Mike Peters, Creator of Mother Goose and Grimm

24 January 2003

    Drinking from the toilet, lifting a furry back leg to have a pee or buying an inflatable limb from the adult pet store for, ah, um, shall we say doggie delights; these are not the usual comic strip fare found in the newspaper funny pages. The rascal doing these strange and hilarious activities is a sassy pooch named Grimm, one of the main characters in Mother Goose and Grimm. Created by Mike Peters, this inventive comic produces guffaws of laughter in readers and has a huge fan following around the world. But, Mother Goose and Grimm is not the only cartoon to spill from Peters’ pen.

    Born on October 9, 1943 in St. Louis, Missouri, Peters attended Christian Brothers College High School, graduating in 1961. He earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1965 from Washington University and immediately dove into a position on the art staff of the Chicago Daily News. He spent a short year with the newspaper, leaving to begin a two-year stint of service as an artist during the Vietnam War with the U.S. Army’s Seventh Psychological Operations Group in Okinawa.

    After Peter’s release, the famed cartoonist Bill Mauldin took him under his artistic wing. In 1969, the developing cartoonist found a position with the Dayton Daily News, drawing editorial cartoons. By 1972, his sharp eye for piercing political humour merited the national syndication of his work under King Features. The coveted Pulitzer Prize was awarded to him in 1981 for Journalism. Peters’ editorial cartoon work, using satire, poetry and pointing out the obvious, continues to inform and entertain readers. His efforts have earned him an abundance of honours and awards. *(1)

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    With the help of his wife Marian, Mike Peters’ created Mother Goose and Grimm. The single panel comic jumped into syndication in 1984 under King Features. “I knew if I ever did a strip, the main character would be a dog, because dogs are inherently funny… I wanted to have him do dog things, like having fleas, eat out of trashcans and chase cars, because there weren’t any comic page dogs doing that,” mentioned Peters in an online discussion on February 15, 2002. But, he noted, “The characters are actually based on people, not animals. Grimm is actually me, Mother Goose is my wife and Attila is a combination of a lot of friends.” *(2)

    Mother Goose and Grimm (the name taken from the Grimm Brothers stories) appears in over 500 newspapers world-wide and regularly is in the top ten ratings lists. Books of the cartoon number over  two dozen – at least 28 different books plus products are globally distributed. Over one million Grimmy egreeting cards were sent through Gibson Greetings in 1999. An international favourite, Grimmy and his cohorts also appear on television; the first debuted in 1991 on CBS. It still airs in several locations.

    In 1999, Mother Goose and Grimm was also a feature attraction at Universal’s Toon Lagoon in Florida.

    Mike Peters makes frequent guest appearances on television. He has discussed his work on CNNFN, MSNBC, The Today Show, Good Morning America, among many. He also appears on the lecture circuit for colleges, political groups and editor/publisher conventions. His is a member of many associations, some of those including Advisory Board of the Sarasota Comedy Festival, the Board of Advocates of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the National Cartoonists Society.

    As if not busy enough, Peters takes on other work from time to time. He created animation storyboards for the seven-minute segments of “Night of the Living Fred” on “Toonsylvania” beginning in 1998. As a first for editorial cartoons, Peters’ snappy editorial comics appeared in animation on NBC’s Nightly News, playing to a national audience. In 2002, he was chosen as Honourary Chair for the United Way campaign of Greater Dayton, Ohio.

    Mike Peters, his wife Marian and three daughters live in Florida. His son runs the home website for Mother Goose and Grimm at grimmy.com, where all sorts of toon merchandise is available. There is also a wonderful heartfelt section entitled the Farewell Page, where Peters has added his cartoon tributes for those who have passed away.

    Making the reader laugh is the key aspiration of Mike Peters. “I know where the line is for bad taste, because I’ve been doing this for a long time, but if something is really, really funny to me, I’ve gotta put it in.”

    Who knows what antics Grimmy will be up to in future cartoons. Or maybe it will be Mother Goose herself making the sniggers next time.

Mike Peters' Awards, to name a few:

  • Ohio Associated Press 1973, 1975, 1076, 1078, 1081, 1983, 1984, 1988
  • Pulitzer Prize 1981
  • Headliner Award 1983, 1988, 1993
  • NCS Award for Editorial Cartooning 1983, 1984
  • Ohio Governor’s Award 1985
  • Humane Society Man of the Year 1990
  • Reuben Award for Cartoonist of the Year 1992
  • Doctor of Humane Letters Degree from University of Dayton 1998
  • Best of Cox Newspapers – Editorial Cartooning 2001
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Give a look at the riotous editorial cartoons of Mike Peters:
*(1) http://www.kingfeatures.com/features/edcar/mpeter/bio.htm

Live Online Chat with Mike Peters:
*(2) http://discuss.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/zforum/02/cartoon_021502.htm

The Mother Goose and Grimm home page:
http://www.grimmy.com/

© Susanna McLeod 2003
TheCartoonists.ca  
 
(Originally published in The Cartoonists on suite101.com.)