Meanwhile, running under all of this, the legal minuet between myself and the syndicate was taking place with each side still taking the measure of the other dancer. It was during this period that one of life’s inflection points happened. I was in Toronto attending the National Cartoonists Society’s annual Reuben Awards banquet and had just finished lunch in the hotel cafe. As I was leaving, I ran into Doug Marlette, the much lauded editorial cartoonist and the creator of the comic strip Kudzu, who was just coming into the cafe. Word had apparently gotten out about my contract contretemps, and Doug said that he wanted to talk with me about it. So I went back in, sat down with Doug, and had another lunch. Best second lunch I ever had. As we talked, I could see that Doug would have made a great instigator at an insurrection. Essentially what Doug had to tell me was that, if I were serious about pursuing legal action against King Features and ipso facto the Hearst Corporation, I should hire people who were players in that sort of arena to litigate the case. He basically convinced me that whatever the outcome, I should have no regrets about what I’d done. That if I went down, I should go down swinging. Hard. He even suggested that I contact his lawyers in Washington, D.C., as possible litigators. It was a very generous act on Doug’s part, and I took it to heart. During that hour or so, I gained some insight into how the big boys’ world really worked, and I gained a little weight as well. I proceeded to make a switch in my legal team and then continued on down the road to the shoot-out at the cartoon corral. But I now traveled with a lighter heart. As Doug had pointed out, the reality of reality was that it was, well, you know . . . reality, and, given that, we were only as free as the freedom we were willing to put at risk to effect a change. In yet another para-song-check here, this time Bruce Springsteen—we always said we were going to throw it all away. So what the heck if I lost Funky and John Darling? I was going to start a new strip anyway, right? Excuse me?
From The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume Six