It must be a Coincident…

David Cohen's cartoons ran in Xpress' first issue (Aug. 10, 1994). This one's from 1995.
David Cohen's cartoons ran in Xpress' first issue (Aug. 10, 1994). This one's from 1995.

When the Green Line, Asheville’s monthly environmental newspaper, decided to go weekly, all of us who worked on it got together to talk about what that would entail. How would production be affected? Would there be enough to fill a weekly? And what toll would a new ramped-up schedule take on all of us?

I was already doing cartoons for the paper. I had come over from Out ‘N’ About, which was a biweekly put out by Alphie and Tracy Hyorth. I pushed for a cartoon section, and volunteered to be the editor of said section. I put out a call for local cartoons; I already had been inundated with pitches from syndicates.

I remember there wasn’t a lot going on locally — I can’t remember if Randy Molton submitted anything, and I don’t think Brent Brown was on the scene as of yet. A few things dribbled in, but weren’t really up to snuff. Not just my opinion, but a consensus of staffers.

I did go with Derf’s “The City,” and a strip about a natural foods restaurant that was pretty funny and topical to Asheville.

As for myself, I got the opportunity to do a weekly cartoon and an occasional cover.

I was with the Xpress for 10 years before I went over to the Citizen-Times.

I can relate one story that was a highlight for me in Xpress’ early days: I did a cartoon about hail-sized golf balls — a take on the typical “golf-ball-sized” hail line from weather reports. I was coming out of the the Battery Park exit of the Haywood Park Hotel one day and, lo and behold, it was hailing. As I was waiting under the canopy for it to slacken off, so was a business-suited gentleman. I looked a little closer and saw he was holding an Xpress, open to the page with my cartoon on it, and was chuckling. I didn’t say anything, but thought to myself that it wasn’t going to get any better than this!

David Cohen is currently the editorial cartoonist for the Asheville Citizen-Times. While not a native, he has lived in Asheville for the last 40 years, and has reveled in the fact that there is no dearth of subject matter here.

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About Margaret Williams
Managing Editor Margaret Williams has been at Xpress since 1994. An Alabama native, she has lived in Western North Carolina since 1987.

7 thoughts on “It must be a Coincident…

  1. Randy Molton

    I remember hearing a Mountain Xpress ad on (defunct) rock station – WZLS as I was driving down the highway. That was in mid-1994. I didn’t know about a call for cartoonists, but I did contact the Art Director, and he assigned a cover for me to draw. It was an environmental cartoon of a guy with his head in the sand. That was sometime around the end of 1994. Some time had gone by, and Jeff called me to see if I would entertain the idea of submitting some samples. I sent a few in early 1995, and after a short time, my debut cartoon for Xpress was published on May 10, 1995. It was a multi-panel cartoon on Strom Thurmond.

    • Margaret Williams

      Thank you for that memory, Randy. I enjoyed that sense of anticipation each week, wondering which City Council member would be in your cartooned crosshairs.

  2. Jeff Fobes

    Thanks, Randy, for those details about how you got started at Xpress. I’d forgotten how it happened. We have a couple of the radio spots that the multi-talented Tom Cassidy made to promote the start-up. We’ll post it online sometime soon!

  3. Living in Hendersonville, I did not see Green Line or Mountain Xpress a lot in that area, in those days. When I did get hold of one, however, I would always notice the cartoons first thing, and I still recall enjoying those “Cohencidents” and being surprised we even HAD local cartoonists working here!

    • Jeff Fobes

      Brent: just think how history might have changed if you’d started cartooning for the Xpress back then! There’s no telling…

  4. Looking back now, it’s hard to recall why I never did. I suppose in 1994 I had set my sights on continuing with submissions for national exposure (after unexpectedly selling work to MAD magazine in 1993, and getting calls for more submissions from them after that). So I guess I did not consider any local opportunities at the time. Then, all of the national syndicates rejected the comic strip I submitted to them; MAD turned down a couple of other ideas I sent in (the last few I could come up with), and I also began a 10 year steady working relationship with a local ad agency, doing all their graphics. So I suppose the cartooning bug got squashed for about 13 more years. It was only after the graphic design jobs died down and I realized how little I enjoyed doing brochures about industrial freezers and catalogs about industrial casters, that I remembered that what I really enjoyed doing was illustration and cartooning.

  5. Randy Molton

    One thing I’ve found : I’ve always had something to “draw” on, locally. I moved back to Hendersonville in 1986 after being hired by the Times-News. My first cartoon appeared there in September 1986. After a few national cartoons, which didn’t get any response, I drew a local one on the mayor shutting down Main Street because of cruisers. I don’t think that the people in this little town were used to it, judging by the reactions. There were several others, including several cartoons I drew on Jim Bakker who lived here at the time. That was a great time for a local cartoonist because of the Jim and Tammy Faye PTL mess.

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