I lost a great friend this week. He was a friend I had never met in person and who I had only know for a couple of years. But during that time, we became friends and even entered a business relationship.
Bob Andelman was only 59. From the St. Petersburg Catalyst Obituary:
Journalist and author Bob Andelman, a longtime presence in St. Petersburg media, died Monday after a short battle with a rare form of cancer. He was 59.
A former music and culture writer for the Tampa Bay Times (when it was called the St. Petersburg Times) and the now-defunct Tampa Tribune, Andelman also covered area music for Tampa Bay Weekly, Pulse and Players. His byline appeared in Newsweek and Business Week.
He was the author or co-author of 16 books spanning a range of topics including sports, business, entertainment and even self-help.
Andelman was known internationally for his Mr. Media interviews with writers, musicians, celebrities and others from the world of entertainment and popular culture. He began the Mr. Media website in 1995; the podcast – with more than 900 recorded interviews – launched in 2007.
It was in his role as Mr. Media that I met Bob. In early 2019, Bob contacted me, introduced himself, and asked if he could interview me for his podcast. I had heard of him but I wasn’t very familiar with what he did, but I was all in on the podcast. We had a great time and I have to say, probably because I’m not the first he’s interviewed, but I think he has a better grasp of what cartoonists do than other journalists who may interview them on occasion. Bob knew what questions to ask.
Later in the year, he asked if I wanted to do a book. It was something I had been thinking about for a really long time but over the past three years, those thoughts centered on a book solely about Donald Trump. It seemed like someone was asking me daily about doing a book. Even that day, I had lunch with a fellow cartoonist who asked. And a book about Trump is exactly what Bob asked about.
Bob had published a lot of books. He connected me with another cartoonist, a comedian, and some legal people so I could basically get their recommendations for working with Bob, not that I needed it. Bob also sent me about a dozen books he had published. Bob was very open. We didn’t struggle over a contract as I’ve been known to do in the past when it comes to control of my work (hey, I quit one of the nation’s big syndication companies and started my own for more control of my work). I trusted Bob.
Bob pretty much let me do what I wanted with the book, like how I planned out the chapters. He didn’t even give me a hard time over a chapter titled “Trump Fuckery.”
But there were things we both had to agree on. The first thing we went back and forth over was the title. Bob kept shooting down every title I produced. Eventually, he shot down a title I really wanted. So I made a huge plea and took a stand for the title. I went all-in on it and Bob finally relented. A week later, I wanted a different title. Throughout this, Bob kept his humor and patience. But it was for the best too as Bob wanted the title that fit our book the best. Not just any title would do.
As the book developed, Bob wanted me to remove the notes under each cartoon I had placed. I disagreed and bounced that off the team I put together to help me with the book. Everyone agreed with Bob. So Bob won that one and it meant I had to resize every single cartoon, which there were over 250 of. As we went through, Bob edited and I would edit Bob and he would edit me in return. None of that was contentious as it was all about crossing T’s and dotting I’s.
I remember during one editing session, I explained to Bob how some of the publications mentioned in my bio required “The” while others didn’t. Of course, Bob already knew that and he wrote the best biography I think that’s ever been written about me. And if I don’t accomplish anything else during my career, I’m going to use the bio Bob wrote for the rest of my life.
During the final weeks, and even the days after it was published, we were in constant contact. Bob probably received 100 PDF files of the entire book (I’m exaggerating, but yeah). Bob even shared some of the publishing costs he wasn’t required to do, like when we converted the book for ebooks.
What we produced was Tales from the Trumpster Fire. It’s my book but it wouldn’t have happened without Bob. Shortly after publication, we did another podcast.
There are plans to produce two more Trump books, a trilogy, a trifecta, a saga chronicling the Trump administration from the campaign until it finally explodes destroying the rest of the nation. That plan will go forward because Bob would have wanted it to.
Bob passed away last Monday and I didn’t find out until Friday when Keith Brown, a fellow cartoonist who had a book published by Mr. Media, asked me if I had heard from Bob lately. I have been super busy over the past few months and it occurred to me that I hadn’t heard from Bob in a while. Suddenly, I was afraid. Soon, I learned he had passed. I really hate that I didn’t talk to him one more time or hadn’t reached out more often.
I can’t tell you how heartbroken I am for Bob, his wife, and his son. I’m heartbroken for everyone who ever knew him. We all lost a great person. I’m also going to be selfish and feel a little sorry for myself because I lost my friend.
Bob was very generous to me. He found me on Instagram and fell in love with my work. Nobody has ever described my work better than Bob has (“the hair goes on and on to the north while the ever-present red tie flows ever-further south”). He was attracted to my humor which is probably why he wanted to do the podcast and book. He thought I was special. That meant a lot to me.
Bob had a few health problems before we tackled the book. When we did the podcasts, he was self-conscious of his appearance which I guess had changed from his health problems. I told him he was fine because he was. I knew he was still having issues as he’d explain and apologize for late replies because of his health. There were days he was really worn out. But I didn’t know he was dying.
I don’t know if Bob knew. He probably did and didn’t want the sympathy. That seems to fit him. Maybe doing the book was something he needed to do while he was sick. We were rushing to make a deadline for the holidays but maybe all along, we were racing to beat a deadline I wasn’t aware of. I’m glad we met it. He was very proud of the end product and called me the day his copies arrived to tell me how great he thought it came out. He sent his congratulations which I returned because it was his book, too.
I want everyone to know about Bob Andelman. I especially want cartoonists to know about Bob. He was a big advocate for what we do and if you’re a cartoonist he hadn’t done a podcast with yet, he probably would have eventually gotten to you.
Bob was a great writer, a publisher who helped other people realize their dreams, and an innovator with his podcasts. And he was my friend. He would be very amused that I wrote a long blog about him after he had me remove all my notes under each of the cartoons in the book. He would have done a great editing job on this. Somewhere, Bob is laughing at me.
Rest in peace, Bob, and thank you. Thank you for everything. I’m going to miss you very much.