Fans of Jules Feiffer's long-running comic strip may wonder whatever happened to those famously solitary figures since the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist moved from the city to the Hamptons. No, they haven't disappeared ranting down some city street, they've just moved to the West Coast, where they are no longer solitary and also murdering each other in the author's first graphic novel, "Kill My Mother" (Liveright, $27.95).
In a telephone interview from his Long Island home, Feiffer, 85, talked about the challenges of writing in a new genre, his friendship with Lauren Bacall and who he'd cast as his own hard-boiled private eye.
How do you like living in the country?
I've been living out here for five years, and moved from Southampton to East Hampton last October. It's beautiful when the season's over and you don't have to worry about traffic, and it's a great place to work. I've gotten more work done out here than I did on the Upper West Side of Manhattan for the previous 10 years.
Isn't "Kill My Mother" an unusual title for a book you hope to get under the holiday tree?
We'll find out, won't we? It was supposed to come out last Mother's Day. I worked very hard to get it done by then. In the middle of doing the book, I had two bouts of pneumonia, and that threw the schedule way off.
Did you ever meet Lauren Bacall?
I knew her. We weren't great friends, but we seemed to like each other — at least I liked her, but who knows what she really thought of me. When we found ourselves at a party on the Upper East Side, I would walk her home.
What were the challenges of going from the isolated figure to the graphic novel format?
The book is about 148 pages of art. And since I had never done this sort of work before, I have to tell you, all 148 pages, before I started, were terrifying to me. I was so consumed with my lack of qualification to do this. ... I had to stop work once in a while because it took such an emotional toll on me.
Who should play your private eye character on-screen?
Of the actors around today who I would love to see in the part, Robert Downey Jr. could do just about anything. I think Jeff Daniels would be a good choice. And as far as the three women, the over-6-foot-tall woman, I keep thinking if I could only get the script to Charlize Theron. The nice part about doing this stuff is if you make the movie, you can meet these people.