Here is your opportunity to own a collector’s item, the out-of-print and very limited Knee Deep In Mississippi.
The book was published by Pelican Publishing in 1997. It’s 160 pages with a forward by esteemed Mississippi columnist, Sid Salter. There are blurbs on the back from then-Mississippi Attorney General Mike Moore, the late columnist Bill Minor, then-Mississippi Congressman Mike Parker, and the late Clarion-Ledger columnist Orley Hood.
Currently, I only have 42 copies. I may be able to get my hands on a few more after these have sold out, but that’s not guaranteed.
It’s nearly impossible to find the book, and I’ve found copies from $40.00, to $80.00, to $160.00, to $208.00, to $707.00. I am selling signed copies for $20.00. You can pay through PayPal (just tell me what it’s for, and not merely a generous donation) or by mailing a check or a wad of cash. It’s up to you. I’ll pay the shipping with tracking (the first shipment of books were lost, so we need tracking).
Fans/readers will find the book interesting as you can see my style change, and it’s from a time when I was a bit more conservative than I am today, though Republicans get hit pretty hard in the book too. A lot of the subjects are local and the book is twenty years out of date. Thus, it is a collectors item.
The characters covered include Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and then Republican governor Kirk Fordice (who was a lot of fun and a bit like Trump before Trump).
This book has a story. Get a cup of coffee. It’s a little lengthy.
In 1995, I was working for the Daily Leader in Brookhaven, Mississippi. I was employed as a photographer, but I was also self-syndicating cartoons to other newspapers in the state. My syndication was a few years old at that point and it was doing well. The Daily Leader (because I honestly wasn’t doing a great job as their photographer) asked me to cut back on my cartoons or to stop completely. So, I only lasted eight months in Brookhaven.
Before I was fired, I contacted Pelican Publishing out of Gretna, Louisiana about publishing a book. They were well known for books of political cartoons, having published several by other cartoonists as well as the yearly Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year (which I had been in several times at that point). I didn’t hear back from Pelican.
I was married at the time. I was led to believe there was a job for me in Biloxi, so I, my wife, and our son moved to the gulf coast. The job didn’t materialize. After six months, and deep in debt, we moved to Jackson where her parents lived, took over their apartment (they moved out), and my wife worked as a paralegal and I focused on self-syndication. In late 1996, I heard from Pelican.
Their letter had followed me from Brookhaven to Biloxi, to Jackson. They wanted to do the book. I picked a bunch of cartoons, designed a really crappy cover, and we went with a name everyone liked except me. We put a lot of work into it. Their promotions people were all over me and in constant contact about publicity and doing signings. So, it was a bit bizarre that I only did three.
Why only three? Because Hawaii called.
My cartoons were carried in over 40 newspapers in Mississippi. We had signings scheduled in 30 of those cities and more were being booked when I had to cancel them all. I was going to work for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. The book would be published a month after I left Mississippi. But, I arranged to do three signings at the most important locations in the state, and the most prestigious bookstores. This also meant I had to go back to Mississippi for a week after starting work in Honolulu. It may have been the crappiest book tour ever. Pelican was very gracious about it.
I flew back to Mississippi and did a signing at Square Books in Oxford. It’s a historic location where every famous author makes sure to hit. John Grisham would usually only do a few signings and Square Books was always one of them. It was only 20 miles from where my career started so we actually had a good turn out. We started the thing with a few questions from the crowd and then I signed. It only lasted about thirty minutes. And, they said that was a very successful signing.
Then, we did a signing in Jackson at Lemuria, another great location (it was also on Grisham’s list. This was important in Mississippi). We had a really good turn out. Like in Oxford, a lot of people who knew me and couldn’t be there had pre-ordered, so I had to sign a few for those before I got to those in attendance. My in-laws were actually at this signing and a lot of my wife’s friends came too. It made me look like a pretty big deal. The next signing restored humility.
Even though the Sun Herald in Biloxi had been a longtime client of mine, nobody showed up to the signing. Not. One. Person. My wife and I sat in this bookstore for two hours. We thought about sneaking out and wondered if they’d notice. It may have been a combination of nobody really knowing me in Biloxi and that the bookstore hadn’t advertised. It should be noted that the store didn’t have one customer the entire time we were there. It totally sucked. But, we had a great night in Biloxi afterward by having dinner with some friends from the Mississippi Business Journal and visiting the Mississippi Press Association’s convention (which we crashed). Then, the signings were over as well as the sales.
I never made a penny off the book. I never got a check. The IRS did tax me for $200.00 (including penalties) in the early 2000s for sales, which I was unaware of. Apparently, Pelican never paid me. I asked but got nothing.
I was only in Hawaii for a year, and in 1998, I landed in my present location of Fredericksburg, Virginia. Pelican suggested we do a signing here, but I refused. I had just started at The Free Lance-Star, I had not established myself, and I didn’t want a repeat of the Biloxi fiasco.
Over the years I’d hear about the book here and there. Someone sent me a copy with $60.00 from Germany once asking me to sign it and return it. Occasionally, I’d bump into someone else who had a copy they wanted signed. I had very few copies as Pelican only gave me ten and most had been given away. Before the recent shipment, I had one left.
In 2013, a year after I had lost my job, Pelican wrote to tell me they were about to destroy every copy they had left and if I wanted I could purchase the remaining few. I was strapped at the time and couldn’t take advantage of it. It bugged me.
But, a couple months ago, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to check in with Pelican and those copies. Did they really burn them? I wrote to them and I got a reply that was kinda scolding me. They informed me that was several years ago and I had my opportunity, but they were all gone. I sent a nice reply and thanked them anyway. Then, they wrote back with “OK, we found a few. How many do you want?” I asked how many they had. They ignored that question and told me how many came to a case. So, I ordered a case.
After two months, they resent it because the United States Post Office lost it (which is why your copy will be tracked). Last week, by UPS, they finally arrived. Now, you can get your very own copy of an extremely outdated book. You get to see how much my style has changed in art and writing (I was weird back then too so the sense of humor is the same), and own a signed collector’s edition.
Now, it’s time to work on the next book. Are you ready for it?