We are so proud of HO’s own Tim Jones and his co-author Jim Corbett and illustrator Steve Hartley for their funny, political coloring book I am So Sick of White Guys that has found its way onto the national stage with articles in USA Today’s Online edition and several right-wing media sites (They were not thrilled with it- HA HA!). Yes, I am So Sick of White Guys has caused quite the stir, but we at HO think if you have to talk politics, bring crayons to the table. Crayons make everyone feel better! The book is available on Amazon.com! Read about the two authors below.
You are a new writing team. How did you two meet?
Tim: Jim and I worked at the same company briefly back in 1997. Despite our brief time working together, we both found each other’s humor closely mirrored our own and we have kept in touch over the years. Jim is the funniest guy I know. Nobody can crack me up like he can. Jim has consulted with me about writing projects he has done, and I have bounced ideas off him for my weekly humor blog I write. We are both in our sixties, but we have the maturity of men one fourth our ages. Just ask our wives.
Jim: I feel very much the same way. Tim and I hit it off right away and we have always played off each other’s sense of humor. And that was exactly what we tried to do here, and it proved to be great fun and hopefully, provided some humor to readers as well, but that is a secondary concern.
How did you come up with the idea to write a book on the state of politics and why did you turn it into a coloring book? (talking process or lightning in a bottle moment?)
Tim: I would like to take credit for this idea, but that would require lying. The book idea was all Jim’s.
Jim: True confession time – I am a ‘born again liberal.’ And a political news junkie. I ‘door-belled’ for Hillary, even though I really wanted a different candidate. I was devastated by the election of Trump, so sad, so sad. So, sometime last spring I was watching yet another debacle of stupidity (Trump, Sessions, McConnell, Ryan, Bannon, etc.) and I was shouting at my TV, “I am so Sick of these White Guys!”
So, I immediately called Tim and told him that I wanted to write a book with him called, “I am so sick of White Guys,” and he responded with a laugh and a great idea for the front cover (a nerdy close-up of our two faces). We started discussing and outlining the idea.
Tim: Initially we were going to do a regular book, so we decided to write a draft chapter on one aspect of white male history in America. The more Jim got into writing his chapter, the angrier he got, until he realized that what was supposed to be a humor book was turning into a heated diatribe about white male privilege. So, right from the outset, we realized it might be more difficult than we had initially envisioned to keep this book light and funny.
Then Jim thought about it a little further. He did some research and learned that adult coloring books are a hot trend lately. So, he came back to me and suggested a political satire coloring book instead. And I was all for it because, in addition to sounding like a fun idea, it also sounded like a lot less work. And I am fundamentally lazy. Did I mention, neither of us can draw a stick figure, let alone creative illustrations for a coloring book?
The twist on coloring books that we came up with was this: While most adult coloring books are intended to calm you and help you relax, we went in the opposite direction. Our book is designed to elevate your blood pressure, not lower it.
How did you find your illustrator Steve Hartley? How did the collaboration process work?
Jim: Once the idea shifted from a standard book to a coloring book, I thought that the best way to do it would be to engage the services of a caricature artist, since, as Tim notes above, we can’t draw. I did a search for caricature artists in the Seattle area and when I saw Steve’s picture and read about his background, I thought it would be great to have an African-American artist on board. My intuition on that was correct. In addition to being an outstanding artist, Steve has added a great deal of insight and a number of very solid ideas to the project.
We met with Steve for lunch and I asked him to sign a non-compete form. After that I explained what the project was about. He immediately saw the ironic humor of two white guys doing this, and he wanted to be involved.
You had so much to choose from as far as satire and cartoons go. How did you decide what was in and what was left out?
Tim: You’re right, there was no shortage of material to pull from. Targeting Trump and some of the egregious words and actions he has committed were just the low hanging fruit. But we wanted to make this book’s focus broader than just bashing people like Trump, Steve Bannon, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell and their cronies. White guys have been abusing their privileged status for centuries – heck, for millennia. So, we wanted to add some examples from history. We also wanted to touch on how this has impacted women, minorities and people who historically have been discriminated against or whose voices have been muted.
The hard part was that we were trying to get this book launched in time for the holiday season, but every week there was a new outrage in the news that we felt we just had to include – Trump telling NFL owners to fire the black athletes, then the bizarre stories that erupted about Judge Roy Moore during the Alabama senate race. At some point we just had to say, we have to stop watching the news or we’ll never get this book out.
Jim: Totally agree. There continues to be more fodder to consider and this could literally be a franchise opportunity.
Were you both satirists or humorists?
Tim: I’ll just speak for myself. I have been a humor writer for many years. I write a weekly humor blog called View from the Bleachers, and many of my columns have appeared in HumorOutcasts over the past several years.
While the focus of my weekly column is generally not about politics, during the run-up to the 2016 election, I could not avoid the topic of Trump and what he was doing to turn our country upside down. In the past two years, I have probably written at least ten articles about the strange, unfamiliar political landscape we have entered. And I lost a few subscribers in the process, because not everybody shares my liberal viewpoint.
