for his children’s books. But that might be changing.
On Oct. 1, Bagley published his newest book, "Clueless George Goes to War" But as the title might suggest, the work isn’t a normal children’s book.
As the book’s press materials note, "’Clueless George Goes to War’ is a children’s book not meant for children."
This Tuesday, Nov. 15, Bagley will come to the Spotted Frog Bookstore to promote the new book, and the following week, on Nov. 26, he’ll make a similar trip to Dolly’s Bookstore.
Bagley’s book follows George, a monkey and the President, who, at the urging of The Man, his overseer, launches a war against Saddam Hussein.
"It’s a parody of the ‘Curious George’ books," said Bagley. "The arc of my book follows the arc of those stories."
George is, of course, George W. Bush, and The Man bears a strong resemblance to Dick Cheney. The story offers a sharp satire of George W. Bush’s war with Iraq, commenting on the push toward invasion, the President’s actions and the conflict’s aftermath.
"It kind of also helps that George Bush looks kind of simian," said Bagley.
He said the idea for the book came from a cartoon he put in the paper just before the war began.
"On the run-up to the Gulf War, the day before war was declared, I did a cartoon, ‘Curious George Goes to War,’" said Bagley.
The cartoon, he said, showed a little George Bush monkey opening a Pandora’s Box.
"That idea kind of stuck with me," said Bagley.
He said the hardest part of the project was illustrating the narrative like a children’s book, without making the pictures too complex. "It’s really deceptively hard to make something look simple," said Bagley.
The book, for sure, is no graphic novel. With only one or two illustrations per page and a highly distilled narrative, the work retains the feel of a children’s book throughout. But the material still illustrates certain nuances and a political punch.
"It’s planned simplicity," he noted.
Bagley said he wrote the book to provide a voice of dissent in Utah, which voted overwhelmingly for Bush.
"I just try to provide some balance," he said.
But he also said he viewed the book as more than just a simple counterweight against the state’s overwhelming conservatism.
"Hopefully it’s going to have an impact," he said. "Hopefully it will be one more pebble in the wall against him."
"If this does well, I’d certainly like to do the "Clueless George" series," said Bagley.
Possible future titles might include "Clueless George Does a Disaster" or "Curious George Hires a Crony," he speculated.
The event at the Spotted Frog will feature a wine tasting, followed by a book reading and discussion. Bagley said that almost everyone should be able to, at least, "get a chuckle," out of the book, even if they voted for Bush.
But at the same time, he made his feelings about the President clear. He said that the younger Bush is among the best political cartoon targets in recent history.
"I used to think that I missed out not being around for the Nixon presidency," said Bagley, "but George W. Bush is just as good."
Between his policies and the way he has run the country and its foreign policy, Bagley noted that he’s no fan of the President’s.
"I think Bush is the biggest embarrassment in America since herpes," he said.
So with that taken into account, "Clueless George Goes to War," should make a little more sense.
Pat Bagley will appear at the Spotted Frog Bookstore at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 15. For more information about that event, call 575-2665. Bagley will also appear at Dolly’s Books on Saturday, Nov. 26 from noon to 2 p.m. For more information about that event, call 649-8062.
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