Joe Glisson, for 25 years the Syracuse New Times‘ political cartoonist, is celebrating his silver anniversary at the paper with the release of his second book, Seems Like Old Times. Glisson’s first book, Dome Sweet Dome: A Syracuse and National Sports Retrospective, was published in 1996.
Like all political cartoonists, Glisson provides commentary on the news. But he never expected that one of his panels would make news. The comic in question, published in these pages on May 31, 1989, and with the heading “This Actually Happened,” shows the front page of the now-defunct Syracuse Herald-Journal with news about shootings and pistol-whippings and the back page with an ad from Dick’s Sporting Goods touting a sale on firearms. Publisher Stephen Rogers was reportedly not happy.
“That was my 15 seconds of fame,” Glisson says with a grin. “I wasn’t trying to slap the Herald, I just thought it was ironic. But it got a lot of attention, and was played up in news reports across the country.”
And Glisson, who was drawing a baseball card-like illustration for The Post-Standard‘s sports section, which involved tracking down the subject, taking a photograph and then drawing the illustration, got his ass in a sling, courtesy of Rogers. “The idea that I got fired for that! But it worked out fine. I couldn’t maintain the schedule anyways.”
And so the Syracuse newspaper’s loss is The New Times‘ gain. After 25 years, Glisson’s work continues to be a draw for readers of this paper, even if his politics sometimes clash with the content that follows Page 2. “I tend to go conservative,” he admits. “Although I’m not a conservative necessarily, I do tend to have more conservative views. The New Times is known for its non-conservative views. Usually a reader that’s giving me a hard time is expecting that this newspaper wouldn’t carry any conservative views. Some of the people that read this paper, I would never expect them to be readers; I am amazed by that.”
You can see the offending panel, along with 146 others in Glisson’s newest book, Seems Like Old Times. It debuts Friday, Oct. 10, at Delavan Art Gallery, 501 W. Fayette St., alongside an exhibit of some matted and framed Glisson originals. Both the book and the artwork will be for sale; the book’s price is $9.95.
“The book was my idea,” Glisson says. “I had done the first book a number of years ago, and I thought that I would like to have a companion to it. And this is the 25th year that I’ve been doing this, so I thought it was an appropriate time to do a retrospective. I don’t know if anybody else feels that way, but I wanted to do it.”
Delavan Art Gallery, 501 W. Fayette St. in Syracuse, will be showing Glisson’s works from Friday, Oct. 10, to Nov. 1. He will be at the gallery on Saturday, Oct. 18, to sign books from noon to 3 p.m. Books will be available for purchase at the gallery at all times. Gallery hours are Thursdays and Fridays, noon to 6 p.m., and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call 425-7500. You can purchase copies of the book at the Colgate University Bookstore in Hamilton, Borders Books & Music in Carousel Center, and the offices of The New Times, 1415 W. Genesee St., Syracuse.