Jim: I have also dabbled in humor writing for quite a while. In 1996 I started a golf website (very early in the life of the Internet). I had written a book called, ‘Life and the Meaning of Golf’ but I could not get it published because I was, as the publishers were very clear to tell me, a “No-Name Author.” So, they had this new thing called “The Internet,” and I decided that, since I will never develop a ‘name’ from actually playing golf, I will just make one up – and Mr. Golf Etiquette was born. I created a site (www.mrgolf.com) and figured that if people like my writing, they would come back for more. It worked and my column, Ask Mr. Golf Etiquette, became a big hit. I was eventually offered the opportunity to write two golf books, The GolfBook for Kids (which I did a with a co-author) and, The Pocket Idiot’s Guide to Golf Rules and Etiquette (one of the many Idiot’s Guide books).
This book is filled with humor and fun, but it does have a dark side since it satirizes real life events. Do you think humor is the predominant way to get through this time in history?
Tim: I feel that if I can’t find a way to laugh at what is happening every day to take our country down another peg in the eyes of the world, I would cry. I routinely watch Colbert and Seth Meyers and the Daily Show. They help me realize I am not the only person who is worried and angry about the direction our country is heading, with all racial divisiveness and misogyny being promoted by Donald Trump and the people he has surrounded himself with.
I am thrilled to see all the people standing up against what is happening, all the local “Indivisible” groups, the women’s marches and all the grassroots protests. It is energizing. But for me, the way I cope with all this darkness is through humor. Sometimes, it’s snarky and edgy, but hopefully it’s still funny – well, for at least half the country, that is.
Jim: Agreed. There is a long and very healthy tradition in the US of political satire in cartoons. We are simply one of the many groups that are using humor to help people cope, to help focus attention on some of the wrongs that are being perpetrated on the American people and calling out some of the arrogance and self-serving behavior of the elites.
What do you hope the result of this coloring book will be? What is your ultimate fantasy about the effect this coloring book will have?
Tim: My goals for the book are very modest. I just hope it causes a nationwide intellectual awakening that leads to millions of people standing up against what is happening so that they take this country back, which in turn leads to a restoration of America’s reputation as a leader in the cause of civil rights in the world, and eventually leads to equality for blacks, women, gays, people of all religions and ethnic backgrounds, and ultimately brings us world peace and a cure for cancer. Like I said, very modest goals. And if the book makes us gobs and gobs of money and lands us a guest spot on Late Night with Stephen Colbert, well, that’s just icing on the cake. Ha!
Jim: My goals are not nearly as modest as Tim’s.
Did you try and offer free books to the Dem. National Committee? (ha ha- this won’t be in print but maybe we should try to do this?
Tim: I never thought about that, actually. Of course, there are more than a few old white guys on the Democratic National Committee. Not sure they would get the joke.
Jim: I have donated enough money over the years to the Democratic party and they have not used it well. I would be happy to sell them as many copies as they need – they have plenty of money.
In doing this book, tell us the reactions you have witnessed? Do you think that you find more people who are angry at the right for what has occurred or more ‘trumpers” angry at what your satire says?
Tim: There is anger on all sides right now, for sure. In terms of the response to our book, it has fallen into two extremely divergent categories: “I LOVE IT!” or “I HATE IT!” There is very little in between.
On Amazon.com, we had all 5-star glowing reviews, until the book was featured in USA Today’s online edition. Then all the right-wing Trump supporters pounced, giving the book nothing but 1-star reviews. The only difference is that the 5-star reviews were from people who had actually bought the book, while all the 1-star reviews that hit within hours of the USA Today article were people who had not actually read or purchased the book. But the title and the cover photo mocking Trump as a puppet of Putin was all they needed to decide the book was horrible and must be taken down.
Jim: Our book was intended to make a point about white male privilege, starting at the highest levels of government. But it was also intended to be funny – snarky in places, for sure – but ultimately humorous. Depending on people’s political worldview and their stance on our president, thus far, they have either loved our satirical perspective or they want to burn us at the stake. Like our country overall, when it comes to our book, there appears to be no middle ground.
Do you find that those who are offended are vocal about the book’s message? If so, what have they done? (Facebook attacks and amazon attacks insert here! USA TODAY) LOL
Tim: I would say “vocal” is an understatement. I think perhaps a more accurate description would be “unhinged”. Many of them have attacked me and Jim as racists against whites. Apparently, they missed the point that despite the book’s title, we are both white guys. They have called us hateful, mean, unpatriotic, and idiots. One person actually wrote an email to our website saying, “You better stop what you’re doing now if you know what’s good for you.”
Jim: The USA Today article got picked up by several alt-right websites including Alex Jones’ Info Wars, Breitbart, The Drudge Report and even white supremacist websites. On those sites, about 95% of the comments took the stance that the book is horrible and that the authors are vile, terrible subversives who should be deported to Africa. So, were they vocal? Yeah, I’d say they were somewhat vocal.