Count me alongside everyone who shed a tear after listening to Terry Gross’s interview with Maurice Sendak on NPR, which re-aired following the death of the beloved children’s book author on May 8 at age 83.
(View our collection of Maurice Sendak RIP cartoons)
Now, you can count me among the shocked at an excerpt released by The Comics Journal of an interview between Gary Groth and Sendak where the “Where the Wild Things Are” author reveals he thought about assassinating President George W. Bush and Vice President Cheney. He even goes so far to suggest that he would have been willing to take out former First Lady Laura Bush in his imagines suicide bombing.
SENDAK: Bush was president, I thought, “Be brave. Tie a bomb to your shirt. Insist on going to the White House. And I wanna have a big hug with the vice president, definitely. And his wife, and the president, and his wife, and anybody else that can fit into the love hug.”
GROTH: A group hug.
SENDAK: And then we’ll blow ourselves up, and I’d be a hero. [Groth laughs.] To hell with the kiddie books. He killed Bush. He killed the vice president. Oh my God.
GROTH: I would have been willing to forgo this interview. [Sendak laughs.]
SENDAK: You would have forgotten about it. It would have been a very brave and wonderful thing. But I didn’t do it; I didn’t do it.
It’s tough to gauge his tone from the transcript – perhaps he was being flippant or sarcastic. But taken at face value, it’s a shocking statement from one of the country’s most beloved authors.
Eric Reynolds, associate publisher at Fantagraphics Books, where Groth is founder and president, told msnbc.com that he sees these comments as an extension of Sendak’s personality, and not as a serious threat to kill the former president.
“Anyone who has watched Sendak’s infamous interview on the ‘Colbert Report’ (or read his books, for that matter), should recognize that not only was he cranky, he had a razor-sharp wit and a very dark sense of humor,” Reynolds said. “He was 83 years old when he gave this interview [to Groth]. He was at the point in his life where he clearly didn’t give a damn about propriety; he could speak his mind and clearly enjoyed provocation.”
The anti-Bush remarks comes on the heels of an incident involving HBO’s hit TV series “Game of Thrones”, where a replica of Bush’s head was accidentally placed on the head of a pike and appeared in the show. HBO was forced to apologize profusely for the error, and removed it from the show.