most positive response from, my “gonzo” (off-the-wall) stuff. When I’d be assigned to illustrate a humorous story at the newspaper, I’d come up with my first, and funniest, idea very quickly, but would always disregard it because I knew the powers that be would view it as too edgy, and would never print it. The same thing usu- ally went down for my second attempt – after all, the Times-Union was a family publication! It was always my third try that got printed. But I’d stick those other, more twisted drawings up on my cubicle wall for my cowork- ers to enjoy.
wirth: You’ve done some classic humorous/ satiric illustrations of bass pros. What do you find so funny about cast-for cash anglers?
I had to wear a coat and tie to work, and it was like an assembly line, drawing bunnies, bears, puppies and other cute animals with big, watery eyes from 8:30 to 5. I put up with the grind for two years, then headed back to Florida, where I got a job with the Jacksonville Times-Union news- paper.
wirth: How did you make the artistic leap from bunnies to bass?
arMStroNG: The newspaper’s outdoor editor had written a book about deer hunting that was going to be mar- keted through a magazine called South- ern Outdoors, and I got the freelance job of illustrating it. It was challenging and fun, something different from the editorial cartoons and straight illustrative work I was doing for the paper. Back then South- ern Outdoors was published by the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society, which also publishes Bassmaster. My deer hunting il- lustrations caught the eye of Bassmaster’s then-editor Dave Precht, who starting hiring me for illustrative work. Other outdoor magazine editors noticed my artwork as well, and by 1986 I was getting enough freelance assignments to en- able me to quit the newspaper. I’ve been on my own ever since.
wirth: You’re adept at creating both super- realistic nature illustrations and extremely off-the- wall cartoons. Some artists can do either one or the other, but you’re a master at both styles. Do you have to get into a completely different frame of mind to draw, say, a realistic depiction of a bass on its spawning bed vs. a cartoon of a bass pro breakdancing on the weigh-in stand?
arMStroNG: Not re- ally, but I have more fun creating, and get the